Aside from noticing that an eBay search would turn up mostly Medela models and the hospital rents out that same brand, I didn’t do any research on breast pumps before purchasing one. I had a couple people caution me about the pumps that hospitals rent out but suggest I rent one first to see if what features I might like. I listened but didn’t follow the suggestion. They said that some women find the pumps to be too industrialized with suction that would pull your eyeballs out through your nipples. I went ahead and purchased a used Medela pump from eBay. I didn’t find any problems with the amount of suction or the speed at which the pump works.
Some women find it difficult to relax and not think of the electric breast pump as a medieval dairy farm device. They may have problems with the letdown reflex when a plastic funnel is suckling the bosom instead of their baby. Those people may prefer a manual pump. They’re cheaper and if there are any difficulties pumping, at least there wasn’t much money wasted. I however, didn’t have a problem and don’t care for my forearms to be supper pumped. I also like the speed at which the electric pump works vs. the manual one I also received with mine. I still had images of cows being milked in a barn every time I used it, but then again when I nursed Sophia I would often get images of the big sow pig laying her side with six or more piglets pulling one her teats at the state fair. I just hope I didn’t smell as bad.
In the classes I took at the hospital the facilitator emphasized that the best breast pumps are those made by manufacturers that don’t also make formula. Medela is one that puts all it’s focus on breastfeeding moms. Medela is also very popular and replacement parts are easily found at many stores. Both of those qualities make buying a used Medela pump a great choice for the frugal mom. All Medela parts, bottles, and breast milk storage bags are BPA free, a hidden bonus I learned after I made my purchase.
When purchasing new parts for a used machine or using a pump for the first time, it’s important to know that there are different sized breastshilds. 24mm is the average size for breastshields. The way to know which size is needed is to visit a lactation consultant or go to the hospital store to be fitted (I’m assuming all hospital stores have this service). It isn’t based on boob size it’s based on the circumference of the areola. When the pump sucks in the nipple, ¾ of the areola should fit into the funnel part of the breastshield. If we milked humans that would be the part the farmer squeezes and pulls down from. Oh, does that make you feel like you belong in a dairy farm? So sorry (not really). So if the circumference of the areola is about average then the average size should fit.
One thing I never thought to consider was the possible benefits of a single pump over a duel pump. I bought a duel pump because, well, I have two boobies and pumping both at the same time is faster. What I never considered is that I might want to have a free hand in order to entertain my kid when I pump in front of her or to be able to cover up if I have to pump in a multi stalled busy bathroom at work. There are bands that can be purchased in order to pump hands free, but then I don’t think even I could get over the whole dairy cow image. On the other hand, if I had bought a single pump the problem I could see aside from it taking longer would be that while one side is being pumped the other would probably leak. I know I know that’s what the nursing pads are for. It’s still something to think about especially if you’re bursting at the seams and there is any tendency to gush. I’m just sayin’. Be ready.
Though I bought the Medela pump I didn’t go with Medela brand bottles, at least not at first. Avent was the bottle brand being pushed at the hospital because of the more natural shape of the nipples. However, I tossed those aside once I learned about BPA and went for Evenflo. I’m lucky that after the daycare Sophia briefly attended discovered her bottle nipple preference it was the “classic” style because I didn’t want anything to do with plastic after knowing about BPA. Evenflo sells the classic glass bottles for the most reasonable price and can be found at many stores. No other brand that I’ve seen beats three bottles (either 4oz or 8oz) for $5.50. I’ve seen some mom’s comment on message boards about the fragility of glass and their concerns for glass breaking. Sophia throws her bottles onto the our hardwood floors all the time. I even take the bottles from the refrigerator to a bowl or boiling water. We haven’t had a problem. Just don’t take them from the freezer to the oven. They aren’t meant for either of those. Aside from being inexpensive, one cool feature of these bottles is that the can fit directly onto the end of the Medela breastshield without a converter so that breast milk can be pumped directly into the bottle.
There are a TON of bottles claiming to help prevent colic and ear infections. I call bullshit on them all. I can’t see how all the internal contraptions and bottle ergonomics, which make it impossible to easily clean, help prevent either of those conditions better than a nipple with the appropriate flow for the age of the baby and properly holding the baby with the head raised. Sophia was colicky her first few months but at the time no bottles were being used with her, and she has yet to have an ear infection. *quickly finding a piece of wood to knock on*