Do You Need a Breast Pump?

As many moms-to-be compile their registry, they add cute clothes, tons of diapers, and big-ticket items such as a crib, stroller, and car seat. One thing many moms don’t think about, however, is a breast pump.

Image via Flickr/ madika

While there are a number of brands and types of breast pumps on the market they all work in roughly the same way. By providing artificial suction at your breast they remove milk into bags or bottles that you can later use to feed your baby breast milk. Most working mothers who plan to breastfeed beyond their maternity leave will need a breast pump. Pumping during working hours allows their babies to have fresh breast milk when they’re with their care provider and also allows them to keep their milk supply strong when they are away from their little one. 

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Many moms who plan to breastfeed, but don’t plan work outside the home, feel unsure about whether they need a breast pump. While it’s true that they’ll likely be with their baby during most feeding times it may be a good idea to consider a breast pump for the flexibility it can offer. For example, if nursing moms want to go on a date that overlaps with a regular nursing time, a breast pump will allow them to express milk in advance so they can enjoy their time out without worrying about their baby’s hunger or their own engorgement. Even if they don’t plan to be away from their baby at all, breast pumps can also help nursing moms out in a variety of other situations. Early engorgement (overfull breasts when your milk first comes in) can be helped by pumping to relieve discomfort.

There also may be times that moms have to take a medication that’s not compatible with breastfeeding. Not nursing during this time will likely hurt supply, so moms may want to pump and throw away the milk simply to maintain their supply. Breast pumps may also be useful for moms that just aren’t sure if breastfeeding is for them. Even if a mom feels uncomfortable directly nursing her baby, pumping and bottle feeding in the early days can ensure that baby gets the important nutrients that colostrum (very early milk) provides. 

While breast pumps are known for being expensive, most moms can now receive one for free through their insurance plan. To check in on what pumps may be available to you call your insurance’s help line and simply ask. Bring your pump with you to the hospital and a nurse or lactation consultant will be sure you know how to use it before you head home. 

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Did you register for a breast pump? 

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Do You Need a Breast Pump?

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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