Get to know the machine that is going to be your new breast friend for the next few months!
For all mums who want to breastfeed, but also need the freedom to step out of the house without taking a newborn along, pumping can be a lifesaver. Initially, expressing milk may not come naturally. After all, it can be an unknown (and relatively weird) sensation and the constant noise can be enough to make some uncomfortable. Thankfully, today’s machines are sleeker and quieter than before, so with HR practices becoming more breastfeeding-friendly, you could even pump sitting in a corner of your office!
What Are The Different Types Of Breast Pump?
Single/Double (only available in electric versions)
Closed system/Open system
At the top end of the scale are the double electric breast pumps (usually they also have a battery-operated option). These draw milk from both breasts at the same time. They save time and are usually very efficient, but the downside is they are expensive. Single electric pumps are more economical but take longer. Manual breast pumps are quite light and easily portable and are relatively inexpensive, but some of them are not as efficient at pumping. If you are going to rely on pumping fairly regularly (even once a day, for the night feed), these will only add to the workload of a tired mama.
The other thing to consider when you are looking at buying or renting a breast pump is if it’s a closed-system one or an open-system one. The closed-system type doesn’t allow the milk to flow into the machine. Some of the closed-system pumps are also known as hospital-grade breast pumps and are considered the most high-end and hygienic. This system is more expensive than an open one, where there is no barrier between the milk and the pump mechanism.
What To Consider?
Whether you’re pumping so Dad can get involved in feeding, or perhaps your maternity leave is coming to an end and you’re heading back to work (hopefully you’ll get more statutory leave soon!), whatever the reason, when buying a breast pump, you naturally want to buy the best that you can afford. Besides the cost and the efficiency, consider factors like how much it weighs, how much sound it makes (for electric ones), how easily available replacement parts are and how discreet it can be (many pumps are now hands-free). If you are looking for a manual pump, look for one with an ergonomic handle design so it doesn’t put too much pressure on you, or a silicone manual pump. These factors make a big difference in being able to carry the pump around if you are planning to return to work or travel soon after delivery.
Top Breast Pump Brands
This brand wins the vote of all the Sassy Mamas in office, and then some! The company has excellent breast pumps to suit all types of requirements. What makes it even better is that it is possible to rent some of the models from the official distributor, Celki, which has stores across the city. Even if you choose to buy from any of the baby stores or online, this is one of the most widely-accessible and convenient options.
The Medela models you should consider are Symphony (hospital-grade), Medela Freestyle, Medela Swing Maxi (double-electric) and Medela Swing (single-electric). All Medela breast pumps can be used with a special bustier that allows hands-free pumping. All Medela products available in the city use the brand’s patented 2-phase expression technology. This simulates the sucking rhythms of a baby, which is fast and furious for two minutes, before settling into a calmer yet deeper suck. Because it copies this pattern, Medela claims that it stimulates the natural milk production reflexes of mothers. This Swiss company is passionate about promoting breastfeeding and also offers apps, online forums, expert advice and more.
Medela’s pumps are available at different price points, from $1,698 for the single Medela Swing pump to $23,900 for the hospital-grade Symphony version. However, renting the Symphony is a lot more affordable. Besides a $6,000 deposit, you can pay per month or for up to a six-month period and opt for monthly extensions, if you continue to express breastmilk.
A new brand that is getting rave reviews is Youha. It’s been designed and made by a father who wanted to help his wife with her breastfeeding journey, while also giving their young child the healthiest option available. Youha The One is a lightweight and efficient double-electric pump. It comes at a fraction of the cost of Medela ($798) and what’s even better is that most of its parts are compatible with Medela products as well. This is especially useful for new mamas who may have been gifted Medela bottles as well as second-time mums who have a lot of feeding gear left over from the first baby.
Youha also has three choices – massage, stimulation and deep expression, with six levels of intensity for each mode. It also offers a personal setting function which mums who have settled into their lactation routine appreciate. Its touchscreen can be locked so it doesn’t accidentally get switched on while you’re carrying it around. Youha, which is now being recommended by a number of lactation consultants and midwives, is available at a number of stores across the city and at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital. You can also buy it online from the website for an additional $40 shipping charge in Hong Kong.
Read more: Where To Buy Nursing Bras In Hong Kong
Korean brand, Spectra, is another popular brand by mamas in Hong Kong. This closed-system pump prides itself on being safe, hygienic, innovative and affordable. The most popular model is the Spectra S1 hospital-grade, double-electric breast pump. This pump can be connected to a power source or be used with the in-built rechargeable battery. It has two levels of night lighting, so mums can pump discreetly without waking up the baby. It has a massage mode, followed by an expression mode to stimulate maximum milk production. It’s available for $4,980. The S2 model ($4,380) is also hospital-grade but doesn’t have the rechargeable battery feature, so always requires a power source. Another popular model, especially while travelling, is the cheaper double electric model of 9 Plus, that’s easily available in many stores for $1,680. Spectra also offer a wide-neck manual pump for as little as $280.
This is one of the most popular, easy to use and innovative manual pumps that originates from New Zealand. Made completely of silicone, this one-piece product (pump plus bottle) has no removable parts. It works especially well for new mamas who have excess flow and find that they leak from one breast while feeding on the other. You use it by simply squeezing it hard, placing the flange tightly over the nipple to create a vacuum and then letting go. The vacuum starts creating a sucking sensation which stimulates the breast. This coupled with feeding from the other breast causes milk to flow into the bottle automatically. To release, simply break the suction (watch this quick tutorial video here). Since breastmilk can be stored in the freezer for months, it is a good way to bank breastmilk, if you’re looking to return to work soon. The bottle is designed to have a suction-base, so it doesn’t spill when placed on a flat surface beside you. Accessories available include a cute flower stopper or a cap. The 100ml unit is $175 and is available online and in many baby stores across the city.
Another well-known brand for its bottles, sterilisers, bottle warmers and, of course, breast pumps is Philips Avent. The Comfort Electric model comes in double or single varieties, and there is also a manual version. Prices range from $480 to $2,880, depending on the model you choose and whether or not there are accessories that come with it. These are available easily at most online and retail baby stores.
Philips Avent, www.philips.com.hk
Another brand that all mamas are well aware of is Tommee Tippee. Its Closer to Nature breastfeeding products include bottles, breast pads, pumps and more. It offers both a manual and a single-electric version, available at a number of stores throughout the city.
There are plenty of breast pump manufacturers and each has its own loyal customer base. Look at the different makes and models of Ameda, Nuby, Brillante and Minuet and ask for recommendations from friends, fellow-mums and lactation consultants before making your decision.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and updated in July 2020.
This is part of a special series, “SassyMama Supports World Breastfeeding Week, in partnership with Gleneagles Hospital Hong Kong“. For more posts on breastfeeding in Hong Kong, click here.