Now that we know what our babies will wear, let's figure out what they're going to eat! Today we are kicking off a three-week sequence of Baby Feeding Products. Today: Breast Pumps and Accessories (coming up next week: Formula, and then Bottles the following week).
Breast Pumps! An object sometimes of a great love-hate relationship. STM: what breast pump did you use? How do you feel about it? Would you get the same one again?
Aspects to consider about breast pumps:
Breast Pump functions: how do you like the power, the rhythm, the options for speed and suction during pumping? And how has it held up with long-term use?
Portability: does it have a portable charger? Car charger? Batteries? Does it come with a bag to carry around? If not, what bag do you use?
Accessories: does the basic pump purchase order come with options for flange size? Storage bottles to pump into? If you got extra accessories, what were they and where did you get them? Do you recommend a particular pumping bra as an accessory?
(Accessory hacks: if you get your hands on a different brand of accessories, do they fit across different pumps? Do you recommend an adaptor (third party or otherwise) to smoosh different brands' accessories together?)
Cleaning: how? What do you use? Basic soap+water or did you have a special sterilizing set-up?
Affordability and access: where and how did you get your breast pump? Did insurance cover it? For those US-based, ACA guidelines had all (most?) insurance programs cover a breast pump for free--does anyone have experience post-ACA-reducing measures under the current administration? Are secondhand markets a good option?
Re: Newborn feeding series: Breast Pumps and Accessories
I was trying to save money and got a single Medela electric pump which worked fine for my first son because I was home with him and breastfeeding so I only used it occasionally if I wanted Dad to do a feeding or I needed grandma to babysit.
If you’re in Canada, Medela is the Cadillac of breast pumps. Unfortunately Spectra is not sold in Canada (there are ways of getting it but you will not have any kind of warranty with it, and parts are harder to find). I’m going to focus on double electrics for now, which is basically 2 models, Pump in Style (built into either in a backpack or a tote) or the newest Freetsyle Flex, which is small enough to fit in a pocket. The FF has extra features but in practice the main difference is going to be the size/portability. If you’re a person who will use pumping time to sit, relax and read/use your phone, a PIS will suit you fine. If you plan to pump hands-free while doing laundry/chasing a toddler/anything else that requires mobility, you’ll be much happier with the freedom the FF gives you. The Medela bottles that come with it are completely unique, as they have one nipple instead of multiple different flow sizes, and their customer service is top notch. My husband once accidentally melted a couple bottles by overcrowding when sterilizing then and the company sent us free replacements. And definitely get the duck bill valves instead of the membranes that cone with it, they’re much hardier and seem to provide better suction, not to mention they’re less easily lost.
I’m less familiar with Spectra since it wasn’t a brand we sold, but in multiple bump groups it’s been a favourite. I’ve never heard a negative thing about them. The different models don’t vary much from what I recall except one can run on battery and one needs to be plugged in. There’s a lot of variability with it, though unlike Medela, you have to manually switch between “letdown” mode and regular mode, but I wouldn’t say it’s a drawback as it’s very easy to do. It’s very easy to switch it to a single pump if you want to for some reason, and I found the parts a little easier to clean than the Medela.
There’s a lot of variety in what people like, and I only ever used one kind so I can’t speak to any of them being better in terms of not leaking than others. I liked the Kiinde system because I could pump directly into the bags, and then I had the freezer stand where they’d freeze flat for easy storage. The most annoying thing about it (and maybe they’ve fixed this) was that the adapters were only sold in a complete set, so I had adapters left over for like 6 types of pump that I didn’t own. I don’t know why they didn’t just sell specific brand adapters separately, but that was what they did.
This thing is amazing! When you start pumping you’ll know that every drop of milk is gold, and if you’re pumping one side or baby is nursing on one side, the other often leaks. This little gadget collects all that extra milk. When I had my single pump, I would literally get more milk with this than with the electric pump sometimes, which also makes it a great thing to toss in a diaper bag or something as an emergency manual pump.
Your boobs are gonna leak. Possibly for like 3 months. It’ll be awkward especially if you’re in public. Breast pads are your saviour. Disposable ones are more discrete for when you’re in public, washable/reusable ones are more comfortable when you’re at home. Get both!
Haakaa is nice but has a learning curve... I knocked it off a few times in the beginning and man that was sad. I also used milkies milk saver which inserts into the bra and preferred that. I had issues with latch/breastfeeding and had to triple feed (breast feed, pump and then bottle feed pumped milk) for about a month so... yea that was fun. But once we caught up I didn't pump rest of maternity leave and only pumped when I went back to work.
I don't have experience with portable pumps like elvie or Willow. Thankfully did not need it last time but may look into it this time.
With my second, I got the Spectra S2. It did not work as well for me (although I know a lot of people prefer the Spectra), so I went back to my Madela. I didn't pump as much with my son because I stayed home with him for seven months, and then he weaned himself at nine. But, same set up as with my first.
I sterilized everything after I bought it, simply boiling things in a big pot of water as per the instructions. But after that I would just clean with warm water and soap. If I went a long time between using it I would sterilize it again.
For BB2 a friend lent me her Medela Pump in Style (backpack style, double electric pump) and it was also perfectly fine. Not really what I'd call "in style" though haha. It was louder than I expected, but it was fast! And definitely easier on my hand than the manual. That being said, I didn't use it regularly because I was off for a year. I returned it to my friend after I was done breastfeeding and I likely won't get an electric pump again. Probably. It was very handy for a long weekend away for a wedding though! I took it with me on the airplane as one of my personal items, I took a lunch bag with ice packs and was able to bring back all the milk I pumped, which was great! I had a whole speech prepared for the security agent about how breastmilk was allowed, I had printed the guidelines and everything, but when I told them the bag was full of breastmilk they were just like "ok, great have a nice flight. NEXT."
Also love the Haakaa pump, especially in the early days for catching all the letdown when my body was still figuring out how much milk to produce. @hannelorre I definitely knocked it over a few times and was very sad. It's a little top heavy in design, so it doesn't take much to tip it even with milk in it.
I really liked Bamboobies for breast pads. I found them to be the least bulky. With my first, I didn't realize that I would need to wear a nursing bra and breast pads 24/7.
I used mine for less than a year so I can’t really speak on durability. I used lanisoh and the target brand ones for frozen milk when I was still pumping. I didn’t introduce bottles until almost 3 months in so I think I waited too long to introduce them- DD did not take many bottles and was picky about who could even feed her. I’m nervous about this baby since I don’t have as “open” a schedule working full time and will return to work sooner than I did then so this will be new territory for me.
I hope to pump a bit so MH can do some feedings, but it will mostly be me for the first 8mo-a year before I go back to work. I must say that breastfeeding is the thing I'm worried most about with a new babe. Fingers crossed it goes well for all of us!
I don't know who needs to hear it and whether you need to hear it from a random woman on the internet but breastfeeding was the hardest thing. It's hard and you have crazy postpartum hormones and emotions and man it was a mindf* for about a month before things settled out. Having said that - You don't need to feel bad that you're making "just enough" bc that's normal. You don't need to feel bad that you don't have have freezer stash before you go back to work. You don't need to feel bad when you are back at work that you're pumping. Heck, you don't need to feel bad that you're not breastfeeding or combo feeding or whatever works for you and the baby!!
If it wasn't for the terrible (lack of) mat leave in US, women should be staying home and feeding their babies how they want in peace. (OK rant done and off my soap box).
But seriously ask for help early - get yourself a IBCLC. Mine saved our breastfeeding... of course she also told us that we were one of the toughest vases in her 10 yr career, yay. After the rough beginning I did love breastfeeding a lot.
I saw multiple lactation consultants with my first and it took 10 weeks before we finally figured out what was causing *pain* while breastfeeding (discomfort is normal for the first bit while you get used to it, but not pain and not anywhere near that long). We did nipple shields, pumping, all kinds of positions, etc etc and eventually got to a tongue tie, so when the 2nd arrived I thought I was totally prepared.
@loloyoyo26 thank you!! 😊
I had ameda (I think. It sucked) with my first because that was the only one covered by my health insurance. Now with the ACA actual good pumps are covered! Last time I got medela PISA and had a wireless medela as well. I loved not being attached to the wall because I would frequently pump while getting ready in the morning or making breakfasts or dinner. I'm curious about the elvie or willow, but have read too many conflicting reviews to pull the trigger. Anyone with experience with those two in particular?
Can we talk bottles? Which bottles did you like? I mused the Madela bottles last time and they worked fine. I liked how they attached to the pump so less stuff to worry about. However they got gross and discolored in our dishwasher. (Learn from my mistake and don’t put bottles in with dirty dishes that may discolor.)
I used the Madela in the tote bag last time. It was fine. They company accidentally sent me two and let me keep them both so I had one for home and one for the office. That was SO nice to not have to lug it to work everyday. I also liked the design of the tote and how the cooler fit snugly in the tote, ice packs included. It was great for travel. I am going to get another with my insurance to have as a backup. I loathed pumping. I’m hoping the Elvie will make things a bit easier since you aren’t tethered via the tubes.
Overall I had a good breastfeeding experience- I made it to 7 months and stopped due to my supply drying up after a really nasty flu. Hoping to make it longer this time. I made just enough for the next daycare day so we did supplement with formula from time to time on random days my supply dipped, and after I stopped nursing after being sick. He had no issues transitioning between breast milk and formula. I do think women out too much pressure on themselves to breastfeed. A friend just had a baby and had a horrible breastfeeding experience that included a failure to thrive diagnosis. She is still pumping and adding formula and now her little guy is a happy healthy chunk. It just took a lot of work with her doctors to figure it out.
This will be baby #4 for us and with baby #1 I used the Medela Pump in Style. I really liked it and it worked great.
For baby #2 I used the Spectra. I personally preferred the Medela and I actually switched back to it at about 6 months. I thought the suction on my Medela was stronger. Maybe I just had a defective Specta because it seems everyone loves it!
For my baby #3 I tried something completely new and got the Ameda Mya. You guys, This is by far the best pump I have tried. I seriously loved it. The suction was phenomenal! I pumped so much quicker than before with either of them. I highly highly recommend it!
The first pump I got through insurance through a local pharmacy. My options were basically only the Medela Pump in Style and if I wanted anything else (including the bag or and accessories) I was going to be upcharged.
I have gotten all of my other pumps so far through insurance and I actually just ordered them online. There are many websites that let you check what your insurance will cover before purchasing and sometimes, each website is different! For the Spectra I used edgeparkbreastpumps.com, for the Ameda I used yummymummystore.com.
Also, when it comes to pumping bras, I just bought a cheap pack of sports bras at wal-mart and cut a hole on each side. My doctor actually told my about this! I was having trouble finding any pumping bras that would fit!
goodness, I just wrote a book... sorry! I haven’t read the comments yet so I’m hoping to see what all is said about medela Vs spectra and whether or not I made a good choice. I loved my medela pump but unfortunately my insurance didn’t cover the double electric fully and the spectra was covered. And had a higher rating.