Fact Checked

What is a Breast Pump?


It is widely accepted that human breast milk is the best possible food for human infants. A breast pump is a device that allows a nursing mother to provide her baby with breast milk rather than formula while she is away. Often, nursing mothers have to return to work or simply need time for themselves, making a breast pump an invaluable device.

A breast pump also gives other family members, especially the father, the opportunity to feed the baby, which strengthens their bond and attachment. Another common use of a breast pump is to relieve engorgement. Engorgement is a painful condition in which the breasts become too full, making it difficult for a baby to nurse.

Most breastfeeding mothers find it necessary to also purchase a breast pump.
Most breastfeeding mothers find it necessary to also purchase a breast pump.

A breast pump expresses and collects breast milk from the breasts in order to fill a bottle. A breast pump is designed to imitate a baby’s sucking. The suction causes a let down and release of the milk, which is collected in a container. Usually, the container of a breast pump is or easily converts to a bottle for a mother’s convenience.

A breast pump can be manual, electric or both. A manual breast pump is operated by repetitively squeezing a handle to create suction, therefore expressing the milk. An electric breast pump automatically creates suction, so the mother needs only to hold it in place. Some breast pumps can be operated both manually and electrically. Breast pumps are also available as a single chambered pump to express milk from one breast at a time, or a dual chambered pump used to express milk from both breasts at the same time.

The type of breast pump that a woman uses depends on how often she needs to make bottles for her baby. A mother who works outside the home and has someone else care for her child usually opts for a dual chambered breast pump. Breast milk is only produced in relation to the child’s needs. A working mother can pump both breasts while she is at work, keeping her milk supply steady and making bottles for the following day.

A single chambered breast pump is more suited for someone who only needs to express milk rarely. This type is ideal for someone who is usually able to nurse her baby consistently, but needs a break from time to time. In contrast to pumping and emptying both breasts at once, a single breast pump leaves enough milk for when the baby nurses at the breast.

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Discussion Comments


I looked at several brands of breast pumps when I decided I was going to nurse. I really wanted to buy a Symphony breast pump because it had so many good reviews, but it was way too expensive for me.

This is supposed to be one of the best pumps and it is very light and efficient, but most people can't afford one especially after your baby is just born. I know some people that have rented one for a few months and this seemed to work out quite well for them. You get the advantages of this pump without all the cost.

I ended up going with a Playtex breast pump which did not have all the features I was hoping to get, but worked well enough for my purpose.


I returned back to work shortly after my daughter was born, but wanted to still be able to feed her breast milk. I decided to purchase a Lansinoh breast pump that was an electric dual chamber one.

I didn't have anything to compare it to, but was happy with the results. There were several things I liked about it and one was the price. I was able to find this for under $200 and thought that was a small price to pay for the benefits my daughter would receive.

It was also pretty light weight and it has knobs where you can control the speed and suction if you want to. This can come in really handy if you are in a hurry.


I nursed my kids for 10-12 months and was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom during that time. I had a breast pump that I used so I could freeze breast milk to use when I needed to be gone.

Since I did not have to do this very often, I didn't invest in an expensive breast pump. It was an Avent breast pump that used batteries. This was better than a hand pump, not as good as an electric one, but it got the job done.

If I worked outside the home and wanted to pump a lot of breast milk I would definitely invest in an electric pump. They work much faster and with much less effort.

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    • Most breastfeeding mothers find it necessary to also purchase a breast pump.
      By: MNStudio
      Most breastfeeding mothers find it necessary to also purchase a breast pump.