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.
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.