Most new mothers we come in contact with have some idea of the importance of a breast pump for use after giving birth to their baby. Most insurance companies are required to supply new mothers a pump and some do not allow the mother to have a lot of choice in which pump she receives. The good news is that most electric, double breast pumps are effective at maintaining a mother’s milk supply once her supply is established. What these pumps aren’t as great at is helping a struggling breastfeeding mom establish her milk supply.

When babies go home that are not successfully latching, have a weaker suck or are being supplemented with formula for whatever reason, a portable electric pump will often times not be effective in establishing a full milk supply. In this case the stronger more efficient hospital grade Medela Symphony pump is key.

How do I know I need a hospital grade breast pump?

The answer is simple. Using a hospital grade pump will never hurt and will almost always yield more milk. Unfortunately, if your insurance company already supplied you with a breast pump, they will most likely not cover the added cost of pump rental. Still, it is relatively easy to rent a hospital grade pump and you can do so by the month with overnight shipping through most suppliers. One month is typically sufficient in establishing and building your milk supply, though some mothers love it so much they keep it for much longer. If your baby is nursing 8-12 times a day and sleeping in between feeds for about 2 hours than you probably don’t need to worry about pumping to establish your milk supply. On the other hand, if your baby is having trouble latching, fussy at the breast or is needed to be supplemented for any reason than renting a hospital grade pump can make a huge difference. The Medela Symphony is the top of the line breast pump that has a stronger suction and is much more efficient. It also more closely resembles the sucking of a baby so allows most mothers to let down faster and more completely empty their breasts.

 

How do I know if my portable pump I received from my insurance company is sufficient?

If you leave the hospital with your baby latching correctly each feeding and feeding 8-12 times a day than the portable electric pump is probably sufficient.  Hopefully you will have worked with a lactation consultant in the hospital before going home to learn how to successfully latch your baby.  If latching is painful and causing nipple damage get help as quickly as possible since this is the first sign that your latch is not correct.  If your baby is not correctly latching, besides painful nipples, your breasts will not get the stimulation they need so your milk will not come in as quickly.  With milk not there, the baby is less likely to latch and will get frustrated at the breast.  This starts the vicious circle of baby refusing the breast and low milk supply.

If your baby is latching well and content between feedings most of the time, then the portable breast pump will just be kept on hand for when you and your baby are separated or for returning to work.  Make sure before you leave the hospital someone shows you how to use your pump.  It is definitely not something you are going to want to figure out on your own in a hurry if you need it!

If you leave the hospital with your baby latching correctly each feeding and feeding 8-12 times a day than the portable electric pump is probably sufficient.  Hopefully you will have worked with a lactation consultant in the hospital before going home to learn how to successfully latch your baby.  If latching is painful and causing nipple damage get help as quickly as possible since this is the first sign that your latch is not correct.  If your baby is not correctly latching, besides painful nipples, your breasts will not get the stimulation they need so your milk will not come in as quickly.  With milk not there, the baby is less likely to latch and will get frustrated at the breast.  This starts the vicious circle of baby refusing the breast and low milk supply.

If your baby is latching well and content between feedings most of the time, then the portable breast pump will just be kept on hand for when you and your baby are separated or for returning to work.  Make sure before you leave the hospital someone shows you how to use your pump.  It is definitely not something you are going to want to figure out on your own in a hurry if you need it!

Medela Pump in Style

Medela Freestyle

Spectra

What are some other pumping options?

Besides establishing and increasing breastmilk supply, there are some other instances where pumping can come in handy.    A hand held manual pump is something that is useful and is good to have on hand for when you need a quick simple way to express some milk.  Some women’s breasts get very full between feedings so that when it’s time to latch their baby their breasts are firm and the nipple flattened.  In this situation, massaging around the nipple back toward the breast can soften the area and make latching easier.  If this doesn’t help, then pumping a few minutes with a manual pump will draw the nipple out and soften the area.  Some women also have an oversupply of milk in the beginning and can get uncomfortable.  Pumping off a little milk here and there can help until the milk supply is better regulated.  Just be careful because the more you pump the more your brain is getting the message that your baby needs to eat and so even more milk will be produced.  So keep it brief and make your baby do most of the work!

Wearable pumps are another option with two new pumps hitting the market this year.  The Willow pump launched in May and the Elive pump just launched in September.  Both pumps are discreet, quiet, all-in-one pumps that adjust to your body’s flow of milk.  Both pumps also monitor milk output by a wirelessly connected app.  These pumps allow you to go about your day without being stuck connected to tubing or a machine and are especially great for working moms.  The biggest problem with these new wearable pumps is that they are not yet covered by insurance in the United States.

And lastly If you absolutely hate the pump than that’s fine too! Hand expression is just as effective it just can take longer.  Some women do not use electric pumps at all and just hand express milk for their babies when they need to.  It is definitely a skill that takes some learning and practice to get good at, but can be very effective.  Whichever pump or method you use for breastmilk expression, knowing your options and how to correctly express milk before you need to will go a long way in your breastfeeding success.