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Should You Use a Breastfeeding Pump?

If you’re going to be breastfeeding your baby, you may be wondering whether you’ll need or use a breastfeeding pump, or breast pump as they’re more commonly called. The answers are yes and probably.

To be more specific, yes, you should have a breast pump on hand. A breast pump can be useful in a number of situations. For example, if your breasts are engorged, it can be hard for your baby to latch on. Using a breast pump to get your milk flowing can make it easier for your baby to nurse and make it more comfortable for you.

If you need to build up your milk supply, using a breast pump after you feed your baby for additional stimulation can help increase your supply. If your baby needs supplemental feedings, you may also be able to supplement with your breast milk instead of formula if you have a breast pump.

In addition, if your baby is in the NICU, you can use a breast pump to provide milk for your baby until she’s strong enough to nurse on her own. If you plan to go out and leave the baby with a baby sitter, plan to return to work, or want someone else to be able to feed the baby occasionally, you’ll also need a breast pump. Finally, if you’re at your due date, stimulation using a breast pump can sometimes cause labor to begin.

In general, it’s hard to imagine that any breastfeeding mother wouldn’t run into at least one of these situations where a breast pump will in handy. While it is possible to manually express your breast milk, it takes more training, can be more time consuming and requires two hands to do effectively. Most breast pumps only require one hand, leaving your other hand free for other things – which is especially important when you have a newborn.

However, if you’re going to use a breast pump, it’s important to choose a quality breast pump. Inferior products will cause you frustration, interfere with breastfeeding and will ultimately be a waste of money. The best breast pumps are made by Medela, Ameda and Avent. If you plan to pump only occasionally, a pump like the Isis by Avent will probably be all that you need. There are other smaller hand-held pumps by Medela and Ameda that also work well. However, if you plan to pump regularly – for example, if you plan to return to work – you need an electric, hospital-grade breast pump. Both Ameda and Medela make electric breast pumps that allow you to pump both breasts at once and come in attractive, discreet carrying cases.

While no breast pump can do as good a job of stimulating your milk flow or emptying your breast as nursing your child, a breast pump is still an important piece of equipment to have on hand. There are many different situations where a pump will come in handy, so it’s a good idea to have one on hand and understand how to use it before you even deliver your new baby.

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