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Breastfeeding > Breast Pump Information

Breast Pump Information

To decide which type of breast pump is best for you, ask yourself these questions. Find out how to get your insurance carrier to help with the cost of the breast pump.

How often will you use the breast pump?

If you'll be away from the baby only occasionally, a simple hand pump may be all you need. These pumps are small and inexpensive. You simply squeeze the handle to express the milk. If you're returning to work full time or you're planning to be away from your baby for more than a few hours a day, you may want to invest in an electric pump. Electric pumps stimulate the breasts more effectively than do hand pumps. This helps empty your breasts and protect your milk supply.

Will you need to pump as quickly as possible?

A typical pumping session lasts about 10 to 15 minutes per breast. If you'll be pumping at work or in other time-crunched situations, you may want to invest in an electric breast pump that allows you to pump both breasts at once. Double breast pumps help stimulate milk production while cutting pumping time in half.

How much can you afford to spend on the pump?

You can buy breast pumps from medical supply stores and most drug and baby stores. Manual models cost less than $50. Electric pumps that include a carrying case and insulated section for storing milk may cost more than $200. Some hospitals rent hospital-grade breast pumps, although the equipment that attaches your breast to the pump must be purchased. Some health insurance plans cover the cost of buying or renting a breast pump. Because there's a small risk of contamination, borrowing a breast pump or buying a used pump isn't recommended.

Is the pump easy to assemble?

If the breast pump is difficult to assemble, take apart or clean, it's bound to be frustrating — which may reduce your enthusiasm for pumping. Make sure you can remove any parts of the pump that come in contact with your skin or milk for cleaning after use.

Is the suction adjustable?

What's comfortable for one woman may be uncomfortable for another. Choose a pump that allows you to control the degree of suction. Some manual models allow you to adjust the position of the pump handle.

Is the pump heavy?

If you'll be toting the pump to work every day or traveling with the pump, look for a lightweight model. Some breast pumps come in a carrying case with an insulated section for storing expressed milk.

Is the pump noisy?

Some electric models are quieter than others. If it's important to be discreet, make sure the pump's noise level is acceptable.

Are the breast shields the correct size?

Every pump has a shield to place over your breast. If you're concerned that the standard breast shield is too small, check with individual manufacturers about other options. If you want to pump both breasts at once, make sure the pump is equipped with two breast shields.

What if the electricity fails?

An electric pump needs to be plugged in. If an outlet isn't accessible or the power fails, you'll need a rechargeable battery pack. In case of emergency, you may want to keep a manual pump handy.

Breast pump manufacturers

There are several breast pumps available. We do not endorse any brand over another, but have compiled a list of websites to help you in your search. If you have questions about quality, ask a lactation consultant. rates and reviews breast pumps and they can easily be searched by typing "breast pump" in the search bar. Consumer Reports has also tested and ranked breast pumps. If you have a favorite breast pump that is not represented here, please let us know!
  For more information on breast pumps, visit the FDA's website.

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