To Pump or Not To Pump, That Is the Question

Currently, I’m pretty much a stay-at-home wife.  Yes, I put in a few hours at PB for the discount and to get out of the house.  Yes, I plan to keep on freelancing and consulting but I’m in a rut about that and have put it on the back burner until after Roo arrives and I’m settled into a mommy routine, etc.  But at the moment, I will be a stay-at-home mom for the first few months.  Afterward, I’ll probably still be stay-at-home as I want to keep working from home.  The likelihood of me going back to PB even with the same amazing hours a week that I have right now is pretty slim.  I get paid $10 an hour, which wouldn’t even cover childcare costs!

I plan to exclusively breast feed Roo.  In my mind, exclusively breast feed means I will nurse her myself and/or have breast milk in a bottle available to her.  I hope to do it for at least a year.  I’ve read and heard that nursing for a minimum of one year has the greatest health benefit.  I am aware that I may not be a successful breast feeder: she might have a lot of trouble with nursing or my breasts might not produce enough for her to get enough nutrition.  I also know that my circumstances may change and the goal of exclusively breast-feeding may not be possible.  In other words, I have my goal in mind but I’m aware of the challenges that I might face and am willing to accept that formula feeding entirely or at some times might be necessary.  I’m ok with it.  Being adopted, I was exclusively formula fed and I’m completely perfect 😉

So, why would I need to get a breast pump?  I really want MH to have the chance to bond with Roo through feeding her.  I want him to experience that quiet, one-on-one time with her that I’ll get.  Plus, I want to be able to leave Roo with a babysitter so that MH and I can go to dinner or if I want to have some time at the spa or another location where infants are not allowed.  (I can’t wait to be a mommy but I also know how important it is to make marriage and alone time also a priority).  I can’t imagine leaving Roo with someone else for the first couple or few months but I know there will come a time where I will want and need to do so.  Pumping will allow other people to feed Roo.

In looking at the various pump options, I’m overwhelmed.  Also the price of these things is over the top!  Some breast pumps cost more than cribs!  There is the manual pump and then there is the electric pump.  There is the single pump and then there is the double pump.  There are open systems and there are closed systems – not exactly sure what the heck that means but I think it only really matters when it comes to “sharing” a pump.

Since I only want to have pumped milk available for Roo about once a day, I’m so confused by what I should get especially since the expense of a pump is pretty high.  So, I decided that in the ideal world, I would buy a double, electric pump on a budget – but there really isn’t that option.  I was told that getting a hand pump is only really helpful once someone is an accomplished breast feeder, so I automatically took that off my list.

There are two brands that I decided to exclusively consider: M.edela and A.meda.  M.edela seems to have a market share in breast pumps with two very popular styles: Pump In Style and the Freestyle.  I know a lot of people who have one or the other of these two and like them both for various reasons but also dislike them for various reasons.  A.meda seems to be less popular but has very positive reviews (in fact, I have found it has fewer negative reviews but that could be because it is less popular).  One large difference between these two brands is the type of system that they have: M.edela has an open systems and A.meda has a closed system.  Apparently, a closed system makes it the ONLY breast pump approved by the FDA to safely re-sell without health and cross contamination concerns.  All hospital-grade pumps are closed systems – which I think means that breast milk cannot cross over into any part of the actual pump, just the tubing, which can easily be replaced with new tubing.

Since a breast pump except for a hand pump with a doctor’s prescription is available to me through my insurance company, I’m stuck buying a breast pump on my own.  (I was told to purchase one ahead of time and NOT at the hospital as the ones sold through the hospital are the same brands sold at stores but at twice the price!)  I decided to try to find an A.meda pump on Craig’s List since the one I chose is around $275.  I got lucky!  I found one.  Even better, it is a BRAND NEW, in-the-box A.meda pump matching my criteria of a double, electric pump (called Purely Yours).  I’ll pick it up on Thursday.  If I get there and don’t like the looks of it, I will walk away.  If it looks OK and I get home and don’t feel 100% comfortable, I’ll buy new tubing (even though she said that it is still in the box).  No harm, no foul and I’m saving myself more than $200 with this CL find!

Of course, this afternoon, I read an article talking about why women who are trying to exclusively breast feed should NOT pump and that made me wary about my decision to buy one but that’s just one person’s opinion.  We are taking a breast-feeding class at our hospital in a couple of weeks and I’ll ask them about that topic.  I also have decided that if I find that I don’t use the pump that I can re-sell it on CL.

**NOTE: I am NOT an expert on breast pumps and any health and safety information relating to breast pumps.  This information is solely what I have researched and with my pregnancy brain and generally sometimes known air headedness, I could be very wrong on some of this information.  Please make any decisions with care and input from a “real” expert 😉

14 thoughts on “To Pump or Not To Pump, That Is the Question

  1. I’m having the same issue. I’m in between the two brands. But I lean towards the Ameda Purely Yours more. I was told that pumping, even though I will be stay at home as well, actually helps you producing more milk, helps you release extra pressure and definitely allows you to ‘stock up’ and feed from the bottle, which allows other people to feed the baby too. 😉

  2. Ok I feel like I am ALWAYS commenting but I want to help you out as much as possible.
    I have a M.edela swing single electric as I wanted to exclusively breast feed. So for the advice. Don’t pump for the first 6 weeks and your supply is just getting established and pumping can make your body produce more which may seem like a good idea but an oversupply is actually a bad thing in terms of breastfeeding (too much foremilk, green frothy poop and gassy baby). Then if you are set on pumping you can start and introduce the bottle no later then 2 months as they could refuse it.
    I have MANY bags of milk in the freezer as I could probably feed all the kids on my block but I have chosen not to feed him a bottle. I am sooo crazy about my milk supply and when you start skipping feelings (to bottle feed) is can mess with your supply.
    Now as I said I’m crazy and I know that a feed once and while probably won’t affect it but I just am soo wanting to breast feed for at least a year that I don’t want anything to mess with it.
    When you skip a feed your breasts will get very engorged and your body will think you don’t need as much milk and it will stop producing that much, now again I’m not an expert on that.
    I wanted him to take a bottle before I had him so I could do exactly what you said, go out and not be stuck with the all night feeds all by myself but now that he’s here I realized breastfeeding is a year maybe a little more or less, it’s not that long and if I’m stuck with him that entire time I think I can deal with that. He’s pretty cute.
    I’m not trying to stop you from pumping as there are many babies who take both (bottle and breast) happily. My sister never produced enough milk and had to supplement but continued to breastfeed and they are still going strong at 18 months.

    Anyways this is super long. Do what you feel is best for you and your family but breastfeeding is soo special and such an amazing thing it’s kinda nice that it’s just for momma and baby (I love that I get him to myself during that time) daddys can have their own time, like bathing and story time.
    Good luck!!

    • Melody, I love all of your advice. It’s helpful especially since I know you are just a few months ahead of me. It is nice to have a been there done that mom sharing with me!! Keep the comments and advice coming 🙂

  3. If you don’t have any problems BFing, then you don’t need a pump right away, since you won’t want to introduce a bottle until about 4 weeks. If you do have problems, you will likely want to rent a hospital grade pump to help establish your supply. If you can’t BF at all, then you don’t need a pump, and if you’ve bought one, you’ll need to get rid of it (and I think you may not be able to return it). This is just to say, don’t buy the pump now. Once Roo arrives, you’ll have a better sense of your needs, and you can buy one, or not, then.

  4. I think, in an ideal world, or if you just happen to be lucky enough to be in the position to, exclusively breastfeeding IS best.

    But things aren’t always perfect and I, for one, like to sleep :o)

    Baby G was in the NICU the first few days after he was born, so I started pumping right away to help establish my supply since I wasn’t able to be with him at night when I was discharged. He ended up being fed formula at night those few days, and I think it did make establishing breastfeeding tricky for us, but we have managed.

    Hubby would do night duty on the weekends when Baby G was getting up 2-3 times a night and would bottle feed so I could sleep. I would get up 2x at night and pump. Getting up is a drag, but I can do that pump about 15 minutes as opposed to trying to keep Baby G awake during a feeding, burping, changing him, etc. I got up, but I still got more sleep in the end.

    I would recommend exclusively breastfeeding the first 4-6 weeks, as I do think it helps you and baby establish how it’s done and regulates your supply. I was pretty insistant on that before Baby G was born. But then he was born and I didn’t have a choice unless I was going to sleep in a chair for the first four days. Even though it’s been a more challenging learning experience for both Baby G and I, it’s worked out in the end with doing both breast and bottle from the start.

    I think the trick for us was actually trying to find a bottle that he liked and didn’t give him the “nipple confusion”. Hubby really liked the bottles that go with my pump, but I felt like Baby G and I would have to start all over with getting used to breastfeeding again after he was fed from those. I have had my parents feed Baby G from the To.mmy Ti.ppy bottles and breastfeeding after he’s been at their house all day has been far less of a struggle, so I’ve been insisting those be used now.

    I use the Pump In Style and I like it okay. Baby G does a MUCH better job of emptying my boobs than the pump, but it IS nice to be able to have a bottle or two on hand so I can leave the house and have time to myself for a few hours. Plus I have to work, so I don’t have much of a choice during the week.

    Now that I am back at work and Baby G is really only waking up once a night, I am making sure I am the only one that feeds him when I am around him. I used to like pumping more than breastfeeding, but now that I am pumping more than I am nursing I’d rather nurse based on just how great my boobs feel between feedings with Baby G!

    My best piece of advice is that if you get a pump before Roo arrives, take it with you to to hospital. The lactation consultants can show you how it works, give you advice (it turns out I was using the higher setting when I didn’t need to), and even “fit” you for breast shields (I have to use a different size AND type breast shield on each boob).

    Oh, and I also refuse to give Baby G the bottle myself. I don’t know if this has been a big factor in him being able to take both boob and bottle or not (people do recommend that mom doesn’t use the bottle herself if she’s also BFing).

    • Thanks, Emma! This is really great advice! I definitely don’t plan to pump until we have a well-established routine. I’m so glad that you have been able to successfully breast feed. It gives me hope 🙂

  5. Good luck! Nursing is a great way to bond with new baby. Stop by your local La Leche League to get advice on nursing/pupming as well.

  6. Here’s my thoughts, as I have a similar plan as you. I’m not buying a pump until after baby is born. The first 2 weeks are VERY important that baby only latches onto your boob, no pacifiers for baby, no pump for you, it helps establish the breastfeeding relationship on both ends. After those first few weeks if I feel like I need/want a night out with hubs or he really wants to feed baby THEN I am going to research pumps, based on my needs. I just don’t want the thing there in the house during those first few weeks when I know breastfeeding will be hard and so many resort to pumping which can ruin the whole thing. And I have absolutely no idea what my needs are and I find it impossible to anticipate what I will want before we get there.

    Good luck on whatever you decide to do!

  7. Just my 2 cents, which always boils down to “do whatever works for you – it will be fine, no matter what it is”. The best laid plans can go totally awry on the BF’ing front so don’t hold yourself to anything that will make you feel guilty if circumstances require doing it a different way.

    I had twins. Had all kinds of bf’ing challenges, kept at it, pumped, etc.. and they got some amount of breastmilk almost until the 6 mth mark. The hospital grade pump is what made it possible for me to have options, to work around times when the babies were more or less cooperative, to build and maintain supply, etc… I had an at home medela and that was good for when I had to travel, but the hospital grade one was faster and more efficient.

    You will figure it out, and you’ll probably have to keep figuring it out as you go through it, so just be kind to yourself and try to be flexible. Good luck!

  8. My babe was in the NICU for two weeks. 1.5 of those weeks, he had a feeding tube. So,I pumped from the beginning. I’ve always produced plenty of milk and he has always latched great and fed really well. He’s gaining weight just like he should be. He’s four weeks and now that we are home, he gets three bottles a day. Two are neo.sure fortified breast milk (from what I pump) and he gets a clostrum bottle before bed from what I have frozen at the suggestion of his pediatrician (it’s fattier and helps he sleep for longer intervals). I also use a nipple shield because I have flat nipples. So far, he doesn’t have any issues with nipple confusion. The NICU recommended that we use play.tex vent.aire bottles and they work great.

    I didn’t research a lot about breast feeding prior to his birth. I knew it was something I wanted to do but always told myself I wasn’t going to stress if it didn’t work. I’m glad I didn’t know too much because I think that helped me to go with the flow (ha!) and do what worked without the stress of what ‘should’ be. I did all the things ‘they’ say not to: pumped early, bottle early, nipple shield, I feed him bottles. Sure, most of those things were because of circumstance but we are doing just fine.

    I tell you all of this because the best thing you can do is not stress too much. Do what works for you. It isn’t always going to be what worked for everyone else and it isn’t always going to be what the experts tell you to do. Every mom, every baby is different.

  9. My plan was similar to yours. I wasn’t going to buy a pump until I got closer to returning to work part time. But like you say, you never know what your body is going to do. My milk didn’t come in until day 5, post delivery, but when it did – HOLY. CRAP.

    I literally went to bed feeling completely normal and woke up to crazy engorged, ROCK HARD, breasts. My poor daughter couldn’t even drink enough to take the edge off, so my husband sent my BFF to the store to get me a pump. Plus when you are super engorged, it can be harder for the baby to latch on, and the flow is like a fire hose to them, lol!

    I’m really glad to hear that you taking a BF Class through your hospital. I did the same and found it very helpful.

    I agree that you should be careful about pumping while your body is still establishing what your baby needs, but after that it is okay. It’s good to build up a storage, and you’ll find what works best for you. Once my daughter started sleeping more regularly at night, I began pumping 2-3 hours after I put her to bed. Every night. This will help you build a consistent frozen supply, and you wont wake up really engorged.

    And as far as “Skipping Feedings, to bottle feed”. I just want to clarify that when I have my husband feed our daughter I also pump in order to avoid “skipping a feeding”. Then everyone wins. Baby’s fed, you are replacing the stored milk with the new batch you just pumped, and you won’t mess with your supply.

    Bottom line is, try not to make to many plans or come to certain determinations now because they may not work for you then. You will find your groove, and figure out what works best for you and baby!

    Best of luck!

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