Breastpump 101By Sherry Henderson, Associate Director of The Nurture Center

medela certified nursing center

One of the questions we get asked the most often at The Nurture Center is which breast pump a new mom needs, or if she needs one at all. By asking the expecting or new mom a few questions, we can often make a recommendation that should provide the best breast pump for her needs. Here are some of the factors we consider.

Many moms who plan to stay at home with their baby assume they will not need a breast pump. That may be true if they will be breastfeeding exclusively, but we often advise an expectant mom to consider either renting a hospital-grade pump (such as the Medela Lactina or Symphony models) for the first month, or purchasing a good-quality hand pump, such as the Medela Harmony manual pump, because it can be handy to have around if breastfeeding difficulties arise.

medela breast pumps

At about 5 days postpartum with both of my babies, I had to send my husband out to rent a pump because I was in such pain with engorgement. When your breasts become engorged at 3-5 days postpartum, you may also be in the throws of big hormonal swings, and feeling overwhelmed by this new little creature in front of you – not the best time to be making rational decisions about breast pumps!

Although "the books" say engorgement usually lasts 24 – 48 hours, and some moms never experience it at all, mine lasted a week each time, and pumping before each feeding helped "take the edge off," and allowed my breasts to soften up enough so the baby could latch on properly. In hindsight, I wish I could have anticipated this need and been ready to pump a little milk without the impromptu shopping trip!

Owning a pump as opposed to renting one can be handy for later on, should you get the chance to go out to dinner with your partner, or just take a well-deserved breather for a few hours during the day or at night. At around $35, my business partner Meri and I think the Medela Harmony manual breastpump is one of the best deals out there! It works very comparably to the much more expensive electric pumps, the only downside being that you have to pump each side separately, and that your hands have to do the work (but they are much easier to operate than other handpumps we’ve tried). Some moms have a hard time relaxing enough to get a good let-down with a manual pump at first, but most moms we talk to have had good luck with these models.

medela breast pumps

As a point of comparison, it costs about $110 to rent a pump for the first month postpartum, including the pump rental and a personal use attachment kit (ask your doctor or hospital nurse to give you one of these if you plan to pump -- it can save you $50!) The longer you rent, the more economical it becomes. At The Nurture Center, we rent Medela Lactina pumps for $45 a month for three months and $35 a month for five months or more. Medela Symphony pumps, which utilize a computer chip to mimic the sucking pattern of the baby at the breast to maximize milk production, are $90 a month, and go down to $60 a month when rented for five months or more.

For those who plan to return to school or work and to continue nursing and pumping, it is probably more cost and time-efficient to purchase a double electric pump like the Medela Pump in Style. As a rule of thumb, if you think you are going to be pumping milk regularly for 6 months or longer (including possible subsequent babies), it is worthwhile to buy a good quality double-electric pump rather than to rent or to buy a lower quality pump (although some part-timers do quite well with an Avent Isis or Medela Harmony).

Many people are familiar with the Medela Pump-In-Style line of breast pumps. These pumps are highly rated by working moms, and Medela has a great reputation for customer service and for high quality products. The new Pump in Styles now come with a battery pack which operates on eight AA batteries, and you can also purchase a car lighter adapter for even greater portability. The Pump-In-Style Advanced breast pump has a chip that controls the speed and suction settings to more closely mimic the way a baby stimulates milk let-down and nurses more slowly and deeply thereafter. For some moms, this might allow them to pump more quickly and efficiently. But all the Medela Pump-In-Styles do a great job.

There are many other brands/models of pumps out there (we call them "drugstore pumps" and some of them are painful and most are a waste of money!) At The Nurture Center, we only carry pumps that are highly rated by moms and lactation consultants as the most efficient and comfortable, and offer the best value for your money. Drop by, give us a call or send us an email, and we’ll help you find one to fit your needs.

To view our complete collection of breast pumps, accessories and replacement parts, Click Here