Which Medela breast pump should I use? We hear this question all the time at Medela. So, we hope this blog post and our new infographic are helpful!
There may be very different reasons that a mother may choose or need to use a breast pump. For many, it is simply a way to continue giving baby breastmilk when they return to work. For other mums, they are totally reliant on a breast pump as their baby may be unwell or separated from them in the Special Care Baby Unit.
What Are You Looking for in a Medela Breast Pump?
Your reason for using a breast pump makes a difference on which pump you need. This is why it is advised that all mums wait to purchase their breast pump until after their baby is born, so that you use the right pump for your circumstances at the time. Hopefully this blog will help you decide which pump…. when!
When your baby is born, the breasts and the cells that make the milk within them have to “switch on,” this is known as “initiation.” This happens really efficiently when a baby is breastfeeding well and frequently, and most mums will notice that their “milk comes in” around day 3 after birth.
Not all babies though are able to feed well from birth; this may be due to the type of birth you and baby had or the medicines used in your labour. Both of these reasons can make your baby quite sleepy and not yet ready to breastfeed for the first few days.
Some babies are born too soon (before 37 weeks gestation of pregnancy) and need to spend some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Unit (SCN).
Those babies who are born before 34-35 weeks of gestation often need more time to grow and develop before they can fully breastfeed. They may be having some breastfeeds and some feeds through a nasogastric tube or, if they have been born very early, then it may be several weeks before they start to breastfeed. This is the reason to make sure you use the correct pump for your needs.
How Milk Supply Develops Over the First Few Months
In the first few days after birth, your milk supply needs to be initiated (milk cells are switched on) by frequent sucking at the breast. Most mums notice that their milk comes in around day 3.
Over the first month, the milk-making cells are increasing the volume of milk your breasts can make. They are working out how much milk your baby needs and will keep building your supply accordingly.
From months 2-6, your breasts will have laid down all the foundations to make a good enough milk supply. This is known as established lactation.
From now on the actual milk volume your baby drinks every day remains pretty consistent, even though your baby continues to gain weight really well!
So, Which Pump Should I Use?
“My baby was able to breastfeed really well in the first month and establish a good milk supply…”
When choosing to breastfeed and express milk, it is still important to maintain your milk production. A personal use pump will be suitable for your needs at this time because your baby was able to establish a good milk supply in the first month after birth.
Choosing the right pump now just depends on how many breastfeeds you want to replace each day with expressing. A manual pump (Harmony) or a single electric pump (Swing) is ideal for brief separations; daily or occasional use. Double electric pumps (Swing maxi or Freestyle) can be used for longer separations; regular or daily use. You can find a list of all our personal use pumps here.
“My baby needed some help at the beginning to get breastfeeding off to a good start…”
If babies are not able to fully breastfeed straight after birth or feed less than 8 times daily, it is important to initiate (switch on the milk cells) with a hospital grade pump (Symphony). Several pieces of scientific research have now been published showing that Medela’s Symphony Initiation technology can really help mums to initiate their milk supply.
Once the milk supply “foundations” have been laid in that first month, and mums are achieving good milk volumes as well as breastfeeding, it would then be suitable to move on to a personal use pump for expressing.
Choosing the right pump depends on how many breastfeeds you want to replace each day with expressing. A manual pump (Harmony) or a single electric pump (Swing) is ideal for brief separations; daily or occasional use. Double electric pumps (Swing maxi or Freestyle) can be used for longer separations; regular or daily use. You can find a list of all our personal use pumps here.
“My baby is unable to breastfeed to initiate, build or maintain my milk supply…”
If your baby is not yet able to breastfeed or cannot breastfeed then it is important to initiate (switch on the milk cells), build and maintain your milk supply until your baby is able to breastfeed. If babies are still not able to fully breastfeed in the first month when you are building supply, it is has been shown in the scientific research that mums should continue expressing with a hospital grade pump.
The Symphony pump has both Initiation technology and 2-Phase technology, which can help can help mums achieve the full benefit of having started with the Initiation technology. This way the mother can maintain an effective milk supply even when baby is not able to be fed directly from the breast.
Have a look at our infographic to help explain this a little more. For more information on the pumps and expressing please have a look here.
Have you used a Medela breast pump in the past? Which one? If not, what are you looking for most in a breast pump? Please join the conversation!