No mother should ever have to suffer from a decreased milk supply while having to overcome any depression or anxiety that can result from returning to work — I have been in that situation myself, and it is my hope to prevent this from happening to other mothers.
The review: Medela’s Symphony, Playtex’s manual pump, and Bailey’s nurture III.
MEDELA >> The Medela Symphony pump is a standard one for hospitals to carry for maternity wards… I used this pump at Northside Hospital after the births of my children, and found it to be rather cumbersome to use and clean. The kit had several parts, including the membrane that creates a field of suction for the pump to work right. The membrane was difficult for me to put in, and it was so easy to lose it was almost scary. The manufacturer carries a line of bags that you can use to sterilize the parts. This pump is frighteningly expensive, and hospitals are really the entities that will benefit the most from this pump.
Overall, this pump is NOT the one you want to use if you are a working mom! The cleaning time alone will eat a few extra minutes out of your break time, and the price will bust your budget up.
PLAYTEX >> I ended up buying a Playtex Manual pump after I accidentally left my electric one at home and coincidentally needed a non-electric pump “just in case.” The massaging insert worked great for me – I have small breasts and it helped to increase the amount of milk I pumped. The design is relatively simple, and the only real problem I encountered was when the membrane wasn’t completely inserted. The parts are cheap to buy, and the user has full control over suction – a feature I love! With this pump, I can hold down the lever and induce suction for as long as a full minute. Hand soreness is only a temporary problem — as this pump is used, your hand(s) will become accustomed to exercise. Cleaning isn’t too bad, either – the only catch is that you have to be to get the friction ring off the piston and clean out the indentation.
As a working mom, I find this pump sometimes more convenient than an electric pump, because I can pump anywhere with the Playtex Manual. It is VERY important to buy extra membranes!! I ended up suffering for three days while waiting for replacements to arrive via snail mail. Not fun. The key is to have a pumping pack that comes with spare parts on the side and extra bottles with caps just in case you drop anything and are not by a sink.
BAILEY >> The Bailey Nurture III is a relatively inexpensive pump that is lent out as a part of several Atlanta-area breastfeeding promotion programs, such as WIC’s lactation program. I could not afford to buy a new electric breast pump after my old pump died (it wasn’t a Bailey – differant brand name), and so I ended up borrowing the Bailey from my local WIC office as an emergency solution. It is amazingly simple for an electric pump and the parts are the easiest to clean of all kits that I have used. This pump was developed for use by many people, and it works great. The double pumping feature wasn’t good because I had less control of the pressure on the 2nd side. The degree of control over suction is great – all I had to do was lift my thumb from the pressure release hole (similar to a hole on a wind instrument). I can extend the suction time or lessen it at will. The brick motor is a design that I love, too – the kit attaches via a clear, flexible tube with a filter that prevents milk from going into the motor unit. The only downside to this pump is that the kit is VERY top-heavy and WILL topple over if the user dows not disconnect the filter and connection to the tube that leads to the motor.
This pump is great for working moms and is really the best pump for companies to use in lactation programs – many users can buy a kit and use the motor. Also – the degree of control over suction timing is critical – some moms need a faster pace while others (like me) need the suction time extended. Another important feature to a working mother is the time it takes to set up – It takes longer to raise my shirt and bra than it does for me to set up and start the pump.
FINAL DECISION >> After having multiple children, I found it best to use both the Playtex Manual and the Bailey Nurture III. I ended up pumping in the car as I drove to and from work.
RESULTS >> To have the best milk supply, I found out that I have to pump every two hours. My milk supply this time around is abundant because I pump every two hours even at home.
1. Buy one extra kit for each place you spend significant amounts of time at – you never want to forget your kit without a Plan B and C.
2. Pre-pack two kits for the day so you can wash one while you use the other.
3. Learn how to pump manually (with just your hands) so that you don’t freak out in the event that you have no pumps – I wasted almost all of my lunch hour trying to learn this needed skill one day.
4. Separate your pumping gear from all the rest of your stuff so you spend more time pumping and less time digging, especially if you like to carry large bags and/or lots of stuff.
5. Have paper towels handy – toilet paper and tissues tend to dissolve in the most messy of ways when cleaning up yourself, a mess, or pumping kits.
6. Print out copies of the laws that support a lactating mother’s rights – some people will get amazingly obnoxious about pumping breaks and may torpedo your efforts to breastfeed because they are jealous of you getting “all those breaks.”
7. Assert your right to reasonable accomodation – pumping breaks really are necessary, and there may be other lactating moms enduring the heartache that a declining milk supply brings – lactating moms MUST pump at least every two hours to ensure a plentiful milk supply.
8. Carry extra fluids – milk production requires a woman to drink extra fluids. Not drinking enough fluids can result in a mom having less milk to feed the baby with.
9. Snack as often as you can get away with – milk production burns more calories than most people would believe, and this can cause lactating moms to develop low blood sugar or hunger. Snacks will enable you to perform better at work without any added distractions caused by hunger.
10. Use a daily multivitamin – you will want to replenish your own supply of nutrition because deficiancies can cause health problems, both short-term and long-term.
Source: Personal Experience