If you plan on breastfeeding and don’t want to have to resort to using formula when you’re out for the day or at work, then using the best breast pumps is a must. There are many different types of breast pumps to choose from such as electric and manual. Ultimately, the type of pump you choose should meet your pumping needs and work well with your budget. Typically, manually models are much more affordable, but electric pumps remain the best seller simply because they’re faster, easier, and gentler to use.
With so many styles and models to choose from it can be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for based on convenience, budget, the frequency of use, and ease of use. If you’re a first-time mom then picking out a pump can be even more difficult. With that in mind, we’ve created an extensive breast pump buying guide to give you the scoop on what type of features and styles you can expect to run into on your search.
Breast Pump Buying Guide
Most pumps on the market are BPA free and dishwasher safe. Some models even come with bottles you can use to pump directly into. Electric models feature controls that allow you to adjust both the speed and suction power. While there are many models to choose from all pumps tend to fall into the following three categories: electric, manual, or electric hospital grade.
Electric Hospital Grade
These pumps are pretty heavy-duty, featuring more suction level options and a more powerful motor. This style of pump will extract milk much faster and is often very quiet running. Because of the high price, this type of pump is often rented.
The best manual pumps will allow you to easily extract milk using your hands and a steady pressing motion. This type of pump lacks a motor, so they’re often very compact and don’t make any sound during use. Typically, this style is used for travel purposes. However, many women complain that certain models can actually be very uncomfortable to use. Because of this, you may want to do a little more research before you buy. Read breast pump reviews to find out which models are considered easier to use and have a reputation for being gentler. We’ve all heard about the dangers of using cheap breast pumps and how they can damage the nipples, so it’s important to get some feedback to learn more about what you can expect in terms of comfort and ease of use.
Manual pumps are actually a great choice for moms who pump once a day or less. They’re ideal for short-term separations, such as when you leave your infant with a sitter if you want to hit the gym.
This type of pump may also appeal to women searching for a backup model for their electric pump or for moms who want a quieter pump to use during the night.
Unfortunately, most models only empty one breast at a time, which means using one can be very time-consuming. Additionally, manual pumps usually require more effort and take longer to use. Some moms also claim that this type is unable to completely empty the breasts, an issue which can lead to a reduced milk supply.
Electric Breast Pumps
Most women going back to work decide on an electric pump because it can efficiently empty the breasts. These pumps usually come in a carry case with the option to use electricity or batteries. Some models even come with a cooler which allows you to safely transport your breast milk home without the worry of the milk turning. Hands down, this type of breast pump is the most popular. There are also more options to choose from in terms of features, power, and ease of use. A breast pump comparison can help you narrow down the right model for you, based on power source, features, extra accessories, and ease of use.
One of the main advantages that come with using the best electric breast pump over a manual model is the speed in which they’re able to express milk. A good model will feature a powerful motor that provides sufficient suction.
Most types of electric pumps feature double pumps, which means you can use the pump to express milk from both breasts at the same time. Obviously, these models are more efficient and can save you a lot of time.
Adequate suction settings can also be important. Search for a model that features an adjustable vacuum, which will allow you to experiment with the settings until you find one that’s efficient and comfortable. Many higher priced models feature at least a couple of setting options.
When it comes to pump systems, you can choose from closed or open systems. With an open system, there’s no physical barrier between the milk and the pump motor. This means there’s a possibility for the milk to be drawn to the motor, resulting in mold and bacteria growth. If you choose to share your pump with other women, this can lead to the transmission of viruses because this style can also be very difficult to clean. A closed system is often recommended for these reasons. The closed pump system features barriers that prevent the milk from reaching the pump. The spread of viruses and diseases are also minimized thanks to the included filters. The electric hospital grade models typically feature a closed system.
If portability is a priority for you, look for a pump that’s compact and easy to transport. A good sized model shouldn’t weigh more than eight pounds and should come with its own case.
The type of power source the pump uses is another important consideration depending on how often and where you’ll use the pump the most. If you plan on pumping more often away from home and an outlet is not often available, search for a battery powered model.
Most models will come with an AC adapter that you can plug into a wall outlet. If you’re pumping on a plane or in your car, a battery pack or car adapter will definitely come in handy. If you need to use the battery powered feature for a long period of time, we recommend purchasing a rechargeable battery pack. However, only a handful of models offers this feature.
Memory settings is another great feature and one that can help save some time. This setting stores your preferred pumping setup to its internal memory, eliminating the hassle that comes with programming the pump every time you use it.
Keep in mind that electric pumps can be pretty noisy and may even be loud enough to wake a sleeping infant in an otherwise silent house. However, there are some quieter running models out there, but these are usually the higher priced pumps.
Important Breast Pump Accessories
Flanges are the plastic pieces that are placed over the breast when pumping. The suction will pull the nipple into the flange. It’s very important for the flanges to fit correctly. Most pumps offer a variety of flange sizes. You don’t want the nipples to constantly rub against the flanges because it can lead to infection, pain, bleeding, or abrasions. Obviously, if you’re not happy with the flanges that come with a pump and you’re looking for a better fit, you’ll want to purchase brand specific flanges.
Using a pump with two phases can be important because each of the steps is designed to mirror what takes place when nursing an infant. The first step of the process is stimulation where the infant takes shallow, short sucks to produce let down. During the second phase, the milk comes in and the infant is able to suck deeper and longer.
Breast Pump Buying Tips
When you’re shopping around for a breast pump, you’ll want to match the pump with how you plan on using it. If you’re going to be a stay at home mom for several weeks or months then you’re probably not going to need to pump all that often, so a manual breast pump may be all you need. While many moms feel that manual models can’t quite measure up to an electric pump, there are some good ones out there so don’t count them out.
If you work outside the home, then you’ll need to purchase an electric pump which can save you plenty of time. As for whether you decide to go with a double or single, you should choose the style you feel the most comfortable with.
If your newborn must stay in the hospital for a longer period of time, we recommend renting a hospital pump because you’ll probably end up pumping several times a day in order to supply your infant with the milk he or she needs. You can always switch to a personal pump later on. However, if your baby is in the NICU or you have a history of poor milk production, then you’ll definitely appreciate the hospital pump’s larger more powerful motor.
In most cases, you won’t need this type of powerful pump as they can be very heavy and difficult to lug around.
You’ll also want to consider buying a pump from a well-known brand because their parts are easier to replace. If you choose to go with an unknown or newer company you can expect it to take much longer to get the part you need or have the pump repaired.
Buying a breast pump online is a more affordable way to go, however, we recommend finding the pump you’re interested in at a local store in order to check it out up close and personal before you hit that buy now button. You may also find a selection of breast pumps to check out at a local prenatal class.
We hope this guide provides you with a better understanding of your options and how each type and style of breast pump works.
We’ve also included reviews of the top three models of breast pumps on the market to date, in order to help you find a reliable, high-quality pump that can work with your budget and meet your needs. Each model we’ve reviewed has a high mom approval rating so you know they’re top of the line. We’ve also taken a closer look at how each of these models works day to day, what you can expect in terms of features and maintenance, and what makes each of these pumps stand out from other top of the line models.
Medela Freestyle Breast Pump:
This is one portable pump and the lightweight design and clip and strap system allows moms to pump on the go. While some new moms felt that setting up the pump can be complicated, once you get the hang of using this pump it can definitely be a huge timesaver.
Spectra S1 baby breast pump:
Who wouldn’t love a pump that’s allows you to choose from a wide range of speed and suction levels in order to enjoy a more comfortable pumping experience? Really, this is a pump that has it all. It’s easy to use, adjust, clean, and maintain. It’s also highly portable and comes equipped with a great automatic shut off feature that’s just perfect for moms who tend to fall asleep during early morning or late night pump sessions.
Ameda Purely Yours Ultra Breast Pump:
This breast pump system is reasonably priced and it comes with plenty of extras. This pump is customizable allowing you to control the suction level and speed, and it also comes equipped with a cooler and tote bag, which makes it highly portable.
The Medela Freestyle breast pump is a best-selling model that has a lot to offer the working mom or the frequent pumper. The lightweight design, innovative clip and strap design and the customizable features can add a ton of convenience to any busy mom’s life. Popular for its portable design that allows you to pump hands-free, the pump’s nine suction levels, backlit LCD display, and overall quality make it a must-have pump if you love to multitask.
The Spectra S1 baby breast pump is a top of the line model that’s highly customizable, portable, and easy to use. You can choose from a wide range of suction and speed levels, utilize the volume control to enjoy a virtually silent pumping experience, and view your pump time on the digital display that’s also equipped with a nightlight. This is our top rated product and it comes as no surprise that it scored so well with moms in a number of areas.
The Ameda Purely Yours breast pump Ultra package comes packed with all the gear and accessories breastfeeding moms need. This is a highly customizable pump that allows you to control the speed and suction levels. This is also a closed system that can be used as a single or double pump.