What are hospital-grade pumps and should I buy one? If you are new to pumping and you are feeling overwhelmed by the vast array of breast pumps on the market, it can be difficult to make the right choice.
The most common choice that moms have to make is whether to buy a manual pump or an electrical pump for personal use.
Electrical breast pumps can be brought as a single pump or a dual pump. There is, however, another option in the form of hospital-grade breast pumps. When it comes to brands labeling their pumps as hospital-grade, it’s important to know the difference.
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What is a Hospital Grade Breast Pump?
The most significant difference between a single-user breast pump and a hospital-grade pump is that the latter is designed with multiple users in mind. This generally means that they are more robust, more powerful, and can have fully detachable accessories.
The need to attach different accessories is to avoid cross-contamination of milk and to keep pumping safe for the different moms using the pump. All of this means that hospital-grade pumps are more expensive than regular breast pumps.
As hospital-grade breast pumps are designed for multiple users, they are generally bought by hospitals to help increase milk supply, particularly with premature babies and moms of twins.
This grade of breast pump is also bought by community groups and lactation support organizations supporting moms of their breastfeeding journey.
If you are staying in hospital for a few days or weeks with your baby then you be offered the use of a breast pump. If you are wanting to take a hospital-grade breast pump home then you would need to pay a small rental fee.
Lactation support centers may offer some moms free rental or you may have to rent it from them.
Individuals can buy hospital-grade breast pumps, but, as explained earlier, they are more expensive so it will depend on your budget. That said, as the term ‘hospital grade’ is not regulated, some brands will use the term to show that their great pump is more powerful and has more functions than standard electric pumps.
Hospital Grade Breast Models
In general, the Medela and Ameda models of hospital-grade breast pumps are much bigger and heavier than their standard single-use models.
Although they are bigger they are quieter and perform better than single-person models.
These models are recommended for establishing milk supply so are not generally bought by women, especially as they are very expensive compared to pumps you can buy from general stores. If your baby is premature or you are struggling with your milk supply you can look for places where you can rent a hospital-grade breast pump.
If you find that it does work well for you and you can afford to buy hospital-grade then it is worth the extra cost but most single-use electric pumps will work well once your baby has grown and milk production is established.
It is worth noting that all of the Hygiea bread pumps are considered hospital grade as they meet the requirements for the title.
Hospital Grade Breast Pumps vs Personal Breast Pumps
The main reason people choose hospital-grade breast pumps is if their baby is premature and/or in NICU. When babies are born premature and are put into NICU it can be difficult for moms to establish their milk.
In particular, the latching-on process is difficult to establish when babies are born prematurely. You will get support from NICU nurses and lactation consultants and they can advise on the best breast pump for you.
If you are currently pregnant or know that your baby may need to be delivered early, it is worth speaking to your lactation consultant for advice on how best to express if the case of premature birth.
Hospitals will keep a stock of breast pumps at all times and will generally recommend one over another. Nurses and lactation consultants in the ward are experts at helping mothers with a low milk supply and will have the best pump to establish a milk supply.
If you have established your milk supply and suddenly begin to have problems then a hospital grade pump can help you get on track more quickly.
If you have a health condition and know that sometimes that you may be too ill to breastfeed or you suddenly become ill, a hospital-grade breast pump means that you can express a lot of milk when you are feeling well and have enough milk in storage for when you are feeling too ill to feed or pump.
The other main reason why moms may choose a hospital grade pump is for they have twins or other multiple births. Pumping for more than one baby can be very demanding but with a hospital grade pump, the pressure is eased somewhat.
It had to be said, though, that for some moms renting a hospital-grade breast pump is simply a matter of trying out expressing and seeing how their milk supply is before investing in an expensive personal breast pump.
By renting a pump from a lactation consultant you can experiment with expressing and then make a decision on the right breast pump for you and your baby if you did want to pursue it.
As mentioned, hospital-grade breast pumps are larger and heavier which does not make them as easy to carry around from room to room or take away with you on vacation, for example.
For this reason, unless you absolutely need a hospital grade pump for the reasons above then a personal electric pump with suffice.
When you buy a personal pump you can use it easily in any location and can even take it into the office or to your family’s house if need be.
Where to find a Hospital Grade Breast Pump
As discussed, many hospitals will have a good stock of breast pumps for you to use on-site when you are in hospital and to rent for when you go home.
For plans who are birthing at home and your baby does not need specialist hospital care you can arrange with your community midwife team for a breast pump to be delivered or picked up.
You should check on your medical insurance cover to see if you can buy or rent a hospital-grade rent or if you need to finance personally.
Amazon also have a huge range of breasts pumps to suit all your needs.
If you are not affiliated with a hospital you can contact a local lactation team. If you are ever unsure of what pumps are available to rent and you do not know where to find one, a search for breast pumps for hire near me’ will show up a variety of options in your area.
The Most Popular Hospital Grade Breast Pumps
Ameda Elite and Ameda Platinum
These are the only true Ameda models that are classed as hospital-grade although the Ameda Purely Yours is very good at improving milk supply.
While both the Elite and the Platinum are high performing breast pumps the Platinum is Ameda’s best hospital grade breast pump for both premature babies and full-term babies.
A favorite among moms around the world due to its professional quality vacuum that pumps milk quickly and is comfortable to use. This model is easily transportable and, while expensive, is worth the cost.
If you need to express in a hurry then the Hygeia brand is one to consider as it allows you to let down milk quicker than many other models. The battery lasts for a long time and all models are very durable.
Spectra breast pumps have not traditionally been used in hospitals but they are now advertising as being hospital grade. The Spectra S1 and S2 are very good breast pumps that are for single use but you can enjoy the higher power vacuum that creates better suction, as you would see in a regular hospital grade pump.
They also have attachments for each use, which is why they can class their models as hospital-grade. If you are wanting to buy a breast pump rather than rent then a Spectra model will give you high power for a fraction of the cost.
Using a hospital-grade breast pump is, more often than not, for moms who are in hospital with their premature or NICU baby. This style of pump will help get the milk supply going and can support low supply.
Hospital-grade pumps are heavier and more expensive so, if you do not need to stay in a hospital for a long time, it may be best to buy a personal electric pump of a high caliber.