In the facebook breastfeeding groups that I am a part of, this is a usual question. Though I think lactation councilors, consultants and experts are trained to say that a good pump is not essential to breastfeeding success, I would say it is only essential if you plan to be regularly away from baby.
My first pump was a manual single pump from a brand that I would not mention because it did not work for me. It led me to believe that breastfeeding would not work when I went back to my day job as an IT professional. Little did I know, at that time when there was no facebook yet, that that amount was normal.
In any case, with my 2nd baby, a friend introduced me to Medela. It was pricey indeed and that must have been the most expensive gadget I had bought in my entire life until now – 3 years after. Yet, it was an investment worth every centavo. I bought the Medela Freestyle which was and still is the top of the line of pumps at Medela.
My 2nd baby was breastfed for 13 months. He was born April and I started regularly using it on July. I used it for 4xday, 7days a week for 10 months. When I got pregnant, I tapered off my pumping sessions and stopped. I took out the battery and kept it away.
A few months before I gave birth, I had Freestyle checked and cleaned at MedelaMoms. They reported everything in good order.
My 3rd baby is almost 18 months. With her, I started pumping once a day at Day 5 – for several reasons. I gave birth at the end of November and went back to work mid February. I’ve been using it 3xday, 5 days a week, for 15 months plus once a day on weekends for the first 14 months and now, 2-3 x a day on weekends.
I believe my Freestyle is used a lot and still works well. I’ve recommended it to my SIL and I have no qualms recommending it again