Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives FAQ on breastpumps, Part 2/2

( Part1 - Part2 )
[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Forum ]
Archive-name: misc-kids/breastfeeding/breastpumps/part2
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1995/03/01

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
           Frequently Asked Questions

Collection maintained by: Beth Weiss
Last updated: 1 March 1995

To contribute to this collection, please send e-mail to the address
given above, and ask me to add your comments to the FAQ file on
breastpumps.  Please try to be as concise as possible, as these FAQ
files tend to be quite long as it is.

For a list of other FAQ topics and how to get the archived discussions,
tune in to or
Copyright 1994, Beth Weiss.  Use and copying of this information are
permitted as long as (1) no fees or compensation are charged for
use, copies or access to this information, and (2) this copyright
notice is included intact.
This FAQ file contains several parts, separated by lines of ## signs.
  When posted, parts I-V are in part 1
               part  VI  is in part 2

I.  Logistics
      A.  Summary of replies about the logistics of pumping
      B.  How long can I store the milk
II. How to encourage a let-down
III.General pump-buying and getting started advice
IV. Encouraging success
      A.  General advice
      B.  Survey of Successes
      C.  Nipple confusion survey
V.  Supplies
      A.  Carriers
      B.  Suppliers
VI.  Which pump should I buy?
      A.  Manual options
      	  ** by hand
          ** Medela manual
          ** Sears
          ** Kaneson
      B.  Battery operated pumps
          ** Evenflo
          ** Mag Mag
          ** Gentle Expressions
      C.  Small electric pumps
          ** Medela mini-electric
      D.  Fish tank pumps
          ** Nurture III
          ** Gerber Precious Care
          ** Double Up
      E.  Rental pumps
          ** Ameda Egnell
          ** Medela Lactina
          ** Medela (classic)

VI.  Which pump should I buy?
There are no absolute answers to a question like this.  Some women
have been very successful with every available pump.  For just about
any pump, you can find some women who think it was great, and others
who weren't successful with it.

Many lactation consultants recommend electric pumps (either the "fish
tank" pumps or the rental pumps) for women who are returning to work
full-time, or pumping for a premature baby.  The following is a
compilation of women's comments about various pumps.  Since this FAQ
file originated several years ago, please understand that any and all
prices are likely to be out of date.

VI-A.  Manual pump options
** By-hand manual pumping
REALLY MANUAL: Finally, I strongly recommend that anyone considering
expressing milk learn how to manually express with no pumps -- just
your own hands.  Even if you're sure you're only going to be using a
pump (as I was), it's really nice to know how to get your milk to let
down manually.  Frankly, pumps just don't feel the same as a baby, and
I find they don't always trigger a good let-down.  On those occasions,
a combination of using the pump and manually expressing works really
well for me.  I learned through a video at my HMO; I imagine La Leche
or other support groups could recommend books, videos, or workshops.

If you want to use manual expression as your only means, they make
specially-designed funnels to catch the milk that attach to a bottle.
I've seen them in the Motherwear; they're probably available elsewhere
as well.  They say it comes with "complete instructions for hand
expressing".  (Mar 95: $9)
When my daughter was born 5.5 years ago, I tried one of those cheap
manual pumps.  Ouch!  Maybe I didn't stick with it, but I just
couldn't find a comfortable, non-messy way to do it.  I finally found
that I could express by hand much faster and easier.  Still pretty

Anyway, I only nursed for about 4 months and only pumped occasionally.
I would be surprised if a motorized pump would be much easier on you
than your own hands.
I didn't really dedicate myself to learning this method until my 3rd
child, and wish I'd started earlier.  You can use it anywhere you have
a little privacy, there is virtually no clean up, it doesn't require
anything more than a bottle or cup, it is quiet, and you can get as
much or as little as you need.  A great method, but more tiring and
sometimes slower than is practical at work 2 or 3 times a day.  Very
effective - the only way I got better emptying was direct nursing.  It
definately takes practice.
** Medela manual pump
Excerpt from Motherwear catalog: For occasional or short-term pumping,
lots of moms choose this economical, manual pump.  The "Spring Express
Pump" from Medela has a unique spring action that assists you on the
return motion.  Built-in air vents automatically control the vacuum to
simulate a baby's suction and protet your nipples.  A cushion pads the
palm of your hand.  Includes two size adjustments for different nipple
shpaes, three levels of suction, and a feeding bottle with Nuk nipple.
Requires two hands.  (Mar 95: $32)
Not for serious use, but it works for occasional/emergency
situations (and works well for pulling flat nipples out.
I found it to be a lot of work and never could get very much.  I did
much better with manual expression.  The Medela can be disassembled
and put thru a dishwasher if you have one of those little "cages" for
the small parts.
After both kids, I tried a variety of pumps to try to figure out which
was best/easiest for me... I kept coming back to the simplest one: the
medela manual (yes, manual) pump sold through the La Leche League
leaders.  Here's why:

1. Control: Manual pumps give you MUCH better control over suction,
speed, and your own comfort

2. Drip/Spray: The straight piston-style pumps (i tried several) had a
real problem with spraying breastmilk all over the place... it could
really get messy, no matter how hard I tried.

3. Storage: This particular manual pump is very well designed for
breastmilk storage.  A small bottle (with a standard-size screw mouth)
"hangs" from the bottom of the pump (which also provides a handy
holding-place), and it is into this bottle that the milk flows.  When
done pumping, simply unscrew the bottle, screw on the top and put in
the fridge, or screw on a nipple and feed the baby.  It's sanitary,
since you're not having to pour into another container or anything.
Since it takes a standard size bottle opening, you can use a variety
of bottles, too -- not just the one that comes with it.

4. Cleaning was simple, as well.
MANUAL: The other pump I have is a manual Medela pump.  Although I've
found it's not as efficient as the electric pump, I find it really
useful on occasions when I'm required to be away from my baby and away
from electricity.  It's light, quiet, and compact.
I used the Madela manual pump with no problem for the 9 months I
expressed, but I was then a student with a flexible schedule and
access to my husband's office. It lasted for 7 months, until, in my
infinite wisdom I forgot it while I was sterilizing it (on an open
stovetop)... Ah, the smell of melted latex...
** Sears
I own a manual breast pump and use an electric pump at work (the
electric "base" is provided at my workplace!).  I actually like my
manual pump, though I have never used a battery operated pump.  When I
have a good letdown, I can get 3.5 oz (the capacity of the container)
in just a few minutes.  Normally, however :), it takes closer to 10-20
minutes.  I have a model from Sears that only cost $11, so I ended up
buying two.  It looks like a tall, thin, beaker with a close- fitting
tube (topped with a breast cone) inside of it.  My advisor from
nursing mother's council recommended against getting any manual pump
with a flexible "breast cone" (because it makes it harder to get a
good seal) or with "bicycle horn" pumper (because it's hard to get
really clean and it can physically harm you)....  For me, I need to
pump regularly in order to maintain my "skill" with it.  I used to use
my manual pump every night (when my son gave up his 2am feeding, I
used to still wake up, so I started pumping that milk).  When I
started sleeping thru that (and woke up with very full breasts, but
also, an accomodatingly hungry baby!), I didn't have to use that pump
any more.  When I *wanted* to use the manual pump, it took me some
time to become used to it again (and, consequently, to get a "regular"
amount of milk from pumping).  Also, when I first started pumping, I
only got a miniscule amount (< 10 ml) and it hardly seemed worth it.
In reality, I was not getting a letdown; with practice, I can now get
3-6 oz per pumping session. Your mileage may vary.
** Kaneson
I started out with a Kaneson manual pump, which I like a lot.  It
requires a fair amount of arm strength/endurance, since you have to
pump for 10-15 minutes.  I've done well with mine, pumping for about
10 months with each of two babies and 6 months with the third.  It's
quiet and easy to carry around.  
As the Kaneson cylinder becomes full of milk, the suction of the 
pump gets stronger.  You can compensate for this by not pulling the
cylinder out as far as the pump becomes full.  Pumping should never
hurt your nipples. 

VI-B.  Battery pump options (some also available with adaptors)
** Evenflo Soft Touch
I'd like to cast my vote for the Evenflo Soft-Touch Ultra that I used.
It's battery operated (optional plug-in) with 5 suction levels (low to
high), a suction release and 3 nipple size options (S/M/L).  It is
light weight and has the suction release right at your thumb-tip so
it's pretty easy to simulate natural sucking.  It uses regular 4 oz.
Evenflo bottles so it's easy to buy extra.  This was the only slight
disadvantage I found since I'd have to change the bottle when pumping
6-8 oz on one side.  It comes with a pretty peach carrying case which
I didn't use very much since I didn't need to pump at work or

I purchased the pump at Toys R Us for around $30 (with a coupon, of
course :).  [note: price is at least 2-3 years old]
I have had an Evenflo and a MagMag pump.  The Evenflo died right after
the warranty ran out.  The MagMag felt better, had a better design,
worked better and I'm really sorry I wasted my time (and money) with
the other.
I use Evenflo's battery powered pump (optional AC converter
available).  It cost around $38 and uses 2 "C" batteries.  It will use
most 4-oz plastic bottles, but works best with Evenflo bottles.  I
find it relatively easy to use, and convenient.  It is VERY easy to
clean and discreetly portable.  I simply close my office door and pump
for about 20 minutes each morning and afternoon to provide enough milk
for my 4 month old son to use at daycare.
I originally bought an electric Gerber ("Precious" Somethingorother)
and I didn't like it at all.  The breast cone was made of a hard
material, and the suction was too intense (it hurt).w  The one I have
now is an Evenflow and it can be used with batteries or a 3V DC
adapter.  It has a flexible breast cone and a pretty good suction
adjuster, so I'm happy with it.  The HOME show displayed many electric
version several weeks ago and I remember seeing an electric pump that
had two hoses (one for each breast).  The Evenflow is also good
because it doesn't have moving parts (except the button you press if
you want to simulate a sucking motion).  Many of the ones on the HOME
show had pumps that moved in and out.  A LLL friend of mine
recommended the Health Team "Gentle Expressions" but I couldn't find
that one in any stores.
** Mag Mag
I have friends who've used the MagMag. I think it comes with its
adaptor (Gentle Expressions didn't) and as far as I know is quite
satisfactory, and I think is more comfortable as it comes with a soft
piece that fits to the breast (Gentle Expressions has a hard plastic
piece).  Be warned that some people seem to find pumping very painful
(I didn't) and therefore don't do it.

I used the Gerber breast pump for the first few months, and then when
I returned to work, I rented a Medela pump (that did both sides at
once) for $1 a day. The Gerber one was fine. When people talk about
Gerber and MagMag they seem to think that they are comparable. You may
want to consider the Gerber because it can be bought at discount
stores like Toys R Us (they are cheap for non toy items).
Definitely go with the MagMag--I have one and it works great--if you
think you will use it for awhile, also order at least one spare of
each of the parts (except for the motor and adapter) because they wear
out with time--plus you will always have a clean set if you're in a
rush. I have also found that some plastic bottles can double as the
collection bottles--but you have to make sure they fit OK onto the
pump so there is no room for air to escape...good luck.
I'm sure you'll get lots of replies on this one.  But, since you asked
specifically about the Mag Mag, I can at least give you my opinion on
it.  I used it sporadically for about 5 months, just to freeze some
milk for emergencies and to let my husband feed Dylan once in a while,
too.  The first time I used it, it hurt like hell.  My nipples swelled
up incredibly and were very sore for two nursings afterwards.
Subsequent pumpings were tolerable, but I never was able to simulate a
let-down response with the pump alone.  I would then have Dylan nurse
on one breast while I pumped the other.  At least then, I would be
assured of a let-down.  But, he then objected to the sound of the
motor (not *really* loud, but apparently loud enough to annoy him).

Apparently, there are much better pumps on the market than the MagMag.
Next time, I'll probably just rent a Medela.  I think the key is that
if you find a pump that you like, or at least don't find too
uncomfortable, you're more likely to have a successful pumping
experience.  If you end up with one you don't like, or one that is a
bit of a pain (like my experience with the MagMag), you might
eventually give up on pumping.  For me, as a stay-at-home parent, it
wasn't a big deal since Dylan always got the "fresh" stuff on demand.
If you're planning on returning to work, the issue is much clearer.
My understanding is that the Medela is the closest thing to simulating
the actual sucking of a baby, which is quite different from the Hoover
style of the Mag Mag :-)
I used the MagMag with the AC adaptor.  I was just great!  I never had
any problems with it.  In fact I bought two to make quick work of
pumping at the office!  None of the pumps work *great* with batteries
but they're good to have for emergencies (like when we were stuck in
the car for 4 hours with no where to stop and *plug in* ;-).  The
MagMag has a "pressure" valve so that you can keep the suction
comfortable.  It has two sizes of nipple shields, too.  You can use it
with one hand and the bottle is 2-3 oz. larger than most pump bottles
(only 4 oz) and I needed the larger capacity!  I got the bag that's in
the catalog to go with it.  I just used the old Playtex 4oz. nurser
bags with twisties to seal them.  Don't go for the larger bags cause
some days, the kid won't finish and there you are stuck with half to
put down the drain!

Other pumps that I investigated were either too awkward physically,
not powerful enough, or had no AC,etc.  Good luck in your search (and
with the pumping)!
I have heard that the magmag is effective but painful.
Ok, I'm going to name names here.  I've compared the Medela Lactina
(with double pump kit) with the MagMag battery pump.  Expressing takes
me about 20-25 minutes with the Lactina, while the MagMag took 35
minutes to empty one side only.  The little motor on the MagMag takes
a good 2-3 seconds to make a good vacuum, so the pump cycle was about
twice as long (and in fact, I was almost as fast using the Medela
manually).  Medela's claim of "faster pumping with a dual system" sure
holds true in my case.
We used rechargeable ni-cad batteries.  My wife liked this because she
could use it anywhere, without having to find an outlet.  We went
through two MagMags in about a year's worth of pumping.  I could
probably build one from scratch, I've been inside of it so many times
to clean it out.  It seems very sensitive to any milk which makes it
inside.  Most times when it stops working, I open it up, and can't
even see anything, but a good cleaning of the pump diaphragm with a
Q-tip and soapy water makes it work again (both had this problem).  We
also tried a cheap manual bicycle-pump-type model (don't remember the
brand) during the interim between MagMags (A drop destroyed the first
one).  That was more trouble than it was worth.  Near the end, she
just started hand-expressing, because it seemed less of a bother than
getting the pump out.  What do MagMags cost?  I think we paid about
$30 at one of the local discount stores.  So I'd say we paid about
$30+$15+$30 for the different pumps.  If you get a good recommendation
for a reliable pump that's a little more expensive, remember that we
spent about $75 going the "cheap" way, not to mention the hassle of
the periodic dis-assemblies.  Good luck!
I used three different types of pumps (Magmag, Gerber, and Madela).
The all pumped the milk directly into bottles, and all three used a
the standard bottle thread. You dont need to use the ones they
include. The magmag bottle had a wide rimmed cup, but the lid had a
smaller opening that you attached the pump too. A standard bottle will
fit it.
I used a MagMag; it was ok.  But if (or rather when) I'm in that
situation again, I'm going to rent a Medela -- faster, more powerful,
and can express both sides at once.
I bought the MagMag.  It was no fun.  I really sweated for 1/2 hour to
get out 4 ounces.  Battery or AC, I tried them both...  I ended up
renting a Medela electric pump.  It pumps out both sides at once, no
sweat. In 1/2 hour I'd get 8 ounces.
I liked my mag-mag OK.  Off batteries it wasn't too strong, but I only
used them in the car or other times when wall current wasn't an
option.  This time I'm thinking of renting a Medela.  I hear that
they're worth it (faster, easier) if you're pumping regularly, which I
was and expect to be again.  They're definitely not portable, though,
so I'd think about buying the mag-mag as well if I didn't already own
For my first pregnancy, 3 years ago, I bought the MagMag so I could
have the A/C ad battery options.  The pump was awful.  It hurt, got
almost nothing out for your effort and was hard work. 
I broke my right arm when my oldest was 5 months old, so I bought a
MagMag since I thought I wouldn't be able to use the Kaneson.  The
MagMag just didn't work for me at all.  It didn't have enough suction
to induce my letdown reflex.  I ended up using the Kaneson with my
left hand.  Mine cost about $15 on sale 4.5 years ago, so it's
relatively cheap to try out.
I had a Mag-Mag pump which I thought worked pretty well (although it
took some getting used to!) but which broke down after about six
I found a $40 Mag mag at a garage sale barely used for $8!!!  I really
liked it alot.  Be careful if you get it tho to release the suction
when it gets to be too much.  The thing is pretty powerful.  I didn't
like namuals but then again you could probablly say I'm lazy.  I
wanted the manual at first, to work on my upper body strength but when
you're whipped from the first months of motherhood..... I guess it
just wasn't for me. :-)
** Gentle Expressions
Since my daughter is 6.5, I don't have any recent info for you.  I had
a gentle expressions battery operated pump and a manual. I liked the
battery operated one because I could use it 1-handed and pump directly
into the bottle. But, the manual had better suction, so if I was
having a hard time with let-down, the manual worked much better.  The
industrial strength ones are the best (Medela). I used one when I
was in the hospital for an operation when my daughter was 3 mo. They
can be rented, but I don't think they are very portable, if you need
to take it to work.
I used a Gentle Expressions pump, which was fine, though part of it
wore out after about 8 months (the seal was leaky, so there was an
imperfect vacuum which made pumping a problem) and I had to replace
the pump. At this time I noticed that Gentle Expressions was no longer
being made with a socket for an adaptor - i.e. it was batteries only -
but I did manage to buy one that could be used a/c. I would now NEVER
use a batteries-only pump, as batteries get used up too quickly. One
thing though, I found when I used a/c at 3V, the pump was weaker than
with 3V worth of batteries. I just nudged the transformer to 4.5V and
luckily the motor could withstand the extra power! It worked pretty
i am appropriately typing this while i pump milk so i am not going to
capitalize.  I have a battery gentle expressions pump.  i think it
cost about 30 dollars.  i like it fine but it does use a lot of
batteries if you are going to do more than occasional pumping.  when i
got it i thought i would just uyse it for nights out and things like
that and wean doug when i went back to work.  well, i wasn't ready to
wean yet, so i pump about twice a day at work and need batteries every
few days.  so i would suggest the ac adaptable type if you are going
to use it every day.  other than that i like the gentle expressions.
I used Gerber, Medela, and Gentle Expressions with my first child.  Of
those three I liked Gentle Expressions best because of small size and
battery operated - portability.  I purchased two at Toys R Us for ~$30
each, because I just couldn't spare 1/2 hour at a time at work to
pump.  Two pumps cut it down to about 15 minutes.  I picked up an
extra Gentle Expressions at a Baby Needs warehouse sale for only
$5.00, which is good since one of the battery terminals got some
oxidation on it and got bent back and wasn't making too good of
contact with the battery any more.  I never had to take them apart an
clean out the pump diaphragm though.  
The Gentle Expressions has it all over the Precious Care in this
regard. I borrowed a PC once, while visiting a friend and needing a
little milk to mix up rice cereal when a visit was going longer than
planned (the friend's daughter is 2.5 mo younger, so she provided
cereal, bowl, bib, spoon, etc and even lent me the pump -- not bad
eh?). Anyway the stupid little tube kept falling off and when I *did*
get the hang of it I couldn't let down because the suction wasn't
strong enough (I kept my GE cranked to full suction at *all* times,
gentle ha!) and when I put Beth on to get things going she kicked the
tube and the ruddy thing fell off again... exasperated sigh.  I can't
remember if I finally got my ounce or if the cereal was mixed with
juice in the end. But it put me off the PC, I will say. The GE is
totally utterly one handed. You hold it on and work the suction
release thingy all with the same hand.  And it will stay on, and
pumping, through some quite determined kicking by a 7 or 8 month old
who is annoyed at the buzzing sound during her nursing session. :-)
VI-C.  Small electric pumps
** Medela Mini-electric
I have been using the Medela mini electric since August and manager
to pump 8-10 oz at work.  I used a hospital grade for 6 weeks prior
since my baby was premature.  It is definately not "industrial
strength".  You can adjust the suction.  I have it rigged with a
rubber band so I don't have to hold the trigger.  It was worth the
money.  You should call Medela to find a lacation consultant in your
area (1-800-835-5968).  She can demonstrate their product line.
The Medela mini-electric is the best of the handheld breastpumps,
mostly because of the automatic suck/release cycle.  It is fine for
occasional (no more than once a day) use.  So, for a woman who is
working part time or pumping so she can attend aerobics classes, it's
a perfectly adequate pump.  It's not a good pump for daily use because
the motor is small and will wear out over time.  It is the best of the
battery pumps that I have seen and is quite comfortable and effective.
They are quite loud, however (about like a blow dryer), and some
women report that they are not as effective as the Lactina (Medela
claims that they are as effective as the Lactina).  Our testers report
the Minielectric to be more effective than the MagMag, Gentle
Expressions or Gerber pumps.
I believe you are right about the Medela Mini-Electric and the Nurture
III being the only ones worth considering if you don't need to rent an
expensive one.  I have the Mini-Electric and recommend it - I rented a
Lactina for a while and didn't really see the big advantage to it
except that you can double pump.  I love my Mini-Electric - it works
really well and my La Leche League friends say it's much better than
any other inexpensive pump.  If your wife works outside the home full
time though, she still might want to get the Nurture III because it
can dump-pump, which really saves a lot of time.  Since I work at home
and cadoubleeastfeed during the day sometimes, I am perfectly happy
with my Mini-Electric.  I actually might like it better than double
pumping because I have a way of tying it to me, so I can type (and
read netnews) with two hands while pumping.

I got my Mini-Electric for only $59 plus tax at Baby Superstore, so
$80 sounds high (though that's what LLL and Right Start charge).
I believe Baby Club of America sells it by mail, and they usually have
good prices too.
I assume you are refering to the Medela mini-electric pump (bright
yellow-orange color).  I used these for pumping while at work for over
a year.  I can't compare to a Medela Lactina or Classic as I have
never used one but a friend who tried both thought the mini-electric
was almost as effective.  The suction is somewhat adjustable
(actually, I think what really adjusts is the cycle time).  At the
time I purchased the pumps last year, Medela was having problems with
the AC adaptors and said they tended to burn out the pumps,
recommending batteries for longer pump life.  I used batteries as
electricity was not available in my usual pumping situations.  The
pump is quite noisy if that is a consideration.  Using two pumps at
once is much more effective than sequentially using a single pump.
Overall, I was pretty satisfied.
If you decide to purchase, you might check around.  I saw $20-$30 price
variations on this pump.  If stores in your area don't carry breastpumps,
you might want to compare Right Start's price with the price for buying
directly from Medela.
I've heard that the portable, inexpensive Medela is quite similar to
other small pumps, and nothing like the Medela Lactina or Medela
I heard at LLL that Medela has a battery pump out now that is very
effective and comfortable, but I dont know anyone who has used it.
IMO, a very inportant feature is the valve between the pump/breast
adapter and the collection bottle. The valve closes when suction is
applied so only a small volume of air must be evacuated by the pump.
The rental pumps have this feature, as do the medela and avent manual
pumps. Most of the battery ones I have seen do not.
VI-D.  Fish tank pumps
** Nurture III
Excerpt from Motherwear catalog: Pump both breasts at once, or pump
one side while nursing on the other.  The Nurture III Electric Pump is
easy to use and simple to clean.  It combines the portability of a
small pump with the performance of a large rental pump.  A fast cycle
time means breasts are exposed to less suction and milk is expressed
quickly.  Suction is controlled by rolling your finger on and off the
top of the bottle.   Ideal for moms who pump oftne.  (Mar 95: $99)
I loved my Nurture III.  I used it through nursing two babies before
handing it down to one of my little sisters.  It was quiet, small, and
worked great.  It has a couple of different suction settings.  I was
always able to collect at least 8 ounces in about 10 minutes.  With my
son, I collect 16 ounces in 20 minutes twice a day which was more than
he could drink.  I think that part of this is due to the pump and the
rest to the great let down that I got while reading  The
Nurture III was highly recommended by the lacation consultants
affilated with my hospital and my medical group.  In fact, they told
me that if I were going to buy a pump that I should buy this one
first; otherwise, I'd end up buying the Nurture III AFTER having
bought and disposed of other models.
The Nurture III pumps and the ones like it are called Fish Tank Pumps,
because that is what they are.  They have two hand held bottles with
breast attachments, connected by tubes to a fish tank moter (you know,
those little brown moters that run the fish tank pump).  They have a
finger-release pressure regulator, so you control the cycling (unlike
the Medela pumps which do its own cycling).
The pump I purchased and am now using at work, at least twice
a day (for my second son, Ben - 4/9/94), is a Nurture III.  I
purchased it from a local La Leche League member who is also a nurse
and lactation consultant.  I got her name from the La Leche "area
coordinator" in my neighborhood.  I like it pretty well.  It takes me
7 minutes total to do both sides.  It is sometimes a little particular
about being put together just right - the rubber rings that fit inside
the bottles have to be just so - in order to get suction, and it is
not exceptionally quiet - it sounds like a fish tank motor.  But it
does the trick fairly quickly, and I can get on with my work.  It is
nice and small and weighs only about 2 pounds. (Could I do an
advertisement?)  It is not as quiet or simple as the huge Medela I
rented, but it is portable and less expensive.  Good luck! 
I bought a Nurture III pump, and have rented an Ameda Egnell Lite
machine.  I get a better letdown with the Ameda (I was starting to
have problems with letdown using the Nurture III).  The Ameda is
somewhere in between the Nurture III and the Medela in terms of size
and weight; it's fairly portable and can be carried back and forth to
work easily.  One advantage to the Ameda over the Nurture III is that
you don't have to use your thumbs to turn the suction on and off; the
machine does it for you.
I used the Nurture III with my first baby and it worked great although
it took about 20 -25 minutes to pump.  With the 2nd, I used the
Nurture III again for a few months, then a friend let me borrow her
Medula Lactina and it is WONDERFUL.  Pumping took less than 10 minutes
plus I got MORE milk than with the Nurture III.  I tried to go back to
the Nurture III after that, but I'd gotten used to the stronger
suction and I wasn't getting much milk out, so I ended up continuing
with the Lactina.

(IMO) If you need it for work, I'd rent to Lactina even though it
costs more.  It's less time consuming (and therefore less stressful
!!!).  Good luck!
I sell these as well, (Nurture III) and they are popular with many
mothers, retailing for about $110.00 vs a cost of about $200+ for
kit/rental for 5 mos of the auto cycle pumps.  

The big difference is that the Nurture III does not have autocycle,
but relies on the user to manually cycle by covering an air hole. Now,
for those of you who groan and say that you have already tried those
kinds of pumps, this one is DIFFERENT! All the other pumps on the
market are truly inferior, but Bailey Medical Supply Co. did it right
and used the right size of pump motor.  I have found that some mothers
don't want to do anything at all and prefer the autocycle of the
double set-up rental pumps, but many other mothers don't mind at all,
and they, too, can complete a pump session in 10-15 minutes.
Most work days I use a small electric pump, the Nurture III, which I
find works really well.  A big bonus for me is that it's also small
enough to pack in my insulated carrier so I can take it home for the
weekends if I want to express at home.  It's also nice and quiet
(which is great for work).  It adapts for double-pumping (though I
found I don't really use that feature -- I like to have one hand
free).  It's not available in standard stores that I've seen; I got it
from an RN nearby.  However, I recently saw it listed in the La Leche
League catalogue.
------------------------------------------------------------ I have a
Nurture III electric pump and highly recommend it.  I purchased it
through my HMO (Kaiser), so I don't know how non-HMO members would go
about getting one.  Is is very compact, weighs about 3-4 lbs. and
allows you to pump either breast or BOTH breasts at once.  I have been
using mine since I returned to work seven weeks ago (and prior to that
so that I could build up reserves.  I usually pump 3 times a day and
it only takes about 10 min. per time (I pump both sides at once).  The
"funnel" portion of the container screws off, so you can store milk in
the container (use regular bottle tops).

The lactation consultant at Kaiser said over 90% of the people who
have purchased a Nurture III from her have been satisfied.  One person
got a defective pump (which the company replaced) and another person
just didn't like the pump.
** Gerber Precious Care
Excerpt from "The Nursing Mother's Companion": This semiautomatic
electric pump, new from Gerber, is about the size of a small aquarium
upmp.  Again, suction is generated by placing a finger over the vacuum 
release hole.  Two disadvantages are the unusually shaped breast
funnel and the low suction strength.  (1990: about $50)
I currently use the Gerber "Precious Care" electric pump and am very
satisfied with it. I bought it when my now 4 1/2 month-old daughter
was 2 months old (I *tried* to use a manual pump at first, but found
it to be very difficult) and wished I had bought it sooner. I picked
it up at Sears for $49. The parts are very easy to clean and the unit
provides excellent suction, the strength of which you can control by
covering or uncovering a small valve. The best feature of this pump is
that the cone which fits over the breast is of a soft, malleable
plastic which is very comfortable and prevents leaks. The only
complaint I have is that the unit emits a fairly loud, constant drone
when in use which can get on your nerves! It is possible to muffle the
sound by covering the unit with a pillow or towel. I was very
surprised to find an electric pump so cheap, since I had read that
they can cost a couple of hundred dollars.  I have never used a
battery-operated pump, so I can't compare the Gerber pump's
performance with theirs, but, as I said, I am very happy with my
purchase. I have only been using this pump for about 2 1/2 months and
don't use it every day, so I can't vouch for its longevity, but so far
I have had no mechanical problems with it.
I used [the Gerber "Precious Care" electric pump], too. I really liked
it for small amounts of pumping, when I started back at work, I rented
a Medela.  The thing I really liked about the Gerber is that it came
with an order blank for extra pieces. For $11 I was able to buy enough
assmeblies for three pumpings. When I mailed away for it, I asked them
to send it ASAP. I had it within a week. I was impressed by that.
People may want to shop around. I have seen it for $3X, at discount
stores.  (Fedco for people in S. Cal), and at Kids R us. This was 2
years ago.  When Jeffrey was a newborn we went thru a few weeks of
evening fussiness.  He wouldnt nurse, so I would pump the milk, and
give it to him later. Then I noticed that he would quiet down when I
pumped. The sound of the pump relaxed him. I then went all out, and
used the Vacumm cleaner. Since the noise of the pump and vacumm
cleaner made him relax, it was music to my ears. :-)
I used Gerber, Medela, and Gentle Expressions with my first child.
[...]  One time I did take apart the Gerber Precious Care pump though
when it was losing suction, then I found out the problem was not
inside at all, but that gasket at the top just wasn't making good
contact with the bottles.
** Double Up 
Summary of responses to my questions on the Double-Up Breast Pump offered
by Right Start follows.

Of those familiar with the pump, I had positive feedback.  No one
mentioned any problems with the pump (granted, we didn't have a large
pool of responses, though).

One person told me it looked exactly like the Nurture III that they
got for around $90.  Another told me she had the Double-up and her
friend had the Nurture III and that they were basically the same, with
a different hose configuration.

There were positive comments about the Nurture III, and one positive
report on the Double-Up, and one absolutly glowing report on the

The Double-Up was more expensive, but it did come with a cooler kit
and I wasn't sure what difference the "different hose configuration"
might make.  So I went for the Double-Up.

I actually ended up ordering from One Step Ahead rather than Right
Start.  OSA advertised the entire kit for 149.95.  When I called
RS they said they didn't sell the cooler kit, just the pump.  In
retrospect, seeing how the pump was packaged and the video, I bet
the service rep at RS just didn't know his product.... RS advertised
price was $149.

Results: I *LOVE* it!  I'm getting just as much volume as I did with
the Lactina in the same amount of time.  I even tried an 8oz bottle
single pumping this morn and that worked fine.  I've also done the
single pump with 4 oz and the double pump with 4 oz bottles.  If
anything, I'm getting *better* results than with the Lactina.  It's
also easier to lug around.  I didn't know how much I'd appreciate that
until this morning when my boss sprung a day trip to Houston, planes
and all, on me by surprise -- tomorrow!  I'm sure glad I have the
Double-Up to deal with instead of the Lactina on the plane!  My
husband will be returning the Lactina tomorrow.

And for the person who thought $150 was outrageous to spend on a pump
-- well for me it's worth it.  Yes, I can manually express.  But it
does take time.  I went back to work part-time, with no additions to
office staff.  So I'm getting five days of work done in four days.  I
take two breaks to pump during the day, and have got to get it done
quickly.  I'm working my tail off at work to spend an extra day with
my daughter, so forgive my indulgance of $150!

All in all, the Double-Up is a great pump, easier to transport
than the Lactina, and definitely more affordable.

For my 3rd child I bought the Double Up pump from the Natural Choice
Company.  I bought it through a catalog (Right Start, I think).  It
comes as a complete kit - the pump, tubing and caps to double or
single pump, 2 bottles, 2 flanges, 2 gaskets, 2 cold packs, a video, a
pair of washable nursing pads, an outer tote that holds it all and an
inner tote that holds two 4oz bottles with the cold packs.  You can
use any 4oz bottle.  So far I've used it for over 3 months.

One cold pack got a leak which I patched with tape, and I've had to
buy extra filters and gaskets (cheap and the service was outstanding).
I'm extremely impressed with the pump; it is the only one other than a
full sized that has ever worked for me.  It does indeed seem to have
as much power as the big pumps, and it really can double pump with

It can be used either as a single pump or a double pump, and I usually
switch off in the same pumping session - about 10 minutes of double
pumping, then 5-10 minutes per side of single pumping, and sometimes a
little double pumping again at the end.

It has worked flawlessly for me so far and I'd recommend it to anyone.
The user controls the suction in two ways - by presetting a dial (2
levels of suction for double pumping and 3 for single pumping), and by
covering a hole in the cap of one of the bottles.  I always need the
dial on the top suction setting, and then can cover the hole a lot or
a little depending on just what I need, and what is comfortable at
that moment.

One thing I've found to be a huge time saver with this pump - once my
milk starts flowing at the beginning of a pumping session, I can leave
the suction hole covered, or mostly covered and "stream" the milk out.
I usually can do this for 3-5 minutes, and if I'm going to let down,
it almost always happens during that time.  I can't do this with the
big electric pumps because they cycle the suction for you.  I don't
know if this would work for others, but it is great for me!

I love the small size and light weight of the pump; packed in its tote
it is easy to carry anywhere.  Since I am at work M-W-F and telecommute
from home on Tu-Thurs, being able to carry the pump back and forth is
very important to me now.
|> Has anyone purchased the breastpump offered by The Right Start
|> catalog?  It's only $150, but they claim it's a medical
|> grade pump as good as the rental units.

I've got one and I'm happy with it, but I think this claim is a little
exagerated. The motor is basically the same as a fish tank pump. You
need to manually create and release the suction every couple of
seconds (by covering and uncovering a hole) -- my understanding of the
Lactina is that this happens automatically.  I've got a friend with a
Nurture III -- this is basically the same pump with a slightly
different hose configuration.

I pump about twice a day and get 5-10 ounces in 10-15 minutes.

I've already saved money over what renting a Lactina would have cost
(and I'm glad not to have a financial incentive to quit), but my bet
is that you've got a significantly better pump. I'd say, order it and
try it -- If you don't believe that it lives up to their claims,
return it.
Well, since no one else seems to be going to answer your question, I
will!  Yes, I bought it (fortunately, on sale) and I LOVE it!  I have
used most of the major brands of pumps, from manual right thru the big
rentals.  I am currently nursing my 3rd child.  I have never had good
success with anything less than a full sized plug in model, and it
isn't because I don't know what I'm doing - it is just harder for some
than for others.  I can and do manually express, and agree it is a
great skill, but it doesn't work for me as a day to day way to handle
daytime pumpings.

I bought the "Double Up" pump from Right Start last spring, and have
been using it 2-4 times a day since mid-July.  I adore it.  It is
everything they say in the ad (I don't know what "medical grade"
means, but it really does have plenty of suction to double pump, and
easily converts to single pumping as well).  It is a very complete kit
for that price - you get 2 bottles, 2 flanges, one pump, tubing,
filters, 2 cold packs, an outer case for everything plus an inner case
for the cold packs/milk, and even a video with some tips!  One aspect
I particularly like is the small size and easy portability - since I
telecommute 2 days a week, being able to take it back and forth was an
important point; I really didn't want to have to rent 2 big machines.

If you plan to rent for more than about 2 months, or plan to have more
than one child, the financial aspects work out pretty well.  It is a
lot of money, but it is also returnable (I checked about 10 times with
Right Start) and the company that makes it (The Natural Choice
company) has been very helpful and quick when I've called to order
spare parts.  I'm very impressed and pleased with it, and still can't
figure out how that little tiny pump can produce so much suction.
I think it is very quiet.  I do have a private place to pump (a room
put in specially for pumping-moms, in one of the bathrooms with a
couch, table, outlet, and locking door).  One day out of curiosity I
turned it on, walked out, closed the door, and listened closely, and I
couldn't hear it at all from the other side of the door.  It is hard
for me to say just how quiet it is, but I'm certain it is much quieter
than anything you'd describe as a motorcycle!
VI-E.  Rental pumps
** Ameda Egnell
There's some debate over which pump [Ameda Egnell or Medela Lactina]
is better (Nursing Mothers' Counsel has been considering 
stocking Ameda-Egnells).  Our panel of pumping moms found the A.E.
pump kits less comfortable than the Medela kits.  The plastic is
harder and the nipple tends to get pinched in the shield.
I get a better letdown with the Ameda (I was starting to have problems
with letdown using the Nurture III).  The Ameda is somewhere in
between the Nurture III and the classic Medela in terms of size and
weight; it's fairly portable and can be carried back and forth to work
easily.  One advantage to the Ameda over the Nurture III is that you
don't have to use your thumbs to turn the suction on and off; the
machine does it for you.
** Medela Lactina
The Lactina is truly portable.  They weigh about 6 pounds.  You can
get a rechargeable battery pack (from an AC outlet or automobile
cigarettle lighter) for the Lactina.  Frankly, I wouldn't consider
anything else for a fulltime working mom.  There _is_ a corporate
rental program for Lactinas and some corporations provide Lactina
pumps at work as a benefit for nursing mothers.  (Women who want
to lobby their corporations for this benefit can find out more by
calling Medela).
After I had spoken to all my friends about the pumps that they had
used, and decided that I would use the Lactina, I started to price
them and found out something interesting.  I found out that the Medela
representatives can set their own prices.  Medela offers suggested
prices on the rentals and purchase items, but they are only suggested

I called all the representatives within a 30 mile radius of my home
and got prices for the purchase of a Lactina (with the double pump
accessories) from $500 to $1,000+.  Rentals ranged from $2.00/day to
$30/month if rented for over 6 months.  The rentals required you to
purchase the accessories, and that was ~$20 to $50.  Talk about a gap
in prices!  If you are serious about pumping, and still think the
Lactina is a better pump/your pump of choice, you might call around,
because the prices may surprise you.  Like I said before, since I was
planning on nursing for at least a year, and having more than one
baby, and I wanted a simple pump that I did not have to do anything
with, buying a Lactina was much cheaper than renting.  It did require
a hefty amount up front, but I think it was worth it for me.

You know, the best thing about the Lactina was that I was still able
to work while I was pumping.  All I had to do was shut my door, plug
it in, and within a few minutes, I was done.  The part that took the
longest was washing out the parts.

Also, if you want to get your company to purchase one or two pumps,
and they have a resellers license, they can purchase them at cost
direct from Medella.  If I recall, the pump it self is ~$350.
Actually, maybe they can buy one for you.  Give it a try.  

The general number to reach the representatives is 1-800-TELL-YOU.
They can rent or sell you a pump, and if you want the Medella number,
they can get it for you.
The Lactina allows a woman to pump both breasts simultaneously and
is the pump of choice for working, nursing mothers.  It's a bonus to
be able to pump in 10-15 minutes.  If you will be pumping for a long
time or having more than one child, you may want to consider purchasing
one.  They retail for about $500 and I have seen them advertised used
for about $300.  This may sound expensive, but the Lactina is a serious
breastpump and will get the job done fast without diminishing your milk
The lighter one, called the Medela Lactina, is not as
wonderful, but is still better than all other brands. You can get
double-pumping attachments to do both sides at once, which is an
important time- and boredom- saver and also increases levels of the
hormone prolactin, resulting in a larger milk supply. The Lactina
plugs into AC current and may be available with rechargeable
batteries; the larger Medela runs only on AC current. The plastic
attachments you must buy to use the rental units can also be used as a
manual pump, which is less convenient than a small electric pump but
as comfortable as the electric Medina, so it can be used for sore
Another option: Medela has a unit called the Lactina that is sometimes
used for rental but is al;so available for purchase It used to cost
around $250.  It can do the double pumpingbut is not as large and
heavy duty as the full size models.  The breast adapters can be used
as a manual pump in an emergency. It may be worth considering if you
were going to pump for more than one child, or if you could sell it
afterwards, and if you could bring it to work.
The big Medela works a little bit better than the Lactina and
the Lactina is really good. Pumping bilaterally is best and that
works with either pump.  I pumped 2-3x/day for 6 months.
Since time was a consideration I needed a good, fast, reliable pump.
At work, I have access to a Medela 16 electric pump; I can use it as a
double pump.  I feel somewhat like a cow, but it really works well.
In 5 to 10 minutes, I can empty both breasts!  Plus, it uses "regular"
baby bottles (I use the 4 oz size), of which I have many, as its
reservoir.  You can rent (I hear) the electric base, and then you buy
the attachments for pumping.  The attachments cost $25, which I felt
was really reasonable (tubing, pumping "syringe", 2 five oz bottles
and miscellaneous parts), especially since you can re-work the
components to make a manual breast pump, as well. 
I was very pleased with the Medela Lactina electric breast pump with
double pumping attachments.  I leased the pump for $150 for 5 months
earlier this year.  It was not uncomfortable or hard to use.  With
practice I was able to pump while drinking or reading.  It was very
efficient.  I was able to empty both breasts in less than 15 minutes.
It took another 5-10 minutes to set-up, wash-up, and put away my
equipment.  By pumping 2 or 3 time per workday I was able to pump
12-18 oz.  of milk.  I leased the pump from a lactation consultant in
Dallas.  She also offers "pump trials" to assist and advise you in
choosing a pump and to allow you to try several different pumps before
deciding which to buy or lease.  If you choose one which she rents or
sells, her fee for the pump trial session is applied to the pump
rental or purchase price.  Also if you can get a prescription for the
pump, she does not charge sales tax on the part of the equipment you
must purchase.  I'll be happy to give her name to anyone who is
I rented the Medela double pump from Nursing Mothers' Council.  It
was great.  No pain, lotsa milk pumped out, no sweat.  Now, 3 years
later, I am renting another Medela double pump.  It's a smaller,
slightly less powerful version called the Lactina.  It's supposed to
be 95% as efficient as the big lunky one.  I swear by it.  It fits in
my backpack.  (The big pump weighed 10 lbs., so even if it fit in my
backpack, I wouldn't want to carry it that way.)  You don't have to
sterilize the parts - just wash with hot, soapy water.
The LeLeche League has reps who rent good electric pumps.  I returned
to work when my now 5 yr old was 2mos.  Until she was 9 mos I
successfully pumped and froze my breast milk for all her feedings by
her babysitter.  If you can afford it, I recommend renting an electric
Madela pump, preferably one that allows pumping from both breasts
simutanously. I used one for only two days, when my son was at the
hospital for infection (at 1 week of age), and am only sorry that I
did not spend the money to rent one, rather than use the manual pump.
It was *FAST*, easy, no physical effort. It is expensive though. I
think it is $1 per day if you rent it for four months or more.
However, if you can afford it, I think this is your best bet.  Call a
La Leche League leader. The Madelas are rented by them.  PS before you
commit yourself, wait for at least a month to see that breastfeeding
actually works. I know of quite a few women who could not breastfeed,
even though they really wanted it and planned it. My experience was
that the first few weeks are tough. If this works, try one before you
rent, and start pumping several days or even weeks before returning to
work, this way your breasts get "used" to this new form of feeding,
your milk supply increases and you have a lot of spare milk for
emergencies and for sharing feedings.
** Medela (classic)
Okay.  The Classic is a hospital-grade pump.  It weighs about 20 pounds
(hence not very portable).  It's the pump of choice for women with
hospitalized or premature babies (primarily because of letdown conditioning
with the noise of the pump).  It's not a good choice for working moms
because it's big and heavy.
The best--i.e., smoothest--of all the breastpumps is the Medela.
Medela makes two types of rental units. The larger, heavy
cast-aluminum one, far too heavy to carry back and forth to work (just
getting it there once was an effort for me), has no other name than

Anyone with truly serious breastpumping needs--those with sick or
premature babies who cannot nurse, those whose nipples are too sore to
face putting them in the baby's mouth again until they heal, those
whose milk supply has declined and needs to be increased, and those
who have stopped nursing sometime in the last 13 weeks but wish to
begin again-- should get a Medela. Units may be rented from medical
supply houses. La Leche League can put you in touch with a
representative of the company if you wish (LLL is in the phone
directory in most cities, I believe).  Sometimes your hospital can
supply one. Many large companies have a pump available for their
employees to use while at work.

The drawback to the Medinas is cost. Rentals start at $2 a day but go
down to $39 (US) a month if you keep the unit for four months or more.
This makes even the most expensive of the small hand-held pumps
economical in comparison.  It is unfortunate that you cannot predict
in advance whether you will be among those who cannot use the smaller
pumps. Having the larger Medina is a wonderful luxury, though, if you
can afford it at all.

Renting a Medina can be necessary as an emergency measure when the
milk first comes in if the infant is not nursing well yet. Putting the
baby onto extremely engorged breasts can cause bruising that persists
for days or weeks. Be sure you have the information available on where
you can rent a Medela before you have your baby, in case this happens
to you. It's not a bad idea to go ahead and rent the Medela even
before your milk comes in, to ease the beginning of breastfeeding. You
don't want to pump much as this point, as you don't want your baby to
learn to prefer a bottle to you, but relieving the pressure can be
very helpful. I used a small syringe (without needle) to squirt milk
into my baby's mouth at first because he wasn't getting the idea at
all of how to nurse. (Bottles given him in the hospital caused him to
learn the wrong way--DON'T let them give your baby any glucose water
in the hospital! The sugar tastes just like the colostrum, so the baby
doesn't see why he should learn how to suck properly when the bottle
is easier.)
Depending on your needs, you might consider renting a Medela pump.
These are the big electric pumps that they use in hospitals.  Not
handy to carry around.  But if you are doing serious pumping, it's
really the only way to go.  YOu can do both sides at once, without
having to do anything more than hold onto the bottles, which allows
for relaxation and good let down.  I had very little luck with hand
and battery-powered pumps but have done very well with the Medela I
rent for home and the one I talked them into buying at work.
I believe that the BIG Medela sells for $1000. A friend and I bought
portable Medela (the Lactina) for $400 2.5 years ago.  I had rented
the big Medela with my first child 5 years ago and spent $200 over 6
months so splitting the cost of the Lactina seemed reasonable (plus we
can sell it when we are done!).
One of my co-workers rented a Medela and after dithering about the
expense for a few months, I finally bought the kit last month and
tried it out.  I wish I'd done it sooner.  It takes the same amount of
time to pump (10 - 15 minutes), but I get more milk, my arms don't get
tired, and I can read while pumping.  There are three of us using one
machine, so the rental expense is only $12.50 each per month.
Depending on how much you have to pay, buying one from your co-worker
might be a great deal, especially if you're thinking about having more

The main thing is to get a pump that works.  I think being able to
pump both sides at once is a good idea.  The Medela kits come in
single ($15) and double ($30), and the double kit is well worth it,
since you get more milk from both sides at once.  (By the way, if you
do go with the Medela, shop around for the kit; where I live, the
hospital charges over $40 for the kit that a medical supply store
sells for $30.)

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

Part1 - Part2

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM