We, nursing mothers of this generation are lucky to have so many options on breast pumps these days. However, too many options can be confusing particularly for the first time mom and can lead to frustration. The goal here is to help shortlist some of the best breast pumps available according to budget and nursing needs so that you can make the right choice with your (first) breast pump purchase.
Do I Need A Breast Pump At All?
If you are going to bottle feed or are a full-time stay-at-home mom, you will not need a breast pump at all. If you are a stay-at-home mom who would like to leave the baby with another caretaker occasionally, you might need a pump. If you are a working mom, a mom who travels without baby often, or a mom of a premature baby, you will definitely need a breast pump if you are going to try to give breast milk as much as possible.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Breast Pump
Most breast pumps cost enough that the purchase shouldn’t be made without a little bit of thought going into it first. Recommendations from friends, family and baby and parenting magazines are great, but different pumps meet different needs. Here are some tips to choose the right pump for you:
- How often will you be using your pump? Women who are going to pump only occasionally may only need to purchase an inexpensive hand pump, while women who will be returning to work soon after giving birth will probably need an hospital grade, electric, double-pump to be successful at pumping.
- How portable do you need it to be? If you will be using it at work or on your morning commute, you will need something lightweight and portable, while a large bulky model might be fine for something that stays at home or at the office all of the time.
- How much time will you have for pumping sessions? If you will be pumping at home, it might be okay to get a single pump, but for very efficient and quick pumping you will need a double pump with strong suction.
- What power sources will you have available? Some pumps are battery powered, while others have an ac adapter. For some models, car adapters are also available for purchase. Factor this in when assessing different pumps.
- What size breast shield will you need? Most models come with a standard size breast shield. However, many models carry different sizes that can be ordered separately. If you have large breasts or small breasts, make sure that the model you choose has a wide variety of sizes that can be ordered if the standard size is not a good fit for you.
- How much can you spend? Find the right pump in the right price range is key. You don’t want to spend a lot for something you may use for a short time period. However, in this case, price often equals quality and if you are planning to use it for six months or more, you don’t want to skimp on an ineffective product. Remember, you can’t return breast pumps.
- Do your research! A breast pump can make or break breastfeeding success for a nursing mom. Make sure your pump meets all of your needs, is easy to use and fits your budget. It beats having to buy more than one!
Best Pumps For Occasional Pumping
The best pumps for occasional use are manual pumps. They are lightweight, inexpensive, highly portable, and have no need for electricity. They are, however, less efficient than electric pumps, so pumping with a manual pump can be a timely process. If you only pump once in a while to get some time away from the baby, than this is probably a great option for you. It is best to look for pumps with adjustable pressure settings and milk storage supplies that are compatible with the type of pump you are using. Pumps in this category are usually priced at less than $50.
Best Breast Pumps For Everyday Use
When I say for everyday use, I do not mean for all-day use. The pumps in this category are mostly single-side electric pumps that are good options for moms needing to pump once or twice a day because they work part-time, are in school or just need to be away from baby on a part-time basis. These pumps are usually portable, lightweight, affordable and convenient to use. These pumps generally are priced between $100 to $200.
Standouts in this category include the Medela Swing Single Electric Breast Pump, the Philips AVENT BPA Free Single Electric Breast Pump, the Lansinoh Affinity Pro Double Electric Breast Pump, the Spectra 9 Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump.
Best Pumps For Working Moms
Most working mothers will be pumping several times a day (5-10) and will need something convenient, portable, quick, and efficient. The pumps in this category will be electric, double breast pumps that usually run between $200 and $300.
Winners in this slot include the Medela Pump in Style Advanced, the Hygeia EnJoye LBI, the Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump, the Simplisse Double Electric Breastfeeding Companion and the Spectra Dew 350 Advanced Double Electric Hospital Grade Breast Pump.
Best Hospital Grade Pumps
Hospital Grade pumps are the most efficient, fastest pumping, and have the strongest suction. They are often used in hospitals when babies are born prematurely and have poor suck reflex in order to stimulate the mother’s milk supply. If you can afford one, they are an excellent buy for working moms because they are so fast and efficient. However, they are heavy, not so portable and can be very expensive costing an average of $900 to $2,000. Some that I would recommend are the Spectra Baby USA S2 Hospital Grade Double/single Breast Pump, the Medela Lactina Select Hospital Grade Breast Pump, the Ameda Elite Electric Breast Pump, the Hygeia EnDeare Hospital Grade Breast Pump, and the Medela Symphony Plus Hospital Grade Breast Pump.
Mother of twins, even if they are stay at home mothers, have the pumping needs of working moms. Any highly recommended double electric pump, including the ones mentioned in the sections above would be recommended with the addition of the Philips AVENT BPA Free Twin Electric Breast Pump.
Best Pumps for Small Or Large Breasts/Nipples
By and large, all Medela and Philips Avent products have the most flexibility and variability when it comes to accommodating women with small breasts or nipples and large breasts or nipples. Stick with one of these brands if you foresee this being a potential issue for you.
Best Breast Pumps Under $200
The Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump, the Spectra 9 Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump or the Spectra Dew 350 Advanced Double Electric Hospital Grade Breast Pump are highly recommended for breast pumps below $200.
Best Breast Pumps Under $100
You get what you pay for however for a great electric pump that cost below $100, The First Years Breastflow miPump Double Electric Breast Pump and Evenflo Single Breast Pump would be a good choice without sacrificing strength or quality.
Helpful Tips For Effective Pumping
- Make pumping routine. Try to pump in the same place at the same times each day. Get everything ready and use the same relaxation techniques each time.
- Massage your breasts before pumping. Some massage before pumping can stimulate your milk and clear clogged ducts.
- Stay hydrated. Drink a glass of water before pumping and one while pumping.
- Use visualization or relaxation techniques. This will allow your letdown to come faster and get things started more efficiently.
- Try to use sound to relax. Whether it is the sound of rain or your child’s voice, use sound to help you relax and flow better.
- Remind yourself of your baby. Tape a picture of your little one to your pump, keep a piece of his clothing or her blanket nearby or if your pump has sound recording capabilities, record and listen to his cries and coos as you pump. Thinking of your child will help your flow.
- Adjust suction and speed settings for comfort. If you are pumping a lot and your nipples are getting sore, adjust the settings from time to time for greater comfort.
- Pump as often as you would nurse. Pump every 2-3 hours, including at night if your baby is sleeping through the night. Nurse as often as you can when at home to keep up supply. Pump in the early morning when you will get a high yield.
- Make sure your pump is regularly maintained. Poor maintenance can affect function and yield. If you are not getting good results, try another pump.
- Pump on one breast while nursing on the other when at all possible. Double pump when it is not possible to pump and nurse.
DO YOU KNOW? Under the Affordable Care Act, your Health Insurance Plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment coverage such as the rental or cost of a new breast pump without copays for the duration of breastfeeding (before and after you have your baby). Talk to your doctor or contact your insurance company for more information about your breastfeeding benefits.
Videos: Breastfeeding And Pumping For New Moms
I sincerely hope the reviews provided here has been helpful in giving you the information you need to choose the best breast pump for you and your baby. Happy shopping!
Rachel Reeves is a mother of two, a doula, childbirth educator, a breastfeeding counselor and an M.S.W. She has lived in Palestine, Honduras, and most recently Seoul, South Korea. She currently resides in Michigan in the U.S.A and enjoys supporting women, teaching classes and writing about anything birth, baby or parenting related.