Breast Pumps

These are designed to help you express milk from your breasts into a container or bottle. Some mums find they can only express a very little milk at a time, which can make it a rather drawn out process

They are useful:

  • When you want to express enough milk to make up a feed, for example when you are going
    out for the evening, or are going back to work and want the carer to continue giving your baby breast milk from a bottle
  • When you want to provide milk for a premature or ill baby who can’t be put to the breast
  • When your breasts are uncomfortably engorged with milk and you are desperate to relieve the pressure, although the best method is to feed your baby, or even lie in a warm bath and gently use your hand

There are three types of breast pump which come with everything needed, including bottles and teats:

Manual – you use your hand to pump the lever that creates suction. These can be hard work, so it’s worth ensuring you buy one that’s efficient.

Look for:

  • Designs that pump the breast with each action of the handle; both as you squeeze and as you relax (rather than those which only pump as you squeeze). The double action is better at getting milk out of the breast
  • A pump that is comfortable for you to operate – some have a wide gap between the handle and the bottle, making it difficult for small hands to reach across the gap; try before you buy
  • Some of the latest designs have a soft inner lining to the piece that goes over your
    breast, which massages the breast and imitates a baby feeding more closely

Battery operated – a battery operated unit does the work for you so that you just hold onto the bottle. Some makes can also operate from the mains, and some come with a mains adaptor included in the price. You can also buy separate breast pump mains adaptors compatible with a variety of makes.

Electric – you can rent large electric pumps, which is useful if your baby is in special care or you need a pump for long-term use. Contact the National Childbirth Trust or Medela*

Whichever type of pump you buy, remember that the parts will need to be easy to clean and to sterilise.

Storage – expressed breast milk can be stored in the fridge for 24 hours or freezer for three months, depending on how quickly you intend to use it. There are a variety of products available to help make storage easier, including:

  • Milk storage kits with bags, clips and freezer labels
  • Milk storage bottles in small sizes, which are compatible with certain breast pumps
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