Breastfeeding - Motherhood

PUMPING BREASTMILK

Choosing the Best Breast Pump

There are so many breast pumps on the market, but choosing the right breast pump for you will take a bit of research. A general rule of thumb is you want a hospital grade pump. This means that the pump will have the suction capability between 200-300 mmHG. Medela and Spectra pumps are usually recommended due to their reliability and ease of use. Medela pumps are available at most hospitals and you may have the option to rent this pump since they are a bit pricey.

Different breast pumps will also have different suckling or massage modes to mimic how your baby feeds. Typically, breast pumps will have two settings. Setting one will be Stimulation, to initiate a letdown of milk, and setting two will be Expression, when you milk is flowing as it would during a feeding. Some breast pumps will have advanced features that allow you to switch back and forth between these settings automatically.

Wearable Pumps vs. Traditional Pumps

Traditional Pumps:

Traditional breast pumps require a direct plugin power source. These pumps are usually larger and come with all kinds of long tubing, large flanges, and require you to sit and wait as you pump. If you are new to pumping traditional pumps are, in my opinion, the way to go. It is important to establish your supply first before jumping into wearables. When I switched to a traditional breast pump (Spectra S2), I noticed a remarkable difference.

First, I was able to collect more milk and it was much more comfortable. I felt like the large cone-shaped flanges that cover the breast made a huge difference in how the pump worked and was able to collect milk. I also noticed a marked difference in comfort with the traditional pump versus the wearable. Not to mention the suction power of traditional pumps that allowed me to build and maintain my supply.

Wearable Pumps:

Wearable pumps are just as they sound, breast pumps that you can wear without the need to be plugged into a direct power source. I tried two different wearable pumps, the Elvie Stride and the MomCozy S12 Pro.

If I could go back, I would not start my pumping journey using wearable pumps. I thought they would be so easy and efficient and would allow me to pump while being with my baby, which at times was the case, however I ended up rarely using my wearables after acquiring a traditional pump. My advice is to only use wearables if you are away from your traditional pump (i.e. the office, traveling, or running errands).

What I do love about wearable pumps is that they are mobile which is the reason I got them in first place. They came in handy when I was out of the house and at times I was able to get a good amount of milk during these pumping sessions. However, I found that my success in milk collection with wearables waxed and waned. Sometimes I got a lot and sometimes I got a little and it felt like I had hardly been drained.

Flange Sizes

Flange sizing is huge when it comes to pumping, but the trouble is determining your size. You an ask your lactation consultant to measure you as I did in the hospital or you can measure yourself. But, you want to make sure you get the correct size flange in order to comfortably and reliable collect milk.

The standard size flanges that come with breast pumps are 24 mm and 28 mm. If you are smaller or larger than these default sizes you will need to order the correct size flanges. You’ll want to make sure you have the right size flange because an ill-fitting flange can affect your milk supply and nipple health.

Output

The volume output of your pumping sessions will vary throughout the day. Typically your milk collection will be highest in the night or early morning and may diminish as the day progresses. There are many reasons why your output will vary as well. Hydration, hormones, frequency of pumping can all affect the output.

The average output for a pumping mother is about 2-4 oz every 3-4 hours. If you are exclusively nursing the average output is a bit less at 0.5 oz- 2 oz per sessions, based on your baby’s needs. And finally, infants between 1-6 months consume about 25 oz of breastmilk per day.

It is important to remember that you are not in competition with yourself or anyone else. The output you produce is not equal to your devotion or worth as a mother.

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