In an ideal world, your babe and boob would spend all day and night together, feeding on demand. Sometimes, that works. And sometimes, reality intrudes. If you have to go back to work, or even just be away from your baby for a few hours, you may choose to pump your milk and leave bottles behind for a caretaker to use for feedings.
There are several options for breast pumps, and your choice will depend on your lifestyle. If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, particularly if you work outside the home, you’ll probably want an electric breast pump that can pump both breasts at the same time. And if you’re going to be pumping and say, using your hands at the same time (to type, text, knit, read, etc.), then you’ll want a hands-free nursing bra.
Electric pumps can be sort of pricey, and if you’re only going to be pumping for a rare night on the town… or if you need to stash a pump in your brief case or purse… then a manual pump will do. No electricity required.
There is a third option as well. Especially if you are expecting multiples, have a preemie or will be returning to work full-time, you can consider renting a pump from your hospital or medical supply store. The pumps are designed to decrease the risk of contamination, but you’ll need to buy new shields and tubing.
Features to look for include an AC adapter, adjustable suction and speed control, ease of cleaning, size and weight, and ability to pump both breasts at once. You may also want to consider portability (will you be carrying your pump with you or store it in the same place you use it) and style (does the case scream “breast pump,” and if so, do you care?).
Should you borrow or buy a used pump? Not a good idea. Pumps can carry infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis that could be harmful to you and your baby. The Food and Drug Administration considers breast pumps medical devices . The FDA website says:
Only FDA cleared, hospital-grade pumps should be used by more than one person. With the exception of hospital-grade pumps, the FDA considers breast pumps single-use devices. That means that a breast pump should only be used by one woman because there is no way to guarantee the pump can be cleaned and disinfected between uses by different women.
Bottom line, figure out what you’ll need, and do your research. If you aren’t quite sure, it’s ok to wait until the baby is born, and see how things go, before deciding what to do.