It’s been almost a year since our little one was born. My wife is an engineer, and has been working since recovering from childbirth. She wanted to get a nice, electric pump for use at work. Something she could conceal and use while working. She got 3 different electric pumps and one hand pump — an Ameda Purely yours ultra was on close-out at the local Baby’s R Us about a year ago, so we got that for a song. It was nice, but the breast-feeding center recommended the Medela Pump N Style, and she also tried out a whisper-wear she got off Craigslist.
She tried many, and decided to use the Medela, but it didn’t do everything she wanted for a concealable, work-friendly pump.
Ameda Purely yours ultra
We liked this unit. The horns on this pump are very good — easy to use and easy to clean, even when hand-washing. The air hoses attach to an area with little mini-pumps for each breast in each horn. This means there’s no way to spill milk when you move around — a very nice feature. The pump adjusts well, and has different settings. It did a good job, and the Ameda bottles are just awesome. It doesn’t have a stimulate feature, and the breast-feeding center in our hospital kept recommending the Medela for this reason. We did switch to the Medela, but the purely yours ultra was a good pump at a good price. You don’t get as much milk out, it seems to us anyway, with this pump. She always felt like there was left-over that the pump didn’t get out, and stopped using this pump. However, that’s subjective — she used the pump earlier after birth than the Medela, and I think she would eventually have gotten the same result with either pump. This pump is not concealable under clothes — but it’s fairly quiet. You might be able to get away with using this at your desk.
Medela Pump N Style
This unit has a nice stimulate feature, which my wife does feel helps with let-down. It also is very adjustable, and the back-pack is a nice way to carry it around with bottles and horns. It’s a bit loud compared to the other two pumps, but it seems to have the most power. The bad thing about this unit is the horns. If you bend over, you can spill milk out the back. The horns have lots of small crevices you can’t reach when hand-washing, even with a nipple brush. We always have to dish-washer them to feel that they’re properly cleaned. The Medela bottles deform sometimes when sterilized or when warmed in a steamer, and their plastic is softer. We don’t like their bottles — the deformation is annoying — imagine you have a crying baby who is hungry. You take the bottle out of the fridge and stick it in a bottle-warmer. The bottle deforms, making getting the cap off difficult, and you have to re-heat the bottle to get the shape right. It drove us nuts a few times. We switched to Ameda and Evenflo bottles using the Medela pump. The evenflo bottles don’t deform, are really cheap, and do a great job not spilling milk when inverted, like when you take the bottle out of the baby’s mouth. My wife hates that she has to sit upright to use the horns, and it restricts her movement a lot. But, it does have the best suction, and she gets the most milk using it. You can’t conceal and use this at work — it’s just too big and too loud. If your work has a mother’s room and you can take a pumping break, this is a good pump.
The company that makes this pump seems to be out of business. This pump is worn on the breast itself, and is fully self-contained. No bottles, no horns, no wires. Very silent, and for some very small-breasted women, concealable. If your have normal or larger breasts, it will not be concealable — you’ll get a “Dolly Parton” effect. This pump system is, in our opinion, not very good. Not enough power from the units. Low durability of the units. Maybe it’s because we bought off craigslist, but the units broke very quickly, and we didn’t get to really use it. My wife was hoping for something she could use at work — but this wouldn’t work for her due to low power and the poor durability.
Bottles, horns, etc
As mentioned earlier, we liked the Ameda bottles best. They held up the best in the milk warmer, and had the best overall feel. Coming in a close second was Evenflo. The evenflo nipples are great — better than the ones from either Ameda or Medela, as they don’t spill as much milk when the baby is not sucking. “Born free” is even better for both bottle and nipple, but doesn’t fit the horns for either Medela or Ameda. Evenflo bottles fit both, and are available in glass. That’s great if you’re worried about plastic leaching contaminants into the milk when warmed — glass is the least toxic and most environmentally friendly material we know of in baby bottles. We worry about glass breaking when heated in the warmer, though. It has never happened, but every time we heat glass, we worry. So, we use the Evenflo plastic bottles in day-care, and the glass ones are for at-home occasional use. Horns are another big one. Get yourself sized for your horns at your local breast-feeding center. The ones that came with the pumps were too small, and caused lots of pain for my wife. If you find pumping hurts, your horns are the wrong size. My wife also borrowed a pair of freemies from a friend of hers when we went on an overseas trip. This is the kind of horn that is also a milk storage unit — you don’t use any bottles, but pump and store in the horn itself. These horns are concealable — she could wear them on the plane, and although she looked like Dolly Parton wearing them, the did a good job allowing both pumping and storage. The downside of these horns are two-fold. One — they’re really hard to take apart to clean. Two — they don’t provide as much vacuum as normal horns.
For the horns, invest in a pumping bra. This is a bra that holds the horns, so you don’t have to. We have friends who hold the horns instead of using a pumping bra, and we can’t imagine it.
Anyway, keep your stick on the ice!