If you are looking for a guide to buying an electric breast pump, you probably have already recognized its benefits or necessity, so there is no need to go into too much detail on that. However, keeping in mind why it is that you want one will also help you choose a pump that suits you best. Also, this is an appropriate time to acknowledge that there is also the manual breast pump option, but it is just not as effortless to operate as an electric one.
What to consider?
So you may have to decide for yourself mostly, for this part, what you want. But we will provide you with suggestions of criteria or things to consider, and then you can decide which ones apply so you can look for those points.
If this is a huge consideration, then manual may be the way to go, but it is really not as convenient or nearly as efficient. However, given that you are committed to looking for an electric breast pump, it will depend on how specific or fancy the features you want your machine to have are.
2. Single or double?
Whether you want just one side or if you want double pumps, this would also be a part of the budget consideration, but there is also the matter about saving time. So especially if you have a lot of milk in your breasts, using double pump to extract from both sides will help you save a significant amount of time. Extracting with a double pump machine, depending on the suction settings, you may be able to finish within 15 or even 10 minutes.
Some sources say that the double pump promotes higher levels of prolactin, which is the hormone that signals for milk production. Thus, it will be beneficial to stimulating your milk production in the longer run, especially if you hardly have the time for actual breastfeeding anymore.
3. Battery or electric?
Battery will, of course, provide you with more mobility if that is something you are looking for. A battery model may require an AA battery or C, or even one that is rechargeable. If you know that you may need to do some pumping in the car because you will be busy and going places all the time, then the battery type may be the way to go. Or even if you are at the office most of the day but there is no discreet place where you can pump your milk, you may have to do it in the bathroom and it is unlikely that you will be able to find an electrical outlet there.
Note that it usually has less power than electric or larger ones and could take longer to empty out your breast.
These are generally more compact sized compared to how electric ones can get sometimes. But even then, the electric ones can come as a small, medium sized machine or even the large ones that is hospital grade, which we will discuss next.
So you do have the small compact ones that could fit in your bag, like the one we mentioned above. Then you have a medium sized/weight automatic machines which is a reasonable choice for use at home if you don’t want one of your one (instead of renting) and you don’t want to invest in a huge hospital grade one that isn’t really that mobile. This is a good compromise in terms of speed and comfort, because most medium sized machines will probably come with sufficient settings and features that will allow you to customize how you want the suction to be anyway.
But to fill you in on the hospital grade machines, these are usually only slightly heavier than the medium weight ones, but could be as big as a car battery. Some may even come with rechargeable battery (but these won’t be as light), or even a plug-in adapter for use in the car, but they just wouldn’t be that easy to carry around.
There are models that aim to provide suction modes that mimic your baby’s sucking motion and rhythm, to trigger your letdown response and may make it easier for those who may find it more difficult to lactate smoothly. This pattern, which you may have already observed from your breastfeeding sessions, usually start out short and shallow but frequent, then the sucks will gradually slow down but also press deeper. The initial frequency will help to stimulate lactation and get out the thin milk at first, before the fatty part starts to flow.
Some other models will just let you set the rhythm yourself. On average, natural baby suction rate is at about 40-60 pulls per minute, while most machines may offer settings from between 30-50 cycles per minute, but you can find ones with wider range.
6. What kinds of nursing bottles do you have?
What kinds you already have isn’t actually that important, but the point to consider here is whether or not they will be compatible with your breast pump machine. So check to see if the model you are eyeing requires certain sizes of nursing bottles. If not, it should be more convenient being able to switch around the different kinds of bottles.
7. How to clean it?
The more intricate parts to it, the more of a hassle it would be to clean it. So just keep in mind if the parts of easy to clean, and also if the plastic materials are BPA-free so you don’t have to worry too much about whether your method of cleaning will leak any harmful substances.
Especially if you buy the larger sizes or the ones of higher grades, you want to make sure you are protecting your investment. And should anything go wrong, you would at least have the warranty to save any extra costs. The longer a company is willing to cover for, the more confident they probably are about their product. The most important part of the machine is of course the motor, so it would be wise to look for one that covers at least one year.
If you have any other tips or points you think it would be useful for parents to note, please let us know! Better yet, if you have had good experience with certain models or even purchasing channels you’d like to recommend, please share with us in the comments section below.