Q&A: breast pumps

Woo-hoo! Back to alleged reality for most everyone today. Over the break, my cats pried seven of the keys off my laptop, I had wacky hijinx involving airline flights, and I discovered that somehow all the crap in my apartment is reproducing so the more I get rid of the more there seems to be. I hope you're well.

Today's question is from Maria, who writes:

"Do you have any advice on picking out a breast pump? I feel lost trying to pick one out!"

This is when I confess that my breast pump knowledge kind of stopped in 2005, when it became evident that my second son was never ever ever going to drink my milk out of anything but me, so I gave up on pumping, and if I was out he just ate something else or waited.

But I do think the advice I've been giving all along is basically sound: You don't really need to have a pump ahead of time.

Here's the logic: Some women don't need to pump at all for the first month or so, and, in fact, pumping can screw around with their supply and get them overengorged and just cause all kinds of wackiness that's basically unnecessary. (Those of you who suffered from undersupply may not believe it, but oversupply can cause problems, too.) Plus it's just another task added to your overstressed brain and body, and why cause more headaches for yourself if there's no reason to do it?

If you are having actual supply issues (and by "actual" I mean that it's not just the normal "am-I-making-enough-how-can-this-possibly-be-working-when-I'm-not-actually-doing-anything-and-why-does-the-baby-want-to-nurse-from-3-9-every-evening?" stuff) then you should go directly to renting a hospital grade pump for the first few weeks until all that shakes out anyway. Sometimes supply issues are a matter of management and time (if you have edema, for instance, or got a bad start or had a traumatic birth) and you'll end up needing your own pump, but you can figure out which kind once you know what kind of pumper you are. Sometimes you're going to need to keep the hospital grade pump for the duration of your nursing experience. Sometimes you have issues that mean nursing isn't going to work, and having bought a pump is just going to add to the whole ball of suck that surrounds that discovery.

So. Upshot: Unless someone else desperately wants to buy you one, and will only buy it now, or you live someplace where you need lead time to obtain a pump, hold off until the baby's a few weeks old so you know what kind you'll need.

Having said that, I'll recommend the two gold standard pumps from a few years ago. Please, commenters, if there have been any new developments in pumping, put them in the comments.

For people who only have to pump once or twice a day, the universal favorite was the Avent Isis. It's a hand pump, but women said time and time again that they get more and have an easier letdown with the Isis than with an electric pump. I know first hand that their customer service is phenomenal, so if you lose a part or are confused about something (the white star disc has to go in facing down or you won't get any suction) they will fix you up cheerfully and quickly. (I would not use any other hand pump, no matter how cheap or available, because it just isn't worth it IMO.)

For people who need to pump more often, the Medela Pump in Style (PIS) was the winner. It's portable and reasonably quiet and has great, comfortable suction. Everyone I know who had to pump on the jobsite had the PIS and loved it about as much as anyone can love a pump.

And with that, I'm going to leave you with my own opinion, which is that pumping sucks. I don't know anyone who liked it, no matter how often or for how long they did it. It's one of those things we do for our kids if we can, but just counts as a sunk cost of parenting. 

Any new pumps out there that beat the Isis or PIS? Has anyone tried the new dual electric Isis and want to give a review?

134 thoughts on “Q&A: breast pumps”

  1. Honestly and truly, the Isis was a complete waste of money for me. It never worked right, and I ended up buying a Pump In Style anyway, which worked pretty well. I suspect my son was able to get more milk out of me than the pump, but the PIS enabled me to keep breastfeeding when I went back to work.

  2. Whoa, I’ve been reading AskMoxie for months now, and here’s an issue I can comment on! Awesome!I had my first baby in November and I bought a pump before she was born. I got it in October because it was on sale and it’s probably the most expensive non-hospital grade pump (Medela Freestyle) out there and doesn’t go on sale much. I did not break the seal on the box until I was ready to use it, though, so I could resell it more easily if I needed to.
    It was a godsend when I had engorgement, because my breasts were ROCK HARD and baby girl couldn’t latch on. I pumped off about an ounce (not every time, just a few times a day) before nursing and we were all much happier that way. I had tried hand expression, but that didn’t work and just frustrated me to tears. Thanks to the fact that it’s cordless, I was able to pump easily no matter where I was.
    Since then, I pump about 3-4 times a week. I pump right into playtex liners (there’s a pump & store kit) which go into the fridge or freezer, and then directly into the bottle.
    I LOVE the Freestyle. It was a splurge for me, but so, so worth it. If you can afford it, it rocks. I charged the pump once, the day before Thanksgiving, and it still has plenty of juice left. It weighs almost nothing and comes with all the parts to allow for hands-free pumping.
    I do plan to go back to work in March- I probably would have gone with a hand pump (or much cheaper electric) if I were planning to stay home.

  3. I loved the Medela pump in style and wish I would have purchased it sooner. Although it is pricey it was definitely worth it. I tried the hand held pump by avent and was so frustrated, it would take me over a half hour to get one ounce. I am a stay at home mom so I only needed milk for occasional outings but it was so nice to know that I had enough in the freezer in case something came up. If you can afford it and are thinking about having more than one child(that’s how I justified the cost) I would definitely try it. You can always try the avent pump first as it wasn’t that expensive and then if it doesn’t work I would try the medela. Good Luck

  4. I love my Medela Pump in Style (backpack version). Luckily for me, we were able to convince our HR department to purchase a hospital-grade pump that will stay at work, so the pumping moms only have to bring in the tubing and flanges and such. So that’s pretty awesome.Pumping is hard. I’ve never met anyone who joyfully proclaims, “I love pumping!” It’s a chore. But if you’re committed to breastfeeding while working, it’s a necessary chore. Or if you ever want to leave the baby with anyone else and go see a movie by yourself.
    If it’s your first child, I would say get the nursing relationship established before you try the pumping thing. Your world has been exploded enough without trying 2 new things. But don’t wait too long if you’re planning on WOTH. Maternity leave is an awesome time to build up a freezer supply of pumped milk. I wish I had had more there when I went back to work.

  5. I used my trusty Pump in Style Advanced for a long time – and had great luck with it. I carted that thing all over our state and on many plane trips! I didn’t love pumping, but it allowed me to work and still breastfeed.Medela products are usually considered the “gold standard” in breastpumps. Their double electric pumps have the “two phase” technology that mimics let-down and the Harmony handpump also allows you to mimic the initial flutter suck. Their website has great info and a little Breastpump selector function: http://www.medela.com
    All of the parts that touch breastmilk on Medela pumps (including their bottles) are BPA free. Here’s a posting with info on other pumps and how they measure up on that issue: http://safemama.com/2008/12/09/bpa-and-phthalate-free-breast-pumps/
    I also recommend this website for all sorts of info on pumping, whether or not you are going back to work: http://www.workandpump.com/

  6. I used both of the pumps you recommended Moxie. The Avent Isis was great for occasionally pumping like I did with my first and the PIS was excellent for pumping for my second who I pumped for much more often because of my work schedule.

  7. A couple additional things –Check with your insurance company, some will cover part of the cost of a pump as “durable medical equipment”. And, at least in our state, moms who qualify for WIC and are going back to work can receive a Pump in Style.

  8. I rented a hospital grade pump for the first 6 months and I would recommend that to everyone.With the first baby, I had a cheap hand pump (which I still use, in a pinch), then a couple of more expensive ones (50$-100$ range). They hurt, took a long time to pump, leaked, etc.
    Renting pumps is not cheap, 50$ a month. But, I waited until the baby was born to see if I needed one. Then, once I decided I did, I rented one for 6 months. It pumped simultaneously, took 5 minutes, never hurt, and when I was done with it, I just returned it.

  9. I have the Medela PIS which I use about three times a week when I work. It’s a great pump but my supply has been waning and sometimes it takes forever to get my milk to let down. After reading this post, I wonder if the Isis would work better for me since I pump in a small, cramped office in the restaurant I work for. Anywho, I can’t complain about the PIS. And our insurance paid for it so that was a definite bonus. In my state Blue Cross and Blue Shield has a better beginnings program for pregnant woman which pays for, among other things, a breast pump.

  10. I heartily recommend having a pump available when the baby’s born (whether it’s yours or you borrow one).I just finished pumping for my second son and after I pumped for the last time, I had images of reenacting that scene from Office Space where they smash the fax machine to bits.

  11. I am the only person on the planet who hated the Medela PiS. H.A.T.E.D. I am so out of the norm that I sort of expect that my PiS was somehow worn out or defective or something.Happily, there is a hopsital grade Medela at work {whoo hoo!} and the Harmony {the manual Medela} is GREAT. So, I love the brand but PiS did’t work for me at all.

  12. I used the Pump in style and LOVED it as much as I could love a pump- pumping was soul sucking and awful and I kinda hope I never have to do it again. That said, it worked and let me feed my kid while I was at work. I even pumped on my 45 minute commute to work (and I am awfully glad that I was never pulled over)

  13. One decision you will have to make is whether you are going to double pump or single pump. If you are going to double pump, you must have an electric pump. If you’ll be pumping exclusively, as I did with my daughter, double pumping does two things for you: it cuts the total pumping time and it triggers increased milk production (over single pumping).For the year I exclusively pumped (traumatic birth + NICU + other problems), I started with a hospital grade pump for a month and then bought the Pump in Style. It lasted but aged considerably. I had the pump’s suction checked by my lactation consultant (handy gadget that was!), and it is good enough for single pumping now, but if I needed to double pump, I’d need a new one.
    Before my son was born last October, I bought the handheld Medela pump and I love it. I really only need to single pump now to make the occasional bottle and to relieve the pressure during times he decides he’s more sleepy than hungry. I have heard from my lactation consultant and from one of her other clients that the new Medela electric single pump is great. I think it’s called the Swing.
    Best of luck! And remember – no matter if you’re able to breastfeed or you have to pump exclusively or you’re somewhere in between, you’re doing great! Feed the baby, enjoy the baby. 🙂

  14. if you are looking to save $ long term: I bought a medela “hospital” type pump on ebay and was able to sell it for the same price after (since those are multi-user pumps).So all I spent really was on the ‘kit’

  15. Depending on your circumstances you may want to look into renting a pump. Ask your doctor or midwife or just phone around. If you’re in Canada, a big Shoppers Drug Mart store is where I rented mine after my daughter was born. Many of the Lactation Consultants in my area also rent pumps.When my daughter was about 2 months old I stopped the marathon pumping sessions (as others have said, it’s tedious) and I returned the pump. I ended up buying a simple, single hand-pump (Medela?) that served me well for the next few months.

  16. If you do go for the Pump In Style (I got the backpack version which made my morning commute on crowded trains and buses easier), then shop around online for the best price. I found mine through some weird medical supply company in, like, Indiana or somewhere. But it was about $30 cheaper than any of my local baby stores! Also, you could check Craigslist or your local baby re-sale places, buy the pump itself for cheaper, and then just buy yourself new tubing, etc (i.e. all of the parts that touch you or touch milk). The pump part is the expensive part, and in hindsight, I would have no qualms about borrowing or buying someone else’s. I’ve had 2 friends ask to borrow and use my pump (they were buying their own tubing). I bought mine and started pumping about one month post-partum, once breastfeeding was established. My doula said there was a window in which pumping and bottle-feeding the breastmilk would be optimal – about 4-6 weeks after birth. Breastfeeding from you has been established and now the babe needs to learn to drink your milk from a bottle (this is if you are returning to work and the babe DOES need to learn this skill!). So, my girl had her first bottle of breastmilk (fed by Dad) at about 6 weeks old. And she had no trouble moving back and forth between nursing vs. bottle feeding (we were lucky!)

  17. I just remembered something my LC told me. If you’re having a hard time getting milk while pumping or if your production at the pump goes down over time, consider getting a bigger breast shield. (That’s the thing that looks like the end of a trumpet.) If the shield is too small, it actually pinches off the milk and that can cause damage to your breast. They’re fairly cheap (like $5) and that is worth the experiment if you’re struggling to get milk out.@Cobblestone –
    I can’t say that I loved the Pump in Style, but I didn’t totally hate it, except for the fact that I hated having to pump. It was not anywhere near as nice as the Medela Symphony (hospital grade), but the Symphony cost me $80 a month, and I couldn’t justify it for the long run.

  18. Also, finding a way to pump hands-free is essential, in my opinion. My favorite product was the hands-free bustier (http://www.easyexpressionproducts.com/). I used this, would take my laptop to our pumping room at work and would actually work while I pumped, which made me feel less weird about taking 15-minute segments out of my day.

  19. I have the PIS and really liked it, until my son was about 8 weeks old and stopped taking a bottle. I gave up on pumping a few weeks later and was basically tied to him for a year. I’m hoping to be able to get more use out of it any day now if my baby will ever decide to make an appearance!I pumped a decent amount for those first 8 weeks, and I found the PIS to be very portable and comfortable. It was also very efficient and simple to use and clean. All of that being said, as a SAHM, it NEVER would have been worth it for me to buy it myself, but my sister was no longer using it and gave it to me (love her!). I definitely agree with Moxie that it would be worth waiting a couple of weeks and renting a pump in the meantime if necessary, unless you have someone else who desperately wants to buy it for you!
    I know “they” say not to buy/borrow used breast pumps, but I don’t really get it. The stuff I’ve read said that milk can get in the machine and be bad for the baby, but if it happens with my own milk, isn’t that just as bad once it is all rotten and gross in there?

  20. I would be wary of buying a used personal use pump (i.e., not a hospital grade pump) unless you could see it in person and have the pump’s suction tested. My old PIS looks great on the outside, but once you switch it on, you can hear that the motor is loud and if you tried it (and knew the difference), you’d feel that the motor is weak. It would not be a good pump for anyone looking to double pump or pump long-term, but because it looks nice, it wouldn’t be hard to sell it on eBay.Besides, I think the PIS is an open-system pump, which might mean bacteria that cannot be cleaned out. I’m not sure about that, but it’s worth looking into if buying used is on your mind.

  21. My son will be 1 year-old next week and I’ve been pumping since he was born. At first, we had latch issues and I was using a hospital pump. After the first week though, I bought the Medela pump in style. It is great! I also got the Easy Expression bustier to go with it so I can pump hands free. It’s awesome! I pump twice a day at work and bring my laptop into our pumping room. Then I can work or surf the internet while I pump. The time just flies! I hated pumping before I got the bustier. I’m the only nursing mom at work right now, so I just leave my pump there.Anyway, I also have the Medela Harmony breast pump that I keep at home in case of engorgement. I’ve actually used it quite a bit in the past few weeks to fix any mistakes I made after my son has gone down for the night about which side to feed on. It’s just as comfortable as the PIS and I like it very much for this sort of thing. My lactation consultant had recommended that every breastfeeding mom should get a hand pump for use those first few weeks in case you are engorged and your nipple is too hard for the baby to latch onto.

  22. I’ll add to Moxie’s advice not to buy a pump before the baby arrives: my daughter wouldn’t latch while we were in the hospital, so they sent me home with an Ameda Purely Yours (dual electric pump) that was entirely covered by my insurance.I highly recommend the Ameda Purely Yours, which is nearly identical to the Pump In Style but less expensive and easier to clean. My pump came with a backpack but was not built-in, so I could carry it in any bag I wanted.
    Once I returned to work, I bought the Avent Isis to keep at home. I got good let down with it and found it easy to use once I removed the “petal”/cushion silicone liner to the cone. I have small breasts and found that the cushion just provided another place for hard won milk to get trapped.

  23. I just put away my Medela Pump In Style, now that my 16-month-old is too busy to nurse. It worked great for me, and I definitely recommend it!I also recommend — if you can afford it — getting a hand pump, too. When my son was maybe 8 months old, I won a Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump (this one: http://refs05.securesites.net/snap038/index.php?src=directory&view=Products&submenu=Products&category=Breast%20Pumps&query=category.eq.Breast%20Pumps&refno=10407&srctype=Products_detail) and I loved that thing. It works with the Medela bottles, which is great since I had a ton of them. My son only nursed on one side per session, so once I got the hand pump, I could pump a little on the other side while he nursed (taking advantage of the natural let-down), and just build up a full bottle’s worth over the course of a day. It really took the pressure off of pumping while I was at work, which meant that I was actually more likely to get a good yield while at work!
    I especially recommend this if you won’t have to pump daily — I work full-time, but only a couple of those days are in the office, so I don’t think my body ever got used to pumping the way it might have if I’d done it 5 days/week. (ta

  24. My kid had massive feeding problems, so I started with a hospital-grade pump, which was my constant companion for the first two months of his life. (There’s nothing to choose between the various hospital grades, as far as I can tell. They all are huge and unwieldy and loud and heavy.)Then I graduated to a Medela Freestyle, and although I still hate pumping, I really love the Freestyle. The hands-free stuff works better than any of the other hands-free products I tried (like the bustier), the unit is tiny and rechargeable and light and portable, and it works as well as any other near-hospital-grade pump.
    The hands-free stuff with the Freestyle is designed to attach to your nursing bra, and the bra it’s designed to go onto is Medela’s, which I couldn’t wear because they don’t make J cups, which is what nursing has made me. The pump also comes with attachments for Bravado bras, hook-and-eye bras, and some other kind of bra I have never seen. But the Freestyle will not work with snap bras or Velcro ones or any other weird hook.
    The hands-free stuff…sort of works. Because my breasts are so big right now, I can’t, say, walk around while I’m pumping, the way you’re supposed to be able to. I still have to sit still, and I still have to adjust things occasionally. But I can type or mouse or read or whatever. That’s worth a lot.
    The Freestyle, at least when I bought it back in August, isn’t as readily available as the other Medela pumps, and I suspect that might mean the parts aren’t, either; you likely would have to order replacements if you needed them.
    Still. I am really, really happy I bought a Freestyle – it’s worth the extra money to have something so light and portable, and to have the hands-free attachments.

  25. My son was extremely tongue-tied (resolved by snipping at 10 weeks) and delivered at 36.5 weeks so he would.not.latch.Anyway, I ended up exclusively pumping for several months and had the Medela PIS. Loved it! Worked great and I took it to work with no problems.

  26. Two things to add…buy your pump from a medical supply company (Hackley Medical has great prices and extraordinary shipping-so fast!). You’ll spend about 1/3 less, at least on the PIS. I used a PIS for my workhorse pumping, early on dealing with NICU and later on for work-took me through to 12 months old. I have used the manual piston that came with it when traveling and that was fine, I also came into an Ameda manual pump (http://www.amedaonline.com/amonehabrpuw.html) during a stint in the hospital (baby, not me) and it was fantastic! It became my go to travel set-up fast.

  27. I had good luck with the Ameda Purely Yours. Ameda has been making hospital-grade pumps for a long time and the Purely Yours is their portable electric pump. You can often find them at a lower cost than the Medela PIS.

  28. I’m a huge fan of the Ameda Purely Yours. What I love about it (vs. the PIS) is that it is a completely closed system. All the parts can be sterilized. You could actually buy one used, get yourself a fresh hygienikit, and you wouldn’t have to worry about cooties or anything like that from the other person.What it does not have going for it is in-store access to replacement parts. They have to be ordered over the internets. It can be a pain, but I’m still glad I have this pump. I EBFed for my first daughter’s first 4 months, then had to switch to pumping exclusively. I kept that up until she was 1. I had no problems getting enough milk for her each day, even with only 3 pumping sessions. Obviously, YMMV.
    (As an aside and threadjack [sorry!] — does anyone have a good cloth diaper overnight solution for a 28-month-old HEAVY wetter? Two large inserts in a BumGenius 3.0 is forcing me to wash sheets several times a week. You can email me at dashoff at hotmail if you have any advice! Don’t want to clog this up. I just have been all over the internet and can’t seem to find a good answer. I’ll be forever in your debt if you can help me out here … I trust my fellow Moxie moms!)

  29. I *loved* the PIS. It did a great job, was relatively fast, didn’t hurt, and was portable and discreet. I used it at home and took it to work daily. I then used the Avent and Dr. Brown bottles– both of which worked well.I echo the suggestion that you rent from the hospital. You can decide how you feel about various brands before making a (very significant) investment in your own pump. You can also see how nursing is working out for you before you make the investment.
    I’m also going to raise a somewhat controversial topic: with breastfeeding you never know what is going to happen. It may not work exactly the way you imagine it will.
    When I was pregnant with my first child I was under the impression that breast-feeding was “natural” and therefore easy and something everyone could do. It seems like everyone I knew breastfeed easily and with no problems. Turns out I was wrong.
    With my first child, I tried to breastfeed for about 3 weeks. My daughter’s latch was HORRIBLE– I spent every day of those three weeks at the lactation consultants’, and even they couldn’t fix it. She was miserable and not gaining weight. I was miserable with my bleeding nipples and my marathon nursing sessions. I finally started pumping all the breast milk for every feeding and giving it in a bottle. I did that for 6 months and then went to formula. So the PIS was a god-send.
    With my second child, I planned to nurse but was unable due to some medication that I take. The doctors forgot to mention that the medication would be dangerous to my child until after she was born (and giving up the medication wasn’t an option).
    I think we all know that breastmilk is best. I would never argue with the physical and psychological benefits of nursing– for mom and baby. However, breastfeeding is a skill that takes a while to learn. You’ll have a learning curve and so will your baby. Most breastfeeding advocates never mention that it can be *really* difficult in the beginning. You may need to work with a lactation consultant, who may suggest pumping, pumping with a specific pump, or not pumping at all. You may also find that breastfeeding doesn’t work for you for any number of reasons, and may decide to pump a lot or give the whole thing up and go to formula. You might do some breastmilk and some formula. There’s no one answer that works for everyone. Don’t let anyone tell you differently or guilt you into something that is not working for you.
    With I guess the moral of the story is that, despite your best intentions, you never know how breastfeeding will shake out. Don’t drop a lot of money on how you think it is going to go.

  30. For work or exclusive pumping, a PIS is a godsend, But if you just need to take the edge off engorgement, or pump for an occasional night out, The Medela Harmony is a great little hand pump. I used the PIS for my older daughter, but am able to stay home full time with my second, and pull out (and washing) all the attachments for the PIS got to be a pain. It’s worth having around, and then if you realize you need something more substantial, it was only $30.

  31. If you are simply dealing with morning engorged boobs, then a a hand pump can do the job while your baby is very new.If you are pumping to store milk for work, then are contemplating pumping at work (big applause for you if you do) then buy the best you can afford. The Medela Pump in Style is excellent and you get a hand pump with that. All the parts are safe and can all be replaced. Medela doesn’t recommend using a second hand pump; but I did and bought new tubes bottles membranes etc. It was excellent and I’ve put it away for number two.
    When I was pumping to store milk I would give my son one boob in the morning and then pump the other, then it was out of the way and I had a good 4 ounces to freeze. Good luck!

  32. Lee, Yeah, I’m going to need those TPS reports.Diane, I tried to respond to your cloth diaper question (LOVE the bum genius diapers!) Let me know if the email didn’t come through.

  33. If you’ve had breast reduction surgery, the Medela Symphony (a wonderful, quiet, hospital-grade rental breast pump) is definitely the breast pump to consider.I rented a Symphony for 6 mos. postpartum, and it was a godsend! But if I had waited until DS was actually born before I had arranged for the rental (in the fall of 2007), it would not have been available to me anywhere on the Northside of Chicago – as that’s what happened to a friend of mine who had her baby a month after us. Rental Medela Symphonies may be hard to come by, apparently, so don’t wait! For Chicagoans, Symphonies are available by request in the postpartum rooms at Prentice, so you can try it out in the hospital, and be sure to keep the free “kit” they give you with the pumps & tubing.
    I had breast reduction surgery 9 years before DS was born. Having suffered debilitating back & shoulder pain for years prior, my insurance co. paid for the surgery, which dramatically improved my overall health. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made (now I can run! and sleep at night!) though I knew it might eventually hinder my ability to breastfeed.
    For anyone else in this boat, I highly recommend Diana West’s book “Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery.” Because the truth is, your dr/midwife probably doesn’t *really* know how to properly advise gals like us. LLL and a lactation consultant MIGHT know… so you’ll need West’s book to better educate yourself in order to fill in the gaps in the professionals’ knowledge. Case in point, I was told 3 different things by 3 different doctors: 1) My breast surgeon said I could breastfeed in the future, but might have low supply which would improve with each subsequent birth (he was correct!); My OB said I can’t (she was 100% WRONG!), and even the Pediatrician chimed in unsolicited and said I’d have a perfect supply (He was 100% wrong & WTF?!).
    About the Medela Symphony — it costs several thousand dollars to purchase, so most folks rent them. Insurance may chip in for some of that expense, and it is usually a Flex Spending Acct-eligible expense. Mine cost $60/month. For gals with surgically-altered breasts, where some of our milk ducts may have been severed and haven’t yet recanalized, lining up a hospital grade rental pump is absolutely critical during those first few weeks when we are establishing supply. A baby’s sucking is the most effective way to remove milk from the breasts, and a hospital-grade pump is the second best way. Essentially, we need to pump after every feeding in order to trick our bodies into thinking we have 2 babies to feed, so that we can hopefully produce enough milk for one.
    I also have large breasts (though no longer ginormous) and flat nipples. So I had latch issues in addition to being one of those “actual” low supply folks, which I learned was “actually” the case when DS was diagnosed with failure to thrive. Formula supplementation was necessary for him. At most, I could produce only a few ounces a day. I decided not to use galactologues (fenugreek + blessed thistle, and prescription domperidone not available in the US) – so I may have had better supply had I used the drugs.

  34. I pumped exclusively for my first son and I used a PIS for the majority of period of time I was pumping for him. There really was not a huge difference between the hospital grade version and the ones you could buy. I just think the motors were built better so they could be used longer. I also used the Isis but I would not recommend it for more than the occasional pumping, for that it is super awesome.I used the Bravado hands free thingamajig for pump hands free with my PIS. It was great because I could check my email and surf the web while I was pumping.

  35. Have not read the comments yet, but I held off with my first and completely regretted it. Here’s my story in a nutshell: milk comes in about four days after uneventful vaginal birth. And REALLY comes in. It’s fast and I become so engorged so quickly that my daughter (who had been nursing fine) can’t latch on. She’s frustrated, I’m a basket case and of course it’s 10pm and this is before 24 hour targets sold breast pumps. I did everything I could to relieve the engorgement w/o pumping since I didn’t have one but was really happy once I got the PIS the next day. And the exact same thing happened to my SIL, although she already had her pump but unopened for the reasons that she didn’t know how nursing would go. So my advice is get a Medela PIS but leave it unopened until you need it, so you can return it if that becomes necessary. I have also heard great things about the new hands free Medela pump, but it came out six months after my third was born so I never tried it out. And the Avent hand pump was a complete waste for me. I personally too have strong objections to the way Avent (the corporation) handled the BPA issue so my gut reaction is not to patronize them if possible, but others may obviously feel differently. HTH

  36. I pumped at work 2 days per week (worked from home the other days and did not pump), and the Medela Swing was an excellent pump. It is the single-side electric pump. It worked well for me because it was very easy to transport (about the size of a donut!) to and from the office but was powerful enough to work quickly. I was also able to do email or other tasks while pumping because I only needed one hand to hold it in place. If I were pumping daily, a double-sided pump might have been better, but I was really happy with this for the year that I pumped regularly but not daily. A co-worker used the Swing daily for a year and she also liked it.

  37. I pumped about once a day so I could share feeding duties with my husband. Didn’t need a hospital-grade pump. I used the Isis at first but my hand got tired! So I bought a Medela Single Deluxe:http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/products/breast-pumps/173/single-deluxe-breastpump
    It’s a very compact battery/electric pump. I loved it because it was portable but I didn’t get carpal tunnel trying to use it. A nice compromise between the big hospital-grade pumps and the hand pump.

  38. Another happy PIS user here. I pumped at work until Pumpkin was 17 months old. Also, meggiemoo is right that you definitely need the hands free bustier if you’re going to be doing a lot of pumping.I remember agonizing of whether to buy the Medela or the Ameda, and couldn’t find any objective reason to go with one over the other. In the end, I bought the Medela because I liked the bag better, I think.
    I will also second the PP who mentioned that if you are going back to work, you should introduce the bottle well before you head back. The lactation folks at my hospital recommended at about 3-4 weeks, which is what we did, and had no problem with Pumpkin switching back and forth. I had friends that waited until their baby was >2 months old, and they had a heck of a time introducing the bottle. I’m sure that even with the “optimal timing”, some babies aren’t going to like the bottle, but really, the last thing you need when you’re already freaking out about going back to work is to be freaking out about your baby not taking a bottle- so definitely, try the bottle earlier. And you have to keep giving the bottle at least a few times a week so that the baby doesn’t forget. We ended up doing 1 bottle/day. Hubby gave her the first middle of the night feeding, which helped me get a little more sleep. That extra couple of hours of sleep was well worth the annoyance of having to pump after her first two feedings during the day (she only nursed one side at the time, so I’d pump the other side).
    I agree that pumping is hard. I didn’t have serious supply issues or pain while pumping like some people I know, and it was still no fun. For the first 6 months or so that I was back at work, I had my own office, which made it a lot easier. I just closed my door and continued to work on my computer. Then I switched jobs and had to use a lactation room (yeah for CA requiring employers to provide such a room). I missed having my computer, so I had one put in the room. I’m the head of IT at this company, so that was easy to do. But I strongly recommend asking IT/HR to do this. You can argue that it will allow you to answer emails, etc while you pump.

  39. LOVED the Medela PIS. I really liked the backpack that it came in, which made for easy and discreet travelling. (except for that pesky security guy at the Memphis airport who took EVERY PART of it out. Can you say “Double Sterilize?” GAH.) I found this pump to be quite comfortable and fairly quiet. Before I got it, I was using a hospital grade one which HURT. I also had a Medela Harmony manual pump that I used from time to time. It wasn’t as comfortable as the PIS, but it was easy to just throw in the diaper bag if I needed it for a short outing.

  40. Sorry to maybe hijack here, but can someone review the how-tos of pumping? With T. I pumped with a rental to increase supply which involved pumping after feedings to get about half and ounce a few times a day and then pumping before bed instead of waking her for that damned dreamfeed that never actually was dreamy at all.N. is now 20 days old and nursing is much improved – he’s well-past his birth weight already which seems miraculous to me after last time. So how (when? for how long? help please!) does one pump under “normal” circumstances when you don’t want to increase your supply necessarily, don’t want to replace a feeding during the day… just want some on hand for ’emergencies’?
    And for what it’s worth, I ended up using the Isis exclusively after 2 months with the rental because they were equally effective for me.

  41. I had a Pump in Style which I purchased from Ebay (factory sealed) for about 40% less then retail – it was “last years” version, but I didn’t care. My LC recommended going this route and I bought it right after she was born. The pump worked great and with a hands-free bra-like thing it was easy to use while I knit or watched TV. I tried the Isis and hated it.I pumped in earnest 3-4 times a day for the first 3 months, collecting a nice supply in the freezer for when I returned to work. During this time my daughter fed right from the source, so I was being “milked” all the time! We started trying the bottle at 2 weeks and although she rejected it we kept trying…and trying and trying. Fast forward to her at 16 weeks, me still pumping and feeding her, her still refusing a bottle when we quit trying the bottle and I quite pumping. I had to throw out 37 nice, neat little 4 oz. bags of frozen liquid gold. How I sobbed to see all that work going down the drain. Here it is 22 months later and I can still remember exactly how many bags I tossed!
    In the end I think it was a good investment and I hope to use it with a second baby sometime soon. It worked very well for me and was easy to use. *Not fun* but easy. I was lucky enough to have her at a daycare literally next door and an employer who was very understanding about my need for 4 BF breaks during the day (I basically used these instead of a lunch hour) for a few months.

  42. I agree in general with no pump until baby arrives.I figured out ahead of time which pump I was going to buy and where the best deal was. I knew I would be able to get it in less than a week so I was prepared. I also had the Avent Isis for relief of engorgement, etc. I actually usually took the isis to work with me as it was less unwieldy (as a grad student it wasn’t like I had a place to plant myself and I often had to pump out in the field without access to electricity) and I did find I got a decent let down with it, though I found it more painful than my electric pump. Also, the little starshaped discs frequently pulled through the hole at the bottom of the suction area and I had to take it all apart, put it backtogether, etc. That was irritating, but not enough to call or to get a different pump.
    I used a double electric Ameda Purely yours so that I could keep up with the ravenous baby on the days he was at school. Just to make enough milk for him, I added a “feeding” each night where I pumped every night before bed, even though he wasn’t up. So I could get an extra couple feeding’s worth of milk by pumping every night.
    I liked the Ameda, and agree it is nice because you can purchase an entire kit of parts that actually contact milk so you can resell, but I think the motor probably is the worse for the wear. For a little more than half the price of a pump in style, the Ameda was a pretty good bargain.
    And when you flinch at the price of a good electric pump, just go to the formula aisle and price out how much a week’s worth of formula costs.

  43. I currently use the Ameda Purely Yours to pump three times a day at work and once at night at home. Here is what I really like about it:1) It’s a lot cheaper than the PIS.
    2) It can be thoroughly sterilized.
    3) It’s BPA free. (I think most pumps are now, but it bears mentioning.)
    I actually bought one new PY and then got a second slightly used one extremely cheap on eBay. Now I keep one unit at home and one at work. I also bought tons of new spare parts off the internet. They’re not very expensive.
    I have no experience with the PIS, so I can’t really tell you if it’s better or worse than the PY, but I can say that I do get very good results with the pump I have and from a purely economic standpoint, I’m very happy.

  44. God I hated pumping. My god. Hated it. Bane of my existence for six months. I’m one of the unlucky folks who suffers from true undersupply, and the stress of trying to squeeze out a certain number of ounces every day made the already-stressful process of going back to work at 14 weeks pp that much more stressful.FWIW, I could not squeeze out a single drop with the hand pump. And I mean not one.
    The PIS, on the other hand, worked ok for me, but it took a long time to extract 6 – 8 ounces per pump (on a good day). I ended up renting a hospital grade pump for the office and it was truly spectacular – not just for the strength (which probably wasn’t much more than the PIS turned up to the highest level) – but because it was whisper quiet, so I didn’t have to think about my (male) co-worker on the other side of the paper-thin wall hearing that “thunk-thunk!, thunk-thunk!” sound three times a day.
    If and when I have a second child, I’m going to take 6 months off work and then just nurse in the mornings and evenings. No pumping. And no guilt about it.

  45. @ACJ I usually pumped about one hour after I nursed, which was usually about one hour before he would eat again. Other options include small amounts right before the baby nurses or right after (if you respond well to a pump) This is also what I did in the beginning so I could, over the course of a day accumulate enough milk for a single feeding. And here is the key to my survival through the newborn/severe colic days:Pump some time during the day to accumulate a few ounces for use later. Roughly four hours before you partner wants to go to bed, nurse the baby and go STRAIGHT TO SLEEP. Your partner does a feeding and you get to sleep (if your boobs let you) for almost 4 hours straight! Next time baby is hungry, partner brings baby to sleeping mommy and you nurse. It was key for me and if you think you might die because you are so tired, you might think about it!

  46. Also a happy PIS user, and I agree with the PPs who say to introduce a bottle before 6 weeks if you know you’re going to need it. I was advised to wait 6-8 weeks and, well, Mouse never took it. This ended up being OK because I didn’t have to go back to work until 6 months and by then a sippy cup would work. But it caused me a vast deal of stress over the months of trying…meanwhile, friends whose babies had needed a little supplementation in the beginning got great bottle skills from 1x or 2x/week practice and never seemed to get the dreaded nipple confusion that I was warned about. That said, it may largely have been a Mouse personality issue–she does. not. like second best and to this day (coming up on 5 years old in April) will choose something completely different over a second-best version of anything she really cares about.(So there’s a side note to anybody struggling with bottles with a baby over 4 months–give sippies a try, and try the toddler ones, not just the “transitional” type. You never know what will work, and very likely something will.)
    I also used the bustier and pumped in my office with the door shut, while doing work–another side note, ladies: be real sure and attach the bags before you get absorbed in work!! Extremely awkward explaining to IT what happened to the keyboard that one time.

  47. ACJ, my goddess lactation consultant recommended that people pump about an hour after a feeding, to give your boobs some time to build up some milk. She said pump until the milk stops for 2 minutes, then you’re done. (Double pump if you have one, otherwise do each side individually, as I did with the Isis manual, which I liked.) I sometimes found that pumping after the milk had stopped for a minute or so was enough to trigger a second letdown, so I didn’t always wait a full two minutes. She also said, “Whatever you get, you get. Don’t stress about the quantity, and don’t look at the bottle to see each little dribble of milk come out or you’ll feel like you’ll never get enough.” She also said that as with nursing, your body takes time to adjust to it, so if you don’t get much in the beginning, don’t give up, because you will produce more as time goes on.I am a SAHM and was able to get a good supply of frozen milk for times away from the baby. I liked the Lansinoh milk bags best for storage, BTW. Good times that worked for me for pumping were during the morning nap or after my baby went to bed in the evening, like 7 PMish. Remember that your supply tends to be higher in the morning (so more *quantity* of milk) but evening milk has more fat (hence more filling), so it kind of evens out, and you should pump whenever is more convenient for you.
    The only trouble is if your kiddo feeds every two hours, it is tiresome to finish pumping and then right away have to feed the baby, but you should have plenty of milk for the feeding. The LC used to say, “You’re never empty. The baby is your best pump, and if you nurse you’ll trigger another letdown and there will be plenty for the feeding.”
    Congrats on N reaching birth weight, and good luck with everything!

  48. I second Moxie’s suggestion to wait. If you do have a supply issue and need to pump to build supply, a rented hospital-grade pump is going to be a lot more effective anyway.I think the last month of pregnancy is a good time to find out what kind of breastfeeding support is in your area (LCs, LLL, etc.) and make contact.
    I did this at the urging of a friend, and am so glad I did. I had horrible supply problems early on, and the LC I had chatted with before delivery was able to zip out our first day home and spend hours helping me.
    Later, when the time came to go back to work, she stopped by with Avent and Medela pumps to try. I was surprised to find that I really did prefer one over all the others, and that happened to be the Medela Pump in Style. I absolutely hated the PISA with its automatic letdown feature.
    So that’s my advice. Know where you can go for support but hold off on buying stuff until you *know* what you need.

  49. I own both the Avent Isis and Medela PiS – and I found that they are both good for different times.I originally got the Avent – price, the oddness of having electric, friend’s recommendation, but found I had a lot of trouble maintaining the vacuum suction with it. This was within the week of coming home from the hospital. Pumping was really hard. So we got the Medela PiS and while I felt like a cow in a dairy farm, it worked.
    I switched back to the Avent when my supply was more established, around 6 weeks, and found that all the problems I had before had disappeared.
    I am theorizing that the Avent didn’t work well at first because my supply wasn’t well established and my breasts just weren’t ready. The six to eight weeks later, I found I got as much milk using the Avent without having sore breasts from the suction on the Medela, and much faster.
    If you have enough gift cards, I recommend getting both.

  50. I have to second MLB here, at least in regards to NOT waiting until the baby is born to get a pump. I had the cheapo Medela Harmony, an unmedicated vaginal birth, and all that, and I had massive amounts of milk. I ended up with mastitis and clogged ducts. If I hadn’t had the pump to relieve me, there’s no way that my daughter could have latched on.Moxie – I know it can be true that the pumps can mess with your supply, but I just wanted to add that I had the opposite problem. I had heard so often *not* to pump if you had extra milk b/c it would only increase your supply that I was miserable with clogged ducts nearly every day. What I learned from KellyMom is that for the first few weeks post-partum, the milk supply is also driven by your PP hormones, and not just supply and demand. Next time I know that I’ll just need to pump like crazy and I’ll still have enough to feed my little one. I just wanted to put that out there b/c I feel like it doesn’t get said enough; I certainly had a hard time finding it out when I was a newbie learning to BF.

  51. Oh, and PSA to Mom to Baby J and anyone else using Medela: Don’t forget to change out your pump membranes if you notice your supply dropping or pump suction weakening. (I found I needed to change out about every three months.) It really can have a big impact on pumping output.Also, Kellymom has a great (cheap!) hack for pumping handsfree. I used this and a nursing cover to pump at my desk:

  52. Cecily, that’s a good point. The hospital where I delivered gave me a pump to use for my stay and my husband picked up a rental one on our last day in the hospital. But if you don’t have those resources within easy reach, purchasing a pump beforehand makes sense.

  53. Keri makes a good point that the last month is a good time to wrestle up breastfeeding support. I’m in the Ann Arbor, MI, area, and I LOVE my lactation consultant. She helped save my nursing relationship with my son and she figured out a key component of my 4.5 year old daughter’s feeding ongoing issues. (Can you say “tongue tie?”)If anyone out there needs an awesome LC in Southeast Michigan, email me at amy at thetextureofthings dot com.

  54. I had the Medela hand pump before the baby was born, and I’m so glad I did. I had issues with engorgement, and sometimes the baby couldn’t latch. I would pump off just a little bit of milk (I could seriously get an ounce in two minutes) to soften up (and I think it helped draw out my nipple), so that she could latch on. I guess I could have hand expressed, but it was easier to just pump. It was good for pumping occasional bottles, but I stopped when I realized that she was never going to take milk from anything but me. I guess I could have pushed the issue, but since I stay at home, I didn’t see the point.

  55. Haven’t had time to read the comments, so sorry if I’m just reiterating what everyone else has said.I was given my electric pump (Ameda, which I liked but I believe might have BPA issues) as a gift. It wasn’t something I would have gone out and bought ahead of time, but looking back I would have been a mess without it. I suffered from such painful engorgement in the first week that pumping a little off before a feeding/between feedings was the only way I could get comfortable and help DD latch.
    Unless you think you’d be comfortable hand-expressing (which I couldn’t seem to figure out to do effectively), I would definitely recommend having some kind of pump to help alleviate any discomfort you might have once your milk comes in.

  56. @ACJ, I went back through my old blog posts, because I was sure I had written up my tips for pumping. Turns out, I hadn’t. I wrote tips for going back to work (http://wandsci.blogspot.com/2008/01/working-mum-going-back-to-work.html, if anyone is interested).What is relevant to you from that post that you may not hear elsewhere is to be sure you increase your water intake. No one mentioned this to me, and I kept getting killer headaches. Eventually, I figured out it was dehydration.
    I had a baby who only nursed one side per feeding for her first 9 months or so, so I pumped the side she didn’t nurse after the first two feedings of the day. You have the most milk early in the day. Well, actually, in the middle of the night, but there was no way I was waking up to pump.

  57. No time to read the comments, but FWIW in my experience (and later confirmed by the lactation consultants I worked with for low supply), a rented “hospital-grade” pump in NOT necessarily better than the PIS. In fact, i suffered with my super-duper hospital-grade rental, ignoring the insurance-supplied PIS, for two months before I decided to give the PIS a whirl.WAY WAY better. Who knew? One friend who exclusively pumped three children’s milk for a year each said each style of Medela was different for her and if one doesn’t work, try another.
    FYI Insurance will pay for a pump ad the hospital with go out and get it for you if you need it for any medical reason right away.

  58. I’m also on the PIS and Avent Isis bandwagon, though I have a friend who swore by the Ameda Purely Yours because it was way more comfortable for her. Her supply also dropped severely and she quit pumping at 8 months, BUT, I suspect that had more to do with her rather random pumping schedule than the pump (I just put it out there because I can’t verify the cause). For me, the Isis was my travel buddy (mainly during the toddler years) and my backup plan for whatever (just be absolutely sure you put the valve in the right side – DH put it in the top instead of the bottom, once, and I could not for the life of me figure out why I was getting no suction, until I disassembled the whole thing and reassembled it). The PIS was my friend through 11 months, 14 months, and 15 months (twins) of pumping, and I loved that thing. Not a huge fan of pumping, but since I’m a pumping cow, it wasn’t too bad an experience for me. If anyone cares, here’s my pumping tips article:http://www.storknet.com/cubbies/breast/pumping.htm
    Rather than going with the ‘don’t get one before the baby’ advice (which works for some and not others, clearly), I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY encourage moms to ask an expert instead of just going to the pump on assumption for whatever seems to be the problem. Knowing one before the baby is born is ideal. If you’re having multiples, extra double (or triple) the encouragement to meet with them before the babies arrive – local Mothers of Multiples groups often have pre-selected lists of those that are good with multiples (or even have multiples themselves).
    IME, we don’t like to ask for help, in general (moms are supposed to know how to be moms, RIGHT? I can’t need HELP. ARGH), and it’s worse in the postpartum period – we are already feeling out of whack, and asking for help is tantamount to admitting failure entirely, or so it always felt to me. Calling in a PROFESSIONAL? Never! I can do it or my mom can help me or my aunt or my best friend, but never someone with a lot of experience and some outside perspective.
    Anyway, that was my approach, and it resulted in misery. Dumb dumb dumb. Not a good model. Anyway, don’t just start using your pump without a diagnosis of the problem by a Lactation professional (or at the very least an LLL leader, but I’d go for IBCLC first). And if that doesn’t help, keep trying different LCs until one helps.
    Seriously. I know many people who had trouble in the first few weeks.
    1) baby had okay latch but super-suction and mom should have been encouraged to pump exclusively and try to get baby to latch after things had settled, but she waited because you’re not supposed to pump and by the time she started she was so torn up she was pumping blood. That was a ‘way too late’ scenario, that she only later found out could have been helped if she’d called in an LC ASAP.
    2) Another quit after an LLL leader misdiagnosed a bad latch as a bad maternal attitude and treated the mom to a load of guilt instead of support and guidance. Hint: if it feels disturbingly, er, *good* but in waaaaay the wrong way, look for a latch problem.
    3) Another struggling, miserable, in pain, and baby was not growing well (no weight gain, but gaining length), and first LC said nothing wrong (just keep going, you’re doing fine), I told the mom to try another LC, the next LC said nothing was wrong just sometimes it hurts at the start, and THIRD LC (after I routed the dad toward someone I knew) diagnosed a) tongue sucking in the baby resulting in bad latch, b) milk-protien intolerance, and c) MASSIVE oversupply (she could have nursed triplets without trouble). Sheilds + latch retraining + diet change (temporary) + block feeds = success! She also ended up pumping, but pumping would have been the wrong answer at the start. (And yay for a doc who says, ‘you’re working with an IBCLC? Go with what she says and come in again next week – we’ll get this baby nursing yet!’ instead of ‘baby not back to birth weight at 2 weeks? FORMULA!’)
    So, that’s my advice – get the pump if you can and you want to, or hold off if you want BUT always be prepared to get help ASAP – not after you’re miserable, but as soon as you’re fretting – especially if the help (IBCLC) can help you get a pump on short notice, if it turns out you need it.
    Rental pumps rock, though, for figuring stuff out, and are often covered by insurance at least partly. If you’re going to end up pumping 24/7 sor some reason, and bought a PIS, you may wear it out and still need a hospital-grade rental – it’s fine to just start there if you can, and determine your exact need as you go.
    Oh, and ditto the not waiting to 6 weeks to introduce bottles if you’re going to. With the twins, I just lost track and was late starting, and it was absolute hell – they DID take bottles, eventually, but it was after 3 days of tear-stained effort by our DCP (who ran the range of cup/spoon/dropper/nipple-varieties-times-20 and warm/cool/cold and so forth, until it clicked). My stonach still knots up remembering that time period.

  59. Cloud — Is that where these headaches are coming from? I couldn’t figure it out! I thought I’d been drinking enough water, but maybe not.Gals, I learn something new here every day. Thank you so much for that.

  60. @Amy – Thanks for the tip on getting bigger breast guards. I had no problems pumping 2-4 oz. per side in the beginning, but now (DS is 6.5 mos) I seem to be barely able to pump 1 oz. per side.When I was pregnant with DS, I never got around to getting my pump before birth (he was a little early & I was having a hard time deciding which to get), and I ended up regretting not having something. 2nd day back from the hospital, and I was soooo engorged. Tried to express manually, which worked, but was very slow going. Also, so much else to deal with after the birth that it added a bit extra stress.
    DH went out and got me the Medela Harmony, and it was fantastic. Relieved the pressure right away. I had lots of milk in the beginning, so having the hand pump really helped take the pressure off when needed. As someone else mentioned, just an oz. or so when needed.
    Moxie, when you mention that you ended up just feeding your son something else or waiting, what age were you able to start having that flexibility? So far, haven’t had too much luck in bottle feeding the little guy, but I would really start to like having some time out alone (longer than 1 or 2 hours) or with DH. The spa is beckoning us & I got a gift certificate for Xmas!

  61. In my experience – a super fast 2 hours where all my milk came in suddenly and I couldn’t get my baby to eat because my breasts were so full and hard that she couldn’t latch and I ended up freaking out in the middle of the night when she was crazy hungry and crying through the 1 oz of formula I had to give her because it was 2am and I had no choice….Have a hand pump on hand. And know how to use it. I had the Isis given to me after my friend who ended up not nursing at all gave it to me but quickly upgraded to the PIS, because it just wasn’t enough and I was planning to go back to work. For the first few months, I LOVED my PIS. It meant an extra couple of hours of sleep for me (DH would give her a bottle of pumped milk) and some freedom to occasionally leave her for more than half an hour.
    Once she was sleeping through the night (I got lucky, it was an early thing for her), and it was determined that I wasn’t in fact going back to work, I used it much less, but it was still one of the best purchases I ever made.

  62. @ACJ, regarding what pumping looks like for other moms.Here’s what worked for me. (For context, I never nursed my daughter. I exclusively pumped for a year. Also, once I got my milk supply established, I would pump 4-6 times per day and I would get an obscene amount of milk each time, fairly quickly.)
    In the early days, I pumped 10-15 minutes at a go and I was pumping 8 or 9 times a day. That was to establish my milk supply. Recently, I heard my lactation consultant tell another mom in a similar situation to mine to pump at least 15 minutes at a time to stimulate the breast to make more milk. I’m sure it’s different for each woman, and it would definitely be different for a mom who is nursing and pumping.
    When I wanted to pump to increase supply early on, I pumped until the milk stopped and then pumped 2-5 minutes past that. The milk letdowns would start and stop. When one would start up again, the clock reset to zero, I waited for the milk to end, and I continued to pump for the 2-5 minutes. During those days, that pumping session was about 20 minutes or so.
    When I wanted to pump to make bottles or bags for later use, I pumped the quantities I wanted and then stopped at the end of that letdown, keeping in mind that the sugary milk comes out first and the fatty milk comes out later.
    I’m not pumping exclusively with my son (3 months) now, but sometimes I need to take the pressure off, so I will pump until the letdown stops and just accept whatever that quantity is. Often that takes 10-15 minutes, but then again, when my breast is full, I can often take 20-25 minutes to empty it (and the yield is 8 ounces or so).
    Obviously, every woman is different, and for some dumb reason I have a large milk storage and respond very well to a pump, so this is a gigantic Your Mileage May Vary. Still, I hope this helps give a data point for how pumping might look.
    P.S. Dr Brown’s 8-ounce bottles fit the Medela pumps.

  63. @Diane- when I was still breastfeeding and pumping a lot, I had to drink pretty much constantly through the day to not get headaches at work. I also found that sports drinks helped- I developed a serious Propel addiction. I’m not sure if I needed the electrolytes or just something to make me drink more fluids, though.The standard test is that if your pee is coming out quite yellow, you’re not drinking enough water.
    Now that Pumpkin only nurses a few times a day (she’s 21 months) and I don’t pump, I drink less water, but it is still more than I did pre-baby.

  64. Oh, and I know at least one IBCLC who lets moms try different pumps before they buy, to help identify comfort at least. It’s worth asking, anyway, if you can’t figure out which one you want.

  65. See, I didn’t have a pump when my daughter was born, and it was kind of a disaster because she was born on a Friday and needed about a week of NICU time, and I wasn’t allowed to even hold her for a couple days much less try to feed her. The medical supply company was closed on Saturday, and although the hospital let me use their pump I was discharged on Sunday…. and this was one of many factors that led to a really, really crappy, stressful start to what wound up being an EP-w/-lots-of-formula feeding situation.If I were to do it again, I’d have a pump on-hand, particularly as I knew I’d be going back to work… and I’d surely have a pre-chosen lactation consultant at the ready, as the hospital support was LOUSY. There are a million things I’d do differently but at the time I was so overwhelmed with dealing with the unexpected NICU situation, and just becoming a mother, that I was totally unprepared to advocate for myself on the BF problems.

  66. @the milliner, there’s a ‘pumping slump’ around 6 months and around 10-11 months. That’s normal. Speculation is that these are points of change in your hormonal process as well as being low-sleep periods for mom (and baby) which tends to reduce supply. The combo is killer.I ended up going through the 6-month slump with the aid of Kathleen Higgins (the author). She said to pump an extra time in the morning, and try supplements (I had success with oatmeal and fenugreek, YMMV), and stick it for two weeks and see how it was at that point. At that point, it has been better – each time. And it has happened for each kid/s, too. Both slumps, like clockwork. Both times supplementing with Mother’s Milk Tea or Fenugreek, watching diet (more whole grains to counteract the stress-related vitamin B loss with the sleep loss, perhaps?), pumping more often, having nursing vacations on the weekends (all day in bed nursing) to boost supply, making sure I don’t get dehydrated, taking every possible care of myself (yeah, but at least trying), etc. – and then I’d get through and carry on.
    Plus, after 6 months or so, solids began to hold a little sway (table foods ground up at that point), and that helped a lot for the total amount needed daily.
    Granted, three out of four of my kids were ‘wait till mommy gets home’ kids – Mr G would down 20-22 ounces a day while I was at work, but Mr B took max 15 ounces and rapidly went down to 10 oz, and Miss M and Miss R started at 12 oz and went to 10 oz each. I think I still have milk in the freezer… should toss that, really, since it is 3-plus years old… and like I’m going to use it for something? So, your kid may change their intake with the change of diet, too.
    Good luck! I highly recommend one of the items in my linked article – a professional full-body massage. Mmm, yeah, good for the supply/letdown. Especially for mommies with kids going through fussy stages. I’m totally serious.

  67. I exclusively pumped for nine months. I rented a hospital-grade pump (Lactina). I am glad I didn’t buy one ahead of time–for one thing I was very happy to see that thing walk out the door. I did borrow an Avent Isis once and couldn’t get anything with it. If I ever have another kid I’ll wait and see on the pump. There are lots of ways to make pumping more effective so I recommend if you do that to make sure you seek out good info from an IBCLC or whatever to make sure you maek the most of it.I didn’t enjoy pumping and I wish I hadn’t had to do it but I’m very glad I was able to breastfeed even if my kid couldn’t nurse. Great technology.

  68. Uh, Huggins. Yeah, I need more coffee. (The Nursing Mother’s Companion author) She’s just insanely nice. And she emailed a few months later to make sure I was still doing okay, which just about made me cry. Serious mommy crush, there. Heh.

  69. This one worked well for me (back in ’06):Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump
    After the fact, I may have just gotten a hand-held because she stopped taking milk from the bottle around 6 months when I didn’t use one for a few weeks. But it was very fast and handy. A really good choice if you’ll need to use it a lot.

  70. oh also, on shields, there are softer, more pliable ones as well as bigger ones. The softer ones (they have a name but I’m at work in an open office so I’m not googling it right now) made things much more comfortable for me.

  71. I had the PIS and I rarely used it. I had better let-down (and more milk) just hand expressing. I couldn’t work while I was pumping, obviously, but I spent less time if I hand expressed than if I use a pump. It was a great machine, I think I just couldn’t get my mind past the thought that it was a machine (why my hand was better, I don’t know…). If I used it while my DD was nursing, I had fantastic results.I second Moxie’s suggestion to wait to buy a pump unless you have some reason why you can’t wait. You never know how things will be after. The pump-in-style has my vote, though, if we’re taking votes!
    Sort of on-topic, I used the Gerber storage bags, and I really liked them–not many that sprang leaks on me, which was a great relief. I would cry whenever that “liquid gold” was wasted!

  72. I used the Advanced PIS (lovely black bag), but I have to admit that it didn’t agree with my nipples. I tried larger and larger shields with little to no luck. However, I discovered flexible shields for the PIS and was able to use that on the lowest setting to get milk without having bleeding nips. So just remember that there are options out there that can help with your comfort.I actually got the idea to look for flexible shields from a friend who completely RAVES about the PJs Comfort Jr. by Limerick, Inc. I really wish I had gotten that one, and if my PIS isn’t doing it for me this time, I might just buy it.
    I also highly recommend the bustier or some other way to stay hands free. If your hands are free, you can be on the computer checking Ask Moxie, like I did!

  73. I have an Ameda Purely Yours, which is the same as the Lansinoh. Technically, it is the same as the PIS (same suction, etc.) but costs less. It’s a little more noisy, but, like I said, costs less. Like $150 less. I have both the isis hand pump and the Medela Harmony. I like the Harmony more. Fewer pieces to clean, same suction.I have heard online that the isis duo is great, but you can’t get parts for it, so if the pump flange (the part you put up against your boob) cracks or break, you have to buy a new pump. Not cool.

  74. Sorry I haven’t had time to read all the comments. I’d advise to buy the pump before the baby comes, or at least have a borrowed one on hand. I was induced at 38 weeks and it took 5 days for my milk to come in. (I suspect that the drugs I was given as part of the induction somehow messed with my milk production, but I don’t have any proof of that.) Under my midwife’s supervision I pumped to bring in my milk and also get some colostrum for my baby.I returned to work at 12 weeks and baby continued to receive only breastmilk until she was a year (when she finally started eating solid foods!) I didn’t buy a pump because two friends loaned me theirs – I kept one and work and one at home! Lucky me! I think they were both Medela Pump in Style.

  75. Another vote for the Freestyle. I just got it when my old PIS started to fizzle and love it. I was really on the fence about buying it, but am so glad I did. A little research led me to the cheapest place I found to buy it online; you can’t list prices if you sell it for less than the Medela suggested price, but it was $280 a few months back at Addalittlelove.com (is that ok to share a retail site?). I pump full bottles for work and pump 1-2 oz. for engorgement relief whenever my baby goes back to skipping 4 am nursing (back and forth, back and forth).

  76. I am going to have to go against Moxie on this one and say a breastpump is a great thing to have in the first month. With my son, I figured out too late that the best time to pump to build up a freezer stash is during the first three months. That is when your body is making the most milk because it hasn’t regulated itself yet. So with my daughter, I started pumping extra the day I came home from the hospital. Within the first three months, I had 200 ounces of milk in the freezer — and I am a SAHM with a baby who rarely got bottles.For me, that freezer stash allowed me to spend a weekend away from the two kids with my husband. And since I had the pump, I took it with me and pumped and kept the milk in a fridge and brought it all home and replenished what she had consumed. Win-win all around.
    For what it’s worth, I have the Pump In Style and it’s lasted me through two separate years of nursing. I thought it was important to have a good pump, even as a SAHM, just because you never know.

  77. I induced lactation for an adopted baby (meds had side effects, though, so I stopped…) but I have lots of pumping experience from that. My 2 cents is:*don’t buy a hospital grade pump from ebay without asking for the serial # and checking it with the mfr. first. I bought one that way and found out later it had been stolen from a rental facility before it was put up for auction on ebay. Medela paid me $200 finders fee but I still lost money.
    *If your nipples are getting irritated by rubbing up against the cones (yes, I know about getting bigger ones but my nipples still got irritated with the right size cones) use olive oil to lubricate; worked great for me
    * leaning forward is the thing that stinks the most about pumping, so get angled shields (Pumpin’ Pals) so that you can sit back and not give yourself a hunchback. I actually still have my Pumpin’ Pals so if anyone reads this and wants one, come over to my blog and shoot me an e-mail and I’ll send them to you no charge 🙂 (You can steam sterilize them)

  78. I bought a Medela PIS in 1998, how’s that for old school? I had to go back to work, three days a week, when my first was only six weeks old. I went back five days a week when she was about six months old. She did well with a bottle so I must have pumped twice a day until she was nine months old and then probably once a day until she was maybe 14 months.I used that same PIS when my second was born in 2005. I was lucky enough to stay home for three months and then only work three days a week until she was two. She wasn’t as good on a bottle, so I didn’t pump as often or as long for her, probably only until nine months.
    I loved my PIS, I credit it with allowing me to nurse both my kids until they were two-and-a-half. If my work pumping hadn’t gone so well, I would have had to stop nursing and that would have been devasting to me.
    For the data points, I am small-breasted and never had supply issues, in fact, just the opposite, I considered donating all the extra breastmilk to a hospital with my first. The PIS fit me well and never caused any problems. I was also able to pump handsfree by wearing a bralet that looked like a sports bra but wasn’t as tight. I just tucked the cones into the bra and voila! I could goof off behind a locked office door. Although the pumping noise is a bit off-putting for phone calls.
    If I have a third, I will be tempted to get one of those new-fangled chargeable things, even though my ancient workhorse PIS is still perfectly fine, it is rather bulky.

  79. Lots of good opinions about the pumps, so I think that’s covered. I haven’t read everything yet, but want to chime in to remind moms out there who are exlusively pumping that at a certain point – for me it was 10 months – it will look like your supply is dropping when you pump. I would consistently get 10-12 ounces (both sides combined) in about 15 minutes of pumping….but at the 10 month mark my supply dropped drastically to about 4-6 ounces combined. I was alarmed and called my pediatrician who thought I should make the switch to formula. It wasn’t until a year or so later that I read here on Moxie that it is very typical for it to look like a dip in your supply around that time frame if you are exclusively pumping and that (if you want to) you should stick with it and things will shake out and go back to normal. I wish I had, and know this next time what to expect. Who knew the boobs could be so tricky?

  80. “Sometimes you have issues that mean nursing isn’t going to work, and having bought a pump is just going to add to the whole ball of suck that surrounds that discovery.”Indeed. I blew over $300 that I didn’t have on a PIS (knowing that i had to go back to work in 6 weeks and so would need to start pumping pretty quickly), and lo and behold, I wasn’t able to nurse. I used it to coax a few ounces a day for the 6 weeks, then had to give it up for my sanity (7 hours of pumping for 2 oz of milk, ack). My nursing issues were becoming clear before I left the hospital and I should have rented a pump and put the $300 towards a post partum doula or more time with a lactation consultant!

  81. Avent isis best by far. I actually did need one when I got home from the hospital and didn’t have one; the postpartum nurse who visited me at home the day after my discharge leant me one. I was engorged and baby couldn’t latch so for the first week or so I had to pump a small amount before every feeding. I always advise that moms have one when coming home in case they are engorged, even if it’s the $20 medela hand pump.

  82. Avent’s customer service is good in the US? It’s SHOCKING here in Australia.I started off with an Avent Isis, which I really only used in the early days to reduce a bit of engorgement before my twins fed, or on the very rare occasions I was away from the girls.
    But then the part that screws the horn to the bottle cracked. Through Avent Australia’s website, I sent a query asking how I’d go about getting a replacement part, because there was nothing in their FAQ about replacement parts. Three weeks later, no response, so I forwarded my original query. Nothing. A month later, same thing again, nothing. NB. I had PPD at the time and phone calls were too much for me to handle. Finally I said “stuff bloody Avent”, went out and bought a Medela Swing electric pump, and have never looked back.
    Avent also never answered my letter of complaint. What sort of company would ignore an initial desperate complaint from a mother of three-month-old twins, let alone the follow-up queries? I’d never touch Avent products here on Oz again. I realise they’re just another corporation, but you’d think a company that supplied mother/baby products would at least try to APPEAR to care.
    Phew! That vent felt good.

  83. I liked pumping but maybe I’m weird.I had an Avent Isis and I used to pump one side whilst feeding the baby on the other side first thing in the morning, and then pump both sides at work either once or twice depending on engorgement and age of baby. I kept the milk in the fridge at work and took it home in the evening for my husband to feed her the next day. I went back to work when she was 3 months old or thereabouts, and had this routine until she was 9 months old.
    I didn’t find it that much of a chore. It didn’t hurt at all, and I had a really vigourous let-down, so I would basically just have to prime the breast for about a minute, and then – whoosh! – I just had to pump fast enough to keep up with the flow. I always loved that bit.
    I guess you can tell I wasn’t dealing with any under-supply issues. A towel is a useful accessory for gushy ladies.

  84. I have two Pump In Styles, both passed on from friends which is supposed to be a nono but whatever. I keep the newer one at work and the older one at home and it makes a huge difference to have a pump at home (I take the bus and having one more thing to carry is just too much). I also have a small Medela hand pump, which was handy before i had the second PIS for home use, and I now carry on trips when the baby is along, just in case of emergency. It was a godsend on a long car trip — I just pumped and then gave her a bottle and we didn’t have to stop to nurse or have me leaning over her car seat at a weird angle. (I was not the driver.)I also highly recommend the Lansinoh milk bags. My day care provider asked for these over the Gerber ones which she said leak often.
    What do others do for cleaning pump parts at work? We all have different work situations in terms of access to washing, etc, but I’m always interested in how people manage. I use the Medela steam clean bags so I don’t have to bring home the shield and bottle every night, but I have a microwave I can use easily.

  85. DUAL ELECTRIC ISIS REVIEW:I really love my Advent Isis Dual Electric Pump. My son was born at 33 weeks, so I have lots of exclusive pumping experience and have used both the Medela and the Isis. Without question, my Isis Electric is the main reason I can say I’ve never needed to give my 10-month-old a bottle of formula despite his NICU stay and my random WOHM schedule.
    The Isis is a powerful pump with completely customizable suction, and it’s very easy to set-up and operate. The silicone cone inserts make it more comfortable than the Medela, and works perfectly with the large Advent line of storage containers/bottles/etc. A major advantage is that it’s hugely discounted on Amazon and often on sale, so it’s at least $100 less than the Medela pump-in-style. Best of all, the Isis Dual Electric contains the excellent Isis hand pump, which you’ll need in addition to the pump-in-style anyway if you pump much. The Isis hand pump fits into a small purse, and I’ve run to the restroom and quietly pumped during work events, dinners, even at a spa, during halftime at a football game, and while stuck in a traffic jam!
    The disadvantages (which don’t matter much if you will be pumping from home and not going back and forth to work), are that the electric Isis bag is huge compared to Medela’s and there are more parts to clean and more risk of losing/forgetting a crucial piece. And Isis shields come in one size only, while Medela also has an XL size.
    Major pumping hint: the worst thing about pumping is scrubbing the pump parts again and again. Treat your “used” pump parts like you would freshly expressed breast milk, i.e. they are okay to use again after 4 hours at room temperature or 2-4 days of refrigeration without washing. And take advantage of the Medela Quick-Clean pump wipes and the Micro-Steam bags.

  86. Hands-free all the way! I second the Easy Expression Bustier rec — worked wonders for my pumping satisfaction. What a difference to be able to get in a little laptop time instead of just sitting there bored. Esp at work, where I was fortunate enough to have a private office, so I could just plug in to the pump and go back to what I was doing.Manual pump drove me bonkers. Boobs kept shifting around, my hand cramped, and even after what seemed like forever it was just the one side.
    stats: pumped while WOTH full-time for one year each with 2 kids. One Medela PIS saw me through and was still going strong – I resold it with gladness.

  87. Rent, Rent, Rent! I wish someone, like maybe the nurses at the hospital where I delivered via C-section, had informed me about the rental options at most hospitals. I was sent home w/ poor breast feeding instructions and no info on engorgement, a fairly common side effect after a c-section.I needlessly spent $350.00 on a Medala Pump in Style. It was just the ticket to help me with my milk production and an excellent machine, but expensive.
    The Advent ISIS was a huge disappointment for me, maybe becasue my breats were huge and engorged but I got nothin’ from that pump but tears and frustration. Pumping sucks, but it was kinda neat to see all that milk coming out of me after 5 years of infertility and then finally making a baby.

  88. I loathe the Avent Isis. Whenever I got up enough suction to get any milk out, the stupid asymmetrical star would pop through. MAJOR design flaw, that *&^^% star, and it hurt like an SOB.Then again, I never pumped well at all, though I nursed just fine once things got established. Half an hour minimum would get me an ounce or two. I don’t know what I’ll do if I have another and don’t have the luxury of this extra long maternity leave — probably seek out an LC right after I pee on a stick.
    The Medela Swing was much better than the Isis, though I still had supply issues. I also used the Dr. Brown’s pump, but I got mine used and I’m not sure if it ever worked right. It was very strange, but worked about as well as anything else. The Swing wins for ease amongst these three, though — hands down.

  89. Also: Everything I’ve read talks about larger breastshields; few of the things I’ve read talk about the smaller ones, but they make smaller breastshields too, and it does make a difference ff you have smaller nipples. And note that small nipples can come on large breasts.

  90. Have not read comments yet but I will say that I am sooooo glad I had my pump when I came home from the hospital. One of my nipples was badly damaged from sons small mouth/high palate/strong suck. I won’t even describe the damage because it’s gruesome but it was BAD! If I hadn’t had a pump so I could pump that side after feeding from the other, I would have quit, no question. And since those awful “oh my god there is no way I am letting this baby suck on this” moments tend to happen in the middle of the night, I say either buy borrow, rent, or buy a pump ahead of time. Don’t wait until you need it because when you need it, you need it NOW!My PIS worked great for back to work. If I’d had supply issues I would have gone for the hospital rental though.

  91. I second (third…) the suction problems with the Avent Isis. Made me feel crappy which probably didn’t help. When I went back to work, I rented a Medela Symphony and pumping turned into this fast, painless (prideful?) experience. Couldn’t recommend it more highly. That said, I’m in France where the rental didn’t cost me a thing, so I can understand that such a fancy pump may not be a given for everyone. Good luck!

  92. Just a ditto to Cloud’s excellent comment about drinking water. When I went back to work in September, my son was 3 months and I pumped 3x/day to meet his needs. (3x= first thing in the morning at home and then 2x during the day while at work on 30-min breaks) During the day, I was sure to drink at least two-20oz reusable containers of water. It made a huge difference. (I drank even more water or decaf tea when home, too.)After a few months, I was able to only pump 2x/day and then when he turned 1 year old in May, I stopped pumping and, at the okay from pediatrician, supplemented his daytime bottles with milk, (I honestly don’t remember if we used organic soy milk or organic cow’s milk or a mixture but I do remember agonizing over it!)
    I remember being so in awe of my body that after only a few days of ice packs, (the school nurse was so kind to me!), my body adjusted and was ready to nurse my son in the morning, upon pickup from his daycare, and at bedtime.
    I think that is a key idea: BF doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Many women who need to be away from their babies can supplement during the time their baby is away from them and nurse when they see them. I only did this after my son was 1 year, but I know of many who did this much earlier.
    My advice to anyone going back to work and pumping is to try to wake up earlier (I know; this is tough!) and pump about a 1/2 hr or so before your child wakes up. Of course this is providing there is a semi-predictable schedule. My morning supply was so great that I could pump two 6-oz bottles and still be ready to feed him in the morning when he wanted.
    FWIW, I spent extra money to buy at least two dozen of the Medela brand bottles. I pumped directly into them and froze them. I never got used to the bags.
    The Pump In Style Advanced Backpack was excellent at what it is supposed to do and I clearly used it a LOT.

  93. Just a ditto to Cloud’s excellent comment about drinking water. When I went back to work in September, my son was 3 months and I pumped 3x/day to meet his needs. (3x= first thing in the morning at home and then 2x during the day while at work on 30-min breaks) During the day, I was sure to drink at least two-20oz reusable containers of water. It made a huge difference. (I drank even more water or decaf tea when home, too.)After a few months, I was able to only pump 2x/day and then when he turned 1 year old in May, I stopped pumping and, at the okay from pediatrician, supplemented his daytime bottles with milk, (I honestly don’t remember if we used organic soy milk or organic cow’s milk or a mixture but I do remember agonizing over it!)
    I remember being so in awe of my body that after only a few days of ice packs, (the school nurse was so kind to me!), my body adjusted and was ready to nurse my son in the morning, upon pickup from his daycare, and at bedtime.
    I think that is a key idea: BF doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Many women who need to be away from their babies can supplement during the time their baby is away from them and nurse when they see them. I only did this after my son was 1 year, but I know of many who did this much earlier.
    My advice to anyone going back to work and pumping is to try to wake up earlier (I know; this is tough!) and pump about a 1/2 hr or so before your child wakes up. Of course this is providing there is a semi-predictable schedule. My morning supply was so great that I could pump two 6-oz bottles and still be ready to feed him in the morning when he wanted.
    FWIW, I spent extra money to buy at least two dozen of the Medela brand bottles. I pumped directly into them and froze them. I never got used to the bags.
    The Pump In Style Advanced Backpack was excellent at what it is supposed to do and I clearly used it a LOT.

  94. Just a ditto to Cloud’s excellent comment about drinking water. When I went back to work in September, my son was 3 months and I pumped 3x/day to meet his needs. (3x= first thing in the morning at home and then 2x during the day while at work on 30-min breaks) During the day, I was sure to drink at least two-20oz reusable containers of water. It made a huge difference. (I drank even more water or decaf tea when home, too.)After a few months, I was able to only pump 2x/day and then when he turned 1 year old in May, I stopped pumping and, at the okay from pediatrician, supplemented his daytime bottles with milk, (I honestly don’t remember if we used organic soy milk or organic cow’s milk or a mixture but I do remember agonizing over it!)
    I remember being so in awe of my body that after only a few days of ice packs, (the school nurse was so kind to me!), my body adjusted and was ready to nurse my son in the morning, upon pickup from his daycare, and at bedtime.
    I think that is a key idea: BF doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Many women who need to be away from their babies can supplement during the time their baby is away from them and nurse when they see them. I only did this after my son was 1 year, but I know of many who did this much earlier.
    My advice to anyone going back to work and pumping is to try to wake up earlier (I know; this is tough!) and pump about a 1/2 hr or so before your child wakes up. Of course this is providing there is a semi-predictable schedule. My morning supply was so great that I could pump two 6-oz bottles and still be ready to feed him in the morning when he wanted.
    FWIW, I spent extra money to buy at least two dozen of the Medela brand bottles. I pumped directly into them and froze them. I never got used to the bags.
    The Pump In Style Advanced Backpack was excellent at what it is supposed to do and I clearly used it a LOT.

  95. Hands down, I’d recommend the Medela PIS.I’ve exclusively pumped for both of my kids. I used a hospital grade pump for the first few months with my first, a preemie, then switched over to a hand-me-down PIS until he was 13 months.
    Baby number two is now 7 months and I’m still using the old PIS at work and a new one at home. Medela makes a durable product.
    I know Medela doesn’t recommend sharing pumps, but I’ve had no problems with the used one. As long as you know who the pump came from, I think there are few health issues since all the parts that come in contact with milk can be replaced or sterilized.

  96. I sure was glad I had a pump on hand when my daughter was kept in the hospital for a week after she was born. Maybe the hospital would have loaned me a pump, but I’m not sure. I borrowed the Medela Pump in Style from a friend and pumped for a year. It worked great for five months, and then I did have trouble with supply for the next seven months — so demoralizing. I wish I’d experimented with other pumps to see if they would have worked better.

  97. Hooo, boy. I’m one of those women who had overabundance issues — my son is two and a half weeks old now, and the early engorgement phase was SO AWFUL. I couldn’t figure out how to hand-express, I was completely miserable and sore (large breasts + extra swelling and weight = AAAAAGH), baby couldn’t latch (poor kid, it must’ve been like trying to suck on a basketball)…Honestly, if I hadn’t already had my pump then (right around the holidays, too), I might have been in big trouble. 🙂 I used it to take the edge off and work out the clogs, at least to the point where I didn’t want to sob with the pain. The worst of it has passed, and the baby is doing all of the work now — I’ve tried to manage it well, and my supply hasn’t gone wacky (thank the gods).
    For the record, I have the Medela Pump In Style Advanced, which we bought shortly after the birth, and I really like it. The only quirk is that the kicky black shoulder bag smells kinda funny.

  98. @hedra Thanks for the tips! Funnily enough, after posting my comment I went to one of the site links someone else posted & read about the 6 month slump. I’m getting the idea that the 1st year is one big non-stop fussy-period-slump-regression-deregulation phase. If it’s not one thing, it’s another! I guess this is the steep learning curve of parenthood.I’m adding the morning pump and will keep at it for at least 2 weeks to see if that helps.
    A friend kind of laughed when I said I was being lazy for “just” BF (instead of pumping too), as it was easier and I didn’t have to think about it/plan so much…just feed him when he’s hungry. Clearly perspective can easily get skewed when you’re in the eye of the storm.

  99. I’m a NICU nurse, and I spend a lot of time helping people pump. Most people seem to use the PIS or rent a double electric hospital grade pump. The whole closed system thing with a hospital grade pump is that Medela (or whoever) guarantees that zero breastmilk makes it’s way into the pump where it could possible contaminate other user’s milk. I absolutely love breastmilk and spend many working (and non-working!) hours encouraging women to provide breastmilk for their children, but it is a body fluid. At work, we would never advise our mommies to use a non-closed-system pump for their sick and probably immunocompromised babies. That being said, I totally borrowed my best friend’s PIS for my own kid- but he was healthy and I made an informed decision to do that.Because they are so costly, and I’m not sure what everyone’s overall financial situation is, I wanted to mention that if you qualify for Medicaid or WIC, you can usually get a free hospital grade or double electric pump.
    Oh, and I never had supply problems and pumped just fine with the PIS and the hospital grade one I used at work, but I could not get a drop out of my engorged boobies the time I tried to manually pump. I ended up hand-expressing (and this was in a public bathroom at a basketball tournament when my kid was 4 months old). It was painfully… well, painful. It was painful. Not one of my fonder breastfeeding memories.

  100. Im afraid I totally disagree with Moxie here- I think its great to have the pump on hand because most people I know needed it pretty much right away and since most people dont get the support to establish good nursing right away, under supply becomes an issue for more people than less and those first few weeks are imperative to your supply for the long haul. If youre going back to work, you need to start storing milk ASAP and get that baby used to a bottle ASAP. I love my Medela PIS but used a hand pump in emergencies and when I traveled (packs easier).

  101. I bought the PIS, which I thought worked well, before my daughter was born, but didn’t open it. (So I could return it if I didn’t breastfeed, or didn’t want to pump.) I was thoroughly grateful to have it on hand, however, when I turned to my husband one week in and told him that there was no way our child was coming anywhere near my nipples! I did a pumping “vacation” for 24 hours, and it made all the difference.@Hedra – thank you so much, honestly, for your post mention of the friend with the “supersucker.” That was my experience with my daughter. We never had a great latch, but she would nurse for 5 minutes max on each breast – and she’s a “big” baby. I’ve mentioned the forceful sucking before, but only to blank stares. So thank you for reassuring me that I was not the only person to experience this!

  102. I would definitely recommend either borrowing or renting a pump first before deciding to buy. I had envisaged a versatile schedule, combining pumping with breastfeeding courtesy of my pump in style, but soon found that it caused all sorts of problems. My letdown reflex is such that I am incredibly retentive unless my baby is actually attached to me and I have oversupply issues which make me susceptible to clogged ducts even now that I’m breastfeeding an older baby. The pumping also exacerbated my horrendous pregnancy and postpartum boob eczema… All this is to say that everyone’s body is different, so even the best laid prenatal plans can go out the window. Caveat emptor: Try before you buy.

  103. Loved the Medela Freestyle. I got it through my LC (cost a bit more but that woman deserved a freakin’ gold medal). Had two problems with it — one my fault, the other a battery issue — and Medela could not have been more helpful; they immediately sent out replacement parts. I’d buy it again in a heartbeat.

  104. I recommend having the pump on hand. Slighlty traumatic vaginal birth with baby hijacked by NICU caused the little guy to not want to latch…well…he prefered the bottle. I needed the pump in the hospital to “prime the pump.” I expressed collostrum and then spread it on my nipple to get the guy to latch.I took others advice and didn’t buy the pump in case I did have problems and then the insurance would cover it. Well, sleep-deprived DH had to go out to the store as soon as we got home from the hospital to buy a pump so I could tempt the guy to latch. By the time, I woke from my nap, I was completely engorged. Think soft tissue over bumpy cantaloupes. Ouch. I am not the only gal I know whose DH had to run to the store as soon as they got home from the hospital to get a pump.
    I have the PIS and it is okay. Once I got him to want to nurse, I stopped using the pump (2-3 days max). I did eventually develop a huge oversupply problem. I had to take herbs and breastfeed flat on my back to slow the flow. I was supposed to pump only to relieve pressure. I would pump 8 oz. in 5 min. Then my lactation consultant told me that I should be pumping less than an oz. Are you serious? PAIN!
    My bug was 8 months old when I went back to work half-time. I pumped twice in 4 hours becuase the bug refused solid food until 10-months. When I went back full time, I went from pumping twice in 9 hours to pumping once a day. AND I AM STILL PUMPING ONCE A DAY (he is 19 months) because my guy loves to breastfeed and is allergic to dairy.
    The new “softfit shields” suck. The soft part is okay but where it connects to the rest of the hard plastic is just about where your nipples will hit. Trust me. My friend who is a smaller breast size than I also had the same problem.

  105. Also, I had every intention of going back to work when my bug was 4 months old but PPD and a kid who wouldn’t take a bottle prevented that. I had high hopes for the pump. Other people could feed my kid. I could be away from him for more than an hour. Ahhhh. Dreams. Once we got him to nurse he refused to take a bottle. By 8 months he had enough control to use a sippy cup. Yes, my boy takes breast milk in a sippy cup. Still pumping. Still feel like a cow. I am of two minds about it. The bug is allergic to milk so human milk is the only milk he gets. HE LOVES it so much (shrieks of pleasure when I am pulling up my shirt). But I am still BF in the night. He started waking up more often after I went back to work so that now he sleeps with us. I envy my friends whose kids can take a bottle. I wish I could send in the DH in the middle of the night so the bug wouldn’t get as much comfort from me.–Stuck being a cow.

  106. I have the Avent Isis iq Duo and LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it (though, as Moxie says, there is nothing to love about actually pumping). I have also tried the Medela PIS and my Avent pump wins hands-down for comfort for me (your milelage may vary – everyone is different), and is also super-quiet. I’m pretty sure that with the air vents going in the conference rooms I pump in, someone walking by in the hall couldn’t hear it.I love the fact that I can pump directly into ANY avent container (including the frozen storage cups, the bottles, and the sippy cups), and the cups/bottles are a lot easier to clean than other brands because of the big opening on top.
    Also – the parts of the electric pump can be converted to a hand pump – so you don’t have to buy both electric and manual.
    One thing I would change – I actually would have bought the single pump version if I had known that I wouldn’t need to double-pump. I’ve been using this thing for 18 months now and have only double-pumped about a dozen times. I could have used the extra $100 or so.
    Anyway, not too many people seem to have tried the Avent electric pumps so there’s my two cents. This thing has been worth every penny for me.

  107. I’ve only skimmed comments, but it looks like no one has mentioned that Medela isn’t making the PIS anymore? Everything I’ve heard says they’re making the PISA and the Freestyle. (Loved my PISA, btw…in fact, still loving it at 14+ months. Saved my nursing relationship, and yeah, I was lucky that insurance paid for it.)Lots of people love the Ameda Purely Yours (avail at Target for about $150) – was that mentioned?

  108. I saw just one post on the Avent Isis IQ Duo, so I thought i’d throw in my $0.02. I bought the Avent Isis IQ Duo based on some amazing recommendations from some friends of mine – it has the soft squishy comfort pads inside the shells and has customizable pumping speeds so they had found that their milk output went up a lot after switching from the Medela PIS.It is a really nice pump (although as noted by pp, more pieces to clean than the Medela) and the customizable pumping speeds are really cool once you get the hang of it (you can adjust it to mimic the baby’s nursing style!). However, in my case, the horns were too narrow. On my Medela PIS Advanced, I had switched to the bigger ones than the standards, but there is no option to switch to larger horns with the Avent pump. So, I had a clogged milk duct and SORE nipples within one day of pumping at work and started to cry when I took the pump out of the bag. I then went back to my old Medela PIS Advanced which I didn’t like quite as much (motor speed wise and customizable), but did manage to get through nearly 10 months of pumping at work with it.
    I passed on the Avent to my SIL, but never heard one way or another if she liked it or not. I should ask…

  109. @Priscilla- I pumped at work until Pumpkin was 17 months. She had no problem with cow’s milk, but was slow to “get” solid foods, and I felt better sending breastmilk with her to day care. I stopped when I did because she was going to move up to a room that uses real cups instead of sippy cups, and I couldn’t handle the thought of the spillage. Otherwise, I might still be pumping (Pumpkin is 21 months).But we still nurse, usually 3x/day- once in the morning, once before bed, and yes, once in the middle of the night. The middle of the night thing sucks, but on the whole I’m glad we’re still nursing. It makes her happy, and makes me worry less about her still less than stellar solid food eating habits. Most times, I like nursing too, but I have noticed that I get really antsy nursing during my period- like I can’t wait for her to finish. That is always the week when I think about weaning. But it is also a week when she seems to want to nurse more than ever, so I always think I’ll start weaning next week, and then next week I don’t care so much…
    Also, she always took the bottle fine, but not long after she transitioned to using a sippy cup during the day, she stopped taking a bottle, and won’t have anything to do with one now. And she won’t take a sippy cup of ANYTHING middle of the night- she wants me. Even when she doesn’t want to nurse, she wants me and screams like I’ve sent an axe murderer in if Hubby tries to go in and comfort her in the wee hours. That totally sucks, and we haven’t figured out how to fix that. Interestingly, if I’m not around (e.g., Hubby and I are having a night away), she’ll happily be comforted by her grandma. We talk about taking a few nights at a hotel and letting my (very willing) mom nightwean her, and we’re only half joking.
    I do wonder if weaning would solve the nightwaking, but I am not sure. I know people who weaned at ~18 months hoping for a solid night’s sleep, and instead got an awake baby with no guaranteed way to get the baby back to sleep. So I remain on the fence.
    Anyway, I guess I’m just saying: you’re not the only one out there who pumped longer than a year, is still nursing, and is getting up in the middle of the night, wondering if weaning would fix everything. Hang in there.

  110. I HIGHLY recommend the Medela PIS Advanced. I’ve been pumping at work for over a year now, and this thing is a lifesaver. Seriously.If you pump, here’s a lesser-known, MUST HAVE item: a HANDS FREE PUMPING BRA. It’s worth its weight in gold! I like the ‘Easy Expression Bustier’ or there’s the ‘Made By Moms Pumping Band’. Good luck!

  111. Another vote for the Ameda Purely yours. Works great and cheaper than the PIS (apparently Ameda and Medela used to be the same company as far as I’ve heard). Just a caveat also to not buy a used non-hospital grade pump, mine died after about 9 months of pumping full time for work (I had to pump about 6 times a day to get enough, I just don’t respond as well to pumps). Mine was still under warranty so it was replaced, but it just shows that these pumps have about a year life span with heavy usage.Also, if you need to pump at the beginning because of nursing issues etc. you should use a hospital grade pump so renting is a good option.

  112. I’m not reading all 120 comments, but speaking as one who pumped exclusively for 9 months (MM hated facing in), go for hands-free if you can (I used the hands-free attachments for the PIS along with the Medela nursing bra). It saved my sanity.Down-side of pumping: I get let-down from reading, and 6 years after weaning am still leaking enough to stain my bras but not my shirts.

  113. I rented a Medela hospital grade pump. As someone wrote above – not cheap but well worth it. I pumped for the first year. I spent very little time at the pump compared to many of my friends who bought pumps. If you can afford one I recommend it as you aren’t buying and then disposing of more plastic…

  114. i know this isn’t an active thread now, but wanted to say this for someone reading it later.the medela steam sterilizer bags are great! $5 for 5, each with 20 uses, so 100 sterilizations for $5. you can sterilize your tubing, bottles, most nipples, your pump parts, pacifiers, etc. the only thing i tried that was a failure was a teething ring – since it was a closed system, it burst. you don’t have to be using a medela machine to use these, and they can be used for more than pump parts.
    i pumped for 9 months – baby in nicu for 7 1/2 months – and used a hospital grade medela at home & in the nicu and a borrowed pis on the road. i tried to look at it as actively doing something for my baby, but otherwise didn’t like it a whole lot…and when he came home and it turned into time *away* from the baby instead of time *for* him, i stopped.

  115. I decided to buy Avent prcdouts after extensive research on the internet, and I bought both the Avent manual and Avent duo. I have been very happy with both; I took the manual with me on a trip with the baby when she was a month old, and it was great to have when I needed to pump some extra milk so that others could feed her while I ran errands. The manual pump runs between $30-$50, which includes one pump with all of the parts, and extra valve, and a bottle. It sounds a little expensive, until you think that avent bottles run about $20 for a two-pack. One thing to note: the Avent has a petal cushion, but since I run a little large, I removed the cushion and was more comfortable, so I would suggest trying with and without to see what works for you. The one drawback I would say is that there is only one size flange, so if you run too bit or too small, it might not fit properly. Also, spare parts can’t be found in stores, but you can find them online.As for deals, I usually check froogle.com to compare prices.

  116. Please Please don’t give up. I was in your situation a seevarl months ago. I had problems ****** feeding at first as well. But I perservered. It took me 3 long months of trying, but she finally took it. She refused at first but every day I’d try at least once or twice, until she eventually took it, she even refused the bottle after that. Now she’s at 8 months old and she takes both. I bought a Gerber electric pump, that lasted me all of about 4 days, before it broke. Trust me the Medella is 100 % worth it. I didn’t want to spend the money either. Thank goodness a friend of mine gave me hers. It’s the Medela on the go double electric ****** pump. The key is, you want to keep up your milk supply as quickly and easily as possible. As a new mother you don’t have time to waist hours on a loud, inefficent, poor quality pump that’s going to take for ever. The medella is fast efficent and less noisy then most. and by pumping both ****** at the same time, it’s quick and easy. It will last for your next one as well, shoul you have another. I also swear by raspberry leaf tea. Drink this 2 to 3 times a day plus pumping, will keep up your milk supply for as long as you need to. Even when it looks like it’s almost gone continue with this and it will pick up. ****** milk is the best for your baby. ****** feeding will work foryou, just be patient and perservere. She will eventually take it. Good Luck

  117. I did bring it once to a wedding but never ended up using it b/c we left eailrer than we expected so I figured I’d just do it after I got home, which wasn’t that far. Was planning on pumping in the car with a nursing cover on though.

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