Which Pump when?
Breast pumps - There are very different reasons that a mother may choose or need to use a breast pump. Your reason for using a breast pump makes a difference to which pump you need.
When your baby is born the breasts and the cells that make the milk within them have to “switch on”, this is known as ‘initiation’. This happens really efficiently when a baby is breastfeeding well and frequently, and most mums will notice that their “milk comes in” around day three after birth. Not all babies though are able to feed well from birth; this may be due to the type of birth you and baby had or the medicines used in your labour. Both of these reasons can make your baby quite sleepy and not yet ready to breastfeed for the first few days. Some babies are born too soon and need to spend some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Unit (SCBU). Those babies who are born before 34-35 weeks of gestation often need time to grow and develop before they can fully breastfeed. This is the reason to make sure you use the correct pump for your needs.
How milk supply develops over the first few months:
Once your milk comes in over the first month, the milk-making cells are increasing the volume of milk your breasts can make. They are working out how much milk your baby needs and build your supply accordingly.
From months 2-6 your breasts will have laid down all the foundations to make a good enough milk supply (established lactation). From now on the actual milk volume your baby drinks every day remains pretty consistent, even though your baby continues to gain weight really well!
So which pump when?
My baby was able to breastfeed really well in the first month and establish a good milk supply: When choosing to breastfeed and express, it is still important to maintain your milk production. A personal use pump will be suitable for your needs because your baby was able to establish a good milk supply in the first month. Manual (Medela Harmony) or single electric pump (Medela Swing) is ideal for brief separations; daily or occasional use. Double electric (Medela Swing maxi, Freestyle) are ideal for longer separations; regular or daily use.
My baby needed some help at the beginning to get breastfeeding off to a good start: If babies are not able to fully breastfeed straight after birth or feed less than 8 times daily, it is important to initiate with a hospital grade pump such as Medela Symphony (available for hire). Once the milk supply “foundations” have been laid in that first month, and mums are achieving good milk volumes as well as breastfeeding, it would then be suitable to move on to a personal use pump for expressing.
My baby is unable to breastfeed to initiate, build or maintain my milk supply: If your baby is not yet able to breastfeed or cannot breastfeed then it is important to initiate, build and maintain your supply until your baby is able to breastfeed. If babies are still not able to fully breastfeed in the first month when you are building supply, it is has been shown in the scientific research that mums should continue expressing with a hospital grade pump such as Medela Symphony in order to maintain an effective supply even when baby is not able to be fed directly from the breast.