Choosing a Breast Pump

As a physician again I have just told breastfeeding moms to go out and choose a breast pump. A few would ask for recommendations and sadly I had none. I hope to God that when asked I recommended Medela, Avent, or Ameda, given the research I am doing these days! But I am anal about all purchases and selecting a breast pump is no different. I insist on reading multiple (multiple) reviews on products and getting all sides, then seeing an item face to face, then coming to a decision. This is how I ended up with my happy electronic purchases of yore including my beloved DSLR camera. But again, baby prep and baby registry seems infinitely more complicated than a wedding registry to me. It helped that during our wedding I had most every general household supply I needed anyway, so we just rounded out with china, fancy glasses, a few cooking items, and a few other items.

With baby, it is square one! My cousin and aunt are both offering me baby carriers to try out, and I have a few burp clothes, a few clothing purchases, and two lone cloth diapers, but everything else is purely from scratch. From clothing to crib.

So now back on to breast pumps. While I am considering a manual pump to carry as needed, because I will be working after delivering my baby, an electric breast pump will be paramount to my sanity and is thus my first choice. Factors that are important to me:

1. Portability – The Ameda Purely Yours (PY) wins in this category for me – it is small, has a tiny carrying bag, and can be taken to and from work without problems. The Medela Freestyle is another popular item but for reasons below it will probably not be my choice. Both of these pumps are 1 pound apiece. The benefit of the freestyle is that it is thought to be truly hands free and I am told you can walk around the room with it. I’m told that the Medela Pump-In-Style is also quite portable, but it does weight around 6 pounds for the base unit and the battery pack is external.

2. Efficacy – This is where the Freestyle apparently falls short – I have been told that it can take around 40 minutes to pump the breasts with this unit, where as the PIS and the PY are thought to take around 15-20 minutes. Not sure where the Avent falls in this spectrum . . .but few moms I know have used the Avent Isis electrical pump.

3. Contaminability (ok, this is not a word. . .) – Speaking officially, there is only one breast pump that is authorized by the FDA for the use of multiple individuals. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come highly recommended so it isn’t worth mention here. The major concern is that breast milk goes into the tubing of the breast pump – especially in the PIS, and can easily remain in the plastic and allow for bacterial and fungal growth. Thus, breast pumps do have to be cleaned regularly. This is an important consideration for any breast feeding mom. But Ameda does have a new technology in place to pump milk directly into the bottle and to prevent backflow of milk into the tubing, and they report that if you buy a Hygienikit their pump can theoretically be used for more than one mom. This is not something I would recommend, but it is a potential benefit.  I do like the idea, however, that Ameda is considered easier to clean than the Medela.

Here is a helpful ebay guide that I found to choosing breast pumps.

Overall, it looks like it’s going to be a toss-up between the PIS and the PY.  I didn’t discuss the PIS too much here but I have tons of friends who are moms who chose the PIS and loved it – at least as much as you can love a breast pump. What did you pick?

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A pediatrician. Now turned first-time mom. Venting and giving you all the wisdom I acquire over the days . . .

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2 comments on “Choosing a Breast Pump
  1. N says:

    When I used a pump, it was a PIS, and I loved it. My recommendation though would be either to wait on purchasing one, or to buy one and keep it in the box. Read the fine print, because a lot of times you can’t return a pump once it’s been opened. And you probably won’t need it right away, especially if you’re working to establish a good supply, as the baby is best for that, but if you’re in a situation where you DO need a pump right away, you’ll most likely want a hospital-grade one anyway.

    • SingingDoc says:

      Yes you make a good point. I will likely try to wait until I am actually breast feeding and may take it off the registry list. Better to be practical when it comes to the pump and I won’t be leaving the house much at first to need it right away!