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Your question:

Which should I use - pump or hand?

Expert’s answer:

Hand expressing may be best if:

  • you’re expressing in the first one to three days after birth,
  • only want to express occasionally, or
  • are expressing to relieve feeling fullness, uncomfortable breasts or to soften your breasts so your baby can latch on better.

If you are regularly separated from your baby, or if there is a delay in breastfeeding after birth, your midwife may recommend that a pump is a good option.

Breast-pumps range from hand operated, small electric single pumps, electric double breast pumps, up to larger hospital grade double pumps. As with most products, there are many types available, and choosing can be confusing:

  • If your baby is ill, premature or if you are trying to establish a good milk supply for your baby a hospital grade pump is the best option.
  • If you will be express occasionally or for a short time manual or mini-electric pump may suit.
  • If your milk supply is well established and you are returning to work and want to continue to breastfeed, a double electric breast-pump may be the ideal choice. This will be quick as both breasts are pumped at one time.

Speak with your midwife, public health nurse, voluntary breastfeeding support person or lactation consultant for advice on which pump is best for you.   

If your baby is being cared for in a Special Care Baby Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care or paediatric hospital, they often have double hospital pumps that you can use when you visit.  You will generally need one also to continue expressing at home.  They are expensive and you can usually rent one. Your midwife, public health nurse or local pharmacy may be able to help. 

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