If you’re looking to buy an electric breast pump one thing to consider is whether it has massage mode. You might be wondering what massage mode is, and whether it will help you express breastmilk. Massage mode, also known as letdown mode, is a feature on most electric breast pumps. Continue reading to learn about massage mode and how to use it while expressing milk.
What is massage mode and how does it work?
Massage mode is a setting on your breast pump that mimics the fast, fluttering suckling that a baby does to stimulate your milkflow (letdown). What this means is that your breast pump will suck and release at more cycles per minute than in expression mode. Many pumping mamas rely on this quick suckling speed to simulate letdown. The Spectra S1, S2, S9+ and M1 all have a massage modes at 70 cycles per minute. The vacuum level (strength of suction) does not get as intense as it can in expression mode.
Once letdown is achieved in massage mode, many women switch to expression mode where they can get a slower, but more intense suction speed. This mimics the slow, steady suck-and-swallow pattern that your baby will do during a good milkflow. Once milkflow slows, you can switch back to massage mode to stimulate another letdown.
There is no hard fast rule for using massage mode. Some pumping mamas find more success leaving their breast pump in massage mode the entire time, while others only use it at the beginning of their session, and even some don’t use it at all – and so on and so forth. It’s important to play around with the settings on your breast pump to find the combination or pattern that works best for you. As your baby gets older and breastmilk becomes more established, you might also find your ideal settings will change, too.
Do I need a breast pump with massage mode?
Some women don’t need massage mode to stimulate letdown. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know before using a breast pump how your body will respond and whether you’ll need massage mode. Here are some common situations we’ve encountered that might help guide your decision – and as always, if you’re unsure, you can reach out to our expert customer support team for help 🙂
If your baby is older
If your baby is older and you’re just starting to use your breast pump (perhaps you’re returning to work after maternity leave) you’ll most likely need massage mode. Although every body is different, once your milk supply and breastfeeding routine is established it’s very hard to introduce a new type of expression (we recommend you start pumping a few weeks before returning to work as well to get used to pumping), so it’s important that your breast pump is able to mimic your baby as much as possible.
If you’re exclusively expressing
If you’re relying on your breast pump to express breastmilk for your baby, then you’ll need a full range of settings, including massage mode, to ensure you can establish milkflow and maintain milk supply for the long run. For exclusive expressers we recommend and strongly encourage fully-customisable hospital grade breast pumps, like the Spectra S1 or S2.
If you’re primarily breastfeeding
If you’re primarily breastfeeding, but pumping while you’re away from your baby a few times per week (perhaps while you’re at work or out for the day) you’ll most likely need massage mode as it will mimic your normal breastfeeding routine. Personal grade pumps like the Spectra S9+ and M1 are suitable for these situations. Although most personal grade pumps have massage mode, there are some on the market that do not – we strongly encourage you get one that has massage mode.
If you just had your baby you may not need massage mode
If you’ve just had your baby and you’re trying to build and maintain milk supply, you may not need massage mode to stimulate letdown. New mums often have an oversupply of milk which makes it easy to start out and get used to a breast pump without massage mode. The Dew 350 hospital grade pump is Spectra’s most powerful breast pump and it does not have massage mode. Many new mums have successfully used this pump to build and maintain milk supply and have continued to use it long term.
If you’re unsure about whether the Dew 350 is right for you, or need help selecting another breast pump, our expert customer support team is here to help!