Feeling overwhelmed trying to figure out which pump to choose, or whether to pump at all? It's ok, just take it back to basics - this is one of those cases where you need the right tool for the job.
Last year we spoke with 100 mums, to find out how they really felt about breast pumps. We didn't need to ask much to get the conversation flowing. It turns out that mums feel quite strongly about this pumping thing, and have opinions and stories to share.
There were so many insights from the survey, that we've cut it up into posts for easier reading. However, if you're into digesting large slabs of material, or are scrolling through your phone for something to read while you pump, then you can find the full report here.
This post is about which pumps to use, when.
Caption: Generic picture of breast pump near cute baby and enviably calm and smiley mum. We do like this smaller bottle though, because it would make us feel better about the volume we're collecting.
Choosing the right pump for the job.
We don't want to promote one pump over another, so rather than name a brand, we'll go back to basics. Why do you need to pump in the first place?
From the responses we received from mums, it's clear that the type of pump a mum uses depends on the problem they're trying to solve.
Based on our survey, here are the top reasons why mums start pumping.
Here's some detail on each.
1. I'm pumping to store my milk for later.
Most mums fit into this category. They pump a bit extra to give them a bit of flexibility and control. They can leave a bottle for another carer, and sleep through a feed, go out, go to work or have backup if they get sick or stuck. These mums use all sorts of pumps - whatever works.
2. I'm pumping to increase my supply.
A little over 40% of mums use pumping as a way to increase milk supply. The idea being that the more you express, the more you create. These mums are usually looking for powerful pumps, and head to the electrical department pretty quickly.
3. I'm pumping to feed my baby who's having trouble feeding.
Breastfeeding is not always as easy and natural as instagram would have you believe. One third of mums told us that they were pumping because their baby was having difficulty feeding. There are so many reasons for this - darling little premature babies without strength or size to suck, tongue ties, latching positions, milk supply, nipple shape. Their mums use pumps to express milk and then syringe or bottle feed after. It can be really tough, especially in the first few weeks, with a three or four-hourly cycle of pump, feed, settle, wash and (try to) sleep. A friend of mine said sometimes she'd burst into tears just from the monotony of the whole thing. Again, these mums often end up on powerful, electric pumps which have enough suction to pump both breasts at once to save time.
4. I'm pumping to relieve pressure.
Pumping for relief was also fairly common. There are some mums in this category with over-supply. They have a conundrum of their own, because they want to relieve pressure, and prevent blocked ducts, but not create more milk. These mums often use passive pumps or collection shells.
So what should I do now?
Think about what you're trying to achieve and how you're feeling. Is it to stock up a few feeds, but you're otherwise pretty relaxed? Or are you feeling stressed and anxious because you're feeling like you can never collect enough?
If it's the first, you can probably go with whichever pump is most comfortable or is recommended by your friends. If it's the second, you might want to consider how to take as much stress out of your pumping routine as possible. Can you reduce the time you pump (to get more sleep), can you look for one that's easy to clean, or one that fits you well? Setting up for a low-stress pump session is a whole topic in itself, which we'll post on shortly.
Regardless of your reason for pumping (and you may have more than one), remember that most mums will try more than one pump before they settle on something that works for them and the stage they're at. This goes for mums who are expecting too, because you may not know which 'problem' you're going to have. Best thing to do in this case, is stay flexible.
So don't be afraid to try a few out. Ask your (close) friends if you can try theirs, or hire one for a bit. We're all different.
Didn't answer your question?
If you're still left wondering, or you think we've got something wrong, then please send us your question.
What mums say.
We'll leave you a quote from one mum about the virtues of going electric.
"The best thing about pumping is getting it over with. I have a powerful pump and a pumping bra. I just double pump and sit back and think of England.