The breast pump world is just that, a world of its own! You don't know (and don't really need to know for that matter) all the ins and outs of breast pumps until you are suddenly in the position that you need to use one. So, you jump on the trusty internet to do a search about them, right? Perhaps that search even brought you here to this page! I have been there and done that mama, and I was surely overwhelmed.
My questions really only ended because three years ago, I was on insurance that didn't cover a whole lot. I was told to go to one specific medical store in my area, and that I would be handed the pump they had approved. My husband actually picked it up the day we went home from the hospital, so I didn't even know what I was getting until the pump was "mine" and in my house sitting next to me.
Luckily, most insurance companies have started covering more in terms of price and brand/type of breast pump in the last couple of years! In fact, most all breast pump brands are covered by insurance companies now. If you are wanting some guidance from square one of contacting your insurance and getting the answers to the right questions there, refer to these posts here and here! If you have talked to your insurance and now just need to decide which pump to get, you are in the right place! We are here today to talk about what you should know to help you pick your pump!
Types of Pumps and Pumping Needs
First of all, you want to assess why you want or need the pump in the first place. Different types of pumps are better or worse for different pumping needs.
Manual: These will be the least expensive pumps, usually less than $100. But, they are a single pump that you pump with your hand. So, these are really only useful for moms who want a pump to relieve engorgement, or might be using a pump very occasionally on a long road trip or other obscure place. Your insurance should cover more than just this, but some mamas like to have one of these on hand in addition to another pump.
Single Electric: Similar to the manual pump in function, but now you have an actual electric pump that does the work rather than your hands. Obviously they are more efficient than the manual pumps, but can still be time-consuming because you can only pump one breast at a time. This type of pump may be good for a mom that is looking for a good efficient assist to their breastfeeding routine here and there. This is definitely not the best option for someone looking to pump because they are going back to work, or trying to build a big stock of frozen breastmilk.Double Electric: These pumps are ideal for a mother that is wanting or needing to pump more than once a day. Being able to pump both breasts at once cuts down on the time spent pumping. Pumping both breasts at once actually stimulates your mammary glands more than when you pump just one breast at a time, so your milk supply has a better chance of keeping up with production too! A double pump is really the "typical" pump that most think about when picturing a breast pump. Most all insurance companies should cover a standard double electric pump! Honestly, in my opinion, if your insurance will cover it, why not get one (even if you aren't sure how often you will need to use it)?
Hospital-Grade: Hospital-grade pumps are multi-user rental breast pumps (acquired from the hospital) with a stronger strength suction, a special wavelength, and programming that allows mothers with certain medical necessities to produce the maximum amount of breast milk possible. These reasons can vary from needing to provide for a NICU child or a baby unable to latch for other reasons, or for health problems the mother is having that makes them unable to actually nurse the child. If you should be using one of these pumps, you will be told so by a health provider.
Important Pump FeatureLet-Down Sequence: When a baby nurses, they start with very quick and short sucks, and then change to longer and stronger ones when the milk is flowing. The quick short sucks stimulate the let-down in your breasts. Some breast pumps are designed with a 2-phase expression technology that mimics your infant's let-down sequence sucking. The sign to your body to make more milk is an empty breast. So, if you are not completely emptying your breasts each time you pump when you are away from your baby, your body could begin to make less milk and your production can be negatively affected. For this reason, a let-down sequence is very important so make sure whatever you are looking at lists that as one of the included features!
Brands of Pump
This one is a bit tricky because there are a lot of brands and a lot of different reasons people choose one brand over another. The hard thing here is that most people don't use every pump on the market to be able to tell you which one is the absolute best over all the others. I personally have two breast pumps. One of them is a Medela, and the other is a Spectra S2. I haven't actually used the second one yet, but will be within the next week because I will have a little newborn in my house again! The Medela pump is a double electric. Pretty "basic" model as far as not having tons of extra bells and whistles, but it has a let-down sequence and always did the job well.
I didn't get a choice with my first pump, but I did this time around! Different insurance and a few years later gave me a lot of new options! I compiled a list of the pumps I wanted to look into, then read every detail I could about all of them on the brand's website. After that, I turned to trusty Youtube and watched a good handful of reviews about the pumps. In the end, I decided on my pump because it most fit my wants and needs in terms of what I was going to be using it for and my experience with my pump with my first baby.
So, what pump should you get? In short, one that fits your specific pumping needs, one with a let-down sequence (if going electric), and finally pick the pump that you determine will fit your specific needs best by doing your research! It is also always helpful to talk to a lactation consultant about these types of things, and you can take advantage of your mommy communities and networks. There are plenty of moms out there with their thoughts and insight into all the different breast pumps! Isn't it great that us moms can help moms and get it in return? I sure think it is!
Written by: Alyssa Liston