Pumping and collecting

Collecting without pumping

When you are breastfeeding your baby, have you noticed your other breast leaking? Rather than letting this milk soak into a nursing pad, you can collect it in a small container, bottle, or gadget designed to catch letdowns.

Pump– buy, rent, or borrow

  • Whether you rent or buy depends on your budget and how long you plan to use the equipment. Some insurance plans cover the cost of buying or renting a pump.
  • If you decide to buy a pump, do your research first because once the box is opened, it cannot be returned.
  • Breast pumps either have a closed or open system. This is important because you do not want to borrow a pump with an open system. A pump with a closed system has a barrier in between the milk collection kit and the pump motor, while an open system does not have a barrier of any kind. Closed systems prevent contamination from multiple users. Examples of closed systems for multiple users include hospital grade, rental, and some single-user high quality pumps.
  • Another reason for renting or buying your own pump, rather than borrowing, is the fact that you may not recognize when the pump is working less effectively, putting your milk supply at risk.

Pumping rarely? 
Mothers who express less than once or twice a week may not need a pump if they are successful expressing their milk by hand.  Another option would be to use a hand-powered pump. 

Pumping a few times a week?
Mothers who pump a few times a week can consider a relatively inexpensive semi-automatic, lower cycling pump.  These are often found on chain store shelves for $45-$90.  Since these pumps cycle (or “suck”) more slowly than a baby, collecting milk may take longer.  Using this type of pump frequently often results in a decline in milk production.

Pumping daily?
Mothers who pump daily will be most successful with a high-quality, fully automatic pump that cycles (or “sucks”) at the same rate as a baby.

Pump flange size

  • The flange is the part of the pump that touches your breast.
  • The size of the nipple, not the breast size, determines flange size.
  • When you pump, your nipple should move freely in the flange. 
  • If the nipple rubs the side, you need a bigger flange.  If your areola is pulled into the flange, you need a smaller size.
  • Learn more about how to measure your nipples here.

Pumping without hands

If you like to multi-task, you might appreciate not having to hold your pump in place. Use a hands free pumping bra, also called a bustier, like the one shown.