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Information Guide for Breast Feeding Mothers

Importance of Breast Milk for Babies

Studies indicate many benefits of breastfeeding. It is the best food for your baby. It doesn’t only improve the health of the baby but also improves mothers’ health. Breast milk is fresh, clean, and has the right temperature that is perfect for babies.

It is not only healthy but also a cost-effective way of supplying all the essential nutrients to an infant.

Due to the presence of live ingredients such as stem cells, beneficial bacteria, bioactive components, white blood cells, antibodies, enzymes, and hormones, breast milk helps fight diseases and infections and provides a healthy and normal development.

Babies who are on breastfeed are less likely to suffer gastroenteritis, cold and flu, diarrhea and sickness, chest and ear infections, and plenty of other problems.

If we compare breastfed babies with formula-fed infants, the latter are more prone to “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome”, also known as cot death.

Artificial feeding can lead to plenty of risks such as:

  • Malnutrition
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Respiratory infections
  • Allergy and milk intolerance
  • Increased risk of chronic diseases
  • Obesity
  • Low intelligence
  • Risks of anemia and breast cancer

Types of Breast Pumps

Breast pumps come in various styles, brands, and types. It might be a bit overwhelming for you if you are buying it for the first time. To find the right breast pump, the first thing to keep in mind is your budget or how much you are ready to spend on it. Given below are the three most common and useful types of breast pumps:

1. Electric Breast Pumps

Currently, the best types of breast pump available out there are “Electric Breast Pumps”. If you are a working mom who needs to pump breast milk frequently, an electric breast pump is the best option for you.

Electric breast pumps are powerful and stronger than all other types. They are not only used for collecting the milk but they are also helpful in increasing and maintaining the supply of milk. 

Electric breast pumps are also much efficient and time-saving. 

The only downside is that they are expensive and comes in a large size so they are not travel-friendly. Moreover, they also require a stable and constant power source to operate. 

Therefore, you should be ready for emergency situations such as the unavailability of electricity. Thus, always keep some extra supply with you as a back-up.

How to use an electric breast pump

Before using an electric breast pump, it is important to go through the user manual for special instructions such as voltage requirements as each model has different requirements. 

To remove the milk, place the breast shield on your breast and hold it. You can adjust the shield as needed. Make sure that the shield is in the middle of your nipple. A wrong placement affects suction. 

After placing it, turn on the machine and milk will begin flowing in the bottle within minutes. The electric pumps can adjust the speed of suction automatically as well according to the sucking motions of the baby.

Keep in mind that pumping through an electric pump should never be discomforting or painful. If it is painful, you are doing it wrong!

Once the flow starts slowing down, turn off the pump and remove the breast shield.

Double Electric Breast Pumps

Double electric breast pumps follow the same mechanism as those of electric pumps. The only difference is that they allow you to squeeze out the milk from both breasts simultaneously. 

They are efficient and easier than single or regular electric breast pumps.

So, a double electric breast pump helps speeding up the process which is ideal for all the busy mothers! Moreover, they allow you to pump out your milk in different positions and they are not tiring at all. 

Not only this, but most of the double electric breast pumps come with a memory function that allows you to store the right milk sucking rhythm. 

Research has shown that double pumping increases the prolactin levels in your body that trigger the milk-producing hormone.

How to use a double electric breast pump

Using a double electric breast pump is the same as a single electric breast pump. The only difference is that you need to cover both your breast with the shields and then trigger the suction process.

Pros 

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to disassemble
  • Allows easy cleaning
  • Efficient than other methods
  • Adjusts the suction levels automatically
  • Comes with multiple settings according to your convenience 

Cons 

  • Costly
  • Makes noise
  • Not portable 
  • Dependent on electric supply
  • Difficult to sterile and clean

3. Manual Breast Pump

Just like any other manual apparatus, a manual breast pump requires you to pump your milk manually, by hand, with the help of a button. 

To operate it, you need to either squeeze a button or slide it to trigger the process of suction. This continuous suction will suck out the milk from your breasts.

Manual breast pumps are small in size. They are very handy and inexpensive. You can also store them with you while traveling. 

These pumps are mainly used for occasional pumping. They are not best to use frequently or for a longer period as it is tiring as well as time-consuming.

How to use a manual breast pump

To use a manual breast pump, place it over the nipple and squeeze the button, handle or lever to trigger the process of suction. The milk will automatically go to the container that is attached to the device. 

Another type of manual breast pump consists of a hollow rubber ball. This rubber ball is connected with a breast-shield. To collect the milk, you need to press the rubber ball which in turn creates suction and suck out the milk. 

However, the use of such a breast pump is discouraged as it is difficult to clean.

Pros 

  • Cheaper than other types
  • Easier to clean than electric pumps
  • Compact and travel-friendly
  • Quiet
  • Lightweight
  • Not dependent on electricity

Cons

  • Slower than electric pumps
  • Difficult to maintain a rhythm
  • Tiring 
 

Why Use a Breast Pump?

There is no alternative to mother’s breast milk. There is simply no choice available if you want to provide the best nutrition to your baby. To collect and contain milk from the mother’s breasts, a breast pump is very important. 

Moreover, your baby can benefit from it when you are not around. Thus, a breast pump makes it easy for you to feed your baby even while you are away.

You should opt for a breast pump if:

  • You have inverted or flat nipples and it is difficult for your baby to suck it.
  • Your baby is on breastfeed and you need to go out such as returning to work.
  • You want to take a break and free yourself from the pain of engorgement.
  • You want to provide your breastfeed to an adopted baby.
  • You are planning to wean your baby temporarily.
  • Your baby is in the hospital or under observation and you are not allowed to stay.

Whatever the reason may be, a breast pump is highly convenient to have on hand.

Features to Look for in a Breast Pump

  • Look for an electric breast pump if you can afford it. It makes sucking faster and allows suction more times per minute as compared to a manual pump.
  • Look for an adjustable vacuum as it makes pumping comfortable.
  • Look for a model that isn’t much complicated and is easy to assemble and clean.
  • Look for the one that comes with a case. It will help you in carrying the pump easily.
  • If your only priority is an electric pump, then look for a lightweight model.
  • Don’t forget to keep the noise levels of breast pumps in mind before getting one. The good news is that there are many electric models that are quieter.

If you are still confused about the features, ask yourself the following questions before buying a breast pump:

1. Will I use the pump frequently?

If your milk supply is established or you are not away from your baby frequently, then you don’t need to spend on an expensive breast pump. A simple manual hand pump will be best for you.

2. Do I need to pump quickly?

A manual pump takes 15 to 20 minutes to pump out breast milk. If you are a busy mom or at work mostly, then you might need to get an electric pump to get through the process quickly.

3. Do I need a hands-free pump?

If you want to work on other things or need your hands to be free while pumping then an electric pump is the best option for you.

4. How much can I afford?

Other than looking for the features, don’t forget to consider your affordability and your needs. If you only need a pump while your baby is hospitalized, you can also consider renting a pump from the medical supply.

5. Is the pump I am planning to buy portable?

If your breast pump is not portable, it might be frustrating for you. Under such conditions, you can look for a lightweight model to carry it easily.

6. Is the pump I am planning to buy easy to assemble?

This feature is also very important. If it is not easy to assemble or clean, you will end up getting frustrating which in turn, will affect the milk supply.

7. Is the pump suction adjustable? 

If you want an adjustable pump, then don’t forget to choose a model that comes with a degree control feature.

8. Are the breast shields perfect for me?

Breast shields are cone-shaped cups that can be adjusted easily over your nipples. However, every breast size is different and so is the nipple size. Therefore, it is also important for you to make sure that you are getting the right sized breast shields.

9. Will the absence of electricity create a problem for me and my baby?

Do you often experience power failure but you still want an electric breast pump? If yes, then consider getting a rechargeable battery pack with you.

Secondly, also keep a manual pump with you if you can afford it.

Breast Pump Safe Usage Guidelines

Before pumping your breast milk, don’t forget to:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. 
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Make sure the pump is clean.
  • Clean breast shields, pumps, power dials, and the container will a disinfectant.
  • Make sure that pumping is not painful or uncomfortable.
  • The breast shield is at the right angle.

Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

Storing the milk in the right container and at the right temperature is also important. Make sure that:

  • the pump is clean and clear from any dirt
  • the container is sanitized or washed

There are also breast milk storage bags that are available for storage. You can also use food-grade containers that comes with tight lids. Also keep in mind not to use bottles that has the recycle number 7 written on it. Moreover:

  • Never contain milk in disposable bottles or plastic bags
  • Keep the milk at a temperature of 77 degrees 
  • Don’t refrigerate it for more than 5 days
  • Do not keep the milk bottle in the door of the fridge as there are more temperature variations there
  • Keep a space of 1 inch at the top of the bottle or container because breast milk expands when it is refrigerated 
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