Updated January 30, 2017

The Best Breast Pump

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Want to buy a breast bump but overwhelmed by all the choices? Find the best breast pumps, reviewed here.

Best Breast Pump
Best Breast Pump © CreditDonkey

Portable, electric, double, manual – what do you need? In addition, breast pumps can get costly – some even hit the $1,000 range. (Don’t freak out – the priciest tend to be hospital-grade pumps, which many companies will rent to you if you need one.) Chances are you’ll be able to get away with a moderately priced breast pump with the features you need. We will break down the important factors to help you choose the right one for you.

Factors to Consider

When you shop for a breast pump, these factors should play a role:

  • Batteries and adapters. You cannot predict where you will need to pump your breasts. It won’t always be in the comfort of your own home. You need to be able to pump anywhere. This means even without an electrical outlet, such as when you travel on an airplane.

  • Efficiency. We know you don’t have all day to sit around and pump. This makes efficiency important. How long it takes to pump your milk – not how much milk you produce – is important. This way you get more baby cuddling time rather than machine cuddling time.

  • Comfort. Breastfeeding can be painful for new moms. You want your breast pump to be comfortable. Look for adaptable breast flanges (plastic cups for your breasts) and the type of expression. Initial stimulation or short bursts should transform into an expression phase with longer and deeper pumps.

  • Easy operation. Complicated pumps are frustrating. Especially if you are on the go. The fewer parts, the easier it should be to put together. Don’t assume, though. Make sure middle-of-the-night setup will be as easy as you think.

  • Convenience. Even if you think you won’t pump away from home, purchase a portable pump. There will likely be a time when you have to travel with it. You will be grateful for its small weight and carry-along bag to keep it unnoticeable.

  • Cleanliness. Not all breast pumps rate the same for cleanliness. To prevent illness, you want a pump with a “closed system.” This prevents condensation from building up in the tubing. It also prevents milk from backing up and becoming compromised.

You may want to consider the noise level of the pump. If you are sensitive to noise or know you will pump around sleeping family members, this may be important. We wouldn’t pay more for a “quieter model,” but it could be a factor for you. Avoid the multi-user pumps too. These are the hospital grade pumps reserved for moms with babies in the NICU. If your baby ends up in the NICU, you can always rent one of these pumps. You don’t need to pay $1,000 or more for them.

Best Breast Pump for Working Moms

Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump

Why We Love This Pump:
The Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump has many great features. Working moms can even pump both breasts at once if they are in a hurry. If you want to control when the expression phase starts, just press the manual expression button. The default expression starts after 2 minutes, but you are in control. It also has adjustable pumping strength. This helps you get more comfortable with pumping. Many moms find this to be crucial in the beginning when everything hurts!

We love how many ways you can use this breast pump too. Plug it into an outlet, use the battery pack, or use a car charger. Keep in mind, the car charger is sold separately, but can come in handy. You can also purchase other gadgets for the pump or replacement parts rather easily. With new tubing, you can even get multiple uses out of this pump if you plan to have more babies.

Possible Drawbacks:
Thinking of affordability: if you use the battery pack, this breast pump could drain your pocketbook. It uses 8 AA batteries. As you can imagine, they drain quickly. You need rechargeable batteries or purchase AA’s in bulk. Users also say this breast pump can be rather noisy. If you don’t want to be noticed at work or you will pump at night, it might bother others around you.

Who Should Use This Breast Pump?:
Moms who want everything in one place should get this Medela Breast Pump. For around $200, you get the double pump, breast shields, AC adapter, battery pack, bottles, cooler bag, and a tote. Its effectiveness saves you time, but its noise requires privacy. If you have an isolated area with an electrical outlet to pump, this is the pump for you.

Best Breast Pump for Twins

Spectra S1

Why We Love This Pump:
The Spectra S1 scored big points with us for its affordability. It is not an inexpensive breast pump, per se. It is an inexpensive hospital grade pump, though. It is lightweight, which is great for moms with twins already carrying quite a load, and it is hygienic. It uses a closed system, which means milk isn’t trapped in the tubing. In fact, many hospitals use this pump to help moms of preemies produce milk.

The digital controls are easy to use. They allow you to toggle back and forth between stimulation and expression. Moms with preemies or difficulty letting down appreciate this feature. Most users say it is also the most comfortable and quietest pump on the market. It even has a nightlight to help you minimize disruptions when you pump at night.

Possible Drawbacks:
Some users state the pump stops working after six months. With its hefty price tag, this could be a serious drawback. However, the company (which is new to the United States) recently revamped their customer service. Users with this problem were able to get a replacement at no cost. We feel it is worth the risk because this pump is that good.

Who Should Use This Breast Pump?:
Moms of twins who desire a hospital grade pump are the best candidates for this pump. You get the satisfaction of having a high quality pump that is your own. Even though rented pumps use your own tubing, there is still a risk of infection or illness. Your twins will be safe and your breasts will be comfortable. Whether your babies are in the NICU or at home, you will have plenty of milk stored. This means no need for supplements. If you want to exclusively breastfeed, this is the pump for you.

Best Breast Pump for Occasional Use

BelleMa Melon Comfort Double Electric Breast Pump

Why We Love This Pump:
We know that not every breastfeeding mom loves the idea of pumping. We also know that it is a good idea to have a pump handy, just in case. We love the BelleMa Melon Comfort Double Electric Breast Pump because of its affordability. At just $88, you can use it a few times and not feel like you wasted money.

It provides all of the features we recommend, including two-phase pumping and nipple comfort. In fact, it has 25 settings for maximum comfort. This pump is also very quiet. You could literally pump while watching a movie and no one would know.

Possible Drawbacks:
Because this is a pump for occasional use, it is bulkier than most. Don’t buy it if you have any plans to travel with it. In fact, it serves its purpose best in one stationary spot. This pump only comes with a one-size flange, which doesn’t fit every mom comfortably. This could mean an added expense if you need to purchase compatible Medela flanges. It could also mean milk back up in the tubing because Medela flanges do not prevent backflow.

Who Should Use This Breast Pump?:
Moms who are on the fence about pumping will appreciate this pump’s low cost and comfort. If you don’t pump often, it can be uncomfortable each time. This pump helps to minimize this risk. If you plan to leave the pump at home and only pump in emergencies, this pump saves you money.

Other Breast Pumps to Consider

Best Breast Pump for Travel:
If you plan to travel with your baby, you need a lightweight, simple breast pump. The Philips Avent Comfort Breast Pump offers the convenience of an electric pump without the bulk. It has three pumping speeds and an angled design for simple pumping while sitting up. With only a few parts, washing this pump is simple too. If you want a portable pump, this little pump is as effective as its competitors.

Best Manual Breast Pump:
Sometimes the big, electric, and expensive breast pumps are unnecessary. The Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump is perfect for the occasional pump or moms who travel. Just like its electric counterpart, it offers a unique angle for pumping while sitting up. Most moms claim the flange is very comfortable and the pump is surprisingly effective. At $25, it is a great unit to throw in your purse for emergencies!

Other Products to Consider

Once you choose the pump, you have other considerations. How will you store the milk and what you will wear for ease of use?

Storage Options:
Storing breastmilk is important for its safety. If you plan to freeze it, quality storage bags, such as the Lasinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags, are necessary to prevent spillage or freezer burn. If you pump and use right away or shortly thereafter, bottles with properly sealing lids work. Just don’t leave the milk in the refrigerator for more than 3 to 5 days.

Backup Power:
Traveling with your breast pump means the need for power. If you purchase the Medela Pump in Style, you can use the battery backup, but what if those run out? Consider purchasing a rechargeable battery pack or car charger. It adds to the expense, but it can save you from engorgement because you don’t have any power.

Different Sized Flanges:
Keep in mind that the flanges (or attachments) that accompany most breast pumps are for “average-sized” breasts. If you have smaller or larger than average breasts, you may need different flanges. If the pump you choose does not accommodate your breast size, you can purchase additional flanges separately. However, you must make sure the flanges are compatible with the purchased pump for full effectiveness.

Nursing Bra:
If you exclusively breastfeed and pump at home, the bra you wear might not matter. Out in public, however, you probably want privacy and convenience. You know you found the right nursing bra when it:

  • Unfastens with one hand
  • Provides support even with an open cup
  • Has breathable fabric to avoid nipple infection
  • Fits comfortably

Bottom Line

If you choose to breastfeed, consider all of your options. What works for one mom might not work for another. Every woman’s body reacts differently to pregnancy. Whether you are brand new to pumping or are a seasoned expert, today's pumps have many features. Research your options to find the best bang for your buck.

Where to Buy Breast Pump

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