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Health & Baby

Breast Pumps 101

10 tips for expressing and storing breast milk quickly and easily.
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New versus Old Breast Pumps

Are the breast pumps on the market today superior to the ones your friends used a few years ago? Probably not.

"Actual pump technology has not changed significantly in the past decade," West says. “Milk generally cannot be removed more quickly or easily from today's pumps than pumps of many years ago. The most significant improvement is decrease in pump sizes and weights that make them more portable and convenient to take to work."

Although a new pump may not be better than an older model, don't take a hand-me-down breast pump from a friend or relative. Unlike professional-grade rental pumps, which are designed to be used by many women, the design of individual-purchase pumps allows imperceptibly tiny milk particles to contaminate parts of the machinery that can't be cleaned or sterilized. They're not intended to be shared between mothers.

Establishing on-the-job Breaks

Federal law now requires most employees to provide a private place other than a bathroom for women to express breast milk for one year after the baby's birth. And 24 states have laws in effect about breastfeeding in the workplace. The protections don't require employers to compensate women for break time spent pumping, but they do have to allow women time to pump when necessary.

"It's much easier for working mothers to take the time they need to pump and ensure that they can continue to breastfeed and provide milk to their babies," West says.

If you know that you're going to continue giving your baby breast milk after you return to work, discuss this with your supervisor or a human resources representative a few weeks before your maternity leave ends. This will give them enough time to accommodate your needs.

"Talk to your employer to work out a schedule," says California-based pediatrician Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers. "Ask for a private, clean room with a sink and a door that locks."

Getting Down to Business

At work, where you may be touching dirty computer keyboards, elevator buttons, and public bathroom door handles, it's essential to wash your hands before pumping.

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