A breast pump is a device which lactating women use to express milk from their breasts. They may be manual devices operated by hand or foot movements or automatic devices run by electricity.
Breast pumps are used mostly when you wish to give your baby the health benefits of breast milk but don’t have the ability or time to breastfeed regularly. How to use a breast pump varies very much and depends on the kinds of breast pumps you are using.
Kinds of Breast Pumps
There are basically six kinds of breast pumps to choose from. You may feel fine using any one type of pump for your pumping needs or alternately based on the situation.
Following are the main types:
- Manual breast pump
It is held in place with one hand while the other hand pumps. It is relatively cheaper and convenient to use when you have to stay away from home. But it needs you to do the whole work by yourself.
- Electric breast pumps
These are available as double or single breast pumps. These units plug into electric outlets and help in expressing milk. They cost a bit higher. You can gain the best electric breast pump India through an online search.
- Battery operated pumps
These are ideal for pumping on the go, without you having to do all the work by yourself. They operate just like electric pumps but use batteries in place of plugging in.
- Wearable pumps
This has a hands-free design which fits in your bra to express milk on the go, in a discrete manner. These pumps are slightly more expensive.
- Double breast pump
This is a quick option for expressing milk from both breasts. This is ideal for moms who need to pump often and have lots of milk production.
- Hospital-grade pumps
These are mostly rented from hospitals or medical suppliers. They are meant for moms who need to pump full time, particularly when the baby is admitted to the hospital for any reason. These are highly efficient and a bit on the expensive side.
When to Begin Breast Pumping?
A new mom can start breast pumping right after the birth of her baby to initiate breastfeeding and to promote milk supply. In case a mom is unable to breastfeed, it becomes more vital to begin pumping. But ideally, you should start pumping when you feel like or after consulting with your lactation specialist or doctor.
Lactation consultants typically suggest waiting for a few weeks to use the breast pump until the establishment of a breastfeeding schedule. Some advice against early pumping, saying that it will lead to nipple confusion and baby will refuse to breastfeed. Though not all babies will have such confusion, it is advised to wait for a few weeks.
The ideal time to pump breast milk and introduce a baby to a bottle is when he or she is a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks old when there is already a schedule for feeding. In case you are planning to return to work and start pumping milk, you should begin doing this at least 2 to 3 weeks prior to the actual date. Point to note is that breast pumping can be an overwhelming experience, and you must invest in a set of pumps that is right for your needs.
Benefits of Breast Pumps
You may not be keen about bottle feeding with pumped milk being constantly reminded of the goodness of exclusive breastfeeding. But in case you are planning to return to work or need a break or your milk supply is too much, the breast pump may become a saving grace.
Here are some of its benefits:
- Control over feeding time
By using breast pumps, both mothers and other caregivers can gain control over the feeding schedule of babies. You can work out a schedule that best fits you and your baby and pump accordingly. By gaining control over feeding sessions, it becomes easier to return to work, without worrying about the proper feeding of your baby.
- Helps with milk supply
In case your breast milk is less in supply, a pump can help you express more milk. By pumping after breastfeeding, your milk supply can be enhanced, and excess milk can be stored away for later use. Also, in case you have excess milk formation, you can express milk for later use or donate to other mothers who face a shortage of milk.
- Prevent breast engorgement
One among the main reasons why new moms swear by breast pumps is to prevent the painful condition of breast engorgement. In case you have an excess supply of milk, you can use electric, or manual breast pumps to express the excess milk and save it for later use. By pumping out the excess milk, you can ensure that your breasts don’t get engorged and become painful.
- Take a break
When your new baby demands your constant attention and care, you are likely to be exhausted and sleep-deprived most of the time. You will require much rest to take proper care of the baby. You can gain a valuable break by pumping and storing breast milk. Either your partner or any family member can feed your baby while you take the much-needed nap. This will also make the process of returning to work, less of a challenge.
- Useful for a medical condition
In case a new mom is not able to feed, or if the baby does not learn to latch, breast pumps can surely prove useful. Bottle feeding with pumped milk can ensure the baby is getting the right nutrition.