ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — World Breast Pumping Day on January 27, acknowledges the challenges that breastfeeding mothers have because of work or school. For them, a breast pump is the only thing that allows them to continue breastfeeding their children.

Breastfeeding is challenging especially for first-time mothers. Breast pumps can allow women to continue breastfeeding, they can also help moms who are having difficulty getting their babies to latch on or who’s baby has to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

A breast pump is an essential tool for moms who want to breastfeed but have some obstacles, said St. Peter’s Health Partners Lactation Consultant, Barb Donnelly. Breast pumps vary in price and can easily be purchased online or rented through a medical equipment company.

Choosing the right breast pump

Breast pumps can be expensive, in some cases hundreds of dollars. It may be tempting to buy one second-hand or use one that was passed down from a family member or friend. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explains this can be dangerous because many are designed for use by one person.

“Even if a used device looks really clean, potentially infectious particles may survive in the breast pump and/or its accessories for a surprisingly long time,” said FDA obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Kelly Colden.

Questions to ask before purchasing a breast pump

  • How and when will the pump be used?
  • How much time will it take to pump breastmilk? How much time is available?
  • Are the instructions easy to follow?
  • Where will it be used? Is an outlet available to use an electric pump?
  • Do the breast shields fit?

*Source: FDA

Pumps should be cleaned and disinfected in between uses. The FDA recommends adhering to cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer but offers these suggestions for general cleaning:

  • Rinse pieces that come into contact with breast milk in cool water as soon as possible after pumping.
  • Wash pieces separately using liquid dishwashing soap and plenty of warm water.
  • Rinse pieces thoroughly with hot water for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Place pieces on a clean paper towel or in a clean drying rack, allowing them to air dry.

“If you’re renting or buying a multiple-user device, ask the person providing the pump to make sure all components (including internal tubing), have been cleaned and disinfected according to the manufacturer’s instructions,” the FDA said.

Breastfeeding moms need support

While it’s important to purchase or rent a breast pump that works best for them, breastfeeding mothers also need support. The number of mothers still breastfeeding when their babies are six months old drops significantly, even more so when their babies are 12 months old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Barb Donnelly said breastfeeding moms who are feeling discouraged will continue breastfeeding if they have the support of family members or friends.

Breastfeeding rates in U.S. versus N.Y.

Breastfed (ever)Breastfed at six monthsBreastfed at 12 months
National84.158.335.3
New York87.459.837.8
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention