Should you get one or two breast pumps? If you’re exclusively pumping, it’s a good idea to have a backup breast pump. Here’s why, and what kind of pump to get.
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Why have a backup breast pump?
It’s a good idea to have a backup breast pump if you are an exclusive pumper because you need to consistently remove milk from your breasts.
If you’re not able to do that, you’re at risk of losing milk supply or getting a clogged duct or mastitis.
Here are some situations where a backup pump can come in handy.
1. Your pump stops working
One reason to have a backup pump is in the event that your pump breaks.
If you can’t turn it on, or it won’t charge, or something seems wrong with the suction, you can reach out to the manufacturer. If your pump is under warranty, they will often overnight you a replacement. However, you still need to be able to remove milk from your breasts in the meantime.
2. Your power goes out
Another reason to have a backup breast pump is in the event that your power goes out.
If you lose power and you have a Spectra S2 or a Medela Pump in Style with Max Flow or any pump that needs to be plugged into an outlet while you use it, without power (or a battery pack), it obviously won’t work.
3. You lose a pump part
Say one of your duckbills goes down the garbage disposal. Obviously, you wouldn’t be able to use it any longer and would need another option until you can get a replacement.
What kind of backup pump should you get?
So what should you use as a backup breast pump?
1. Get a manual pump
The first option is a manual pump, which is usually powered with your hand like a crank.
This is probably one of the more cost effective options that is efficient for removing the milk from your breasts.
There are tons of great manual breast pumps, and which one you get doesn’t matter. However, one thing to consider is that it might make sense to get the same brand as your electric pump.
For example, if you have a Medela breast pump, it might make sense to get a Medela Harmony as a backup pump just because the pump parts may be compatible and you’re already familiar with the brand.
(A manual pump can also be good to use on the go, because it can fit in a handbag. Additionally, some people find that manual pumps are more effective for them, so sometimes they can be good to integrate into your pumping routine.)
2. Learn hand expression
Another option isn’t really a breast pump at all – it’s just learning hand expression.
Hand expression is a fantastic skill to have, because you’ll never be without a pump.Â You can always use your hand, no matter where you are or what else you have on you.
More information about how to hand express breast milk here.
3. Use a Haakaa
You may also be able to use a Haakaa (or milk catcher) pump.
Before making this your backup pump, I would try it out first and make sure that you can trigger a letdown. Some people struggle a bit to get their milk flowing without an electric pump or their baby nursing. But if you are able to get a letdown with hand expression, this can work well as a backup pump.
More on how to use a Haakaa here, and different brands here.
4. Get a second breast pump
The last option is to get a second electric breast pump.
This can be cost-prohibitive, but it’s not unusual for exclusive pumpers to get one pump free through insurance, and another more mobile pump, like a Willow or Baby Buddha. (Most pumps that you get through insurance need to be plugged into an outlet, though this depends on your policy.)
It’s not necessary to buy a second electric pump just so you can have a backup. But if you wanted to get a second pump anyway – to have additional mobility or to leave one at work – it can function as your backup pump too. It’s a good idea for it to have a battery or battery pack just in case the power goes out.
Hopefully this helps you decide on getting one or two breast pumps! Feel free to ask any questions about getting a backup pump in the comments.