All breastfeeding pumps have a breast shield, pump and milk container. The breast shield is placed over the nipple and areola, and the pump creates a vacuum to help express breast milk, which is collected in the milk container. The container is detachable, which allows you to store breast milk after a pumping session or transfer it to a bottle or other storage container.
When you begin pumping, schedule pumping sessions around the same number of times you would breastfeed your baby. How long each pumping session takes will depend on which type of breast pump you use.
Most breast pumps fall into two main categories: manual breast pumps and electric (hands-free) breast pumps. There are benefits and drawbacks to each type. This guide can help you choose which one is right for you.
Manual breast pumps require the mother to manually operate a lever or handle to express milk. You may also use a silicone pump, which, when placed over your breast, produce suction that can manually drain your breast. These silicone breast pumps may also help you catch milk that would leak out from one breast while you are feeding your baby on the other.
- Are effective for pumping a few times a week, one to two times a day
- Are smaller, more discreet and more cost-effective than electric pumps
- Help bring out flat or inverted nipples
- Help relieve engorgement
- Are not suitable for extended use
- Can be time-consuming
- Can pump only one breast at a time
Electric breast pumps can be either single or double, meaning you can pump one or both breasts at the same time. They use gentle suction that simulates feeding to collect breast milk in a bottle. Double electric breast pumps may be used long term if mom and baby are having latch problems or mom desires to exclusively pump.
- Are hands-free
- Are useful to increase your milk supply or allow you to keep up your supply when separated from your baby
- Can be used to provide milk for your baby as long as you desire to breastfeed if your baby is unable to latch or transfer milk efficiently
- Are typically more expensive than manual pumps but covered by most insurances
- Require approximately 20 or more minutes to empty your breasts
Have breastfeeding questions? Attend one of our classes to learn more.