Since I either moderate and/or own a few Yahoo! Groups related to the Adult Nursing Relationship, a question was posted in one where the writer asks about ‘milking machines’. The writer had a very strong interest in using one. Unfortunately, my internal alarm went off!
Is this a bad idea? No, it isn’t. However, it is not a good idea to ever think that the ‘milking machine’ seen usually used on a milking cow could ever be used on a woman! A woman’s breast is not designed to be milked in this fashion. This could cause serious damage to a human breast. On another note, one can understand the need to feel that ‘nursing’ stimulation that the machine would give.
With all that said, I wanted to address some of the issues, we in the ANR/ABF life struggle with.
Personally, I own 2 different breast pumps. One is an electric, and the other is manual. One is for the consistency needed, the other for the times when I would need to pump for the stimulation when I was at work. Did I like one over the other? No. Actually, I didn’t like either one. Neither of them gave me the ‘suction’ I needed, or desired.
Choosing the right pump can make the difference in breast-feeding success. A baby’s natural sucking rhythm is 40 to 60 cycles per minute (one pull per second or a little less). Adults most likely are not that high, unless our nursing partner is being greedy. Hospital-grade and personal-use automatic pumps typically operate at 30 to 50 cycles per minute. Other pumps are usually less efficient. As a general rule, the more suction and releases per minute a pump provides, the better it will be at stimulating your milk supply. That is a HUGE factor in our lifestyle.
Consider renting a hospital-grade breast pump if you’re not sure how long you’ll need to use a pump or if you know you’ll need to pump for only a short time and you have a partner close-by. If you expect to use a breast pump regularly, especially if you plan to return to work, buy a top-quality midweight, personal-use, automatic model at the best price you can find. This caliber of pump will help you to get a significant volume of milk in a given time and will be your best bet for maintaining your milk supply. If you plan to use a breast pump only occasionally, a manual pump or a small electric or battery-operated one will probably be all you need.
There are many styles and models of breast pumps, but they fall into two main categories: Electric/battery-powered and manual (which you operate by hand). While some women use both – one for the bulk of their pumping, the other for short trips – most moms strongly prefer one or the other.
To figure out which one suits you best, here’s a look at your options:
Hospital-grade electric breast pumps
A heavy-duty hospital-grade model with a double collection kit has a rapid suck-and-release cycle (referred to as the cycling time) that draws milk from your breasts at about the same rate as a nursing baby.
A double collection kit means you can pump both breasts at once, which can cut pumping time in half and drain both breasts more effectively.
Top-end electric personal-use pumps
Combining the efficiency of hospital-grade pumps and the convenience of more portable models, top-end electric pumps are a popular choice for those who work full-time or are frequently away from their partner and can’t nurse regularly.
These pumps are fully automatic, with quick cycling times, adjustable suction levels (to help you avoid nipple discomfort), and double-pumping capability. They’re generally intended for women who have a well-established milk supply.
Some models are designed to mimic a baby’s sucking patterns: They start with short, quick sucks to elicit the letdown response and then move into a slower, deeper sucking pattern. This feature can make pumping more comfortable, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll produce more milk.
Generally weighing in at 5 pounds or less, these pumps come in attractive carrying cases and often include accessories like storage bags, labels, clips, bottles, and nipple ointment.
Most top-end pumps can run on a car’s cigarette lighter with an adapter that’s sold separately. Many come with a built-in battery pack – both handy options if you’re pumping on the go or in a room lacking an electrical outlet.
Inexpensive manual and mid-range electric or battery-operated pumps
These pumps are best for short-term separations.
These pumps are more portable (most weigh less than 2 pounds) and more affordable than the high-end models. On the downside, they generally take a little longer to use and require a little more effort than the top-end electric pumps.
Mid-range electric or battery-operated pumps
These generally allow you to pump only one breast at a time and take twice as long to pump. While there are some double electric pumps in this category, the motors may not last as long as those in the more expensive models. If the pump is battery-operated, the batteries may need to be replaced (unless you get a rechargeable unit).
Semiautomatic models tend toward long cycling times. (Some produce only about 12 sucks per minute, compared to 50 to 60 per minute for top-end and hospital-grade pumps.) The suction can often be too strong or too weak, although some have adjustable suction.
Inexpensive manual pumps
These require you to pump a piston or squeeze a lever to create the suction to empty your breast. These pumps empty only one breast at a time and may require two hands to operate, although a few are designed for one-handed use.
While most nursers who need to pump regularly opt for a more efficient electric model, some women rave about manual pumps’ simplicity and convenient size. Many also say that some manual pumps feel more natural and more closely mimic a partner’s sucking and that they like being able to control the suction by hand.
Hand pumps are generally more affordable, smaller, lighter, and quieter than electric pumps. And if you like to pump on one side while your baby is nursing on the other, he’ll probably prefer the quiet of a manual pump over the noise of an electric one.
While some moms get the knack of effective manual pumping, others find these pumps maddeningly slow. (It depends to some degree on how quickly you can squeeze the pump handle – and this can get tiring.)
Some nursers have trouble getting any milk at all with hand pumps. Others say that hand pumps don’t completely empty their breasts, which can lead to a lowered milk supply.
Ok, you have figured out what you think will work best for you; so what is next?
What to look for when buying
- Adjustable suction control: A level of suction that’s comfortable for one woman can be torture for another. Choose a pump that allows you to adjust the suction for your comfort. Some manual models come with adjustable pump-handle positions.
- Efficiency: If you’re time-crunched – and what person isn’t? – it’s probably worth paying more for a pump that sucks between 40 to 60 times per minute and has double-pumping capability. A model that allows you to pump both breasts at once can cut pumping time in half: From roughly 30 minutes for both breasts to about 15 minutes. Double pumping also boosts milk production by emptying both breasts more completely.
- Ease of use: Look for a pump that’s easy to use, clean, and assemble. If you’ll be lugging it around, choose one that’s light and compact, with a nice case. (You can also buy a case you like separately.)
What about renting?
There are several options for this. You can contact someone in your area that is a lactation consultant and they will help you find a rental location. You can use this site to find a consultant in your area, FALC – Find a Lactation Consultant. Or you can contact your hospital and inquire about rentals. My opinion is that if you are looking to establish your milk, renting a hospital grade pump would be a wise investment. However, if you don’t feel comfortable inquiring about this; you can purchase some hospital grade pumps also. These will be pricey!
Here are some that are considered some of the best, hospital-grade pumps (designed for multiple users):
Go here to compare: http://breast-pumps.findthebest.com/d/e/Hospital-Grade
Here are some that are considered some of the best, hospital-grade pumps (designed for single user):
Here are some that are considered the best of the best, non-hospital-grade pumps (in order of top selling rank):
So back to the original question. Should a woman ‘try’ a milking machine? Sure….as long as it is made for the human breast and not a cow. Even IF she were in a fetish of being a ‘hucow’, it would still be very dangerous to use a traditionally thought of milking machine. And if her partner cared enough about her health and safety, he/she would never even suggest it!
I do wonder though: Could it be possible to combine the two ideas (human breast pump and a milking machine pump) to get something that would give the same benefit? Where are my engineers????????