Expressing Your Milk – Helpful Equipment
Which breast pumps are best to
Mothers who plan to be away from
their babies for some feedings, or whose babies aren’t able to vigorously feed at
breast yet, will need to rent or purchase an appropriate pump. While it is possible
hand-express milk, a pump can be useful to help empty the breasts and maintain adequate
Many types of pumps are
available, and your choice will depend on your needs. Some are simple handheld pumps
that are useful for very infrequent pumping. These are operated manually. Several
mini-electric or battery-operated pumps also can be purchased; these are especially
useful for full-time working moms.
If you need to express your
milk very frequently, especially if you are separated from your infant for a prolonged
period of time, you may need to rent a hospital-grade electric pump to maintain full
milk production. These pumps automatically cycle suction with release of suction—similar
to a baby’s sucking action. Hospital-grade pumps express milk most efficiently and
burn out from frequent use. Because they are much more expensive, these pumps are
usually rented, not purchased.
If you have a double-electric pump,
you can pump both sides at the same time. Double pumping is often recommended because
cuts pumping time in half. Usually the total pumping time for each session is only
15 minutes. This may make it easier to schedule breaks at work.
Your health insurance will often
cover the purchase or rental of a pump, so be sure to ask.
What are milk collection kits?
Milk collection kits include:
The flange (also called
A funnel that’s placed on
your breast valves
Bottles to collect your
Tubing that connects the kit
to your pump
You can use your own collection kit
with another pump (such as in the workplace or NICU) if they are made by the same
Flanges come in different sizes. If
they are too large or too small, there is a risk of injury as well as low milk supply.
Your nipple should move freely within the flange opening without rubbing on its sides.
Check with a lactation consultant if you have concerns about the proper fit.