The Best of the Breast (pumps)

There are several types of breast pumps available—from large, hospital-grade pumps and midweight personal-use automatic pumps to small, lightweight, and easily portable manual models that work one breast at a time. You’ll want a pump that’s appropriate to your particular situation. Pumping can be time consuming and just one more thing to do, but it shouldn’t be painful or frustrating. Choosing the right pump can make the difference between meeting your breast-feeding goals and having to stop short.

A baby’s natural sucking rhythm is 40 to 60 cycles per minute (one pull per second or a little less). Hospital-grade and personal-use automatic pumps typically operate at 30 to 50 cycles per minute. Other pumps are usually less efficient. As a general rule, the more suction and releases per minute a pump provides, the better it will be at stimulating your milk supply. Efficiency is especially important if you plan to save a large quantity of milk. If you’re returning to work, for example, you’ll need to have much more breast milk on hand than if you stay home with your babies or are supplementing breast milk with formula.

Once you find the right pump, using it will take a little practice. You’ll need to learn how to position it correctly and adjust the suctioning to get the best results. Don’t worry—with the right pump, you’ll soon get the hang of it. Pumps require some assembling and disassembling for cleaning. Wash any parts of the pump that touch your breasts or the milk containers in the dishwasher, or with hot, soapy water. Drain them dry before each use.