Oh pumping. A love/hate relationship.
As of right now, it is mandatory for your health insurance to cover a breast pump for you. It will depend on your insurance as to what kind they provide. Just get a prescription from your doctor and either go to, or contact a medical equipment store like Care Linc. My insurance claimed to only cover a single electric so we were prepared to pay the difference for a double electric. We were pleasantly surprised when Care Linc said it was covered in full.
Get a double electric. Just do it.
We went with a Medela a.) because it’s everywhere and b.) we already had some Medela products from the hospital. (They let you use their hospital grade pump while there and they can’t reuse parts of the equipment so it’s yours.) I’ve been 100% happy with it.
Here are the best 2 pieces of advice when it comes to pumping:
- Get a hands free system. Even the stay at home moms. It’s so nice to be able to use your hands. Pumping will seem less constrictive. I have experience with the Medela Easy Expression Bustier and had no problems with it. It was great! The Freemie system is highly rated and recommended too. Especially by working moms. I have not personally used the Freemie but I have a friend who got it to pump on her commute to work and loved how easy and discreet that was.
- Make sure you have a properly fitted breast shield. This is so important for comfort and for maximum milk expression. Here is a chart to go by to make sure your breast shield fits properly.
Ideally you want your nipple, and only your nipple, to move freely in the tunnel while pumping. You don’t want your nipple to rub against the tunnel, and you don’t want your areola to rub against the tunnel either. Usually the Medela pumps come with a standard size 24mm breast shield, but they offer 21mm, 24mm, 27mm, 30mm, and 36mm. You can read more here from the Medela website.
Reasons to pump:
- Allows you to store up breast milk for bottle feeding if you have to be away from your baby.
- Power pumping can help with supply. (Here is another great article about milk supply.)
- Avoid supplementing with formula.
- Baby has a latch problem or other nursing problem.
- Donate extra milk to milk banks.
- Supplement first foods with breast milk (like rice cereal) to help with weaning.
Cleaning your pumping supplies:
- I know I’ve mentioned them before, but Medela Quick Clean Bags are so convenient and quickly sterilize bottles, pumping supplies, etc.
- You do not need to wash your pumping supplies between every pump. This is a trick I learned from a friend who pumped while working. Breast milk stays good at room temperature for 4-6 hours, depending on the temperature of your home. If you are going to pump within that time more than once, you can leave everything hooked up and pump into the same container. Or, if you pump once a day or once in the morning and once at night, you can put your pumping supplies in a Ziploc bag in the fridge. Breast milk stays good in the fridge for 3-8 days. This will save you time.
Here’s a great guide to have on the fridge for reference.
Storage bags to put in the freezer are important to have too! I didn’t have much of an excess supply, so I only ever used the Medela brand freezer bags because they were a gift. I know there are cheaper ones out there. Just make sure you’ve got a spill-proof method for getting the milk in. Medela’s come with an easy-connect adapter.