Do I need a breast pump?

Even if you are a stay – at – home – mum, a pump can come in handy to help in the following scenarios:

1. Regulation your breast milk supply

Simply put, the more breast milk is demanded you're your body, the more it would be supplied. The more milk that is removed, either via pump or via your baby, the more the body will produce.

2. Increasing milk

Plenty of mother's milk supply do not come in right after the birth of the baby. While this is explained by the fact that babies do not require much milk in the first few days, mothers who are concerned may prefer to stimulate their supply by frequently double pumping to increase milk supply.

There are also other ways of increasing milk using a pump. For example, some mothers also choose to pump after each feeding to drain their breasts of milk since any leftover milk will only cause the breast to produce less milk during the consequent cycles.

Another useful, but more drastic technique would be to pump out some milk prior to feeding. The baby suckling on a limited amount of milk in the body would signal the body to produce even more milk. Babies are later fed the expressed milk via cup or syringe. Remember to avoid a bottle so as to prevent nipple confusion.

Since expressing milk can assist in addressing a concern most mothers have, ie insufficient milk, choosing the best pump for your lifestyle needs is essential.

3. Eliminate breast engorgement

For some mothers, during the first few days, your supply may be more than your baby can consumes. Pumping out the excess would allow you to maintain the good supply for when the baby experiences growth spurts.

4. Freezing and storing for later

Pumping and freezing the excess milk supply during the first few months would be useful and would definitely come in handy for dry spells and growth spurts.

5. Allow others to feed the baby

We all need a break and there might be times when you'll be grateful that someone else is offering to feed the baby while you rest. Take the opportunity to recharge while you can.

6. The end of your maternity leave

Breastfeed exclusively is recommended for the first 6 months of the baby's life and the end of your maternity leave should not be a barrier to that. A double electric pump can cut the pumping time by half.

7. Supplementing baby's first solids

When you start introducing your baby to solids, you should add in some breast milk to allow your baby to get used to the taste and texture.

8. Babies with special needs like a cleft palate

Babies with special needs may not be able to need effect but would still benefit tremendously from being fed breast milk via alternative methods like via a tube, a cup or a syringe.

When is the best time for me to get a breast pump?

Direct Latching or breastfeeding your baby directly is always the best way of increasing milk supply; your baby's suckling as well as the saliva in your baby mouth send signals to your body to produce milk. In fact, getting a good latch is the most important thing you need to focus on once the baby arrives.

However, no matter how we plan for the best birth possible, none of us can predict emergency situations where you will not be able to breastfeed your child directly.

This is where it becomes useful to get information on a suitable breast pump before the baby's arrival. Looking through breast pump reviews is beneficial and can help you select the best pump for yourself when you need it. Understanding the features and benefits of each brand and model may cause you to waste buying several pumps before you find one perfect for yourself.

There is no universal right time for anyone to purchase a breast pump. For some mothers, purchasing a pump before the birth of the child would allow them to get familiar with it before the baby arrives. For others, the pump only comes in handy when the mum needs to go back to work.

If money is no object, we would recommend buying a pump prior to the birth of the baby because you would want to be prepared for everything that may happen. Minimally, you should familiarize yourself with pump features and capabilities on the market by researching websites as well as looking up reviews.

What is the best breast pump for me?

There is no such thing as the best pump that can suit every woman. There are a variety of pumps in the market, each catering to different lifestyle needs and budgets. (Some insurance policies covers breast pump cost so check with your provider.)

You should also be aware that not every female body responds much to the same pump, even if they get the best reviews or if they are most expensive one on the market. There have been cases of women who bodies do not respond to electric pumps but get more milk when using a manual. There is also no way to determine which is the best breast pump for you without trying it out for a few times. Pumping itself is a learned skill – massage and breast compressions might help, but you should not equate the amount of milk you produce based on the amount you pump out. Your baby is still the best drainer of milk.

The breast pumps available on the market are typically divided into 3 categories:

• Double Electric Breast Pumps: Allows simultaneous pumping of both breasts which can cut pumping time in half. Double pumping also has been shown to increase milk production. This type of pump is often considered the best breast pump available

• Single Electric Breast Pumps: Electric Breast pumps do not require your 'hand strength' to control the pump lever, allowing you to massage your breasts to obtain best possible output.

• Manual Breast Pumps: Some mothers prefer to control the speed of the pumps themselves but rather than on the motor so a manual pump works best. A manual pump also works any where, anytime, eliminating the need for a power source or batteries.

Within these categories, you should keep in mind that your ideal or best breast pump's features meet your needs:

Power source: Does the pump need a power source to function? Does it run on batteries located within the pump or do the batteries come in an external pack. Does it use rechargeable batteries or disposable ones?

Parts in contact with milk: How many parts do I need to wash after each use? The less number of pieces there is to wash, the faster the dumping job will be done.

Weight of the breast pump: If you have to lug around a pump to work everyday and back, this is an important feature.

Portability: Some pumps allow you to multitask, eg pump while doing the dishes, cooking etc, while some require you to sit near a power source. This may not sound like a necessity in the beginning but imagine 2 years worth of pumping time at the same spot and you'll be happy you decided to get a portable one at the beginning.

Price: If you are price sensitive, you should try to determine the best breast pump option within your price range that meets your lifestyle needs.

Usage : Some breast pumps are built for temporary use, others for daily use multiple times a day. Apart from the strength of the motor, its impact on your nipples may also be an issue so choose wisely.

Support: The availability of support from the manufacturer and convenience of getting spare parts is crucial as the breast pump is a delicate object. You would not want to be stuck with a malfunctioning breast pump when you're engorged and in pain.

We would recommend a portable double electric breast pump, which you can use with a hands free bustier.

What can I do to find the best breast pump for myself?

1) Read up on breast pump reviews. Reviews and ratings from thousands of users might be useful to find out what is suitable for you.

2) Get familiar with each pump's specifications and features and judge if its an important feature to you. You may not need all of the features in a double electric pump, so if you're on a tight budget, you might be better off with another model or brand.