Electric breast pumps – what are the benefits?
Electric breast pumps help you express breast milk efficiently and effectively. Active mothers find it a great advantage to be able to feed their babies the ‘good stuff’ whenever and wherever. Having expressed milk on hand also means that feeding your child can be shared with the father or other family members.
If you want to pump your milk often – perhaps because you are working, or frequently on the move with other children, you may prefer the benefits of an electric breast pump. For many women, an electric pump allows you to collect more milk in less time than a manual pump. Double-pumping also boosts milk production by emptying both breasts. This is useful for those who are perhaps extracting for more than one feed.
The best quality electric breast pumps have adjustable or customisable features such as:
- Tailored suction to mimic your baby’s suckling patterns
- Double breast pumping ability, allowing you to collect milk from both breasts at the same time
- High number of pumps per minute
- Indication levels so you know how much milk you have collected
Unlike a manual breast pump, once the collection cup is in place on your breast, the electric breast pump does the pumping for you. This saves you from using your hands to manually pump, which can be an exhausting and straining exercise.
The downside is that electric pumps tend to be more cumbersome and create some noise with the electric motor pumping.
What are the pros and cons of electric pumps?
- Often the fastest method of expressing breast milk
- Usually more comfortable to use than manual pumps
- Require less effort to use than manual breast pumps
- Offer you more choice, with models including hospital-grade pumps and double breast pumps
- More expensive than manual breast pumps
- Noisier to use than manual pumps
- May have more parts to sterilise than manual breast pumps
- Weigh more that manual pumps, so may not be as easy to travel with
- Dependent on a power source to work
What features should I look for in an electric breast pump?
- An adjustable vacuum, which will allow you to express in comfort.
- A model that allows you to pump both breasts at once, which will cut pumping time by half
- A model that’s easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to assemble.
How to use an Electric Breast Pump
Learn how to use an electric breast pump in 10 simple steps.
When you’re deciding whether you should purchase an electric breast pump or a manual breast pump, consider what levels of effort you would like to put into your breast milk expressing. An electric breast pump can offer the advantage of faster milk collection and also frees your hands up for other tasks.
Today, most women in Australia and New Zealand choose to use an electric breast pump. Plan on spending $250 to $350 for a high-end model. Less expensive models generally are half as good and last half as long.
- Read the instruction manual for your electric breast pump and familiarise yourself with your model.
- Maintain sanitary conditions around your electric breast pump, wash your hands and make sure all parts of the pump are thoroughly cleaned.
- When expressing, be in a relaxing mindframe and space. Think about your baby; this will trigger the hormones that help release your breast milk.
- Place the assembled breast mik collection cups centered over the nipples. If the collection cup placement is off, the pumps suction can hurt or damage the breast.
- Turn the electric breast pump on. Breast milk will usually start to flow within two minutes. It can be helpful to vary the speed so that it’s inconsistent, similar to the sucking motions of a baby.
- Find a speed that is comfortable and efficient. Pumping should never be painful.
- When your milk flow has slowed down and you feel as though you’re finished, turn off the pump.
- Remove the collection cups carefully from your shirt and remove the tubing from the cups.
- Empty the milk from the collection cups through the hole into a pre-sterilised bottle or breastmilk storage bag.
- With warm, soapy water, wash any pieces that touched your body and/or your milk and set the pieces out to air-dry. Breast milk is okay at room temperature for about four hours, or refrigerated breast milk for up to two days. When stored in freezer, the milk keeps for three to 12 months, depending on the type of freezer.