Born To Be Breastfed > 2018 > February

But My Friend LOVED Hers…”Rules” for Choosing a Breast Pump

Listen to the podcast, “Your Before-You-Buy Guide to Breast Pumps”

You’ve read the books, talked to friends, surfed the web, and compared customer reviews. You’re sure you know which pump you want to buy or use. You’re all set, right? Not so fast. With a global market worth well over 700 million U.S. dollars, manufacturers are vying to make you choose theirs. But what’s fact, what’s fiction, and what will improve your pumping experience? Before breaking the bank on the latest and greatest pumping technology, take the time to figure out what breast pump you really need. Here are just a few rules to follow before shopping for the “best” pump.

Rule #1 Don’t listen to your best friend’s recommendation: Choose a pump for YOU

“I got the XYZ pump because my best friend loved it! I don’t understand why she loves it, because I hate it!” I’ve heard this phrase uttered by frustrated moms many times.

A variation is, “What’s the best breast pump on the market?”

My response always is, “There is no “best” breast pump. You need a pump to meet your needs and wants, and this all depends on your specific circumstances. Do you have a few minutes for me to explain?”

As with any other product—cars, socks, phones, or food—the “best” product for one person is not necessarily well-suited for another.

So rule number one is to seek a breast pump that is best for you – not your mom, aunt, bestie or anyone else.

Rule #2  Think about it: Is your baby nursing? Or are you just pumping?

This is a critical question. If your baby is preterm or ill or unable to suckle strongly, you are “pump-dependent.”

Even if you have a healthy baby, perhaps your baby is not suckling, either by choice, or by circumstance. You may have elected to be a full-term pumper, or you may be away from your baby for an extended period.

You’re depending on the pump to maintain your milk supply. In these situations, a frequently-cycling electric pump is your best bet. Having said that, hand expression will work just as well as a high-quality electric pump.

Not sure of the pros and cons of each?  Get my free worksheet

Rule #3 Consider Your Work Environment

Your work environment affects your choice of pump. Presuming you are working outside of your home, your work setting—including how far your work is from your home—influences what features you’ll want to look for.

If you can take a break nearly any time during the work day, and if you have a private office of your own, you can probably use any pump on the market. However, you might have a very different set of circumstances.

For example, if you’re a forest ranger, lugging a heavy pump around or using one that requires electrical power isn’t realistic. Even a battery-operated pump might not be convenient for you. Instead, consider a lightweight cylinder pump. In my opinion, these little gems are unappreciated.

Consider the classic Kaneson. These are also great if you do air travel and want to tuck a pump into your carry-on case.

Rule#4 You are pumping milk not weight training: Consider the weight of pump

Even if you’re not taking your pump to work, or traveling by plane, you might have a fundamental objection to lugging around any heavy item. For some people, the weight of the pump is a definite deal-maker, or a deal breaker.

Furthermore, if you’re slinging the pump over your shoulder or crisscrossing it in front of you, you could be putting yourself at risk for a plugged duct.

Rule #5 If Inspector Gadget had a breast pump it would have these features: Consider your quirky personal preferences

Each pump offers a different set of features, and each mom should have specific things she’s looking for in a pump.

There may be an endless list of features that are more important to some moms, and less important to others, but here are a few you might not have thought about. Some moms don’t like:
  • a device that has multiple parts to assemble and disassemble, lose and replace!
  • washing parts. They also worry about losing tiny parts in the dishwasher.
  • making a public announcement that they’re pumping. They want to be discreet.

You’re entitled to your quirky preferences (aren’t we all?) so feel free to shop for the features that are important to you. Not necessarily to your bestie!  

Rule #6 Consider What Technical Specs Do You Value.

There are all sorts of specs to consider. Finding out what all the terms need will help you figure out what you want.

Wrapping Up The Rules of Finding a Breast Pump

Here, I’ve covered only a very few factors that make one pump a “best” choice for one person and a “worst” choice for someone else. But any and all questions boil down to:

(1) outcome—keeping up your milk supply under your set of circumstance

(2) convenience or personal preference.

As a new mom or expecting mom, I know you’re tired. But take a little time to figure out what’s best for you.

What are the one or two most important factors you’d be looking for in a pump?
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Top Tips on Babywearing Your Premature Baby

Listen to the podcast, “Babywearing Your Preemie in the NICU, A Beginner’s Guide”

These days, you hear a lot about babywearing for healthy, full-term babies. But there’s almost no buzz about wearing your preterm baby. The latest buzz was created by Jennifer Canvasser when she was a guest on my radio show. Many mothers—and nurses!—don’t know it’s possible to wear a preemie. It is! In spite of the tubes and the wires, and your baby’s small size, you may be able to wear your preemie and carry him against your body. Want to know more?

Listen to the show! You’ll love hearing about Jennifer’s experience. Meanwhile, here are the top 7 tips she gave for any parent who wants to wear their preterm:

Check out different types of carriers.

Both Jennifer and an earlier radio show guest, Samantha Bunnell, identified four different types of carriers: the mei-tai, ring sling, soft-structured carrier, and woven wrap.

Each type of carrier has its benefits and drawbacks. What might be a plus for you and your baby might be a minus for another couplet. So talk with other mothers. Find a babywearing group if you can, so you can “try on” the various options. (You might want to start with a ring sling; Samantha and Jennifer both say it’s quicker to learn skills for that than for the others.)

Work with your baby’s primary nurse.

Your baby’s primary nurse might not know much about baby carriers, but as a NICU nurse, she knows a lot about babies: their capabilities, limitations, wires, tubes, and devices.

The baby can’t be “worn” until he exhibits physiologic stability. The primary nurse is in the best position to interpret the data and discuss whether your baby is stable enough to handle being worn yet.

Gain skills and confidence with your carrier.

When Jennifer’s friend first brought up babywearing, she knew it would be a while before she her babies were stable enough to be worn. So, she used that time to develop her skills with the carrier, by “wearing” a stuffed animal. She needed to make sure she was comfortable handling the carrier before she tried it with her baby.

I can tell you, using any sort of baby carrier takes skill. I gave it a try, and my initial attempts at wearing a woven wrap were unsuccessful. I would have had to practice many times to get it right. Yet, the woven wrap was what worked best for Jennifer’s son, Micah.  

Determine what type of carrier works for your preemie.

Jennifer had twins. One type of carrier worked best for the more stable twin, whereas a different type worked for the less stable twin. There are no “rules” on which style is best; you have to figure it out for yourself.

Learn to read your baby’s cues.

Babywearing is incredibly soothing for both the mother and the baby. But preemies are in a vulnerable state. Keep alert for signs of stress. When you see any, it’s time to alert the nurse. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to take the baby off for now … but it might.

Be patient.

Jennifer’s babies were born 2 days short of 28 weeks’ gestation. It was 8 weeks before she could wear one of her boys, and 7 months before she could wear the other one. Babies cannot be worn until they are stable. (Kangaroo care may be possible sooner.)

Get help: Human, media and other.

Hands-on help from a person who is knowledgeable about babywearing would be ideal. (Look for a babywearing group in your area, or connect with your local La Leche League group.) YouTube videos, Jennifer’s article, books by Maria Blois or Evelyn Kirklionis would be good starters.

Babies naturally want to be with their parents. Babywearing is a great way to make it happen…even if your baby is a preemie!
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