Best Electric Breast Pump Buying Guide
Health professionals have always maintained their stand about breastfeeding and how breast milk is the best option, if not the only option, in feeding babies both newborn and growing ones. It has always been recommended by health organizations worldwide, including the World Health Organization or the WHO, that mothers breastfeed their infants up to at least six months after giving birth and that it is best to continue breastfeeding up until the child is two years of age.
Breast milk has a perfect balance between fat, sugar, water and protein, all of which are needed for a baby’s growth and development. The component of breast milk actually changes over time depending on a baby’s age and on how long he nurses at each breastfeeding session. Did you know that the breast milk’s content can even change within the day to meet your baby’s needs?
Breastfeeding greatly improves a baby’s immune system and triggers biochemical reactions that produce enzymes, hormones and growth factors -- benefits that infant formula can not provide. It decreases the risk of respiratory tract infections and diarrhea. Increased resistance against infections may be attributed to the colostrum, the type of breast milk produced during the first days after giving birth. Risk of diseases that may develop later in the baby’s life may also be lowered by breastfeeding. Such diseases may include asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.
If these are not good enough reasons to breastfeed your baby, wait until you hear the numerous benefits breastfeeding has for mothers, as well. Breastfeeding your baby can burn calories on an average of 500 calories a day. This means it would be much easier for you to return to your pre baby weight. Aside from weight loss, breastfeeding triggers feel good hormones which can increase your bonding with your newborn child and prevent postpartum depression. It can also lower the risk for breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
One more good thing about breast milk? It is free. Breastfeeding your child can help you save at least $170 a month.
If you are to stay at home with your baby, breastfeeding your child whenever he needs to feed is no problem. But say you are getting ready to get back to work or you have to attend to some things that will require some considerable amount of time away from your child, you will probably need to express your milk ahead of time. Breast milk could be expressed for storage and later use. Expressed milk can be produced by using breast pumps.
There are generally two types of breast pumps-- manual breast pumps and electric breast pumps. Manual breast pumps are best for mothers who will only need to express milk occasionally and for short-term separations. These work by pumping a piston or squeezing a lever in order to create suction in the breast shield that will empty out a breast. Electric breast pumps are for mothers who work full-time or for moms who will be frequently away from their baby. Pumps of the electric type are fully automatic, with adjustable suction intensity. Unlike manual breast pumps, electric types are generally double pumps and can express milk from both breasts simultaneously. Although electric breast pumps are less portable than manual pumps, a good number of mothers often find electric pumps to meet their needs more since they express more milk in a shorter period of time.
There are quite a number of electric pumps available in the market. If you think electric breast pumps are for you but are not quite sure which to get, allow us to help you out in your shopping quest. Electric pumps can further be classified into personal-use breast pumps and hospital-grade electric breast pumps, but today we are going to focus our attention on personal-use pumps. We here at ParentsNeeds HQ have prepared a buying guide for the best electric breast pumps. At the end of this buying guide, we hope we have equipped you with enough information to help you make an informed choice on which pump to get.
What are the features to consider when buying an electric breast pump?
One of main advantage of electric breast pumps over manual breast pumps is the speed at which they can express milk. A good electric breast pump will have a powerful motor that can provide efficient suction. Look for an electric breast pump that offers speed in expressing milk, after all, one of the reasons you opted for an electric type is for the speed.
● Double pumps
Most electric breast pump models are double pumps, meaning you may express milk from both breasts at the same time. This adds to an electric pump’s efficiency since you can save twice the time in collecting expressed milk.
● Suction settings
Look for a pump with an adjustable vacuum so that you can play around with the settings until you are most comfortable when you are expressing milk. A good electric breast pump will have suction settings that you can adjust to better mimic the way your baby nurses from you. The best type will allow for at least two speed settings. The first one being the rapid mode to imitate a baby’s quick sucking to begin fast milk flow. The second being deeper suction to produce the most milk flow.
● Pump system
Electric breast pumps may either be open or closed systems. In an open system, there is no physical barrier between the pump motor and your milk. This means that there is a possibility for milk to be drawn to the pump, which may result to mold growth. If shared with other women, it may even lead to transmission of viruses since you can never really be sure you have completely cleaned the motor. Open system breast pumps are therefore recommended for use by one person. Closed system breast pumps have barriers such as a filter that prevents milk from reaching the pump motor. Risks for mold growth and spread of diseases are therefore decreased. Hospital-grade electric breast pumps are closed systems since the isolation of the motor from the milk renders the pumps safe for sharing.
● Replaceable parts
Some electric breast pump models have available replacements for parts that are prone to wear and tear. Pumps that have replaceable parts could be used for a long period of time.
If you value portability, look for a portable-sized electric breast pump that you can carry around. The best electric breast pump that you can take with you on the go should not weigh more than 8 pounds and should at least come with a carrying case.
● Storage compartments
Speaking of portability, having insulated storage compartments for expressed milk is a major plus feature of an electric breast pump. The best electric breast pump will have a storage compartment that can store your breast milk and keep it in good quality while you are on the go.
● Power source
Power source is an important consideration depending on where and how often you will use the electric breast pump. If you are going to use it in one place, like in the comfort of your own home, one that can be plugged into the wall should do. If you are going to be here and there and are unsure how available a wall outlet will be, better look for an electric breast pump that works on batteries. Better yet, look for one that can be powered by both.
● Memory settings
Another good feature to look out for is a setting that can store your preferred set-up in memory. This will eliminate the hassle of programming in your speed and suction settings every time you express your milk.
Electric breast pumps are generally noisy but among models that are out in the market, there are some that offer a decreased noise level. Less noisier pumps are desirable for moms who would be pumping in public places such as the office. It allows for a more discreet session and allows the mother to express comfortably.
How to buy the best electric breast pump
- Get some background about electric breast pump models that are currently available in the market. Research on their features and specifications. Read up on reviews submitted by users like yourself and see what worked and what didn’t for them. Check out lists of highly rated electric breast pumps to narrow down your choices.
- Have a list of your preferred features and match these features with the model that meets the most of your requirements. List your desired features according to priority and decide which are non-negotiables.
- Expect to pay around $150 to $300 for quality electric breast pumps. Be sure to keep your receipt and proof of warranty for future use.
- Avoid buying second hand units that are open system breast pumps to avoid transmission of viruses. Breast milk can carry bacteria and viruses. In open system breast pumps, breast milk may unknowingly be drawn to the pump motor and since the complete cleaning and disinfection of the pump motor can never be guaranteed, buying a second hand unit is not recommended.
Important tips to keep in mind
- If it isn’t hospital-grade and if you are not renting from a hospital, don’t use a borrowed pump even if it is from a friend. Used pumps may be contaminated and may cause you and your baby an infection. It is known that breast milk may be a carrier of bacteria and viruses. If droplets of an infected breast milk got into the internal parts of the pump, there is no way to completely disinfect them.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions and specifications and check if the unit is a “single-user”. Never share your electric breast pump if it is marked single-user.
- If your unit is a double pump electric breast pump and you are only going to use one pump, seal the other side so as not to reduce the efficiency of the pump and its suction capabilities.
- Make sure to the get the proper size of breast shields or flanges. Not getting the right size may lead to inefficient pumping. It may be even painful for you since a certain amount of your areola may get sucked in if you are using shields that don’t fit your breasts. Shields that are too small may cause sore or damaged nipples. It is pretty common for mothers to get a breast shield one size bigger over the one that comes provided with the pump.
- Clean the pump parts after every session. Follow safety guidelines from the manufacturer’s manual on how to clean and maintain your electric breast pump.
- Refrigerate your expressed milk as soon as possible. Refrigerated breast milk may be safe for consumption for up to 24 hours. Breast milk may also be frozen from three to six months. When freezing expressed milk, be sure to indicate the date when you have expressed it in order to keep track of the period when it is safe for use. A useful tip may be to keep them stacked at the back of the freezer instead of near the freezer door to avoid thawing every time the door might be opened.
- Thaw frozen breast milk in warm water. Avoid using boiling water or microwaving the frozen breast milk. Extreme heating procedures may destroy important components of the breast milk and may even render the milk useless or unsafe for consumption. Another reason to avoid microwaving the breast milk is to avoid scalding your baby’s mouth and throat since this heating method may create random hot spots.
- Don’t mix fresh breast milk with older batches of breastmilk that have been refrigerated or frozen.
- Don’t refreeze thawed breast milk.
Do you think you are now ready to shop for an electric breast pump? Before hitting your local stores, be sure to check out our own Top 5 Best Electric Breast Pumps. We here at ParentsNeeds HQ have put a number of models to the test and listed our top choices for your reading pleasure. Find out here what made Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump our number one choice.