Breast pump: how to choose it and how to use it

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In this article

  • Breast pump, when you really need it
  • Electric or manual breast pump: selection guide
  • How to choose the size
  • When to express milk and how to do it
  • How to facilitate the flow of milk
  • How to clean the breast pump
  • How much

Breast pump, when you really need it

All situations where you really need a breast pump

"The breast pump can be useful in case the baby does not have a strong enough suction, and this can happen if for example it is born prematurely or postnatal disease occurs so the baby cannot be attached directly to the mother's breast, "he explains Marta Campiotti, freelance midwife in Varese. "Or it can be comfortable in the following months if the mom has to be away from the baby for a few hours or at the time of his return to work, so that those who care for the baby can still give him his milk. Unless there is a real need, however, it would be better to wait to use the breast pump until the baby is at least 40 days old, when breastfeeding is now well underway and there is no risk of "interference." ".

Another reason why breast pumps are often used is when i nipples are recessed: "It is actually a false problem" comments the midwife, "both because the nipple usually protrudes from itself simply by latching on to the baby, and because this situation is usually detected already during pregnancy and you can help yourself to favor the protrusion occasionally aspirating the nipple with a 10 or 20 ml syringe without needle (cutting the part where the needle is inserted and inserting the plunger in reverse) ".

Read also: Coronavirus in pregnancy and breastfeeding

Electric or manual? How to choose the breast pump

Which type of breast pump to choose

On the market there are various types of breast pumps that are essentially divided into two categories: manual and electric ones.

Manual breast pump

Manual breast pumps can be fine for one occasional use, they are very handy, they can be transported easily, but the suction is rather slow. There are two main models: to syringa, to be placed directly on the breast, or piston, with an anatomical bell to rest on the breast and a practical handle to hold it. There are also models pump, similar to the apparatus for measuring blood pressure, but it is difficult to regulate the suction and can hurt, therefore they are not recommended.

Electric breast pump

Electric breast pumps are preferable if you need to make one prolonged use, since they are faster and reproduce well the suck-pause rhythm typical of feedings. They cost a lot, but they can also be rented in pharmacies or health shops (it being understood that the pieces that come in direct contact with the mother's breast must be purchased separately for hygienic reasons). There are also portable electric breast pumps that run on batteries. They are practical even if often not quite silent, they have a valve that regulates the suction frequency.

Which one to choose? "There is absolutely no best model" says Campiotti. "Each one usually has her preferences and a specific type that she gets along best with."

Read also: Breastfeeding without problems

Breast pump, the importance of size

Guide to choosing the size of the breast pump

Fundamental in choosing a breast pump is the cup sizeotherwise the extraction is not effective and there is a risk of provoking small painful injuries to the nipples. "The cup sizes - from S to XXL - do not refer to the circumference of the bell that rests on the breast, but to the cone where the nipple enters, which must be positioned in its center, without touching the walls but at the same time without 'dancing' inside it "he explains Chiara Losa, pediatric nurse and IBCLC consultant for breastfeeding at the Buzzi Hospital in our city. "If the nipple touches the walls of the cone it means that the cup is too small; if, on the other hand, part of the breast also enters the cone, it means that the cup is too big".

When to express milk and how to do it

What is the best time to express milk?

In reality, there is no perfect moment that fits all. "Some women will be happy to express their milk in the morning after nocturnal peak of prolactin"explains Losa." For others, however, it will be better to do it after the feed, if the baby does not completely empty the breasts. This will help the breasts to empty better and increase milk production. In other cases, however, there could be the opposite problem and it will be necessary to make sure not to overdo the breast pump in order not to obtain an excessive production, with the risk of a traffic jam ".

That's why the advice is to try the breast pump at different times of the day: an important trick to see how you react to this tool and understand what are the best conditions for using it.

As for how to use, in the case of single breast pumps Losa recommends alternate extraction to the two breasts: "You can stay seven minutes on one, then go to the other, then return to the first for five minutes and the other for another five and again on the first and second for three minutes". In the case of double breast pump, on the other hand, you can pull continuously for 7-15 minutes: "But be careful: double pumping increases milk production, so you have to be careful not to overdo it so as not to cause a traffic jam".

Tips for pumping the milk well

"In order to favor the production of milk it would be advisable for the mother to be able to carve out a very quiet moment, where maybe she can look at some photos of her baby, listen to relaxing music, eat a little something that makes her feel good. "In this way it stimulates the release of endogenous oxytocin, which in turn favors that of milk "explains Chiara Losa.

Campiotti also suggests trying to massage the breasts with warm water before extraction, with the help of the shower telephone, with a lukewarm bath or with wet wipes with lukewarm-hot water. 

Also Read: 10 Foolproof Ways To Increase Breast Milk Production

How to clean the breast pump

How to clean the breast pump

The last tip concerns the cleaning. Chiara Losa explains: "After each use - and this also applies to the workplace - the breast pump should be washed well with hot water and a neutral detergent (the one for dishes is fine) and dried with a clean cloth. cold or hot as you prefer, it should be done once a day ".

How much does the breast pump cost

Prices vary according to models and brands. In principle, a manual breast pump costs around 30-40 euros, while an electric one can go from 30 to 120-150 euros (in some cases even more). 

  • breast pump choice
  • breastfeeding
  • breast engorgement
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