Breastfeeding doesn't always mean avoiding bottles completely. Many nursing moms pump for work, for partners to feed the baby at night or for travel. Other moms pump exclusively while babies are in the NICU. Regardless of your reasons for needing a breast pump, learn from an expert which type is right for you.
What is the difference between a hospital-grade pump and other pumps?
Judy P. Masucci, Ph.D., is owner of A Mother's Boutique. She helps nursing moms find the right tools to breastfeed. Judy explains that hospital-grade pumps are made for multiple users. They're closed systems, meaning there's no chance of contamination if more than one woman uses the pump. "Hospital-grade pumps are typically more powerful than personal use pumps and are better able to extract milk from a mother's breasts with greater efficiency and speed," says Judy. Function aside, hospital-grade pumps are also much more expensive than personal use pumps.
Do personal use breast pumps work well?
According to Judy, a regular personal use breast pump is fine for most moms' needs. She recommends an electric double pump for any moms who need to pump regularly. "When you have a let-down in one breast, it actually stimulates a let-down in the other breast," Judy says. "So pumping both breasts at the same time will actually yield more milk than pumping each breast individually." This is essential for working moms who may be short on pumping time. Judy recommends that all moms learn how to express milk by hand for occasions when it's necessary and a pump is not readily available. When it comes to double electric pumps, Judy's favorite brands are the Hygeia pumps and Ameda pumps.
When is a hospital-grade pump necessary?
Sometimes even the best double electric breast pump isn't enough. "Moms with premature babies often need a hospital-grade pump to be able to express milk for their babies while they are in the NICU," says Judy. "Moms who have had breast reduction surgery or breast implants can sometimes have difficulties keeping up their milk supply. Basically, if a personal use pump isn't keeping up with Mom's needs, a hospital-grade pump will be a great alternative to try." Breastfeeding moms who are exclusively pumping may find that renting a hospital-grade pump is the most efficient solution.
How can moms afford hospital-grade pumps?
A hospital-grade pump can cost anywhere from $750 to $2,000. Insurance companies rarely cover this charge. As a result, many moms find that renting a pump is much more affordable. Most hospitals rent pumps to nursing moms. If you take a hospital tour, ask about your options. "Many places offer discounted rates if you prepay for a number of months upfront," says Judy. "If you know you are going to need or want the pump long term, pre-paying upfront is definitely your most affordable option."