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Breast Pumps

Friday, 3 November 2006 | Tags: , ,

About 80% of new mothers breastfeed their babies. Being able to bottle your own milk can give you a little bit of freedom, whether youíre returning to work or you just want a night off. A breast pump comes in handy to help you keep nourishing your baby with breast milk.

The Basics

  • For regular pumping sessions (e.g. if you’re going back to work), consider an electric breast pump, which is more efficient than a manual pump. They are, however, more cumbersome to travel with, noisier, and generally more expensive.

  • A manual pump is sufficient for occasional use. They are usually smaller, quieter, and less expensive, though slower than electric. You can often control the pump rate and suction.

  • Mothers of premature babies need to pump exclusively until their babies are ready to nurse. A hospital-quality pump (which can usually be rented) is the most efficient in these cases.

  • Most funnels (placed over the breast) work for the majority of women; if the standard size doesn’t work for you, look for a model that offers different sizes.

  • For time-crunched mothers, consider a double pump to allow you to pump both breasts at once and cut your pumping time in half.

  • For electric pumps, make sure it can use batteries as well in case a wall outlet is unavailable.

  • A baby’s natural suckle is about 50-60 sucks per minute. Find a pump that best mimics this rate to yield the best results.

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Other Considerations

  • If you’re traveling with it frequently (e.g. back and forth to work), then the fewer parts the better.

  • Have a carry case or bag to make things easier.

TEST CRITERIA

With the help some new moms, we tested four different pumps to see which one was most effective.

  • Gerber Explore & Go (manual): $54.99
  • Avent ISIS Naturally (manual): $99.99
  • First Years Natural Comfort (electric/battery): $49.99 (US)
  • Medela Pump In Style (electric): $349.99

Noise Test

  • Both manual pumps were very quiet.

  • The noise level definitely shot up with the First Years pump.

  • There was certainly some sound coming from the Medela; it wasn’t very loud but it was a unique sound that could potentially attract attention.

Suction Test

Our physicist expert measured the vacuum power and pump rate of each product.

  • All of the pumps had a good vacuum, but the electric pumps were faster.

Usability & Comfort Test

  • The Gerber assembled easily but the moms didn’t like its suction; they felt the shape of the funnel wasn’t a good fit over the breast.

  • The Avent got top marks for a manual pump that worked well, and was easy and convenient.

  • One time-crunched mom liked the convenience and speed of the Medela Pump, which took one-third the time of a manual pump.

  • The First Years pump worked alright, but not as efficiently as other options. It was also on the noisy side.

OUR TOP PICK

The Avent system got top marks for a manual pump it worked well with ease and convenience. For speed, our breastfeeding testers liked the Medela Pump In Style electric pump. 

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