Once your baby has arrived safely into the world, your everyday routine suddenly revolves around naps, nappy changes and feeding. It can be a really special yet overwhelming time, especially as you establish a routine and get to know your little one over those first few days and weeks.
When it comes to feeding, if you’re planning to breastfeed, an electric breast pump can help you to express milk for your baby and take a well-earned rest when you need it. The most modern and innovative new electric devices also allow you to pump with discretion and ease – whether you’re at home or out and about – and some even connect to digital apps so you can keep an eye on how much you’ve pumped and when. In short, they help to make the process much easier and less stressful.
With so many models available, however, it’s important to do your research and invest in the right one for you and your baby. That way, you’ll get your feeding journey off to the best start possible.
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How to choose the best electric breast pump for you
Does breast pumping feel different to breastfeeding?
The sensation of a pump does feel a little different to a baby, but it shouldn’t cause you any pain or discomfort. Most electric pumps mimic a baby’s natural feeding rhythm, and you can adjust the speed and suction based on your personal preference. It may take a few minutes to establish a good flow so don’t feel frustrated if you only manage to express a small amount of milk initially.
How do I use an electric breast pump?
First things first, find a quiet spot where you’re unlikely to be undisturbed and get comfy. As with breastfeeding, you’ll want to feel relaxed and at ease. Place the cone-shaped shield over your breast so it completely covers the nipple and areola, ensuring the pump’s bottle or hub is secure. You then switch the pump on to expression mode which will stimulate the breast’s let-down and start the milk flowing. Many of the latest electric models don’t have any dangling tubes and fit neatly and easily beneath clothes – so once you’ve got into a good rhythm, you should be able to get up and on with your day.
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What’s the difference between an open- and closed-system pump?
Breast pump manufacturers often use the terms “open” and “closed” systems. But what does this actually mean? Put simply, it refers to whether or not the pump includes a barrier between the breast pump and expressed milk, which is usually found between the tubing and the motor, or between the breast shield connector and the tubing.
Closed-system pumps stop milk (or any other pollutants) leaking into the pump’s mechanism with a physical barrier, so can be cleaned effectively, while open-system pumps don’t, so there is the chance of contamination via bacteria or mould over time.
Manufacturers of open-system pumps suggest the risk of your milk becoming contaminated is small, but they should be avoided if you’re tempted to pick up a cheap second-hand model from eBay or similar, and you may want to be even more vigilant with sterilisation and cleaning. Some pump brands also refer to a closed system as “overflow protection” but rest assured, they mean the same thing.
How do I clean my pump?
It’s recommended that you wash the suction cup and bottle between every use with soapy water and sterilise fully once a week. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s individual instructions, though, as some parts may need special care. You should also buy a bottle brush to help you clean in between all the little crevices of the shields and valves.
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The best electric breast pumps to buy in 2021
1. Elvie Pump: The best breast pump for discretion and convenience
Price: Single £249; Double £499 | Buy now from John Lewis
Considered the crème de la crème of electric pumps, Elvie’s Silent Wearable Breast Pump is popular for very good reason. While it can’t hold as much milk as some of the more traditional pumps, it can be a real godsend if you need to go back to work or get out and about quite quickly after having a baby.
Its compact closed-system design is free from dangling bottles and tubes and operates silently. This means you can pop it under your top or dress, and no-one would ever know that you’re secretly pumping. The hub of the pump needs charging around once a day (or after two to three pumping sessions) and the Elvie app shows you how much battery you have left as you go.
We particularly like the alignment guides on the suction cup that help you find the right position on your breast, which can be tricky with using a wearable pump. It doesn’t come with any storage bags as you pump straight into the included bottles which are fridge and freezer safe. The brand also just released a double-pump version of the Elvie which can help shorten your pumping time and make expressing even more convenient.
Yes, it’s one of the most expensive models available, but for ease and convenience, you can’t get much better.
Key specs – Type: Single and double electric pump with USB; closed system; Weight: 225g
Buy now from John Lewis
2.Fraupow Wearable Breast Pump: The best-value wearable breast pump
Price: £70 | Buy now from Fraupow
If you’re looking for a discreet, wearable breast pump but don’t have a big budget, new British breast pump brand Fraupow should be on your radar.
The simple, lightweight, battery-powered design is discreet and portable so you can get on with your daily chores and errands while expressing. It fits neatly inside your bra, allowing you to pump whenever you need to, and comes ready assembled so you can get going straight away.
It has an anti-backflow and overflow protected system, a milk collecting cup with a 180ml capacity and an LED display that allows you to choose from nine intensity levels and two modes: suction and massage. Just set the timer for the amount of time you’d like to pump, and the automatic shut-off function will let you know when you’re done.
Quick to assemble and easy to clean, this looks to give some of the most premium electric breast pumps a run for their money. The only real downside is that it isn’t yet widely available, so you’ll have to purchase it directly from the company’s website.
Key specs – Type: Single electric pump with LED display and USB; anti-back flow and overflow protected system; Weight: 218g