5 Facts About Breast Pumps

Breast pumps have come a long way over the last century-and-a-half. That’s right; the first pump was developed 150 years ago. So, while they still may not be the most glamorous (or comfortable) device you’ll ever use, they can be essential to a breastfeeding mom.

Did you know that at one point they resembled turkey basters? And, did you know that pumps were not commercially available until just over 25 years ago? Basically, half-way through the television show Full House’s eight-year run, Medela introduced the first electric-powered, vacuum-operated pump not designed for in-hospital use. Have mercy!

Thankfully breast pumps have evolved and become far more available over the years. Before you start using one, consider these five facts about pumps and pumping:

Insurance covers breast pump costs.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance providers must cover the cost of a breast pump and lactation counseling. As long as you are insured by a non-grandfathered plan and your coverage started on August 1, 2012 or later, your pump and support services must be covered 100 percent by your insurer. Contact your insurance company for more details.

You have a right to pump at work.

If you work for a large employer, you are entitled to taking breaks to pump in a private lactation space other than a bathroom, according to the Affordable Care Act.

Used pumps put you at risk of cross contamination.

The FDA views consumer-purchased breast pumps as a personal hygiene item, meaning they are intended for a single user. That also means the FDA frown upon selling used devices. Even with standard at-home cleaning and sterilization procedures, certain pathogens can be left behind, leaving other users at risk of contracting viruses or fungal infections. Pumps rented by hospitals are designed with barriers that prevent cross contamination among multiple users.

Proper cleaning is essential.

Before using your breast pump for the first time, sterilize all external parts. After each use, wash each part with warm, soapy water. And, always wash your hands before pumping.

Babies are more efficient than pumps.

Ever want to know how much milk you produce? Expressing your milk with a pump won’t give you the whole picture. Your baby is more efficient than a pump and will empty your breast more effectively and completely.

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