More Advice about Breast Pumps

Teaching prenatal classes and in breastfeeding support groups, a frequent concern is breast pumps. Here’s some more advice I’ve gleaned from mothers and colleagues. I do not endorse any one product, I don’t receive any money in exchange for mentioning these.

Sometimes simply changing the flanges can make pumping more comfortable and more effective. This is a lot less expensive than buying a new pump! Here are some options.

Different size flanges. Usually, there’s one size that comes with the pump. It may not be right for you. It’s normal to need a size for one breast, another size for the other breast. So try other sizes. (Perhaps you can try a friend’s or ask at a local Baby Cafe or other breastfeeding group.)

Different style flanges. Two to consider are:
Pumpin Pals have an angled flange, not as rigid as others. This can be better, especially for large sized women. The flanges also have ‘ribbing’ on the flanges that  gently presses on the areola. There’s a set of three different sizes, which gives you more options. These usually fit with the Medela pumps.

Ameda petal flanges (formally called Flexishield Areolar Stimulator) have silicon ‘petals’ that press on the areola. This helps with better release of breast milk. One of my IBCLC colleagues tried putting this Ameda flange into a Medela flange and it made a big difference! Improvisation like that sometimes leads to better results. The Ameda website doesn’t say these fit with Medela flanges. She just tried it and it worked.

Some women just do not like pumps and find that the manual pump and/or hand expression works best. That’s a good skill to have, especially if there’s no electricity or you forget the pump at home. It’s always a good complement to pumping. There’s another low tech option: a HaaKaa pump. It’s not really a pump, more of an ‘expressor’. Usually it works better for a mom with a supply that’s already established, it’s not as stimulating as a double electric pump.

I’d say do some friendly research. Consider your needs for a pump: An infant in the hospital? A three month old and you’re back at work? A six month old? Ask an IBCLC and listen to other mothers experiences with a pump. That will help you figure out what will work for you.