Breast pumps

Breast pumps – Transcript

Many breastfeeding mothers wish to pump their milk,(expressing) and for lots of different reasons – but I think it is good to start off by saying, before I start talking about breast pumps, is that in some circumstances pumping is not necessary, and I do know many breastfeeding ladies who’ve carried on for the whole of their breastfeeding experience, having never pumped their milk at all, and this was fine for them.

But many of you will find yourself in circumstances where you will be separated from your baby for a time, and you will need that flexibility of being able to still give your baby that breast milk while you’re away from him.

I do think it’s important, also, to know that many of you have been required to pump your milk in circumstances that didn’t really warrant that. For example if you are having a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic, or other medical procedures; you may have been prescribed certain medications, or you may have an illness. Many of those circumstances do not require you to pump your milk. So I would really encourage you to learn as much as you can about those particular scenarios so that you are well informed, because too many women have informed me that they were very upset to stop breastfeeding unnecessarily.

Breast pumpsAnd I think it’s also good to mention that in certain circumstances where you’re just going to have an occasional time away from your baby, you may simply be able to hand express your breast milk, without even thinking about breast pumps.

But if you do find that you need a breast pump then you will need to find a way of selecting the one that will be most appropriate for you, in your particular circumstance.

And I understand that when you are making these decisions about pumping, it can be quite confusing because there appears to be so many different types of pumps. So for example, if you’ve firmly ruled out using your hand, for hand expression as a means of pumping, but you’re only going to be away from your baby very very occasionally, then you might consider using a hand pump.

These hand pumps are not very expensive, and if you’ve got an abundant amount of milk then they can be very useful – and some women will get quite a lot of yield of milk with them – but I must say that the majority of women who use pumps will say that they do take some time. Sometimes their hands can get tired, just with the pumping action, and sometimes the yield is very little. With this type of pump you manually pump the handle until the milk flows. It can take some time but the milk comes into an attached container.

You might also wish to consider using a small electric pump which can be batteries or mains generated. These are still fairly small pumps, portable, sometimes a little noisy but for occasional use or a little bit more than that -that can be great.

And if you need to pump your milk more regularly, you may need to consider buying a pump in the range of £100 to £150. These pumps are usually quieter and faster – sometimes there is an option to pump both breasts at the same time. They can control the suction level too, and are usually quieter.

But whichever pump that you choose, it’s really important to note that most of these pumps are considered to be single user only – and this is because there is always a risk of contamination. The pump itself, the motor of that pump, can potentially be exposed to breastmilk in a lot of pumps, and this does pose a risk.

Bear in mind that it would be really impossible to completely sterilise all parts of that pump. The motor itself would have to be completely taken apart, and that’s not possible. So be aware that it’s not recommended that you share or you borrow pumps.

There are some pumps that are considered to be closed system pumps, and they are considered to be safer in this respect – but even then they’re not recommended as multi-user pumps.

Manual breast pump, Happy mother with baby at backgroundA certain type of pump which is considered to be multiple user is a hospital grade double pump, (exclusive pumping) and these are the pumps that many breastfeeding women tend to rent. These are the pumps that are used, if for instance your baby has been born prematurely, or your baby is not latching, or you’re trying to build up your supply because your supply is a little low (boosting supply) at the moment. (These are) the pumps that can really help to generate that supply and give your baby all that your baby needs. The beauty of these pumps is that the pumping time is reduced to 10 to 15 minutes, generally, which can really help when you’re trying to spend a lot of time doing skin to skin and getting used to feeding with your baby, and wanting to spend more time with your baby, really. So that is a real advantage – and the suck release cycle is very different to the continuous suction of the smaller pumps.

And finally, it’s really important that whatever pump you use, that pump should be comfortable. I’ve seen too many breastfeeding mums who tell me that they have sustained more trauma to the nipple or areola area on the breast because of the pump that they’ve used, and that shouldn’t be the case.

When the pump is functioning, your nipple should not be touching the sides of that funnel bit, that nipple should be free to move. The diameter and the length of your nipple changes during pumping, and there should be ample room. So make sure that the fit is a good one, and the breast shield that attaches to you should be comfortable.

And bear in mind that whatever type of pump you’re using, it can take a little bit of time to get used to that method. So have a look at all of the videos relating to expressing, and gain as much knowledge as you can.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022


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