How To Choose The Right Breast Pump For Your Breastfeeding Needs
Published on September 7, 2021 4:04:29 PM PDT September 7, 2021 4:04:29 PM PDTth, September 7, 2021 4:04:29 PM PDT
How to choose the right breast pump for your breastfeeding needs
After nine whole months of waiting and anticipation, your little one is finally in your arms. Life with your precious one can be rather bewildering from this point on – you’re getting to know your newborn and falling in love with their quirks and habits as you recover from your delivery. In the first post-delivery week, you may get the double whammy of your milk “coming in” and are preparing to put your baby on breast milk. With all the benefits, why wouldn’t you?
Breast milk has been touted as the elixir of life, and it’s only apt! It is chock-full of immunity-boosting antibodies, probiotics, and healthy enzymes that not only protect your newborn from a long list of ailments, but also offer you that much-needed boost in your recovery, amongst many other things. Due to the numerous benefits, many mothers will naturally lean towards nursing their babies, especially in the first few months post-delivery.
However, the breastfeeding journey may not be as easy as many new mothers would like to think it is. Your newborn may have difficulty latching to your nipple, or you’re not producing enough breast milk. It could also be the pain and discomfort you experience during the process that makes it a challenge. Or you’re an urban mum who’s always on the go and simply don’t have the privilege of feeding your little one as and when the hunger pangs call. No matter the reason, if you’re having difficulty with nursing, know that you’re not alone. Nursing can be awfully difficult for some mothers, and if you still wish to feed your newborn breast milk, there’s another option you can look into: breast pumping.
If you’re new to the world of breast pumping, let us guide you through all that you need to know.
Which Type of Breast Pump Should I Use?
Every mother and baby has different needs and circumstances, and these factors may change along the course of your breast pumping and expressing journey. What works for another mother may not work for you. When hunting for your ideal breast pump, you will need to consider factors, such as your budget, frequency of pumping and lifestyle. It’s worth taking your lactation journey into consideration too when surveying for the right breast pump. This journey is divided into three stages:
Initiate: The first five days
Build: Days six to 30
Maintain: Beyond 30 days
Picking a suitable breast pump will depend on the stage you’re at, as well as your personal circumstances, your newborn’s needs, and your attitude towards breast pumping and expressing.
As far as breast pump technology is concerned, here are your choices:
Manual vs. Electric Pump
When it comes to breast pumps, not all are created equal! Generally speaking, breast pumps fall into two categories: manual breast pumps and electric ones.
Manual breast pumps: Manual breast pumps are hand-operated and can typically only be used for one breast at a time. Most manual breast pumps, such as the Philips Avent Manual Breastpump, sit comfortably on your breast and have a handle that you can squeeze to stimulate your milk flow. Others like the Tommee Tippee Made For Me Silicone Manual Breastpump is ergonomically designed such that you only need to squeeze the base of the pump to create suction to gently stimulate milk supply. These pumps are generally lightweight and compact – a plus point for mothers who wish to breastpump on the go.
Electric breast pumps: As its name suggests, electric breast pumps are operated either through a power outlet or battery. The cup is placed over the breast and the suction is created for you, allowing you to skip all the hard work – they’re essentially a breastfeeder’s cheat code, especially for those who need to express regularly. Like their manual counterparts, electric pumps also come with hands-free options, so that you can do other tasks or simply rest as you pump away. If multitasking is your superpower, have a look at our Medela Swing Solo Flex Single Electric Breast Pump to make breast pumping easier for you! Besides the convenience, this single electric breast pump is designed with a closed system that prevents breast milk from entering the tubing and leaking into the pump mechanism. This means your expressed milk will remain safe and clean. In addition, its 2-phase expression technology can help speed up the start of milkflow, which can be extremely helpful if you have an older baby or are going back to work.
Both types of pumps can be very effective in drawing out milk for storing and/or bottle feeding. If you’re not sure which of the two to choose, first determine the frequency of pumping. Some moms plan to nurse their babies, and they don’t expect to have long separations from their new bundles of joy. If you don’t plan to pump very often, you can easily get by with just a manual pump. Plus, they’re also more cost-effective. However, if you intend to join the workforce again a few months after giving birth, an electric breast pump will be your saving grace. Electric breast pumps often offer stronger suction and pumping due to their power source, which will leave you time for other things.
Of course, there is the case of portability as well. If you’re planning on a trip with your little one, you will want to opt for an electric breast pump that is made for travel so that you can pump on the go. Our Loveamme MadeToTravel Double Breastpump (motor), for instance, is a silent, hands-free breast pump that’s also featherlight. Weighing only 224g, you can fit it in your handbag and never have to worry about lugging a bulky electric pump ever again! Just remember to carry enough batteries when you do.
Single vs. Double
When it comes to choosing between single and double breast pumps, it all boils down to your lifestyle and preference. A single breast pump only allows you to pump milk from one breast at a time, while a double breast pump can draw milk from both your breasts simultaneously.
A single electric breast pump is ideal for expressing from time to time, especially if you aren't regularly pumping. Whereas a double breast pump is more convenient for expressing regularly. On top of halving the amount of time you will spend expressing, a double breast pump delivers 18% more milk on average than pumping from each breast in return. The milk you obtain will also contain a higher fat and calorie content. Revel in the benefits of double breast pumping with the reliable Spectra S1 Plus Double Breast Pump, or opt for the Pigeon GoMini Electric Double Breast Pump if portability is important to you.
How Do I Find the Right Breast Pump Flange?
When it comes to pumping, the size of your breast pump flange is deceptively important. The breast pump flange is the plastic piece that fits directly over your nipple, forming a vacuum seal around your areola to draw your nipple for milk extraction. It may be a rather small detail in the bigger scheme of things, but the right breast pump flange makes a whole world of a difference!
Flanges that are too big or too small may cause excess friction, pinching, or squeezing, which may result in turning your nipple or areola white or discoloured. It can also incorrectly sized flange can significantly impact your milk production and lead to soreness or clogged ducts.
How do you choose what size flange to use? To find the right flange size, first, determine the diameter of your nipple (do not include the areola) before comparing it to the available options. When your breast shield fits correctly, your nipple will be centred in the breast shield tunnel and can move freely during pumping. There are five main pump flange sizes to choose from: 19mm, 22mm, 24mm, 27mm, and 30mm. You may want to check if your breast pump comes with your ideal flange size.
Remember, breast pumping should not be painful! If you feel any discomfort or notice any changes in your nipples or areola, you may need to re-evaluate your breast shield size.
How to Best Prepare for a Breast Pump Session?
To ensure that you produce the most milk during pumping, here are a few steps you can try before the start of each pumping session.
- Always thoroughly wash your hands with soap before starting.
- Find a comfortable and quiet spot to sit and relax as much as possible. Take some deep breaths and get cosy.
- A warm compress or soft breast massage can get your breasts ready for breastfeeding let down, a trigger response that stimulates the release of two hormones that ease breast production and breast pumping. Holding your baby close or thinking of them will help launch the letdown easier. Some breast pumps, such as the Spectra M1 Plus Double Breastpump, have a Let Down mode that helps to speed up the start of milk flow, which can be extremely helpful if you have an older baby or are going back to work.
- Prime the pump for your breast pump session. Wet the flange with water to ensure a good seal and centre the nipple in the middle of the flange.
- Now just let your breastfeeding pump do its thing. Expect it to take a few minutes for the letdown to happen. Before then, you will only get drops to a slow trickle of milk – so don’t be too upset. After a few minutes, the milk will start flowing.
For a smooth breast pumping process, you’ll want to choose a time of day when your breasts are ordinarily full. Not only does this make milk expression easier, but it will also reduce the risk of breast engorgement. Engorged breasts develop when there’s an excessive accumulation of breast milk in the milk ducts, which can make them extremely large, tender, and painful.
If you’re pumping because you’re away from your baby, try to pump at the same times you would normally feed.
How Can I Increase My Breast Milk Supply?
If you wish to build up your milk supply to satiate your fussy baby, increasing your breast pumping frequency is the best way to go about it. Cluster pumping is a technique that involves pumping every five minutes to give your breasts repeated stimulation. The more you empty your breasts, the more milk you will make. However, working mothers will find it difficult to commit to a cluster pumping schedule. In this case, you may try a few sessions of cluster pumping in the evenings or over the weekend instead.
Another approach you may want to consider is to opt for double pumping and empty both breasts at once. To make it easier, you can put on a pumping bra that can hold your breast shields in place, leaving your hands free. Pret-a-Pregger Prolacta Seamless Handsfree Pumping Bra, for instance, has a double-layered insert to securely hold bottles while providing you maximum comfort.
Most importantly, be sure to maintain a healthy diet and sleep schedule. Not only will this help you to maintain a healthy milk supply, but it’ll also support you in your journey towards recovery as well. You may want to also consider including lactation cookies into your diet. Lactation cookies are cookies packed with vitamins and nutrients to help keep breastfeeding parents nourished while their bodies work overtime to produce milk. These cookies contain a substance called galactagogues, a compound that helps to stimulate breastmilk production. The best part? Aside from producing breastmilk, lactation cookies offer the nutrient-dense calories, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs – all the good stuff that will be passed on to your little one.
What are Some of the Common Breast Pumping Problems to Look Out for?
Similar to breastfeeding, you may occasionally run into speed bumps in your breast pumping journey. Fortunately, there are solutions out there to help you navigate your way around it!
One of the issues that mothers often come across when they pump is blocked ducts. These can develop when milk that has yet to be fully expelled from the breasts gets clogged and infected. As a result, the breasts become sore and painful to touch. To avoid this, you can apply warm towels to your breasts throughout the day to loosen the clogged milk in your ducts and gently massage your breasts as you pump. If the problem continues to persist, be sure to talk to your doctor immediately. Blocked ducts can lead to other infections if they’re not taken care of.
Another common problem with breast pumping is general anxiety – yes, it happens! Mix that with the loud, foreign noises of an electric breast pump and it can easily get overwhelming. Pumping, in general, is rather stressful for both your baby and yourself. If you’re experiencing anxiety, you may want to try to take steps to reduce it. You could replace your electric pump to one that’s gentler and more discreet, introduce certain lifestyle changes, or even take medications to foster a stress-free environment. Be sure to do so under the guidance of your doctor.
Breastfeeding can be a lonely journey – but it doesn’t have to be! Whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed, reach out to your partner for much-needed support and encouragement. This could take in the form of giving an extra hand, especially when you’re sleep ridden during your 2 a.m. night feedings, or taking over the feeding while you take a well-deserved nap after a pumping session. Despite needing rest, mums are typically hesitant to take a nap, especially when they know they’ll have to quickly get up and feed if necessary. Knowing that their partners are there to take the reins can be extremely comforting, alleviating the anxiety that may have beset them in their motherhood journey.
Soreness and Dryness
When there is constant sucking pressure applied to your nipples, you’ll naturally experience discomfort. Breast pumping will cause your nipples to dry, crack, and become sore to the touch. To mitigate these unpleasant side effects, be sure to look at your pump’s settings. Adjust to the lowest power and gradually work your way up. Alternatively, you can also consider using nipple shields, like the Pigeon Natural-Fit Silicone Nipple Shield. Aside from sore and dry nipples, these nipple shields offer a larger area, which can be extremely helpful if your baby has latching difficulties. However, make to use them under the supervision of a physician or lactation consultation as they can negatively affect breastfeeding if not worn correctly.
To relieve yourself from the pain and discomfort, you can lather nipple cream on your nipple and areola. The Lansinoh Nipple Cream is made with hpa-modified lanolin to give you fast relief. Moreover, it’s 100% natural and hypoallergenic, making it safe for both mum and baby. If the soreness and dryness do not alleviate, you may want to talk to your doctor.
How Do I Store My Liquid Gold?
Considering Singapore’s hot and humid weather, storing your breast milk at room temperature isn’t viable as the milk is likely to spoil. If you want to keep your breast milk for another day, there are several options you can consider:
- You can refrigerate your breast milk for up to four days.
- If you aren’t going to use refrigerated breast milk within the four days of pumping, you can freeze it instead.
- You can put breast milk in the cooler or insulated cooler pack with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours after pumping. After 24 hours, be sure to put it either in the refrigerator or freezer.
When storing breast milk, it’s best to use breast milk storage bags, clean glass, or hard BPA-free plastic bottles with tight-fitting lids. Be sure to avoid any containers with the recycle number 7, as they may contain BPA. Do not use disposable bottle liners or other plastic bags to store breast milk either.
Other Breast Pump Essentials
There is more to breast pumping apart than the breast pump. Here is a list of must-have breastfeeding accessories for a smooth breast pumping and expressing process.
- Tubing: Tubing connects your breast pump motor to the other components and the collection bottle. Generally, you’ll need to replace your breast pump tubing every three to six months. However, do so immediately if there are any signs of mould.
- Body nipple cream: A soothing nipple cream provides much-needed relief before, during, and after feedings. It helps to mitigate dry, cracked, bleeding nipples and alleviate the pain.
- Nursing bras: A nursing bra is a supportive undergarment designed with cups that have flaps and panels for greater convenience. You can nurse or pump without having to remove your entire bra.
- Nursing/Breast pads: Nursing pads are a very useful accessory that, when placed into a regular or nursing bra, can absorb any breast milk that leaks and protect your clothes from stains.
- Breastfeeding cover: A breastfeeding cover is typically used to shield your little one from the sun or wind if you’re breastfeeding outside. If you’re pumping your breasts in public, it’ll help you keep prying eyes away. Throw in a breastfeeding pillow to give your baby a stable and comfy surface to lie on.
- Steriliser: It’s important to sterilise all your baby’s breastfeeding equipment until they are at least 12 months old, as doing so will protect your baby against infections. You can do this by soaking them in hot water, but if you wish to take it a step further, you can consider a steriliser.
Shop for Your Breastfeeding and Breast Pumping Essentials at Mothercare
At Mothercare, we wish to journey with you in your parenthood journey and aid you in every way possible. With over 50 years of experience in the industry, we are your go-to baby retailer for all your breastfeeding and breast pumping needs. From breast pumps, breast pads, to breastfeeding pillows – we have them all! We take pride in having a strong reputation in the specialism, quality, safety, innovation in our products, so you can rest assured that you and your baby will receive only the best. Check out our breast pumping catalogue and get all you need under one platform!
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