Breast pumps are incredibly helpful when it comes to ensuring a good breastfeeding relationship between a mother and baby whenever the mom has to be away from her child, regardless of how long that period is.
Whether it is pumping breast milk for a caregiver so that a mom can run an errand, go on a date night with daddy, or go to an important medical appointment, leaving breast milk for baby to drink is important to ensure his sustenance during that period of being away from mom.
Pumping breast milk as well to encourage milk supply, or balance over supply issues could also be a reason for pumping breast milk.
Other reasons that would merit regular milk expression is when the mom needs to go to work, and when the baby needs to be left at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU due to certain medical conditions or if he is born prematurely.
Pumping breast milk also helps maintain supply when the mother is away from the baby, or when mom tries to re-lactate. Some moms may also be forced or choose to exclusively pump due to her own physical condition, or that of her baby like a cleft palate. It is also great for mothers who want to stimulate lactation for an adoptive baby.
Some moms meanwhile have to pump for donation purposes, especially in the time of hospitalizations of other babies, disasters, and calamities.
Whatever a mom’s reasons for expressing milk, pumping breast milk will always be a noble thing to do – if only to continue the breastfeeding relationship between her and her infant. And while hand expression can be done, breast pumps remain to be the most efficient way to express milk especially in an office setting where there usually is a set amount of time employees are allowed to pump milk.
This guide aims to help you purchase the best breast pump to suit your needs. We will be giving you a lowdown on the different types of breast pumps and what situation it is best to use for. Factors to consider when buying a breast pump, plus our most recommended breast pumps in the market.
Types of Breast Pumps in the Market
1. Manual Pump
Manual breast pumps are one of the most common breast pumps in the market, and it is the most affordable type to boot. It usually consists of a breast shield, and then a contraption to create a vacuum suction in the breast. This is usually a lever that the mom presses unto until the milk gets extracted. The extracted milk then drips to the milk-collecting device, which is usually a bottle.
Manual pumps usually fit most generic bottles in the market. It is the usual pump chosen by moms to relieve engorgement. Some use it as a back-up pump for when there is sudden power interruption, or when the main pump malfunctions.
The advantage of this type of pump is it is usually easy to clean, disassemble and reassemble, it is very affordable too. The disadvantages on the other hand is that it can be tiring to use, and it is not a efficient as an electric breast pump when it comes to faster milk expression. Some brands also do not have enough suction power to stimulate a letdown, moreso to empty a breast, and help maintain supply.
2. Single Electric Pump
Single electric pumps are breast pumps whose suction power rely on a power source which is electricity. It usually has a motorized pump attached to the breast milk-collecting device.
Compared to a manual breast pump, a single electric pump is more efficient when it comes to expressing milk quickly and in encouraging a letdown. Vacuum suction is also usually more powerful vis-à-vis a manual pump.
The down side though is that this pump only expresses milk from one breast at a time, and is not as heavy duty a pump as a double electric. It could also not help maintain a supply because when compared to other pumps, its suction power is not as strong to trigger more milk letdowns. And though it is more expensive than a manual pump, it is the cheapest type of electric pump in the market.
It is best as a back-up pump for when something goes wrong with the dual electric pump used by an exclusive pumper, or women who pump milk in the office.
3. Dual Electric Pump
Dual electric pumps are the common choice of pump for working mothers who need to express milk while at work. There are many efficient dual electric pumps in the market, and when you chance upon a good one, then you can be sure to have milk to bring home to your baby and at the same time your supply will be maintained provided you pump every three hours. Moreover, it helps speed up pumping because both breasts can be pumped simultaneously.
Dual electric pumps though are pricier compared to single electric pumps and manual pumps. The most efficient ones are even costlier. The good news though is that usually this can be procured through insurance. Ask your provider about it before purchasing one out of pocket.
The only disadvantage of this is that there usually are many parts that you have to keep in place. Assembly can take time too. If the need is for relactation purposes or for pumping milk for a premature infant then a hospital grade pump may do a better job at it.
4. Battery-Operated Pump
Battery operated pumps help a lot when it comes to being on the go, and having emergency back ups during a power failure, or a long haul trip.
This type of pump usually provides peace of mind to a working mom who may suddenly have to pump in location, or would have to express milk amid sudden power black outs.
The disadvantage of a battery-operated pump though is that the power suction may not be as strong as electric pumps, especially when the battery is a bout to get drained. Batteries can also be costly so it may be best to buy a rechargeable one instead. It is relatively affordable, but costlier compared to a manual pump.
5. Hospital-Grade Pump
A hospital-grade pump is hands-down the best type of breast pump in the market in terms of efficient pumping of breast milk and in maintaining the supply of breast milk.
As the name suggests it is the choice of hospitals especially when it comes to expressing milk for premature babies. And while it is the most expensive type of breast pump in the market, the motor of this hospital grade pump is shareable. All the moms need to do is buy their separate breast shields, tubing, bottles and equipment.
Hospital grade pumps have a closed system therefore there is no danger of contaminating the expressed milk with another mom’s milk, or with those that may have stuck in the motor.
6. Unconventional Breast Pumps/Breast milk collecting devices
There is now a lot of unconventional milk collecting devices in the market today, and one of which is the HAKAA pump. This pump is like a manual pump but it only has a breast shield that is directly connected to the bottle. It has no motor or lever that will simulate suction. All the mother has to do is to attach the device unto the other breast while the baby is nursing on the other. The milk from that other breast then flows to this unconventional pump.
Other breastmilk collecting devices is one that the mothers wear inside their bras. Although there is no active power suctioning the milk, the device catches on the milk from both breasts.
Choosing the right breast pump for you
With the many types of breast pump in the market today, it is easy to get confused as to what type to purchase, and what brand to buy. Below is a list of possible reasons to use a breast pump and what type of pump it is best suited for.
Here is the list:
- Manual Pump – This is best for easing engorgement, and occasional need to pump milk from a direct-latching parent.
- Single Electric Pump – This pump is best for trying to correct oversupply. It is also great for mothers who prefer to use something more efficient in easing engorgement. It is great as a back up pump for office pumping and for exclusively pumping mothers.
- Dual Electric Pump – Is best for moms who need to pump milk while away at work. An efficient one can help maintain milk supply too.
- Battery–operated Pump – Is best back up pump for the working mom who may do location or field work from time to time. It is also great to keep handy for emergency purposes.
- Hospital Grade Pump – Is the most efficient pump in the market today and it is best for moms who are trying to express milk for their premature infants, or those with babies who cannot directly latch on to their mothers. It is also great for those who may want to relactate, or stimulate lactation for an adoptive baby. And while this is also great for working moms, it is too expensive and too bulky to carry around.
Other supplies and accessories you may need when expressing breast milk:
When pumping breast milk, moms may need to stock on or buy accessories needed for regularly expressing milk. These include:
- Breast milk insulated cooler – While dual electric pumps usually come with a cooler, not all does have one that comes with their package. And while a special cooler for breast milk will be, well, cool, moms can definitely just buy any insulated cooler bag that can keep milk chilled for at least 12 hours.
- Pump Bag – Most electric pumps come with a pump bag, but others don’t. If the mother would like to have hers bigger to accommodate more of her needs like cleaning materials, and additional bottles then you can consider this a must-have.
- Milk storage bags – are essential when freezing breast milk. Most moms though just leave these at home for when they are all ready to freeze. Get one that us of high quality so as not to affect breast milk consistency and keep it safe in the freezer. It also is space saving and makes breast milk easier to organize by date. It also makes thawing easier, and filling the bottles not that time consuming. Some women though prefer breast milk trays especially when they are really not regularly pumping milk.
- Microwave Sterilizers – These are heaven-sent for moms on the go, or those who want to skip the step of sterilizing pump parts altogether. Some breast pump brands have their own version of this.
- Milk bottles and extra lids– are for expressing milk, and storing milk in the refrigerator (as opposed to freezing them). It is also what is used to feed infants while the mother is away.
- Labels and markers – Are very important as expressed milk has to be labeled as to when they were pumped. For babies left in the daycare, labels and markers are also needed to identify the breast milk bags.
- Cooling Gel Ice Packs – Iced Gel packs that can chill breastmilk for at least 12 hours is essential when transporting pumped milk. Mom has to have at least six pieces rotating between her freezer and cooler bag.
- Car chargers and extra parts and accessories – are important for emergencies, especially when mom has to pump elsewhere or when there is a power outage.
General Tips in buying Breast Pumps
- No to Second-Hand Pumps. As much as it may seem practical to buy a second hand breast pump, never buy one for health reasons. The Food and Drug Administration advises against this practice as particles of breast milk on an open system like most electric pumps in the market today, may contaminate the freshly expressed breast milk exposing the baby to danger. “There are certain risks presented by breast pumps that are reused by different mothers if they are not properly cleaned and sterilized. These risks include the transmission of infectious diseases…FDA believes that the proper cleaning and sterilization of breast pumps requires the removal of any fluid that has entered the pumping mechanism itself. If proper sterilization of the breast pump cannot be achieved, FDA recommends that it not be used by different mothers.” Read the rest of the text
- Consult the Insurance First. Check if a pump is covered in your insurance, because it usually is. If you have already purchased one, then check if your insurance provider can provide a reimbursement.
- Service Warranties is a Must. Check the service warranty provisions of the breast pump you are about to purchase, as well as the availability of spare parts.
a.Best Manual Pump
The Medela Harmony Manual Breast pump is a mainstay in the bestseller’s list for the many great qualities that it boasts of. Most mothers are raving about its powerful suction that can help express milk quickly than most manual pumps in the market. In fact some moms even prefer this manual pump compared to single hand-held battery-operated breast pumps in the market.
This breast pump is great for relieving engorgement, and occasional times a mother may need a pump to leave milk for her baby. It is a single pump, but unlike other manual pumps in the market it utilizes a new technology that helps maintain vacuum suction enough to let out a stronger suction while pumping. Medela dubs such advancement as two-phase expression technology which allows the Medela Harmony to pump more milk at half the time.
And although this Manual Breast Pump usually just used at home, it is lightweight and portable, making it easier to bring as a backup pump.
B. Best Single Electric Pump
This is hands-down the best single electric pump in the market today, in fact it has sky-rocketed in terms of sales in the recent past. Why? Because the Spectra Baby USA S2 Double/Single Breast Pump has the features of a hospital grade pump at a price an ordinary working mom can afford.
As mentioned in the above buying guide, a hospital grade pump is the most efficient type of pump in terms of suction. This single electric pump (which can also be used as a double pump if the user wants to), is designed to effectively express milk from the breasts using innovative features that mimic a baby’s nursing pattern. This feature involves a dual suction type mode – first, being the massage or let down mode which stimulates milk flow. The second mode meantime is the expression mode, which is the main milk-pumping mode of the Spectra S2. The mom can switch back to any of these modes, and such will be displayed on the pump’s digital panel. The pump also comes with a timer.
It is also very comfortable to use, as moms with various breast sizes can pump in comfort. It is in fact the best breast pump for small nipples.
As for safety, this pump is a closed system, making sure that no bacteria or milk remnants can get into the pump’s motor and contaminate the pumped milk.
Additional features that will be surely loved by its users is the almost silent operating system of this pump, making it ideal for pumping at work. It is also great for middle of the night pumping because apart from being silent, the pump comes with a night lamp. These features also make it the best breast pump for travel.
c. Best Dual Electric Pump
The Medela Pump In Style Advance is a classic when it comes to supporting moms in their quest to continue their breastfeeding relationship with their child. In fact they have been the choice of most moms who would like to efficiently express breast milk.
It comes with two modes that effectively stimulates milk flow or the mom’s letdown reflex. It is also very comfortable to use – no pain at all as the breast flanges are soft enough to fit well. It is also the best breast pump for large breasts. It is also designed for use several times a day as it is a heavy-duty pump. It however is a single use system and is not meant to be shared unlike hospital grade pumps.
Apart from the outstanding features, the pump can also be operated using rechargeable batteries, allowing the mother to pump anywhere, anytime. It can be used with any standard bottle but it comes with the classic Medela ones.
The full version comes with a tote that is a expressed milk cooler and pump bag in one – making it easy to transport.
d. Best Budget-Friendly Dual Electric Pump
Most working moms are practical moms, and would love to look for a breast pump that has great features at a reasonable price. The Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump is a best value choice given the many great features it has in helping a mom express milk for her baby and at the same time maintain milk supply.
The powerful functions of the Ameda Purely yours are adjustable via the easy-to-control dials on the pump’s surface. These two dials make up for at least 32 pumping suction options meant to ensure that every mom can find the best and most efficient suction pattern for her to produce milk.
Health-wise it is a very hygienic pump to use as it has a closed system. A closed system means that expressed milk cannot flow back into the motor encouraging mold and bacteria build-up which can eventually taint freshly pumped breast milk. This Ameda-patented technology is called the Proven Airlock Protection System, which also protects the express milk from viruses.
It comes with a tote that is easy for transporting, and can also be battery operated using rechargeable batteries that come with each package. The tote bag carries a breast milk cooler with reusable gel packs, a section for the pump and its accessories.
e. Best Breast Pump for Office Use
Used in dual mode, the Spectra S2 is hands-down the best breast pump for working moms. Apart from the above-mentioned features, this pump is great in ensuring a continuous breastfeeding relationship between a working mom and her nursling.
The efficient, hospital-grade suction of this pump helps the mother quickly express the milk thanks to its two-phase suction mechanism. At the same breath, since it is heavy-duty and can be used multiple times a day, the mom will not have worries about being able to maintain her milk supply.
Moreover, it quietly operates, comes with a digital display and has a timer to boot. It is also easy-to-clean making it easier for moms to wrap up each pumping session. Truly it is the best breast pump for working mom.
f. Best Breast Pump for Home Use
The Philips Avent Comfort Manual Breast Pump is earning rave reviews from most stay-at-home moms who need to pump milk for their babies from time to time.
Apart from helping mom effectively express milk as needed, it allows for maximum pumping comfort. This means that the mom can comfortable pump milk out of her breasts without having to bear down, or lean forward. The flanges come with petal-like ribbings that allow for gentle massage during suctioning. The flanges are also soft enough not to cause discomfort during pumping.
As for the lever, the Avent Comfort Manual Breast Pump has an ergonomic handle making it easier to use. It also helps in ensuring that the mom will not get strained while using it.
Moreover, this pump is also compatible for use in all wide neck bottles, and all natural and classic Avent bottles.
g. Best Breast Pump for Preemie/NICU Use
Mothers of premature babies, and those that may not be able to latch directly from their mothers will find great use and value in the Spectra Baby USA S1 Hospital Grade Double/single Breast Pump.
This breast pump has the power and efficiency that can rival Medela’s Symphony pump, but at a fraction of its price. The two-phase adjustable suction mechanism of this pump allows it to stimulate the milk ejection reflex of the mother multiple times in a pumping session, expressing more milk than ever. This means that the milk supply can be maintained too, without any worries from the mom especially since the baby cannot directly nurse from her yet.
The Spectra S1 is also very hygienic to use – it is a closed system that comes with backflow hygienic protectors. This function ensures that milk will not be suctioned back to the milk’s motor and that expressed milk will not be tainted with bacteria and molds from milk build-up in the motor.
Likewise, it is easy to transport to and from the hospital given that it is lightweight and also comes with the option for battery use. It is also super quiet, comes with an LCD panel, and is easy to clean.
Apart from premature and NICU infants, the Spectra S1 is also the best breast pump for twins.
h. Best Hospital-Grade Pump
Most hospitals use the Medela Symphony Hospital Grade Pump because of its heavy-duty, and safe hygienic features that allow for the usage of multiple users several times in a day.
It boasts of being the first ion the market to introduce a two-phase milk expression technology that closely mimics a baby’s nursing pattern allowing the mother to easily and comfortably collect milk and maintain her breast milk supply.
Maintaining milk supply is one of the concerns of any pumping mom, and such will be the least of their concerns when using the Medela Symphony Hospital Grade Pump.
It is also very safe and hygienic to use given the closed system that prevents backflow of milk unto the pump’s motor system.