Pumping/Expressing breastmilk. I going to start this by saying who is writing this: I'm the dad. I have never breastfed a baby so I am coming from the perspective of observing, studying and trying to understand the breastfeeding mechanics. Breastfeeding has been with us throughout human history. But we are just now beginning to learn how breastfeeding works.
Breast pumps are relatively recent. When our first was being breastfed, in 1971 the breastpump we had looked much like a bicycle horn on a child's bike. It was not too effective for us. Around that time other solutions were coming into being. One of the first electric breast pumps was derived from a stomach pump. That pump was helpful to many moms and babies. So began the development of breast pumps. The idea was based on the baby sucking, so the thought that you needed to have suction to get the milk.
Recent research is showing that the key for removing milk is the milk ejection reflex. In the past my belief was that the pump was sucking milk from the breast. What research is showing us today is that the breast starts to let the milk flow when a milk ejection reflex occurs. Thus, the purpose of the pump is twofold, one the triggering of the milk ejection reflex, and the second, helping to move the milk from the breast into the bottle.
We are beginning to see that the most important of these is the triggering of the milk ejection reflex. So my current quest it to help moms find the breastpump that will help them trigger the milk ejection reflex (sometimes called letdown). This is opposed to my previous belief that we needed to get the strongest suction that a mother could stand to be effective with pumping.
So what are the things that I think of to help a mother to decide on the breast pump for her? First and foremost what does the mother believes will help her in this process. Some specifics, not in any particular order:
Autocycling - automatic suck and release action, the cycle speed should be similar to that of your baby.
Comfort - pumping should be a soothing experience, not something to be endured.
Sound - should not be irritating.
Smooth - should not feel like you are being jerked around.
Remember, the key is the triggering of the milk ejection reflex.