There are a lot of reasons that you may want a breast pump as a mama-to-be. Breast pumps can be a lifesaver when it comes to engorgement, exhaustion and (lets face it) some freedom. And now with insurance covering a breast pump they are accessible to everyone! But, it is important to note that your insurance may not cover the right breast pump for you and you may still need to research what one will fit your lifestyle the best so you can discuss options with your doctor. So, what kinds of breast pumps are out there and what do you need?
Ask Yourself: Why do I Need a Breast Pump?
Manual Breast Pumps
There are 2 types of Pumps: manual and electric. Manual pumps do not require batteries, you use it by pumping with your hand. Manual pumps tend to be very compact and affordable, with most starting at $35 USD. Be advised, however, that because you are manually pumping the milk, a pump session can take 30+ minutes as opposed to 10-15 minutes with an electric pump.
Here are a few reasons you may want a Manual Pump:
-If you want a breast pump just in case you need relief when trying to get the hang of breast feeding.
-Affordable! Most start at $35+.
-They are very small and easy to take it along with you which makes them perfect for date nights, family gatherings, and the like.
-If you go on trips or camp a lot - especially if you don’t have electricity available while you are away from home (although it should be noted that there are some electric breast pumps that can be battery operated).
Manual breast pumps are perfect for those mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding but need a discreet way to get relief while on the go or throughout the day! There will be days where baby will not want to eat but you will need the relief to avoid engorgement.
Electric Breast Pumps
Most plug into the wall, but some electric pumps can be used with batteries. There are single or double pump options, which just means that you can either pump a single breast at one time or both breasts at once - pumping at the same time is definitely a major time saver. This is because an electric pump session typically only takes 10-15 minutes, whereas a manual pump can take 30+ minutes.
Here are a few reasons you may want an Electric Pump:
-Electric pumps come in single or double options so that you can pump both sides at the same time - saving you tons of time!
-Working Moms: these are fast and effective whether you are pumping while getting ready in the morning or in between meetings at work.
-You are under a time crunch most days and/or are pumping often.
-You are exclusively pumping.
-Stockpiling breast milk when your baby is first born.
-You are the proud mama of multiple babies!
-You would like a hands free option for multitasking (this can be done with the addition of a breast pump bra).
-A double-breast pump helps stimulate milk production while reducing pumping time by half.
Electric and double-electric breast pumps are perfect for mothers who will be pumping a fair amount of the time or more (working, special needs, building a stockpile, etc.).
There are hospital grade pumps available to rent. These pumps have special barriers and filters to prohibit milk from entering the pump motor, which prevent cross-contamination. In addition, each renter uses her own personal set of breast shields, containers and tubing, to ensure the safe use of these pumps.
Here are a few reasons you may want a Hospital Grade breast pump:
-You have a special needs child
-You have a child in the NICU for an extended period of time
-You would rather rent a high quality pump than purchase one
You should really only need a hospital grade pump if you have some type of special need in your home where you will need to constantly be pumping. Hospital grade pumps are specially built to simulate a child suckling even more than a regular double electric breast pump, which is why they are so ideal for mamas of babies who need a little extra help before they can start breast feeding.
Borrowing a Breast Pump
Borrowing a breast pump is not recommended due to the health risk of mom & baby. Some breast pumps have an internal diaphragm that cannot be removed, replaced, or fully sterilized which posses the risk of cross-contamination associated with re-using a previously owned pump, even when using a new kit or tubing. Also, consideration when deciding to borrow or even lend a previously owned electric pump is the pump’s motor life. A high quality electric double pump might last through the breastfeeding of your second child, or even several children but can wear out overtime with each use. Some health insurance plans cover the cost of breast pumps under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which was signed into law in 2010. There are many parts of the ACA, but one of the most valuable is that ACA requires health plans to cover breastfeeding support and supplies. Many health plans began implementing this coverage on or after August 1, 2012. If you have a private insurance carrier or commercial insurer, this law applies to you. The breastfeeding provisions of the ACA do not apply to Medicaid or WIC. However, breast pumps are available through WIC and many state Medicaid programs. For information on how to obtain a breast pump through WIC or Medicaid, contact your state WIC agency.
Breast Feeding Accessories
Breast Milk Storage Containers or Bottles
Most brands and retailers carry a wide variety of breast milk storage containers or bottles. These accessories are perfect to have on hand when stocking your freezer with milk!
- Breast Milk Storage Bags: These are especially helpful if you're planning on storing milk in a deep freezer for a long period of time. They are easy to thaw by using warm tap water & pouring into the bottle. The Bottle Containers are great to have if you know you will be leaving for a few hours & need to a bottle or two for your babe.
- Breast Pads: There are reusable & disposable breast pads available. The reusable pads tend to be less itchy and are very breathable (our pick are the Bamboobies reusable breast pads which are thin and discreet but hold a ton!).
- Nursing Covers: In case you're wanting a little privacy during a pumping session, a nursing cover is the perfect solution.
- Bottles and Nipples: Luckily there are TONS of different options when it comes to not only the container you can pump into (a bag vs. a bottle) but there are also lots of options for nipples on the bottles that you can pump into. For instance, some bottles have special, wide nipples for mamas who are bottle and breast feeding to ensure that baby will not get any nipple confusion! Just make sure that if you are switching between breast and bottle that you always use a slow-flow nipple until you decide to change baby over to the bottle full time.
- Breastshields: A breastshield is the portion of the breast pump that you place over your nipple and breast to create the "suction chamber." But, be aware that one size does not fit all! Some of us are larger or smaller when it comes to breasts so it is important to get a breast shield that fits you. Most pumps will come with just a standard size, but if you have more or less to work with, definitely consider getting a more fitted breastshield.
Every Mama is Different
Every mama and baby out there are different, and you will need to assess what needs you each have in order to choose the right pump and accessories for the two of you. Some moms will only need to pump for date night, while others will need to pump all day or during a conference call. Assess your own stamina as well and how much time you are going to be able to commit to pumping. If it's not a lot, go with the option that will be the most convenient for you! Make it work, mama! You got this.