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Of all the tasks that new mums finds themself doing, using a breast pump feels perhaps the least glam. As breastfeeding can take up such a large proportion of your time anyway, the last thing you want is to spend hours with an ineffective or cumbersome contraption. Medela breast pumps are renowned for their effectiveness, frequently recommended by midwives or lactation experts, and used in hospitals around the world.
Fortunately the Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump is a winning design that’s been a popular buy with new mums on an ongoing basis. It’s neat and light, is comfortable to use, and can be powered by battery as well as mains electric, so is easy to carry around.
So how does it work? The Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump has a plastic funnel that you place firmly over your nipple to create a vacuum. The funnel attaches to a motor that creates a rhythmic sucking action, while a screw-in bottle underneath is where your milk collects – this can be kept in the fridge, or you could transfer the milk into storage bags if you prefer. A dial enables you to turn up the strength of the vacuum suction, though you are advised to start on the minimum setting each time and build up.
Of course, how much milk you produce obviously depends on more than the pump you’re using: it varies enormously from woman to woman, or even between each time you express, depending on how well you’re feeling and other factors.
For a pump that’s marketed as “mini”, this model is suprisingly powerful. Even if feeding is going well, it’s useful to have such a pump on hand, just in case. Keeping spare breast milk in the fridge or freezer is useful if you want to get your other half to share’feeding sometimes, you can’t feed because it’s too painful, or if you have an emergency but don’t want to use formula.
What we loved
Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump’s size. This is the smallest pump on the market, and can be popped in a reasonable size handbag, no problem. The bottle is BPA-free polypropylene, the safest plastic for storing breast milk in.
It’s very comfortable to hold – it’s designed with all the right angles so milk won’t dribble away or spill. When you’re an exhausted new mum, even simply sitting and pumping at 3am can feel like climbing Mount Everest. I found I could happily relax with my pump on one breast, while I had a cup of tea in the other hand.
I also found the vaccum action comfortable to use on sore nipples, especially if you can keep the pump on the gentlest setting. There were many occasions when I was too uncomfortable to breastfeed, and I used the pump instead. As pumping may help keep breast milk flow up if you’ve missed a feed, this was a valuable way for me to avoid automatically turning to formula feeds.
The funnel and bottle are easy to clean and can be popped in the dishwasher, or your usual steam or cold water steriliser unit.
What to watch out for
The Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump is quite noisy so not particularly discreet if you’re planning to use the pump in public toilets, say, after you return to work. It’s possible you might get some funny looks when you leave the cubicle! This noise level could also be an issue at home if your baby or partner is trying to sleep nearby.
The pump does feel a little ‘plasticky’ – if you want something super-durable, it might not be the best choice as it’s really designed for short-term or occasional use.
I found assembling the pump a little tricky at first, in particular attaching the motor unit to the funnel. If you don’t get it right, you won’t create a vaccum ,which can be frustrating.
You’ll need to remember to take off the tiny rubber valve membrane after each use, and wash it individually – be careful, as dropping it could be a bit like hunting for a contact lens.
And of course, there’s the fairly high price. This might be an issue if you’re on a tight budget.
Who is the Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump best for?
Mums after a small, quality pump that’s easy to carry and quicker than a manual.
Medela are experts in the nursing field, and the Medela Mini Electric Pump has an award-winning reputation as a must-have for breastfeeding mums. Compact, comfortable, effective, easy to use and quicker than using a manual pump, it can be used with batteries while you’re away, or on mains power when you’re at home. It’s not the cheapest option, but it’s worth the extra pennies. However, it is quite noisy and is intended for short-term, rather than heavy-duty, use.