Every breastfeeding mom has a unique lifestyle and attitude towards breastfeeding. Most of us understand the nutritional and emotional benefits of breastfeeding, but, not everyone wants to breastfeed in the same way. This is exactly why Medela makes a wide range of breastpumps, each one designed to match a certain lifestyle. Choosing a breastfeeding pump starts with a decision about how you want to breastfeed your baby, versus how often you plan to feed your baby breastmilk from a bottle.
If you recall from the post “Breastfeeding Facts: What’s ‘Normal’ May Surprise You”, the amount of breastmilk a baby consumes in a feeding session ranges from 54mL to 234mL, with the daily consumption range being around 478mL to 1,356mL. It’s important to remember that it can take a couple of weeks for your breastmilk production to ramp up to these volumes, and it is completely tied to how much breastmilk is drained from your breasts. It’s very clever how your breastmilk production adjusts to how much is removed from the breast. How efficient!
The easiest way to think about which breastpump you might need is to think about how often someone else will be feeding breastmilk from a bottle to your baby. The volume of milk removed from one pumping session may not equate to one bottle-feeding session. Though, sometimes one pumping session may supply enough milk for more than one bottle-feeding session. It really depends on how much milk is available in your breasts when you pump, and how hungry your baby is when you feed him the breastmilk from a bottle.
If you know you will be sharing feeding responsibilities with others more than twice per week, then we recommend you should get a breastfeeding pump that allows you to express both breasts at once. This is because you are now relying on the breastpump to maintain your milk supply, since your baby will be feeding at the breast less often. Simultaneous breastpumping with a Medela double breastpump helps to better maintain your milk supply by more effectively removing the available breastmilk from the breasts. Which triggers more milk production.
If you are feeding breastmilk from a bottle twice a week or less, then you can get by with a single breastpump. At which point, it’s more around preference whether you use a manual or electric breastfeeding pump. Often times new parents aren’t really sure whether they will need a breastpump, or if they will, which one. Many will wait until after the birth of their child before making the decision, while others will purchase before the birth in order to be prepared. If you do purchase a breastpump before birth, we recommend you to not open the box for the breastpump. Breastpumps are medical devices. The breastfeeding pumps you purchase in store are classified as “single-user medical devices” which means they cannot be returned once opened (just like toothbrushes, underwear, bras, swimsuits, etc.). The versions you use in the hospital or that you rent are designed differently, so that the motor units cannot be contaminated, which enables them to remain safe and hygienic even when used by different people.
Enough with all these boring details, instead of looking only at a breastpump’s features and benefits, let’s take a look at four different life scenarios and see which one best describes your overall breastfeeding situation.
Scenario One: Full-time breastfeeding mom
I want to breastfeed full-time and my baby will only receive breastmilk from a bottle a couple of times per week. I’m not planning on going back to school or work during the period I’ll be breastfeeding my baby, so there are really no reasons why my baby and I will be separated on a daily basis and unable to feed at my breasts.
Recommendation: Swing (electric) or Harmony (manual) – Single breastpumps, 2-Phase Expression. The choice between the two is really more of a personal choice. You must decide whether you want to do the work to manually express your milk, or let the pump to do the work for you.
Scenario Two: Parents with shared feeding responsibilities
My partner and I want to be equally involved in the bonding and feeding experience with our baby. We are a team, so that means we work together. While I may be able to feed our baby at my breasts, my partner will need me to express my breastmilk so there are bottles of breastmilk available to feed our baby. I’ll handle the night-time feeds, while my partner will take the evening feeds so I can get some sleep. Once I go back to work, I know I will need to pump even more since my baby will need to be fed breastmilk from a bottle at daycare.
Scenario Three: Healthy term infant and mom, but one or both has a challenge with breastfeeding
My baby was born at term, but for some reason we are having trouble establishing breastfeeding and/or lactation. We are not in the care of the hospital, but are working with a lactation consultant, midwife, or other healthcare professional. I really want to breastfeed my baby, but I’m worried I won’t be able to. I need to use a pump at least for now to establish and protect my milk supply while we work these things out.
Recommendation: Symphony Rental with Symphony Retail Double Pumping Kit – Designed to establish and maintain a mother’s breastmilk supply, the Symphony is available through rental locations across Canada.
Once you and your baby have resolved your breastfeeding and lactation challenges, and your breastmilk supply is no longer at risk, go back to Scenarios 1 and 2 to determine whether it makes sense for you to switch to another breastfeeding pump.
Scenario Four: Preterm Birth and/or mother requires hospital care
The establishment of my milk supply was interrupted due to a preterm birth and/or complications at birth that resulted in my baby and I being separated. We are still in the hospital, and I need help to get my milk supply established because I know this is a critical time for my baby and my breastmilk could make all the difference for his survival.
Recommendation: Symphony breast pump with breastmilk initiation software and sterile single-use pumping kits – Hospital-grade breast pump available in the hospital and through rental locations across Canada. The initiation software (preemie+ program) with Symphony helps to activate the milk production capability of the breasts when your baby is not available. The sterile single-use pumping kits protect the valuable expressed breastmilk by minimizing risks of contamination while you and/or your baby are under the hospital’s care.
Once you and your baby have both been discharged from the hospital and neither of you are experiencing any breastfeeding or lactation challenges, go back to Scenarios 1 and 2 to determine whether it makes sense for you to switch to another breast pump.
Resources to Help You Choose the Best Breastpump for Your Lifestyle
Hopefully this approach was helpful for you. If you are looking for more detailed information on how to choose the best breastfeeding pump, here are links to specific topics.
Regardless of the option that you choose, remember that all Medela breast pumps feature 2-Phase Expression, which mimics the baby’s natural sucking rhythm. The Calma feeding device can be easily attached to your bottle of pumped milk. Calma is a revolutionary new feeding solution designed exclusively for breastfed babies, enabling them to apply the same feeding behaviour learned at the breast, when consuming expressed breastmilk. This makes it easy for your baby to transition from breast to bottle and back again.
There’s a Medela breast pump for every woman’s lifestyle. Finding the right pump helps you to give your baby the goodness of your breastmilk for as long as you want. It will also give you the flexibility you need to pursue your work, school or other commitments.
If you ever have a question around which Medela breast pump might be best for your specific situation or lifestyle, contact Medela Canada’s customer service centre and we’d be happy to help you.
Are you currently using a breast pump? What has your experience been? What advice would you give to the other women in our community who may be choosing their first breastfeeding pump? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below or join the conversation on our Medela Canada Facebook page.