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What breast pump do you recommend?
Q: What’s the best breast pump to buy?
A: There are a variety of pumps available, and your choice will depend on your specific needs. Factors to consider include how easily your body releases milk, how often you need to pump, where you pump, how much time you have to pump and your budget.

There are four types of pumps: the hand-held syringe type pump, the hand-held battery-operated pump, the electric portable pump and the hospital-type electric pump.

All of these use suction to collect milk into a container. However, they vary in their source of power (you, a battery or electricity), the amount of suction provided, the way the suction is released, the frequency of the suction-release cycles, and whether there is the capacity to pump one or both breasts simultaneously.

If you have already established a strong flow of milk and need to collect milk only occasionally, any of the pumps should be fine, and there is no need to invest in an expensive one. If you are trying to establish a milk supply for a baby who is unable to nurse yet, you should use a higher quality electric pump and save yourself the frustration of the hand-held varieties.

If you’re going back to work and need a reliable pump, think about where you will be pumping and whether a source of electricity is available. Will you need a portable pump to carry to work each day, or is there a stable location at work for your pump? Are time limitations an important factor? If so, a double-pumping system might be most desirable. Try to pick a pump that balances convenience, efficiency and comfort to minimize the inconvenience of pumping at work.

From my own experience as a breastfeeding working mother, I found that some pumps felt more comfortable than others. If you find a particular breast pump uncomfortable, don’t be discouraged. It’s worth trying another style. The electric pumps that allow you to control the intensity of the suction and the frequency of the pump-release cycle are undoubtedly the best. These are the usually stocked in hospital nurseries. They’re efficient, adjustable and allow you to pump both breasts simultaneously. However, they’re very expensive, so many women choose to rent them.

La Leche League International is an excellent source of information about breastfeeding and related topics. To learn about other women’s experiences with pumping, visit La Lache’s website at www.lalecheleague.org, or contact your local chapter.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist