The First Pumps

The first breast pumps were patented in the mid-19th century and designed to treat inverted nipples or to help babies who were incapable of nursing. But breast pumps have only been widely available to regular consumers for about twenty years; Medela released its first electric pump for in-home use in 1991. Before then, pumps were sophisticated, expensive pieces of medical equipment only able to be accessed in hospitals. How different from today when the myriad of breast pump options can be overwhelming and nearly every mother considering breastfeeding ends up taking home a pump of her very own, whether she ends up using it occasionally or so religiously she adopts it into her family.

A Necessity for Most

Until companies in the United States considers offering paid maternity leave or allowing more women to bring their babies to work or provide onsite childcare, breast pumps will be an important part of life for women wishing both to work and to provide human milk for their babies for several months, a year or more. Pumps can also be useful for those experiencing problems breastfeeding, those seeking to induce lactation (such as women adopting babies, whose partners are giving birth, who stopped breastfeeding but wish to resume, etc) or increase supply. So how do you navigate the sea of pumps available today?

Things to Consider

One factor may be what your insurance covers. Many insurance plans will offer to purchase a pump for you each time you have a baby, but they may limit the brands of pumps they will purchase. Give them a call to find out and make your pump selection process easier!

Beyond that, how to pick a pump? Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Manual or electric? If you’re staying at home with your baby and will only pump occasionally, a manual pump may be all you need.
  • Hospital-grade rental or consumer-grade? If you’re going to be exclusively pumping, it might be worth looking into a hospital-grade pump.
  • Portable or bulky? If you’ll be carting your pump to work, look for a lightweight model with a carrying case.
  • Quiet or noisy? If you’ll be pumping in a shared space, you might want a quieter model.
  • One size fits all? Breasts don’t come in a standard size, but sometimes pump parts do. See if the pump you’re considering has alternate sizes of flanges available to purchase.
  • Used or new? Unless your pump is a “closed system,” (such as hospital-grade rented pumps) it is designed to be used by one person only. Even if a consumer-grade pump is a closed system, it’s generally recommended as a one-person item because it can be difficult to sterilize.

Would you like to explore before you buy? The Fayetteville Doula has an extensive collection of demo pumps for you to examine and learn about before buying, and we can help you with that process too, if you have Tricare! Contact us to find out more.

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