- What is a breast pump?
- Why do you need a breast pump?
- What are the types of breast pumps?
- What are the parts of a manual breast pump?
- Manual breast pumps for you to choose
- Things to remember while buying a manual breast pump
- How to use a manual breast pump?
- General tips on using a manual breast pump
You would want to be with the baby and breastfeed them regularly. But that may not be practical as you have other responsibilities too or you may have to join back in work after the maternity break.
But that shouldn’t deprive the baby of their privilege – the mother’s milk. And they don’t have to miss it thanks to the breast pumps.
What is a breast pump?
Breast pumps are devices designed to extract (express) breast milk from a mother’s breasts and supplement or replace breastfeeding. Some pumps even mimic the suckling action of a baby.
[ Read: Best Electric Breast Pumps ]
Why do you need a breast pump?
As a new mother, you might need a breast pump for several reasons. A few of them are:
- The baby is not able to breastfeed directly or has medical complications.
- The baby is born premature or cannot latch on to the breast.
- You have to return to work or study and do not have the chance to breastfeed several times in a day.
- You are unable to sit for long to breastfeed the baby.
- You need to open the plugged milk ducts or pull out the flat or inverted nipples.
- Get relief from the pain and pressure of engorged breasts.
There are different types of breast pumps.
What are the types of breast pumps?
There are three basic types of breast pumps:
1. Manual breast pumps:
Manual breast pumps usually have a lever or handle, which needs to be operated manually in order to express the breast milk. The milk is then collected in a container.
These pumps are usually small and handy and can be carried everywhere. But they may not be as efficient as battery powered or electric pumps. Also, the suction capability is limited.
2. Battery-powered breast pumps:
A battery powered pump uses batteries to power a small motor that creates suction to express the breast milk. The powered pump can also control the degree of suction, hence varying the amount of milk collected.
3. Electric breast pumps:
An electric pump is similar to a battery powered pump except that it has a cord that plugs into an electrical outlet.
Breast pumps can also be classified based on the pumping type:
1. Single pumping:
Single pumping type devices can be used to extract milk from only one breast at a time. Manual and most of the battery-powered pumps are single pumping types.
2. Double pumping:
Double pumping type devices are designed to extract milk from both breasts simultaneously. These consist of two breast shields with tubing connecting to the container. Most electric breast pumps are double pumping type.
Though all types of breast pumps might work, we will be focusing on manual breast pumps in this post.
What are the parts of a manual breast pump?
Any basic manual breast pump consists of the following parts:
- Breast shield: A cone-shaped cup meant for fitting over the nipple and the areola.
- Pump: The component that creates a vacuum to express or extract the milk from the nipple. The pump can either be directly attached to the breast shield or through a plastic tube.
- Container: Collects the extracted milk. It can be either a bottle or a bag.
Things To Remember While Buying A Manual Breast Pump
You can rely on this checklist while buying a manual breast pump.
1. Usage of the pump
- How many times you will be using the pump
- If you want to use the pump in addition to breastfeeding or replace breastfeeding
- How much milk you can pump in one session
2. Duration of each pumping session
- If you are using the pump at home and time is not a factor, you can opt for a manual pump that takes a reasonable amount of time.
- If you plan to use the pump at work or do not have much time, look for an electric or battery pump that extracts milk faster.
3. The instructions on the manual pump
You need to understand the instructions to assemble, use, and clean the device. Review the instruction manuals of various pumps online or at the store to check their user-friendliness.
4. Place of use
Buy a smaller one if you intend to use it at your workplace.
If you intend to carry the breast pump while traveling, look for ones that are portable, do not take up a lot of space, and are easy to assemble and handle. Manual and battery pumps are easier to carry than the electric ones.
6. Breast shields of the pump
Make sure the breast shields match your breast size. Check the manufacturer’s website for the breast shield sizes and pick the one that fits you.
7. The suction of the pumps
The amount of suction of the breast pump should be just right for your milk supply. Excessive suction can leave you with sore and painful breasts after each pumping session and less suction will end up in engorged breasts even after a session.
8. Design of the pump
You will want to look for a manual pump that is easy to hold and handle. Pumps with bulky designs can be difficult to use and transport.
How To Use A Manual Breast Pump?
Here is how you can use a manual breast pump. You may also follow the instructions given on the product label.
- Place the breast shield on your nipple. Your nipple should easily go inside the breast shield.
- Hold the breast shield in place with one hand and hold the lever/handle with the other hand.
- Begin squeezing the lever. Doing so will begin pumping milk into the container.
- Move around the handle of the pump until you find an appropriate suction level. This will make the pumping easier.
- Continue pumping until the flow of the milk slows down. Depending on your breast composition and the breast pump, it can take about 10-15 minutes per breast.
- Gently insert your finger between your breast and the shield to break the vacuum seal and remove the shield from your breast.
- Repeat with the other breast if and when required.
Note: Every manual breast pump is accompanied by a detailed instruction manual on how to use the pump. Follow the manual because detailed instructions change from pump to pump.
General tips on using a manual breast pump
Follow these tips when you are using a manual breast pump.
- Read through the entire instruction manual even if you have used a breast pump before.
- Wash your hands with soap and dry them thoroughly before using the pump.
- Wash your breasts before pumping, if you have been using any cream or ointment on them.
- Find a clean and comfortable place where you are not likely to be disturbed.
- Keep yourself calm and be relaxed during the pumping session. Time your session well so that you don’t have to rush through it.
- Pump as long as it feels comfortable and productive to you.
- Wash all the breast pump parts such as the tubing, container, and breast shields, after each use.
Next, let’s see the various breast pumps available in the market.
Breast pumps are the best alternative to breastfeeding because breast milk is the best food your baby can get in the first year. But use the pumps only when breastfeeding is not possible or if you have to stay away from your baby for a long time.
What is your take on breast pumps? Let us know in the comment section below.
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