Written By: Alyssa Emo, OB/GYN For patients that are considering breast feeding or exclusively pumping, picking out the right breast pump can be an overwhelming task. There are many different aspects of pumping to think about.
1. Portability - Where will you be using your pump? At home, work or one the go in the car? Some breast pumps require a wall outlet to run, and others are chargeable so that you can pump on the go. Typically, battery operated pumps may not have as strong of a suction as their plug-in required counterparts.
2. Profile - The flange is the part of the breast pump that comes into contact with your body and forms a seal on your breast. A traditional flange can be quite bulky and requires you to hold them in place or have a special bra that is designed to hold them for you. If you are hoping for some privacy while pumping, you may need to wear a nursing cover - which can be awkward in the office or on an airplane! You can buy flanges that are compact with the breast milk collection cup all in one piece, that sit in your regular bra but still connect to your pump’s regular tubing. These are great for privacy but similar to the battery-operated pumps, may not provide as much suction as traditional flanges.
Alternatively, there are wearable breast pumps that have the flange and collection device all in one and the tubing either leads to a small pump that clips onto your pants or the entire pump is able to be worn in your bra. Common brands of wearable breast pumps include the Elvie, Willow or Momcozy. Since these all are chargeable and run on a battery, they typically fall into the category of slightly less suction than their wall plug in counterparts. However, if you are on the go, a wearable pump may make it easier for you to pump at regular intervals and be more successful with your breastfeeding experience overall.
3. Price - Insurances will cover breast pumps for pregnant and nursing patients. They cover one pump per pregnancy. You can request your breast pump as early as 6 months before your estimated delivery date or as late as 6 months after your delivery. Some breast pumps are fully covered, but others are only partially covered and require a co-pay. You can call your insurance to determine coverage, or some websites specialize in determining coverage if you order through their website. This can be convenient as it gives you an opportunity to see a variety of available pumps and some websites will even send you new pump parts every few months while you are breastfeeding.
In our office we can provide one of three pumps to our patients that we can dispense the same day: a spectra S2, a medela pump in style or an elvie stride. The medela and spectra are traditional plug-in pumps while the elvie stride is a battery-operated wearable pump. We can also order a spectra S1 (which has a rechargeable battery with traditional flanges). Only the spectra S1 and the elvie stride require a co-pay. Additionally, some insurances may not cover the S1 or the elvie stride.
Getting a breast pump can be a stressful experience. If you would like to see samples and discuss pros and cons of different pump styles, reach out to your OB provider, or make a specific lactation appointment with our CNM Stacie Hanna. I always encourage patients who are breastfeeding for the first time to see her during their third trimester. Breastfeeding and pumping is hard, but rewarding, work and it helps to be prepared before baby arrives.