Breast Pump Basics

Fortunately, we have a lot of choices with breast pumps. Deciding which pump to purchase can be a challenge. When assisting in a woman’s decision, the first question is: How much time she will be away from her baby? The longer the time (such as working full time) the better the pump needs to be.

Breast pumps come in a single or double style with automatic or manual versions available. The ability to empty breasts more effectively has a lot to do with the suction/release cycle per minute of the pump. Most small, motorized single pumps generate between four and seven suction-and-release cycles per minute, (the exception is the Medella Mini Electric, which generates 30 cycles per minute). The mid-size Medella pump-n-style cycles at 48 cycles per minute. Mimicking the suck of a breastfed baby, the suction/release cycle would need to be 48-60 times per minute. Fewer cycles per minute provides less breast stimulation, which results in less milk expressed and eventually a lower milk supply.

For working moms, double pumping can reduce the pump time by half. Also, because both breasts are stimulated at the same time, there is an increase in prolactin levels causing an increase in the milk production. Although more expensive, initially, most working moms find the more expensive models cost less over time. Because of fewer regulations, Medella pumps can be ordered through the internet at a significant savings, from Canada.

For the mom who needs an occasional bottle, hand expressing or a single pump may work fine. However, for those working moms who are dedicated to excellent nutrition for their baby, encourage them to purchase the best double pump with the highest number of cycles per minute that they can afford.