Author: TLN

Hospital-Grade Breast Pumps: Benefits and Drawbacks

Updated May 2020

Learn all about these high-powered breast pumps

If you’ve been reading about the various breast pump types on the market, you’ve probably heard a lot of different terms: open-system, closed-system, personal-use, single or double electric, hands-free, manual, hospital-grade breast pumps and more. It can feel like info overload but having so many options available means that every mom can find a match for her unique needs and lifestyle.

For some moms, a medical-grade breast pump may be a helpful option. Want to find out if a hospital-grade pump would be a good fit for you? Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of this powerful pump type. 

What does ‘hospital-grade breast pump’ mean?

Hospital-grade breast pumps are breast pumps with powerful motors that are typically used in a hospital setting but can also be rented on a monthly basis for personal use. These breast pumps work using a “closed-system”—meaning they have barriers in place to prevent milk and other fluids from entering the motor. This reduces contamination and makes them safe for multiple users. However, when using a hospital-grade breast pump, each mom still needs her own accessory kit. 

A doctor or lactation consultant may recommend a hospital-grade pump for a few different reasons. The most common one is to help moms establish their milk supply. If your baby is born premature, has health issues or has to spend time in the NICU, a hospital-grade breast pump helps your milk come in with enough supply, even if the start of breastfeeding is delayed. Other reasons these medical-grade pumps might be recommended are for moms with twins, those with lactation issues or those who just need the extra-strength pumping power. 

Benefits

1. Effectiveness

Hospital-grade pumps are more powerful and effective than many personal-use pumps. This added strength better mimics your baby’s natural stimulation and removal of milk, which is especially helpful for moms in that first month or so when they’re still establishing a milk supply. Because hospital-grade breast pump rentals are typically by month, moms can benefit from their extra strength when they need to early on, and then continue pumping with a personal-use option later.

2. Efficiency

Because these pumps are so powerful, they’re also more efficient. That translates to shorter pumping sessions, which is great for moms who have to pump often or quickly or who want to store a large quantity of milk. More milk in less time? That’s a no-brainer. Another plus is their durability—as they’re typically used by multiple moms, these pumps are built to last. 

3. Great for exclusively pumping

While many moms can benefit from a hospital-grade pump, they are an especially good fit for those moms who need or choose to exclusively pump, who have medical issues that require a high-powered pump, or whose babies have difficulty latching and nursing. This pump helps build a strong milk supply when a baby isn’t nursing directly by regularly “emptying” the breasts to stimulate and maintain milk production.

Drawbacks

1. Bulky size

Hospital-grade pumps are large in size, making them heavy and not very portable. Since these are often used while in the hospital or for the first few weeks after having a baby if you’re at home, portability shouldn’t impact you too much. However, if you’re a working mom who’s frequently on the go, this type of pump is not your best option (unless you can get your workplace to purchase one for all nursing moms at the company to use—it sounds like a dream, but we’ve heard amazing stories like this!).

2. Expense

Renting a hospital-grade pump can be expensive, depending on how long you plan to use it. Of course, in certain instances, the need or benefits outweigh the cost. And for some moms, their insurance plan may cover all or part of the rental fee. 

However, if your plan doesn’t cover the rental cost, you may opt to rent a pump one month at a time. The Lactation Network offers a reasonable monthly out-of-pocket cost, and you can keep the pump for as long as you need, even if it’s just for that first month, so you can get your milk supply where it needs to be for you and your baby.  Whatever you decide, it’s worth assessing your options and doing the math. 

3. Need to connect with a provider

When renting a hospital-grade pump, you must work with a reputable provider to ensure the pump is high-quality, clean and in excellent condition. How do you start the rental process? Get in touch with your hospital, ask your doctor or insurance provider for recommendations or have our team at The Lactation Network set you up with a convenient hospital-grade breast pump rental.

If you’re still weighing the pros and cons of a hospital-grade breast pump vs a regular electric or manual option, take a look at our favorite insurance-covered breast pumps to help you make your decision. Contact us or check out our store to pinpoint the best breast pump for you and your lifestyle. We’ll do all the legwork to make sure you have what you need for a successful breastfeeding journey.