Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lactation Problems and the Breast Pump Dilemma

I've always intended to breastfeed my babies.  On the farm, we never use supplementation of any sort for our babies; if it is medically necessary for them, they are culls from our program and we don't sell them to our customers.  If I won't feed formula to baby goats, I'm certainly not going to feed it to my babies.

We're in the middle of week 2, though, and I have one baby that will nurse from one breast.  Monkey will nurse one breast; Football won't nurse either.  In fact, last week, she would scream hysterically if put on a breast and, if her mouth was forced over the nipple, she bit it.   Since she had nursed fine for the first couple of days, I didn't worry about it for a while, but at a week my pediatrician said that she needed nutrition, so I've been pumping and bottle feeding her.

Naturally, I hope this is going to be a temporary solution.  I try to offer her the breast as often as I can, and she's gotten better - she no longer screams, and will occasionally give a desultory suck or two.  I'm actively looking for a lactation consultant in the hopes that one can suggest something that I haven't tried, but, at the end of the day, it just depends on whether she'll flip the switch and breast feed or not.

Which leads to the problems of breast pumps.  I had an Ameda Elite at the hospital, and I rented one for a week.  It was OK, although the case on my rental was broken, which caused an annoying squeak, so it had to be returned.  It was a $60 / month rental, though, so by the time I used it for a year, I might as well have bought a new one. (New ones are $800, resale value on ebay is about $450)

In the interim, however, a friend who had to pump exclusively for her twins recommended the Medela Symphony.  I tried to rent one, but there aren't any available in my area, so I ended up with a Medela Lactina Select instead, which is basically the older model of the Symphony.  At $30 / month, it is very affordable, but it does not have nearly the functionality of the symphony.  In particular, it lacks Medela's 2 phase pumping.  The Symphony costs $1200 and has a resale value on ebay of about $700-800, and rents for $80/month, when it is available.  I prefer the pumping feel of the Lactina Select to the Elite, so I am thinking that I should probably buy a Medela product.

My other option is to buy a high end consumer grade pump. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced also has the 2 phase pumping option, if not quite as many settings as the Symphony.  It costs $260 and has an ebay resale value of around $50.  But it's not really intended for pumping 8x a day for a year, and I may have to buy two of them if one burns out (Although the motor is warrantied for a year, the rest of it only has a 90 day warranty.)

My insurance won't pay for a pump, but it looks as though the cost will be covered by my FSA, so I won't need to come up with the cash for any of these out of pocket.  Still, even though it is paid for in pre-tax dollars, $1200 is a lot of money, and there is no guarantee that the current resale value will hold after I have used it for a year.

If I knew that Football was never going to nurse, I'd buy the Symphony or maybe the Elite; conversely, if I knew she was going to nurse, I would buy the Pump in Style.  But, since the future is uncertain, I have to choose.  Theoretically, I have until my pump rental expires in early December to decide, but since I'm planning to get a better pump, I plan to make the decision reasonably soon.

Does anyone have any experience with these pumps?  Even if you don't, would you consider a hospital grade pump a want or a need, in light of my situation?


  1. I really hope you can find a lactation expert to come & help you out! Have you contacted the La Leche League?? As for the pump, I would without any shadow of a doubt get the very best you can afford!! Good luck!

  2. Congrats on the birth of the twins. I have no advice when it comes to breast feeding as I was unable to do it with either of my children, a fact that still pains me some 20 years later.