Pregnancy and you blog

Breast pumps: Choices abound

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. January 4, 2013

If there's one phrase that's sure to stop a conversations flow it has to be: "When I was having babies..." Some of us older moms will even preface it with "back in the day." Personally, I don't like to use that opening because I'd be admitting that I had my babies during the Stone Age when The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy was written on stone tablets. Still, I don't think the essentials of pregnancy, birth and motherhood have changed — although we have more choices and more things to help us be the moms we want to be.

Something that's changed, for example, is breast pumps. Compared to what was available when I was nursing babies, today's breast pumps are golden.

With my first baby, I had a handheld breast pump with a glass cup to cover my nipple. When my husband broke the cup, I cried and cried. I was never good at hand expression and reliable electric pumps weren't available. It was a long three days before the replacement cup arrived. Luckily for my husband, the replacement cup was plastic and the pump served me well. It was time-consuming, though, taking my entire lunch hour to pump those precious drops of milk. One day I spilled the expressed milk when I was getting in the car. I couldn't have reacted more strongly if it had been liquid gold. (Yes, more crying. I did a lot of that with my first baby.)

If you're considering breast pumps, think about how you'll use the pump before investing in one. For example, if you have a premature baby or your baby has health issues, you might need to rent a hospital-grade electric pump. If you're planning to pump and feed the baby the milk in a bottle — or you're returning to work and plan to pump during working hours — it might be worthwhile to invest in an electric pump that allows you to pump both breasts at once.

Before you make a decision, talk to friends who've pumped. Get their recommendations. Check with a local lactation consultant for suggestions. Read opinions about certain brands and models online. Make a contingency plan for times when the electricity goes out or isn't available.

What are your breast pump stories? Please share!

Jan. 04, 2013