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Using a breast pump isn't a simple task but it is a necessity for most breastfeeding moms. There are many elements to finding the right pump for your lifestyle, body and budget. Just because one breast pump works for your friend, doesn't mean it will work for you. Some moms even go through two or three breast pumps before finding the right fit. Keep reading to discover some simple tips, tricks and passed down breast pumping advice to help make your decisions a little easier.
When to Introduce a Bottle
Lots of new moms are eager to begin pumping so they can include dad in the feeding routine. Most lactation consultants recommend waiting until your baby is fully established at the breast 4 to 6 weeks postpartum before introducing them to a bottle. This system has proven to be problematic for many mothers since some babies reject the bottle after waiting so long. You also don’t want to pump too much too soon for storing, especially when establishing your milk since your body only produces exactly what your baby needs.
Registered nurse, midwife, and certified lactation consultant, Shari Criso, recommends introducing your newborn to a bottle 1 week after delivery in her amazing Simply Breastfeeding DVD. Shari goes on to say that you should pump 1/2 an ounce first thing in the morning 7 days postpartum and store it in the fridge. Then around 6 to 7 p.m. that night, feed your baby the pumped milk and then continue the feeding at the breast. Do this every day for the first 6 weeks and after then, you can then start pumping to supplement whole feedings. If you are having any sort of breastfeeding issues during the first week, be sure to hold off pumping until after you have met with a lactation consultant.
Choosing the Right Pump
There are many different styles and types of pumps to suit the needs of every mom. Each style and brand has their own unique features, so one that works for one mom might not work for another. Be sure to check with your insurance company to find out if they cover the cost of a breast pump or rental before purchasing.
Most hospital grade pumps are for preemies or moms who are not able to feed at the breast. These are highly efficient and can be used by multiple moms with their own sanitary kit. You can rent a hospital grade pump from the hospital, lactation consultant, and usually WIC.
A double electric pump is the most time efficient pump since you can pump from both breasts at the same time. If you are going to pump more than once a day, this style pump is recommended for you. Most double electric pumps can be transported, but they are often large and noisy. Lots of electric pumps come with batteries, electrical cords, and car phone charges. A single electric pump is the same as a double pump but you only pump from one breast at a time. Different electric brands (Hygia, Ameda, and Medela) offer different size flanges for a customized fit. Tommee Tippee offers a silicone breastshield which mimics a baby suckling.
A manual pump is great for on the go, small feedings, and for moms who only need to pump once or less a day. It makes minimal noise and is easy to transport in your diaper bag. Manual pumps are much more affordable than electric. A manual pump allows the you to control your own speed, though your hands may become tired after a prolonged period of time. Manual pumps are also great for pulling out the nipple for women who have flat or inverted nipples so your baby can latch properly.
Certain breastpumps, like the Hygeia, Medela, and Ameda, offer a variety of flanges to fit different nipple sizes. The flange, sometimes called a breastshield, is the part that forms a seal around your areola and tunnels your nipple into the tunnel to mimic a suckling baby. If you have small or extra large nipples, a standard flange might pinch and you might not get as much milk. This can also cause the nipples to become sore, cracked, can lead to clogged milk ducts and even problems with your milk supply. To tell if you have the right size flange, watch how your nipple tunnels into the tube. If it is moving freely and not rubbing against the sides, this is the right fit.
Finding the Right Bottle
Breastmilk can be stored in the fridge for up to 8 days and in the freezer for up to 4 months. Some moms prefer storing directly in bottles so they don’t have to transfer from freezer bags or pods. Narrow neck Evenflo glass bottles work directly with some Medela and Ameda pumps, so you don’t have to transfer milk at all. The Evenflo bottle has a silicone nipple that adjusts to the baby’s pressure and a microvent to keep air out of your baby’s stomach. If you are looking for a bottle that is similar to a breast there is the Very Hungry Breast Bottle by Mimijumi, the Adiri bottle, and Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature.
Pumping on the Go
A company with more than 50 employees is required by law to provide a on-site nursing and storing space as well as unpaid breaks designated to pumping. If you work for a smaller company, it’s important to speak with your boss ahead of time and discuss where you will be allowed to pump. Based on the availability, this should determine what style pump to use. If you have an open area, an electric pump will work much faster than a manual. But if the only private space you have is a bathroom, you may want to consider a manual. Be sure to bring a photo of your child and keep it with you while you pump since it can help encourage let down.
If you are going out for the day or on date night, it’s important to bring a manual pump or keep your electric pump close by in case of engorgement. This can be extremely painful and can also lead to heavy leaks.