Remember when you started your research about breast pumps? Along the way, you have discovered the two types, which is electric and manual. However, you might also be familiar with the term “hospital-grade” attached to certain models.
For someone who is deciding on which breast pump is best for them, it can be confusing when this term is thrown in your choices. After all, if something is called “hospital-grade,” wouldn’t it mean that it is heavy-duty and trustworthy when it comes to sanitation?
As you can see here, some manufacturers in the market call their electric pumps as “hospital-grade.” But what does this term really means? Is it a criteria rating for breast pumps? Is it a certification from passing specific guidelines? And should it affect your decision in choosing your breast pump?
What Does the FDA Say?
The Food and Drug Administration does not recognize the term “hospital-grade.” According to them, different companies may have multiple definitions when they label their units as hospital-grade. Because this term cannot confine breast pumps inside a specific standard, it is difficult to say that all hospital-grade pumps perform at the same level of quality.
What is the Relation of Hospitals to This Term?
The term hospital-grade stuck because back then, hospital breast pumps are indeed different from personal breast pumps. These breast pumps are more heavy-duty when it comes to performance and have more features than units sold for personal use. Perhaps because of this distinction that manufacturers sell their models as “hospital-grade” to stand out from the competition.
What Do Most Companies Mean When They Market “Hospital-Grade” Pumps?
As the FDA mentioned, there is no specific category or standard that pumps must pass to earn the title. However, units that are deemed hospital-grade by their manufacturers do have similarities:
- These units are the ones that their brands market as the “strongest” model in their line. Usually, their target consumers are those with low milk supply and need something to establish and increase the milk they produce. Although, do take note that because there are no tests and criteria, the suction strength of each hospital-grade pump varies.
- Other than having an impressive suction capacity, “hospital-grade” pumps are commended as heavy-duty and durable. They are made for multiple users anyway.
- Hospital-grade pumps use a closed system instead of an open system. What this means is that there is no direct contact between the pump mechanism and where the milk collects.
What Makes Hospital-Grade Pumps Different than Other Pumps
The main difference between hospital-grade pumps and personal-use pumps is that the former is designed for multiple users. You can buy a hospital-grade pump, but you can also opt to rent them. Users will bring their own flanges, diaphragms, valves, and tubing, as well as milk collection bottles. As you can see, these attachments are what comes in contact with you directly and your milk. This way, all the users are not at risk for cross-contamination.
To keep it sanitary from multiple users, hospital-grade pumps are all closed system pumps. The diaphragm or barrier between the milk and the motor is essential to avoid milk build-up. The closed system also prevents mold growth and is generally easier to clean. The reason for this is because no milk seeps toward the pumping mechanism.
And while it is true that the suction strength of each hospital-grade pump is independent, they are still going to have a good capacity. Not only is it because multiple moms will use these pumps, but a reliable suction strength is also necessary for increasing or maintaining the milk supply.
Are Hospital-grade Pumps Better?
In a way, yes. After all, no mother will say no to a strong, hygienic, and durable breast pump. However, as we have mentioned throughout this article, there is no standard regarding this term. Consequently, it is difficult to guarantee that a specific hospital-grade model is going to perform satisfactorily. At the end of the day, the qualities of hospital-grade pumps will still vary for each unit.