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Manual vs Hands-Free: How To Choose The Right Breast Pump For Your Needs

With your bundle of joy finally in your arms, it's not uncommon for you and your partner to find yourselves in a bewildered state – after all, caring for a newborn is something like a never-ending duty, and for new parents, we understand it can be a steep learning curve. For mums, in particular, you’ll find yourself productively busy recovering from your delivery while ensuring your baby gets all the care they need. 

Signs of your milk coming in within the first post-delivery week means it’s time to decide whether you’d want to put your baby on breast milk. With benefits that are aplenty, we’re all for your little one to get a boost of this liquid gold. Immunity-boosting antibodies, probiotics, and healthy enzymes in breast milk support your baby’s physical and cognitive development, while also benefiting your recovery phase during confinement. It’s no surprise that many mothers would choose to breastfeed their newborn, especially in the first few months. 

Your Breastfeeding Journey is Unique

Mother is breastfeeding her baby in the bedroom

We believe that having sound advice, helpful tips and recommendations can make it easier for you and your baby on this breastfeeding journey. Recognisable challenges such as not being able to produce enough milk, your baby’s inability to latch on your nipple or even planning to breastfeed during a busy workday can make the experience stressful when it doesn’t have to be. 

As an experienced baby retailer in Malaysia specialising in products that help make the parenthood journey hassle-free, we can support you during this journey. And the first step is to introduce you to the world of breast pumps.

When your baby arrives, purchasing a breast pump may not exactly be at the top of your priority list when it comes to post-birth and breastfeeding products. There are many other exciting factors that new mums must juggle in the first few weeks post-birth. But when you do decide to make the leap and get a breast pump, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the options available to you in advance. This way, once you understand your baby’s feeding preferences and patterns, you can choose a breast pump that suits both your needs. 

Why Use a Breast Pump?

Little baby girl with breast pump and milk

For some women, a breast pump may seem like an inorganic solution that cuts out that valuable mother-child bonding. Still, breast pumps can be a helpful way for mothers to provide for their children amidst fatigue, life commitments, and daily tasks. 

1. Because Your Baby Won’t Suckle

Some babies won’t feed straight from the breast because they find it difficult to latch or suckle. This can be caused by multiple factors including developmental issues, premature birth, or illness. A breast pump is an excellent way for you to provide your child with breast milk in such circumstances so that they receive all the nutrients they need for growth.

2. Because Breastfeeding Can Be Tiring

The breastfeeding process can be tiring for mothers, especially those who have had their first child. They may experience chafing, struggle to express milk, or simply not feel like breastfeeding every day. You’re not alone.

These mothers may find nipple creams for breastfeeding and other products helpful, but finding a good breast pump will take much of the pressure off. Using a breast pump will provide the mother a break from the physical distress of feeding their baby directly, especially once the baby starts teething.

3. Because You Have to Return to Work

A working mum who wants their baby to continue experiencing the benefits of breast milk will find themself expressing milk daily for many months. Breast pumps are a practical solution to this life transition, allowing mothers to nurture their children without compromising their nebulous work-life balance. For working mums, a compact, lightweight breast pump and storage containers such as LoveAmme Breastmilk Storage Bag - 5 Pack will be ideal for bringing into the office.

Personal Factors to Consider When Choosing a Breast Pump

Breast pump placed on wooden tray and white mattress

The breastfeeding journey is unique to each mother and child. There will be life circumstances and habits that determine which pump is best for you. A few factors you may consider include:

1. Frequency of use

How often do you plan on breastfeeding? Is this your exclusive method of feeding your baby, or something to do every now and again? Different pumps are designed for different needs, and choosing the wrong one can make pumping more difficult than necessary. For example, if you plan to pump often, consider an electric or hands-free breast pump over a manual as the latter may quickly wear you out. 

2. Cleaning options

Most breast pumps are made with a modular design that allows them to be taken apart and cleaned regularly. You can wash your breast pump in hot soapy water followed by rinsing and air drying. Some brands allow you to put the pump through the dishwasher. Check the brand to see if they have any specific cleaning requirements before you purchase a pump. 

3. Size and weight

If you plan on travelling with your breast pump, whether that’s to a friend’s place, to the office, or on a holiday, then the weight and size of your breast pump will make all the difference. If you need a whole separate bag to carry your breast pump, you may want to consider a more compact option that facilitates rather than inhibits travel. 

4. Breastfeeding location

Plan on using your breast pump at work? Or will you use it exclusively at home? Depending on the answer to this question, you will want to consider the size, volume, and speed of the pump. If you plan to pump at work, then one that has options to go faster and is quiet means you will be able to complete your pumping and go back to work as quickly as possible. This is also where hands-free options are invaluable. But if the mild humming of an electric pump poses an issue and you don’t have time constraints, the manual breast pumps can work better for you. 

Types of Breast Pumps

Happy mother and baby with breast pump

Now that we’ve covered a few of the reasons why mums will choose to purchase a breast pump, it’s time to look at the options available. Your lifestyle, breastfeeding habits, and personal preferences will determine which breast pump is best suited for your purposes. If you plan to express milk primarily from home, then you may not mind going with a slightly larger model, like a double pump, compared to someone who plans to travel with their breast pump and will require a more compact model. 

1. Manual or Electric?

Manual breast pumps are operated by hand, so this method means you can only express milk from one breast at a time (unless you get help). While one hand holds the pump steady over the breast, the other hand pumps a lever that creates suction and extracts the milk. This option is often more cost-effective than its electric counterparts but can be physically taxing for your hand muscles.

The manual breast pump is also lighter and more compact than electric models which makes them ideal for travel or for those with limited space. 

If you’re in for this, consider our Philip Avent Manual Breast Pump for a start. Its unique design means you won’t have to lean forward when expressing milk – milk can flow from your breasts to the bottle even as you sit straight and relaxed. Plus, the soft massage cushion comes with a velvety texture designed to mimic baby suckling; it warms the skin and encourages gentle stimulation of your milk flow. Breast pump options from other brands, including the travel-friendly Tommee Tippee Made For Me Manual Breast Pump, are equally effective. 

By contrast, the electric breast pump uses a power outlet or battery to create suction. Because this style is effectively hands-free, it comes in single and double breast options. This leaves you free to complete other tasks, like catching up on work and texting your hubby. An electric breast pump is ideal for the mother who needs to express daily or exclusively. 

The LoveAmme TailorMade Pro Double Breast Pump Set is battery-operated and is designed with 378 suction combinations that create a more personalised pumping experience customised to each breast. Also fit in is a 3-phase expression technology that stimulates high milk flow and can be customised to address different pumping needs, from regular pumping to easing mastitis. The set also comes with a breast pad and milk storage container. You can also go for the LoveAmme MadeToTravel Double Breast Pump Set for greater efficiency when expressing milk on the go with the same versatility and flexibility, but with an additional pumping programme that enables quicker expression. The Tommee Tippee Made for Me Single Electric Breast Pump is a fantastic alternative too! 

Another way of describing electric and manual breast pumps is whether they are wearable or handheld. Essentially, wearable breast pumps are hands-free, and therefore are electric; attach the pump to your breasts and let them do the job for you. 

A handheld or manual breast pump provides the mother with more control over the placement, pressure, and stability of the pump. This is not insignificant for what many consider an arduous or uncomfortable process. At the end of the day, it’s important that you choose a product that suits your lifestyle, and the habits of you and your baby. This way, your breastfeeding experience can go smoothly.

2. Single or Double?

You may be wondering by now what the difference is between single and double breast pumps. Thankfully, it’s pretty straightforward and which one you select will depend on your lifestyle and preferences. A double breast pump will draw milk from both breasts at the same time, cutting down the time spent expressing milk and leaving you to do other things. This is ideal for those who must express milk regularly, like working mothers, or exclusively, like mothers with babies who won’t feed from the breast. There are also benefits to double-pumping; this method produces on average 18% more milk than pumping one breast at a time. This milk will also have a higher fat and calorie content which can help with your child’s physical development. 

This isn’t to say that single breast pumping is bad – far from it! For mothers who need to express milk less regularly, a single breast pump is a more practical investment than a double. When deciding, look at your long-term breastfeeding plans to help you make a decision – this way you can choose a breast pump that will suit you throughout the breastfeeding journey. 

Both Tommee Tippee, LoveAmme, and Philips Avent have options for single and double breast pumps.

Find Your Electric or Manual Breast Pump at Mothercare Malaysia’s Breastfeeding Selections

A mother is breastfeeding her baby on a couch

At Mothercare Malaysia, we offer an array of handheld manual and wearable, hands-free electric breast pumps, alongside plenty more breastfeeding accessories for new and expectant mothers to help them through the journey. All of our breast pumps and breastfeeding products are of high quality and come with a warranty so you can feel secure making this purchase for you and your baby. Browse our range of feeding and weaning products to discover an array of helpful gadgets and tools to ensure your breastfeeding journey goes smoothly.

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