My Battle With Breast Pumps

When I decided I was going to breastfeed and go back to work full time I found that a breast pump was a necessary evil. Now that we have that out of the way, how do you go about picking one? At first, I thought getting a pump was simple and I could go on with my life and feed my baby at the same time. This wasn’t the case for me.

I’m putting a disclaimer on my story because I do not think it is the norm. With my son, so far, the pumping is going well. I go back to work in less than a month and hope it keeps on “pumping” for me.

The easy option for those who have health insurance is to get the one offered or discounted by your plan. I thought this was great! Problem solved; order it through insurance and my search is over. This is totally a great plan when your insurance offers a great product that works for you. When my mail came, I opened a new Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump. Great! I put it in the closet and pretty much forgot about it until M was born.

The three of us got through the first couple of weeks of breastfeeding and my husband asked me if I was going to pump. Our goal was for me to build a supply for when I returned to work. I thought it would be a piece of cake. So I got out the pump, cleaned the parts, and prepared myself to become a Dairy Queen. Here are a couple of things to think about before you start pumping. Some things you won’t know until you try, but I hope you find this helpful when buying a pump and extra parts.

  • The pump isn’t the only equipment you need, you need something to store the milk in. Some pumps come with storage containers. I like them for pumping during the day at home until I get enough to stash away. I prefer milk storage bags for the freezer.
  • A cooler for baby’s milk. Once you have the milk pumped and stored, you need to keep it cold if there is no fridge at your work. There are more rules to storing breast milk but I felt more confident that my baby’s food was safe if I cooled it down.
  • You might need extra parts in case something breaks or you clean it incorrectly. I put at least three of my pump parts down the garbage disposal through my first months of breastfeeding, which is potentially a bad situation if you don’t have spares. Parts I found handy to have on hand were tubing, diaphragms, and valves.
  • Breast flanges come in different sizes. I hope everyone is lucky and the one that comes with your pump works for you. For the rest of us, this was trial and error. I actually had to buy three sizes through my year of breastfeeding to find the right fit.
  • A hands-free breast pump bra is a must. This way you can multitask and not worry about holding the flanges to your lady lumps for 15-20 minutes four times a day.
  • Pump cleaning wipes or soap is very convenient. I never thought I would need them, but Medela makes great pump wipes for on the go and fast no-scrub pump cleaning.

Once I got the hang of pumping my problems started. Along with trial and error of pump parts and breastfeeding in general I had enough problems with my Ameda pump that I decided to invest in a more expensive pump that all my mama friends raved about. I stalked the sales and used my coupons to buy a Medela Pump in Style Advanced Backpack. This is one of the best baby purchases I ever made. 

The Ameda pump was great and the customer service is exceptional. But for a combination of reasons it didn’t work for me. Medela offers several different price points and features for their breast pumps. If you have a budget, don’t skimp on your breast pump like I did. You may end up spending a lot of money on replacement parts, time on the phone with customer service, and nursing your baby at daycare so you don’t lose your supply. 

Before you buy a pump you may want to research features available for breast pumps to see what you need. Then read tons of reviews and listen to your mama friends. Also know that not every pump will work out perfectly for every mama. Plenty of mamas love the Ameda pump. It just didn’t work for me.

Finally, see which options fit into your budget. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Once you and your baby learn how to breastfeed, find the right pump and work out the kinks, continuing to breastfeed while you work can be easy peasy. I never thought I would say this but I miss pumping at work and look forward to it when I go back after I finish maternity leave with Baby2K  Although I hated my pump and it took a while to master, I am grateful for the time that I fed my baby and the bond I was able to continue while I worked through that darn pump.

For those of you who pumped, what pump worked best for you? Did you get yours through your insurance? Did you ever have to change to a different pump?

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