As a stay-at-home mama, a breast pump isn’t the most necessary piece of baby equipment for me. But they certainly have their place, especially for working moms, or mothers who must be away from their children for several hours at a time. And an electric pump is a good thing to have around if you’re not very good at hand-expressing or using a manual pump (I cannot get ANY milk out with those methods).
As someone who is rather outspoken about breastfeeding, natural parenting, and related products, people often ask me what I think about a certain product, or ask for recommendations for baby carriers, breast pads, infant potties, and yes, breast pumps.
Normally, my answer about breast pumps went something like this,
“I’ve used several pumps – Medela Symphony (hospital grade), Simplisse (which I’ve heard great things about, but didn’t work at all for me personally), and Lansinoh Affinity (which works great, is tiny and cute, is relatively quiet, and my go-to). But if you’re a working mom and need to pump often, I’ve HEARD that Hygeia pumps are the most amazing, best quality for frequent/long-term use, and I KNOW for a fact that they have the best customer service out of any breast pump company, plus they’re WHO-code compliant*.”
I chat pretty frequently with Kate Gulbransen, the Social Media Manager at Hygeia, on twitter (@HygeiaKate) and I let her know a while ago that I’d love to try out one of the company’s pumps, so I can share my first-hand experience and impressions with friends and acquaintances when they ask about breast pumps.
Well a little while after Joey was born, Hygeia sent me this!
It’s their EnJoye Professional Breast Pump, and all of the goodies that go with it. The pump also comes in a really cute bag (available in black or brown), which – unlike some other breast pump bags (the Simplisse bag for example, has very little room in it once the pump and other bits are stored inside)– can be used as a diaper bag, and has lots of extra room even with the pump and all of the accessories in it.
Some things I like about the pump:
- It’s quieter than other pumps. I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison and it’s been a while since I used the others, but I remember trying to smother the other pumps with throw pillows or blankets while I was pumping. All breast pumps are going to have a bit of motor noise, but the EnJoye doesn’t seem as obnoxious. I haven’t buried it in pillows at any point.
- It has an internal battery that can be charged, so if you need to use your pump on-the-go (I’ve even heard of some mamas with long commutes pumping in the car with a hands-free bra while driving!) or in a place without a convenient electrical outlet, you have the option. There’s also an external battery pack you can plug into it, or you can (of course) plug it into the wall and use AC current.
- The pump parts come apart easily and are easy to wash. Other pumps have more finicky valves or less obvious assembly. I like the “duck bill” style valve best, and that’s the kind Hygeia uses.
- The pump has a “closed system” which means that any part that has the potential to touch mom’s body or milk can be replaced easily and inexpensively by buying a new “accessory kit.” I always cringe when I see people buying used Medela pumps on craigslist or other forums, from total strangers… because there can be contamination INSIDE the pump. This is a pump that can be shared (if each mother has her own “kit”), passed along, lent, and sold safely.
- Everything the milk touches is BPA-free (though I think that is true of most pumps these days, if not all of them).
- You can manually change the speed and intensity of the “suck” (I’m sure there’ s a better way to say that, but I claim post-partum-brain). Since every woman is different, each person will respond the best to a different “suckling pattern.” You can play around with it and determine what works best for you.
- It works really well.
- The customer service and support at Hygeia is excellent. Which is huge. I just have to say that a certain company that begins with an M may be popular and readily-available in Target, Wal-Mart, the NEX, and other stores, but their mediocre customer service is hugely apparent if you pay attention to them at all. And that is a BIG DEAL if you have a problem or need support.
Things I’m not so nuts about:
- The pump itself is a bit bulky and heavy. I’m sure there’s a reason it has to be that big, but it would be cool if it were smaller (like my so-cute Lansinoh Affinity).
- The bottle stands (to keep you from accidentally knocking over the bottles when you set them on the table) are separate – just another thing to lose. (Sorry, but last comparison to Lansinoh Affinity – the bottles fit right into indentations in the pump itself, which I loved.)
- There’s no automatic “let-down mode.” I like pumps where you can push a button and it’ll switch to let-down mode for 2 minutes or whatever, and then switch back to regular pumping… because when I’m breastfeeding, I don’t have to tell my baby when to switch suckling patterns… he just does it. So if I have to stop and think about increasing suction and slowing the speed, then decreasing suction and increasing speed to try to get a let-down, all manually… it reminds me that I’m at a machine, not a baby. There IS a psychological aspect to pumping, and the more I think “This is a pump!” the harder it is to express milk. That’s why people often suggest looking at a picture of your baby or smelling one of your baby’s blankets while you pump.
- Hygeia does address the psychological aspects – by providing a record/playback button, so you can hear your baby crying (or cooing or whatever) “on command” to assist with let-down. There’s also a “door” on the front, where you can tape baby’s photo. I think all of this is kind of weird… maybe it helps other women but it seems like too many “extras” for me. The crying doesn’t help me (I did record some and try it), and if I want to see a picture of my son, I can look at my phone.
Here are some of my pumping “results.” All of these except one are combined milk from both breasts. I’m posting these because THIS IS NORMAL. So many people talk about overflowing bottles, or getting 6 ounces at a time, and so forth. But those people are super-producing cow-goddesses. Or they’ve had more practice with a pump and have taught their bodies to respond to it better. Or they are pumping while away from their baby like at work(as opposed to pumping as “extra” sessions, WHILE feeding a baby 100% of their milk intake at-breast).
Normal pumping output for moms who are nursing full-time is between 1/2 and 2 ounces total, for both breasts.
If you get results like mine (or even less milk than this) when you pump, YOU ARE NORMAL. This isn’t “a bad pumper” or a bad pump. Pumping is a lot of work. That’s why you’ll hear breastfeeding moms joking about how, “you’re allowed to cry over spilled milk if you’ve ever pumped 1.5 ounces in 30 minutes” and so forth.
The amount of milk you express when pumping will also never match the amount of milk your child gets when he or she nurses (barring issues like tongue-ties or lip-ties, malformed palates, etc). NO pump is as efficient as a baby or child with a good latch.
Do you pump?
What are your pumping needs? Working out of the home full-time? Pumping for an occasional babysitter or night out? Are you exclusively pumping to provide your non-nursing baby breast milk? Pumping to donate?
What pumps have you tried? What did you like or dislike about them? Have you heard anything about Hygeia before this post?