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Express Guide to Pumps

November 16, 1998|MARY McNAMARA

In the books, they call it "expressing your milk." In reality, this means hooking yourself up to a breast pump. It's less gruesome than it sounds, and for a working and nursing mother, pumping is an absolute necessity. For stay-at-home moms, pumping allows you a bit more freedom--if you're going somewhere you won't feel comfortable nursing, you can take a bottle. Or you can (gasp) leave that bottle and the little darling in the care of others for a few hours.

As with strollers, car seats and everything else baby-connected, there are myriad pump models and styles. So, a quick guide.

The Hand Pump. Ideal for women who do not need to pump that often, or for working mothers who do not have access to an electric pump. You can use it anywhere and, unlike electric pumps, it is quiet. The down side is you can pump only one breast at a time, so it takes 20 to 30 minutes to empty both. The new Avent Isis is the Cadillac of hand pumps; it retails for $50 ($100 if you buy the back-to-work kit, which includes storage containers, breast pads and gel packs to keep the milk cool).

Battery Pumps. More expensive than hand pumps but with the same disadvantage--slow--and a bit more bulky. Most have A/C adapters, but if you can plug in, you might as well pay a little more and buy an electric double pump. The Medella Mini Electric and Double Electric, which also operate on batteries, are $90 to $190.

Electric Pumps. If you are working and nursing, the double electric pump is your new best friend. If your employer is farsighted enough to have pumps en premise, you may be able to get away with renting an electric pump for the first few months and then relying on the one at work. What you don't want to do is rent the pump for five months (at about $180) and then have to buy a pump (at $240). Medella pretty much owns this town as far as breast pumps are concerned, both rental and retail. The style sold at the Pump Station in Santa Monica and Mother & Me in Pasadena is the Pump in Style, which, while not quite as powerful as the models you rent, does the job in 15 minutes or so. Another good electric double is Purely Yours by Ameda Egnell, $229.

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