Deciding how to feed your baby is a personal choice. A breast pump rental can give you the flexibility to determine what feeding method works best for you and your baby. However, there are many different kinds of breast pumps on the market. Choosing a breast pump rental or purchase is a complicated decision.
Some breast pumps are electric, and some are manual. Electric pumps can run on batteries or plug into a wall. And some of the batteries are rechargeable. Some pump one breast at a time and others pump both breasts at the same time. You also need to keep in mind that even if you rent a pump, you will still have to make some purchases.
How Does a Breast Pump Work?
All breast pumps express milk the same way. A breast shield (also called a flange) is placed over the nipple. The pump creates suction that produces a vacuum in the flange. The suction cycles on and off, creating and breaking the vacuum much like a baby does when it nurses. This should stimulate your breasts to letdown (release) the milk from the breast. The expressed milk collects in a tube that connects to a bottle.
What Kinds of Breast Pumps Are There?
According to the FDA, there are three types of breast pumps.
Manual Breast Pumps
Manual breast pumps work by squeezing a handle to create the suction that will express milk from the breast. While there are different types of handles, they all function the same way. Squeezing the handle creates the suction. Releasing the handle breaks the suction. Manual pumps can only pump one breast at a time.
Battery Pumps and Electrical Pumps
Battery pumps and electrical pumps function the same way. The difference lies in how they are powered. Batteries power battery pumps. Some models may have a rechargeable battery. Electrical pumps usually get their power through an outlet. Some outlet powered pumps have a battery backup option available in case of a power outage or if you can’t find an outlet.
Instead of using a handle to create the suction, a motor creates the suction. These kinds of pumps usually have a dial that allows you to adjust how hard the suction is and how quickly the pump cycles. Battery and electric pumps can pump one or both breasts, depending on the specific model.
What Kind of Breast Pump Should I Rent?
Most breast pumps that you can buy are designed for a single user and should not be rented, borrowed, or bought used. There is no way to clean the pump effectively between uses, putting both you and your baby at risk for infection.
When you rent a breast pump, make sure multiple people can use it. Multi-user breast pumps feature a closed system. This means that there is a barrier that prevents contamination of the milk supply and allows multiple people to use the pump. The location of the barrier varies from pump to pump, but they all block the milk from overflowing back into the machine.
What Do I Get With a Breast Pump Rental?
It is important to know that many rental locations use the term “hospital-grade pump.” However, the FDA does not officially recognize that specific term, so it is considered to be a marketing term. That said, most breast pump rentals that are marketed are electric and not generally battery operated. Their motors are usually stronger or faster than anything you can purchase as a regular consumer. Hospital-grade pumps are also safe for more than one person to use.
When you rent a breast pump, what you are really renting is just the motor. You will have to pay for an attachment kit. This kit is the part that you and only you use. It includes breast shields, bottles, tubes, and valves. While only you use it for pumping, it is not single use. You can wash, sanitize, and reuse the same kit for every pumping session. You may want to consider having two kits available, so one is always ready to go while the other one dries.
Why Should I Rent a Breast Pump?
There are several reasons to think about breast pump rental instead of purchasing a breast pump.
If you are pumping exclusively
Mothers who only pump milk (meaning no supplemental formula bottles or direct infant breastfeeding) may need to rent a breast pump. Most rentals have a stronger engine and a smooth transition between speed and suction levels that better mimics actual breastfeeding.
If you’ve had breast surgery
Some women who have had breast surgery experience decreased nerve sensitivity in their nipples. This can make it difficult to pump as you may not be able to letdown (release the milk) easily with a manual or battery operated pump. A rental pump is more likely to deliver enough suction to stimulate letdown.
You have a premature baby
A premature baby may not be able to nurse properly for some time. Renting a breast pump can help you build up your milk supply by stimulating milk production. Pumping also allows you to store breast milk for when your baby can nurse from a bottle.
If you have multiples
Using a breast pump with multiples allows you to take a break by allowing others to bottle feed with pumped milk in a bottle.
When you are only pumping for a short time
If you know you will only need to pump for a short time, renting may be the better option price wise. One month of breast pump rental may only cost between $40 and $60 whereas buying a pump may require you to spend anywhere from $200 to $500 all at once.
If you aren’t sure what you are going to do
Figuring out the best way to feed your baby may be a complicated choice because of individual circumstances. Having the pump on hand gives you options in case things don’t go as planned. It allows you to pump and store the milk, so it is available when you need it. Pumping milk also enables you to ease engorgement if breastfeeding is not possible.
Should I Buy a Pump Instead of Renting a Breast Pump?
There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to rent or purchase a pump.
Breast Pump Rental Pros and Cons
Breast Pump Rental Pros
Renting a breast pump comes with the knowledge that if it breaks or experiences other difficulties, you can take it back to the rental company and usually swap it out for a new one the same day. Renting can be cheaper than buying if you are only using it for a short time.
Breast Pump Rental Cons
Breast pump rentals tend to be large and loud due to their powerful motors. They are not easy to transport on a regular basis and usually require you to plug it into an outlet to function. If there is no outlet available or there is a power outage, you may not be able to pump.
Breast Pump Purchase Pros and Cons
Breast Pump Purchase Pros
Most consumer breast pumps are designed for working mothers. They are small, lightweight, and easy to transport. They usually include a carrying case and sometimes include an insulated cooler to transport the milk.
Breast Pump Purchase Cons
Most breast pumps that consumers buy are battery operated. The suction created by this type of breast pump may not be as powerful or as effective as a rental pump. Purchasing a breast pump can be more expensive overall than a rental depending on your individual needs. If your batteries run out of power, you may not be able to pump.
Where Do I Rent a Breast Pump?
Breast pump rentals are available through hospitals and pharmacies. It is also possible to rent directly from the manufacturer, medical supply stores, and specialty stores.
What Will It Cost?
Breast pump rental prices will vary depending on where you live, what model of breast pump you are renting, and what your insurance covers. Breast pump rentals can cost between $40 and $60 a month. You will also have to buy your own collection kit which may cost anywhere from $40 to $60 for the one-time purchase.
How Do I Pay for Breast Pump Rental?
The Affordable Care Act requires that your insurance cover the cost to buy or rent a breast pump. Of course, you should check with your insurance company to understand exactly what is and is not covered by your plan.
If you don’t have health insurance or are on a grandfathered plan, you may be able to get help through your state health department or through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
Final Thoughts on Breast Pumps
Having pumped milk available for your baby gives you the freedom and flexibility to work, shop, or even spend a couple of hours by yourself. You can pump at work, on the go, or even at home. It can also help you relieve any pain you may feel from engorgement if your baby is unable to nurse.
Ultimately, how you feed your baby is a personal choice that will depend on your individual circumstances. You may end up breastfeeding, using a combination of breast milk and formula, or not breastfeeding at all. But a breast pump rental gives you the ability to try different feeding methods and choose what works best for you and your baby.
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