How to Select the Appropriate Breast Pump for Your Patient’s Needs

Irene Murphy Zoppi, RN, MSN, IBCLC / December 2017


Breastfeeding initiation rates are at an all-time high in the United States.

Due to the diligent messaging from national professional and governmental campaigns, families have heard the message that human milk is the best nutrition for babies.

Mothers want to breastfeed their infants: over 81% of mothers begin the process of breastfeeding.¹ Yet more than one-half of US mothers don’t achieve their intended breastfeeding goals, and instead supplement their infants very early in the post-birth period with infant formula or stop completely (earlier than they planned).2,3

In addition to infants receiving suboptimal nutrition, early cessation of breastfeeding may have negative emotional consequences for mothers.4

Breast pump technology

The use of expression technology is beneficial, and in many situations, necessary, to assist mothers in meeting their personal breastfeeding goals.

Mothers use breast pumps for a variety of reasons. For example, their infants may be born prematurely and not able to breastfeed directly, they may experience transient engorgement, they may have inverted nipples, be returning to work or school, or want to have an extra supply of milk available for the occasion when they are not with their infants.

Whether the breast pump is used for mothers exclusively pumping or used occasionally, it serves as a replacement of the infant for milk removal and breast stimulation.

But which pump should be recommended for mothers with diverse pumping needs?

Because mothers look to health professionals to answer questions about breast pump differences, it is important that clinicians have an understanding about the differences in technology and which breast pump is best for each pumping situation.

Breast pump research

Meier and colleagues5 detail the differences in breast pump technology and expertly clarify which breast pump is suitable for which pumping situation.

The authors explain why choosing the correct breast pump right from the start of pumping can have a substantial impact on long term supply issues, and make a significant difference in assisting mothers in meeting their personal breastfeeding goals.

The right breast pump: a tool for hospitals

A helpful pocket tool is available to ensure mothers are using the right technology to support their breastfeeding efforts both in the hospital and when they go home:

Contact today to order a copy of this new wheel tool for your hospital.

How do you currently determine the best breast pump technology for your breastfeeding patients? Tell us in the comments below!




1 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, 2016

2  DiGirolamo A, Grummer-Strawn L, Fein S. Infant Feeding Practices Study II: study methods. Pediatrics. 2008;(suppl 2):S28-35.

3  Perrine CG, Scanlon KS, Li R, Odom E, Grummer-Strawn LM. Baby-Friendly hospital practices meeting exclusive breastfeeding intention. Pediatrics. 2012; 130(1):54-60.

4  Coates R, Ayers S, de Visser R. Women’s experiences of postnatal distress: a qualitative study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2014; 14:359.

5  Meier PP, Patel AL, Hoban R, Engstrom JL. Which breast pump for which mother: an evidence-based approach to individualize breast pump technology. J Perinatol. 2016; 36(7):493-9.

About the Author

Irene joined Medela in 1999 as a clinician for the Breastfeeding Division. She currently serves as a Clinical Education Specialist focusing on Advocacy Outreach. In this role, she acts as a vital resource for groups assisting breastfeeding mothers and infants. She has been frequently interviewed on radio and online regarding breastfeeding issues for mothers and clinicians.

Irene spent many years caring for new families in antenatal, labor and delivery, postpartum and NICU settings and was involved in direct patient care and family-based education. Irene has extensive experience teaching in a variety of nursing education programs.  She produced a video presentation on nursing students’ involvement in Community Health Nursing for the National League of Nursing.