Using a breast pump is a lot like breastfeeding: it is a learned skill that takes practice.
Many women find they can breastfeed without a need or desire to pump. Others swear by the convenience of their breast pump and list a good pump as a necessity. Others are turned off by the bovine nature of pumping, preferring to not treat their breasts as udders. But, if you want to continue to breastfeed once you return to work, you will need to rent or purchase, and learn to use, a good breast pump.
There are many styles and models of breast pumps available. The two main categories of pumps are manual breast pumps or electric breast pumps. Manual breast pumps are operated by hand. Electric breast pumps run automatically either by the push of a button or the turn of a switch. Most breast pumps attach to only one breast at a time. High-end models may attach to both breasts, letting you empty both breasts at once.
You can purchase a breast pump or rent a breast pump from your local hospital or pharmacy. Rented pumps typically have a rapid cycling time of 48 to 60 sucks a minute and pump both breasts simultaneously. If your baby was born prematurely or if you have twins, a hospital-grade pump may be a good choice for you. Rented breast pumps do tend to be quite heavy and bulky machines. They may be quite expensive to rent. You may also need to purchase an accessory kit, which includes breast flanges, tubing, and collection bottles.