Many breastfeeding mums will express their breastmilk at some stage. Sometimes it can be confusing to know which type of pump will best suit your needs.
What are your needs?
Before you buy or hire a breast pump, the first things to consider are your reasons for expressing and how often you plan to pump.
A hospital grade pump is recommended if:
your baby is unable to breastfeed yet, e.g. a premature or sick baby
you are exclusively expressing
you are returning to work and need to pump often each day
you are trying to greatly increase your supply
you are relactating or inducing lactation.
For many mums who are expressing less often or only on occasions to have some breast milk on hand, a personal electric pump or hand pump will be adequate.
You will get the most benefit from a pump that closely matches your personal circumstances.
Helping you choose a pump
To help you with your decision, we have rated your pump options for appropriateness based upon:
- the length of time you might need to use a pump, e.g. days or weeks
- how frequently you might need to use a pump.
We have used these definitions:
Short term - less than 4 weeks
Long term - 4 weeks or more
Occasional use - once a day or less
Frequent use - more than once a day
The key to our star ranking:
***Most preferable choice
** Next preferable choice
* Least preferable choice
X Not recommended
Some new pumps are designed to be fully wearable. These are small pumps that fit inside your bra and allow you to move about freely. They may not always remove the milk well enough to maintain your supply unless you are also breastfeeding your baby directly or using another good-quality pump. For this reason, they may be best used once you have a good milk supply.
Breast shield size
A breast shield, also known as a breast pump flange, is the plastic piece that fits directly over your nipple to form a seal around the areola. This creates a vacuum that gently draws your nipple into the funnel to extract the milk.
It’s important to have the correct size breast shield so that pumping is comfortable and you can express the most milk. The easiest way to check if the size is correct is to look at how your nipple fits into the breast shield funnel when you pump. It should move freely and easily, without rubbing on the sides.
If the breast shield is too small, your nipple will rub against the sides. Pumping may be painful and cause nipple soreness.
If the breast shield is too large, your areola will be pulled into the tunnel. This may cause pain at the base of the nipple.
Breast shields are available in the following sizes:
Small — 21 mm
Medium — 24 mm
Large — 27 mm
XL — 30 mm
XXL — 36 mm
The Medium (24 mm) is the standard breast shield size that is usually included when you buy a pump.
If you would like more information on choosing a breast pump, talk to your local breastfeeding volunteer. Become a member of ABA to hire a pump for half price.
© Australian Breastfeeding Association June 2023