July 31, 2006 7:11 AM   Subscribe

What's the best breast pump?

Hopefully I can get a nice, two-boobs-at-a-time set-up for about $150. But if it costs more, it costs more.
posted by Eiwalker to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Medela Symphony is what my wife and I rented from our hospital when we had our twins last year. It truly is a hospital grade pump, which was actually what was available for moms to use in the labor and delivery and NICU areas.
posted by jaimev at 7:42 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: My wife says the Medela pump in style has been a godsend. She even got a hands-free kit (basically a tube top with holes in it for the pump heads) so she could read email and the web while it pumped.

I think it's normally in the ~$300 price range, but our doctor offered it to us at cost, for $225 as part of some sort of program. I guess ask your ob/gyn or pediatrician what they recommend and offer deals for, since I think it's slightly subsidized in order to promote breast feeding over formula.
posted by mathowie at 7:50 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: I second the recommendation for the Medela Pump In Style Advanced, as well as for the hands-free pumping bustier. I've been using it 2-3x a day for the past 6 months with no problems.

If you look on Craigslist, you'll see lots of folks selling off breast pumps that they don't need any more. Theoretically, all you'd need to do is buy a new set of horns and tubes and you'd be good to go.
posted by mogget at 8:02 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: My wife has the Pump in Style (backpack version) as well. She had no complaints.
posted by MrToad at 8:21 AM on July 31, 2006

Check with your insurance! Our provider has an allowance for "medical devices", and a breast pump apparently counts. HealthNet sent the Medela pump-in-style out to us the very next day.
posted by horsemuth at 8:23 AM on July 31, 2006

My wife rented the Lactina (from the same page jaimev linked) with the intention of trying it to see how things went and then buying later, but ended up liking both the pump and the rental program so much that we just rented for 6 months. Unless you know you are going to need the pump for a long time/multiple children (and perhaps even then) rental might be a good option to look into.

(looking at the thread it appears there are a lot of us husbands who are into the whole nursing thing)
posted by TedW at 8:27 AM on July 31, 2006

Response by poster: I am pleased to get such a unanimous response. Medela looks good and there are a lot of used ones for sale. Does anyone know how durable they are? How long before their motors burn out?
posted by Eiwalker at 9:21 AM on July 31, 2006

I don't know about the motor because I use a manual Medela pump, but I know this: you can get spare parts at Babies R Us, so if one of the little parts breaks, you won't have to replace the whole thing.
posted by leapingsheep at 10:00 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: I used the Lactina (rented) for two weeks, and have to say it was two weeks of living hell (although I did not have (and was not offered by my lactation consultant - despite the problems below) any sort of hands-free setup thingy).

The biggest problem was that because of where my nipples are placed on my breasts, I had to lean forward the entire time I was pumping, or the milk wouldn't run down into the collection things - it would just pool up around my nipples and eventually leak out. To me, it seemed to have been designed by someone who had no knowledge of either fluid mechanics or female anatomy.

I also hated -- hated -- holding things in place while "double pumping" -- I basically had to juggle the cones to get them in the proper position then turn the machine on with my foot. Imagine, if you will, sitting on the edge of your sofa, hunched over, holding a cone to each breast and pressing in - hard - while also trying to massage the sides and/or tops of your breasts with the heel of your hand to maximize milk production. Now hold that position for 10-15 minutes. Your hands are cramping. You have a bead of sweat running down your nose but you can't get to it because you can't let go of either of the cones that you are pressing into your breasts. All the while the pump sits at your feet making a soft wheeze as it pumps in and out, like an old man on life support.

Oh, and the Lactina is also the size of a workmans toolbox. Its huge and heavy - not at all "Lightweight and portable for moms who work or travel" as the website says - the box is huge, and it weighed about the same as our carseat (empty).

If what I've written above doesn't describe the hell I was in using the lactina breastpump, then perhaps this will - towards the end, it got so that I would burst into tears every time I had to use it, and would sit and cry the entire time I was pumping. I found it both physically painful and a completely dehumanizing experience.

Finally a friend gave me a tiny Isis Breastpump which is a manual pump, but, weirdly, I get more production using it. Its tiny (fits in a small tupperware box), makes no noise, and is a manual pump, so I can use it anywhere I am. The cone design is different so I'm not hunched over any more, and I can use it for a few minutes, then set it down easily if the baby is crying or I need to shift, then pick up again where I left off - I can even stick it (whole) in the fridge if the baby has a crisis while I'm pumping.

I'm sure the Lactina works for some people, but it sure didn't work for me. You can rent the pump, but you'll still need to pay about $50 for the cones and storage pieces, since they sell a new "kit" to every rental customer. In any case, if possible, try out the pump you choose before you spend money on it. You may find that a highly regarded pump simply doesn't work for you.
posted by anastasiav at 10:53 AM on July 31, 2006

Unless it is a hospital grade pump, it is only made for one person to use. Just be aware that there are safety concerns of shared fluids if you want to buy a used pump. I believe that the Consumer Reports Best Baby Products had a section on breast pumps, though I'm not sure if they rated them.
posted by Margalo Epps at 11:00 AM on July 31, 2006

My wife used the Medela Classic, which pulled nearly a year's supply of milk out of her chest (not all at once). It was an effective device, but it required a certain amount of love to keep the parts clean and functional. I remember some filter parts that would fail if--get this--they got milk on them. That generally happened if my wife fell asleep while pumping and overfilled the bottles.

Be aware that the smaller non-hospital grade pumps don't have a long lifespan in the pump parts. The lactation consultant at our hospital recommended checking any used equipment to make sure it still had the correct draw on it.
posted by plinth at 2:13 PM on July 31, 2006

I bought the Medela Pump in Style but didnt' have the hands-free top, dang it. I didnt' even know they existed! It worked great, but I didnt' use it as much as I thought I would (I quit working).

If you are going back to work, then get a good pump. But if you are going to stay at home, I think buying a pump as a SAHM (at least in my case) was a waste of money for us. I wish I'd just rented the hospital pump for a while and then supplemented with formula when I needed to sleep in.

A reminder: if you keep your baby used to the occasional bottle (once or twice a week), you'll be able to sleep through a feeding or two. Believe me, I regretted not doing this!
posted by mdiskin at 4:03 AM on August 1, 2006

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