Kangaroo Mama’s Milky Ways: Part I-Breastpumps

I did mention I had no shame previously right?!  I wanted this blog to share about my baby and her growth but also the things that I’ve learned along the way about motherhood-good and the unexpected, in hopes that it can help another mama or mama-to-be out there.  I think nursing/pumping has been the most challenging and unpredictable aspect of motherhood for me.  I expected no sleep, expected crying, expected to fall in love, expected changes in scheduling, expected money to spill out of our already empty wallets but nursing/pumping was a whole other ballgame!  I do want to separate those two topics though because they are really different and pose different sets of challenges (for me at least).  I’m going to divy out my posting about nursing and pumpng in several parts to keep the post manageable.  I will share from the beginning (how my timeline for things panned out or how I wished they worked out)!

Some of the things I purchased during pregnancy or started researching early were:  Nursing cover, pump, nursing pads, nursing clothes, and nursing pillows.  So in Part I of the series, I will talk about my journey to purchasing the right breastpump.
The first thing on my research list was a breastpump.  I knew I was going back to work and I wanted to let Kiggster get as much breastmilkfor as long as possible so a good one was needed.  However, in looking at the different brands and price points-it was a pretty wide range.  Then being frugal mama, I thought, “what about a used one and just buy some new parts?”  Well, further research showed that it wasn’t a good idea.  Just to give you some background, I work for a small drug company so we follow FDA guidelines, etc.  On a personal level, I’m not one to believe that if an item is FDA-approved, that it means I’m going to believe it’s safe to use/eat.  I believe the FDA has approved a lot of things that ended up being mistakes so I usually go with the more conservative approach.  So if the FDA says that it’s not safe to share breastpumps, not even when you purchase new tubing and accessories because milk can flow back into the machine where it can’t be washed or cleaned and bacteria can grow…I take that advice.  I don’t know if it will or not but because I don’t know, I’m not going to risk the Kiggster gettting some disease or bacteria because I wanted to save money.  Some bacteria that was ok for one child might not be for another.  Also, I’ve heard things about people borrowing another person’s pump only for it to break down/stop working when they got it and they had to replace the broken one.  I think a lot of these pumps aren’t meant to be shared or used for multiple children so they will break.  Since I knew I would need this pump full-time, I needed to know that I wasn’t going to have a broken pump a couple weeks or months into using it!

So I think my research might be more helpful for someone who also plans to go back to work and pump full-time and nurse at nights/weekends.  Qualities I was looking for in a pump: portable, hands-free, powerful, efficient, and ease-of-use.  But all those qualities come at a premium price, unfortunately.  Below are some examples:

Phillips Avent Manual Breastpump $45




Medela Swing Single Electric Breastpump $160



Ameda Purely Yours Ultra Double Electric Breastpump $300
Medela Freestyle Breastpump $380

So above you see 4 different breast pumps and those are just a few examples of what’s out there.  I knew I needed more than a manual pump.  There’s no way I’m hand-pumping full time at work and still think that I’m going to keep my milk supply.  I also knew that the single electric still wouldn’t be good enough for me (maybe for someone only pumping occasionally) and it might take too long to pump each side individually at work.  So then it was down to which of the double electric breastpumps I would pick (pumps both sides simultaneously).   So the one I ended up choosing is the Medela Freestyle Hands-Free Breastpump.  Reasons I chose it: 1) the pump itself is small and can be worn on the provided waist belt for mobility 2) Is one of the more powerful pumps out there with the exception of hospital-grade pumps (I couldn’t afford those but I looked them up!) 3) has a stimulation and suction mode so similar to nursing 4) you can set them at different levels of suction and has a memory feature 5) came with hands-free features 6) has a plug-in wall charger, can be used w/o being plugged in if fully charged, or you can even purchase a car charger.

The Freestyle is still not the “perfect” pump.  After using it for about 7 months now, I realize there are things that I like and dislike about it.  The hands-free accessories are crappy, they take a long time to hook up to a nursing bra and the pump itself (needs readjusting everytime you use it unless you wear the same bra everyday)!  I’ll share later what I ended up using as a hands-free tool.  There’s an automatic 30 minute shut-off that randomly (sometimes it keeps going but 80% of the time, it stops after 30 minutes) shuts the pump down, although I don’t know if it’s for my safety but I just turn it right back on if there was still more milk.  Comes with the SoftFit Breastshields:

Medela SoftFit Breastshields 24MM

It sounded nice that they were softer than the regular harder breastshields, however, the ones that come with the pump are the 24MM size and MOST women don’t fit that size-they need a bigger size.  Then if you want to get a bigger size, the SoftFit only comes in the 24MM size so you have to buy the PersonalFit Breastshields which are the hard ones:

Medela PersonalFit Breastshields

I bought the 30MM size because I was told by a lactation consultant that it’s ok to go bigger but not ok to go smaller!  I found them cheapest on Amazon.   Early on, Honey asked why we couldn’t get the $50 pumps ’cause they looked the same.  Well, I told him we needed at least the double electric ones and that manual and single was out of the question.  I told him those were meant for occasional or part-time pumpers and since I was going back to work full-time, I needed more.  We just eventually pulled together a lot of gift cards from the shower and returned some baby gifts to make just enough money to get the Medela (and waited for a 20% off coupon from Babies ‘R Us) right before Kiggster arrived.  We decided from the reviews we read and comparing the features that the Freestyle was what we needed.  I’m really glad that I went with it because I had heard another coworker (3 months ahead of me) didn’t want to spend the money on a nicer pump so went with 2 single electric pumps (much cheaper) and tried pumping full-time back at work but her milk supply ran out within a couple months back at work.  I don’t know if other things were the cause of the loss of milk supply or contributed but I know that the power of the suction on the pumps are crucial and since pump is never as good as baby, getting a bad pump would just make it worse. 

So I did say I hated the hands-free accessories that came with the pump but found another much better alternative.  If I knew how to sew, it would have been easy to make but I don’t so I had to buy one! I did some research on different hands-free pumping tools and there are several out there (including some homemade ones too).  There was a free homemade version using rubberbands but I just don’t have the time each day at work to mess with those.  Then there were other hands-free pump bras but a lot of them looked really cumbersome and I was looking for a simple and quick item.  I ended up with the PumpEase that I got for around $33 from Amazon:

 So that’s where the 2 ends meet.

That’s the opening for your breastshields to go in-there’s 2 of those openings!  I thought, how could a piece of cloth hold up the shields, accessories, and bottles but it really works and that’s how I can pump and blog at the same time (or work and pump in some cases)!  A coworker asked me how long it takes to put on the Medela provided hands-free accessories and I told her about PumpEase.  A week later, she came over to me and thanked me for changing her life (well, her pumping life at least)! It really helped cut down set up time during each pumping session-every minute saved is an extra minute for actual pumping!

I will probably post more at a later series about going back to work and pumping tips that were passed on to me.  So that’s Part I of the series, hope you were able to learn from my experiences in purchasing a breastpump.

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  1. […] you haven't had a chance to read the Nursing Saga Part II: Helpful Resources or Nursing Saga Part I: Breastpumps, you can click the links to read them now!  You can't share about nursing and not talk […]

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