Saturday, April 27, 2013

Confused about which Breast Pump to buy?

The Practical Mom: Confused about which Breast Pump to buy?Choosing the right pump can seem as complicated as choosing a new brand of Bra. Before baby came and before I had any clue about any of the baby equipment, I stood in front of the breast pump aisle for at least an hour wondering what this high tech equipment was all about. The shop assistant opened a box to explain but I had just landed in Indonesia and I didn’t understand a word of what she said. It was as if she was explaining the functioning of a robot in robotese!

But after having pumped round the clock for 1.5 years & used manual, electric, Pigeon AND Medela pumps (Yes I have cumulatively purchased FOUR pumps, let someone dare say breastfeeding is free and I may just be ready for some strangulation!), I think it’s time to pass on some valued experience! Because really, when it comes to choosing a pump, it boils down to only these two things:

Question No. 1: Manual or Electric?

An electric costs 3 times the manual. So if you’re breastfeeding is going relatively well, you aren’t gonna get back to work any time soon, you don’t care about breast feeding in public, just buy a manual. It’s for those one off times when you gotta pump excess milk. Or the one off grocery shopping/ lunch with friends excursions so you can leave a bottle or two behind with the care taker.
My current Medela Swing Electric Pump
But don’t think of it as a splurge if you think you need an electric: If you’re sure to get back to work, even if it's a few months down the road. If you don’t want to breastfeed in public (cannot stay indoors forever!). If you have breastfeeding issues. And hey if you’re gonna be the-on-the-fast-track-multitasking- working mama, go ahead and buy the double pump! Will cut down the pump time by half!

Well I’ve been an exclusive pumper since my kid was a month old. Yes that means all these months he never fed directly on the breast and all the milk that was produced was pumped, duly stored and fed to baby via bottles. In spite of that I used a manual the 1st 6 months. That’s 120 mins of pumping everyday for 180 days. As a celebratory gift I bought myself a Pigeon Electric Silent Pump on his 6 month b’day. Which then made me wonder: WTF ? WHY was I using a manual for so long??” But what I mean to say is that if you are adamant on budget control, a manual doesn’t break your back and is perfectly fine!

Question No 2: Pigeon or Medela?

many, many parts to be assembled before you're ready
There are some other brands too, but it really boils down to the two top brands. I first bought a Pigeon Manual. Then another Pigeon Manual. And as a natural transition, a Pigeon Silent Electric Pump. Why Pigeon? Cuz the shop assistant spoke robotese and I just bought it on a wild whim. Worked perfectly fine till around the time my baby turned 1 year.

That’s when the second last silicone valve (a fancy teeny tiny gizmo that the pump can’t function without) that I had, broke. (We used to call it “white thing”…. Drat! Another white thing broke!) Yes it’s very sensitive and prone to damage while being washed. Each Pump box comes with 1 + 1 spare Silicone valve So by the 1 year mark I had successfully damaged all 5 (from the 3 pump sets I had) and was left with the 6th & last one. I then rushed to the store, as I didn’t want to be stuck with the feeling of the last one giving away at 3 am – my breasts bursting with milk & all!
Silicone Valve: Pigeon's (Left) & Medela's (Right)

Then I get a reality check: Pigeon doesn’t sell spare parts.

So although Pigeon is cheaper than The Medela Swing Electric Pump, it proved to be twice as expensive as I had to buy a 4th pump anyways!

And this time I was armed with knowledge of the local language and got to know that Medela sells spare parts. The Medela Swing is more expensive and so are the parts. But they’re available and that’s a BIG DEAL!

Also, Medela has lesser parts, so it doesn’t seem all that complex. It’s also got smaller parts, so the parts fit well in my steam sterilizer. And I DID require parts. Once the tube needed replacement as my baby decided to blow liquid into it (it still worked, but it looked gross) and once the silicone valve membrane tore (They have a spare, but I needed another spare for this spare).

In case you are adamant to be on budget control, let me make you feel better by saying that the Pigeon Silent Electric Pump is a less noisy than the Medela Swing Pump (although it ain't "Silent" from any angle). Though the only time it really matters is when you’re outdoors (And don’t want to attract attention!) or when its 3 am, you’re dying to watch something very interesting on TV and you can't even think of turning the vol up lest it wakes up baby. Also, Pigeon's bottle stand can be used as the cover for the pump, useful when travelling.

The pumping output, feel factor are the same for both, all parts that touch the milk of both brands can be washed & sterilised and both pumps have a similar Achilles’ heel: The Silicone valve. So better be ultra-careful with those!

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