Many mothers find it necessary to return to work sooner than they would like. Whether you need to work or not, you're likely to feel an overwhelming desire to give your baby the best. And, when it's medically and physically possible, that usually means breastfeeding.
Breast milk contains just about everything your baby needs. It's also been linked to higher IQs, fewer ear infections, and a reduced likelihood of developing asthmatic conditions.
According to the World Health Organization, breast milk is the best source of nourishment for your child.
So, if you need to get back to work, you want to get a breast pump.
Even if you don't need to go back to work and you just need a little more flexibility with feeding schedules - you're going to pump breastmilk because happy moms make happy babies, and breast milk is healthier than formula.
What are you looking for?
There are hundreds of electronic breast pumps on the market and they all claim to be the best breast pump. So we spent hours researching for you.
While each one of these factors is important, it's up to you to decide which one you prefer. Go ahead, check out our list!
Multitask while pumping with clip-on system or nursing bra; memory functions and timer display; and use with rechargeable battery, disposable batteries, or plugged-in.
Definitely on the pricier side; some users experience issues with rechargeable batteries; and everything needs to be very dry to work.
This portable breast pump shines in this aspect.
Many users report it to be fast and effective due to the strong suction; many get the same supply as they do from hospital-grade pumps.
You'll get everything you need to get pumping with this kit - and that's half the battle.
Most users find it easy to reassemble after washing. There are a few, however, that find it more tedious than necessary.
Even more users love the adjustments that can be made to support the stimulation that best matches their baby's demands. And, these can be stored through the memory functions.
There's also a timer that shows how long your session has lasted.
You have a choice of shields with this breast pump kit - and as finding the right shield is essential for both comfort and supply - this is very important.
It should be noted, however, that this may not be the right model for moms with smaller breasts as the shields are on the larger size.
Wow is this portable...many moms just wear it around the house will getting other things done (who doesn't have a growing list of tasks to get through?).
Not only is it light and compact enough to clip to your jeans or tuck into your purse, but you can also power this in any number of ways, including AC car adaptors. And, if you're really in a pinch, you can always use disposable batteries.
There are reports of charging issues, so it's important to get in touch with the manufacturer as soon as possible (don't order this months before you plan to use it).
While it's not difficult to wash the parts you need - and to reassemble the pump, there is a downside: everything must be dry before the unit will work. You'll need to schedule your cleaning so there's enough time to get everything dry.
Some users find it loud (though, most breast pumps are louder than we would like), while there are those that find it less irritating than competitive models. At the very least, it's neither the loudest nor the quietest.
Nope, it's not cheap. But, if it works for you, you'll join the value-for-money rank of users. And, let's be honest, you do get a lot of bang for your buck here.
Closed system double pump; can pump directly into storage bags or a range of bottles; and features 8 adjustable suction levels.
Burns through batteries (when using) quickly; a little on the loud side; and some (but not a majority of) users find it's not as easy as it could be to clean.
Many women find this very efficient, both with the let-down phase and the full phase. The 8 adjustable suction levels and the double pump option make this one of those pumps that works just the way you want it to.
It's very easy to use with simple controls and the ability to switch between bottles and bags as you please.
Plus, you can choose your power source (batteries or cable).
On top of that, the package comes with everything you need to get going.
While comfort is clearly subjective, most users find it to be pain-free and suitable for most breasts.
While this is touted as an extremely portable kit - and many users find it to be so - there is one thing keeping it from achieving all the accolades we wanted it to have: battery use.
This drains the needed 6x AA quickly. You'll need to have spare batteries on hand if you plan on using them to make this portable. But, there is a power cable if you prefer.
Users are split on this; there are some that find it easy and others that find it tedious.
The truth is that cleaning any breast pump requires a certain amount of disassembly and reassembly and time for washing and drying. This one isn't particularly difficult to clean, but it's not a breeze either.
Sadly, one of the downsides of this breast pump is the noise it comes with. If you're looking for something silent, move along. But, the volume is manageable for most.
You get a double pump and everything you need to get going for one reasonable price. Yes, this is serious value for money.
This breast milk pump is ultra quiet for those moments when you need to be super discreet. It also has a memory function that remembers your settings.
You'll need to source your own carrying bag to go with this pump and its accessories; it's a terrible shame. Then again, you probably have a few baby bags already.
Wow! Women love the efficiency of this breast pump. Many report being able to get a lot more milk in less time than more expensive models. True, this is a double pump, so you should always be able to express faster, but there is a lot of truth in those reviews. Add to that the amazing 25 settings you have to play with when choosing your pumping rhythm. That alone allows you to choose just how comfortable or how fast your session is.
Set up is a cinch; it's super easy to see what goes where without bothering to look at the manual. You can, of course, and if you're a first-timer, you really should. You can control both speed and suction with two buttons on the top of the pump. Each option allows you to adjust up or down. It's certainly more basic than you would find with some of the pricier options, but it's definitely easy to use. There's also a memory function so you can quickly find the settings that work best for you.
This double breast pump does not disappoint most women. The breast shields are comfortable and don't tend to leave moms with sore nipples. There's no harness on the tubing and shields, so you really can work yourself into whatever position is most comfortable for you.
This is not meant to be a portable machine. It really is designed for women who need to lock it in their office or home. That said, it's not heavy and you can certainly move it from place to place. Except, you will need to get a carrying case to make that happen. Don't forget to grab an insulated bag for the bottles - unless, of course, you're pumping in the privacy and comfort of your own home.
Not bad at all. Not that this is a clear-cut winner, but you're not going to scrub until your hands are raw or fight with little pieces while your eyes start to close on you. It's above average, and perhaps even better than that.
For a double electric breast pump that retails for under $100, you would expect this to be louder than it is. Get ready to be surprised; it's not going to drown the sound of the television (or any snoring in the house). But, it's not silent either. You will hear some noise, though perhaps not enough to warn colleagues what's happening in the break room.
You'll find the MSRP of roughly $90 more than fair for this product. You get the pump, two suction kits, tubing, four bottles (and two bases), plus a nipple set and power adaptor. That's a bargain for any electric pump and especially such an efficient double pump.
This breast pump is lightweight, portable, and discreet. Plus, the swivel handle is ergonomically designed so you'll remain comfortable during manual expression.
All manual breast pumps share the same issue; manually expressing is time-consuming. You won't find this one any different.
For a manual model, this Medela breast pump is clearly a winner. The design is just right - and it provides you with two phase expression that you'll find in the more expensive electric pumps. So, although you can only empty one side at a time - and you'll need to do a bit of the hard work yourself, this is going to be the most efficient way to make that happen.
Again, it's a manual breast pump; it will be more difficult to use than pushing a single button. But, if you're not doing it all the time, you can cope. The lever has two ends - a short one and a long one. The short side stimulates your let down reflex as if your hungry baby was there with you. When the milk really begins to flow, you can swivel the level to work with the longer side for more efficiency. There are a few connections to manage, but as there are no wires or readouts to deal with, it's about as simple as can be.
If you want comfort when expressing, you will need to look at a manual breast pump. That's not to say that electric breast pumps can't be comfortable, but manual will win hands down. And this is the best of the best for your breasts. (Your hands will become a little fatigued, however.)
There's nothing easier than tucking what you need into a sealable bag and popping it into your purse. In fact, you could get an insulated lunch container and call it a day. Manual breast pumps are designed for portability and this one fits the bill.
This Medela breast pump is easy to disassemble and clean. Nothing is difficult to reach nor are there fiddly bits to cope with. The only apsect that some users may have an issue with is the center of the pumping lever, but this never comes into contact with the breasts or the milk, and poses no threat to your baby. A good soak and a dedicated brush may be all you need.
About as silent as you could expect from any manual breast pump. You won't hear it at all which would make it very discreet to use - as long as no one can see what you're doing.
With a MSRP of $41, it's more expensive than most manual breast pumps out there. But, it's still a lot cheaper than electric models and worth every penny considering that you also recieve two sealable bottles and a bottle stand. An insulated carrier wouldn't go amiss, but given the price and the quality, we can overlook it.
The powerful, adjustable suction of this breast pump is amazingly comfortable - and quiet. As a closed system, it's hygienic for mom and baby.
This is a little on the pricey side (especially at the MSRP of $285). Though you will likely get it at a cheaper price through Amazon, the S2 model is even less expensive.
Of all the breast pumps you could ever consider, this one is perhaps the most efficient. Not only does it effectively work exactly the way a hungry child would, you'll find a lot of options here. You can adjust speed and suction to your liking and nursing moms report more milk with this pump than any other electric breast pump they have used. And, because you can pump both breasts at the same time, you can be done before you have a chance to finish that glass of ice tea.
Set up is very easy as it's just a matter of making all the connections you need, including the backflow hygiene protectors. Once you're set up, this breast pump could actually be called fun. There are buttons that control the suction (vacuum) and cycle (speed) along with plus and minus buttons to adjust to your heart's content. Then there's the nightlight, a button to reduce the noise, and a clock to let you know how long you've been pumping. Basically, it provides everything but a television to watch while expressing.
If you experience sore nipples quickly or easily, this is the pump that you should try. It is about as gentle as you're going to find - even when switched onto the higher, stronger cycles.
On it's own, this electric breast pump is quite portable as anything with a rechargeable battery should suggest. But, it doesn't come with a tote, backpack, or even a bottle bag. You can purchase a tote separately, and you may already have a couple insulated bottle bags... but, if you want everything to be just so, you will need to spend more. And that makes us a little sad.
Awesome, awesome, awesome. That backflow thing really works to prevent condensation. If only it could also clean itself!
Another big plus with this machine is the noise level. There almost isn't one, except for a shhhh sound. Combined with the nightlight, this is a solid choice for exclusively pumping mommies.
The MSRP is $285 and you do get a solid machine for that price - which you won't pay as there is always a bargain to be found. But, it only comes with two bottles and standard breast shields. If you want a carrying case, extra bottles, different shields, or anything else - you must expect to pay more for it. Now, this portable breast pump's younger sister, the S2 is a little less powerful, but it's also less expensive and possibly worth the look if budgets are very tight.
This Medela breast pump is perfect for busy moms that need to pump several times a day - and the carrying case makes it easy to do so away from home. The pump itself features two-phase expression technology with a single touch let-down button.
Some users report occasional condensation in the tubing and it can be a little on the loud side (especially in an echoey bathroom).
You can expect a large amount of milk in a short amount of time with this Medela Pump in Style breast pump. That's because of the two-phase expression mechanism designed to replicate the breastfeeding experience. Essentially, you'll experience short, gentle suction at the beginning which stimulates the let-down reflex your baby would provide at the beginning of a feed. After that, the tugs become longer and stronger. There are options to adjust phase length and intensity according to your needs.
This is perhaps the easiest pump to use, in part, because of the portability offered by the included backpack. All you need to do is unzip the pocket with the pump and plug it in before attaching the tubing to it - and the bottles and breast shields. It's rather intuitive, which helps - especially for first-time pumpers that have reservations. There's also a battery adapter which makes it easy to take the entire setup somewhere quiet, comfortable, and away from people.
Breast milk pumping is never completely comfortable, though many women barely notice any pain or sensitivity. In general, manual pumping is a little more comfortable than electric pumps but obviously more time-consuming. This pump, however, is one of the most pleasant experiences a nursing mother can have, and this pump is easily one of the best for moms that exclusively express. There are different sized breast shields available, so if you need to move up or down a size, you don't have to replace the entire unit.
The all-inclusive backpack should really tell you this machine can go anywhere - and is designed to do just that. The battery adaptor doubles the portability score. If you're always on the move, consider this Medela Pump in Style breast pump.
If there's one part where this pump falls down, it's the condensation in the tubing of this open system. This doesn't affect suction, but after a few months, you don't want to experience any buildup that could affect the quality of your milk. The easiest way around this is to pick up a pack or two of replacement tubes, which are easy to find. Regular washing is, as with all things regarding your baby's health, absolutely essential - but no breast pump is self-cleaning.
Okay, okay, it's not quiet. But, the hum isn't terribly annoying for most people. If you need to be discreet, however, this is not the pump for you.
The MSRP is $300, but you're never going to pay that much. It typically retails on Amazon for under $200 and for what you get, that's a great price.
When you’re pregnant for the first time, there’s a whole lot of supplies to buy - and if you’re planning to return to work after your baby is born, a breast pump is probably high on your list… after a crib and a car seat, of course. And, so it should be.
Breast milk is the perfect source of nutrition for an infant, and the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months if at all possible.
Besides the obvious convenience of a breast pump, there are a couple of other reasons a new mother might consider purchasing one.
Insufficient milk supply - There are many reasons women aren’t always able to produce sufficient milk, including the strength of the baby to release milk and continue sucking until satiation. Reduced demand leads to reduced supply even when a baby desperately needs more milk. Breast pumps can stimulate greater demand, making it easier for both mom and baby.
Engorgement - On the other side of the spectrum is engorgement, when so much milk is produced that it’s difficult for infants to latch and subsequently drain all of the milk. In this instance, a breast pump can reduce the volume before breastfeeding, making it easier for the baby to latch. And, as breast milk stores incredibly well (in the right conditions), it doesn’t need to go to waste.
Medical and physical demands - Premature babies may be kept in the NICU for some time, during which it may not be possible to breastfeed (some or all of the time). Pumping makes it possible to maintain milk supply for future breastfeeding. Other physical conditions (both maternal and infantile) may make it almost impossible for comfortable breastfeeding; pumping still provides optimal nutrition without the strain.
There’s a lot more variety to breast pumps than you may initially suspect; there is one for every budget and reason, but you will need to spend some time considering what will work best for you.
Breast pumps are available with single and double cups; the latter provides the option to express more milk in a shorter time span - though they are often more expensive (and some designs are significantly less comfortable).
Additionally, you’ll find manual, electric (or battery-operated), and hospital grade pumps. The right one for you may not be the one you initially expected; it’s best to consider the pros and cons of each before investing.
Although there are other considerations, the type of breast pump you need is the first point you need to address.
Though these are definitely the least expensive option out there, they do require a fair amount of effort as they are exactly as described: manual. That said, they are the perfect choice for women who:
It is possible to find both single and double manual pumps, but you’ll need to check whether they require one or two hands for both types of models.
On the plus side, these pumps are:
Conversely, manual pumps may not completely empty mom’s supply, have reduced suction control, and can be difficult to operate. And, you should steer clear of any with parts that are difficult to clean.
Electric breast pumps are perhaps the most common - and there are definite advantages, including ease of use. But you’ll pay more for the features that go with these pumps. Women who can afford an electric breast pump should consider one if they:
Many electric pumps offer double pumping (though single options are available), weigh less than five pounds, and require only one hand to operate. In addition, you’ll find that there are usually a few extra features and sometimes an added battery pack - though you will definitely pay more for these options.
You should be aware that most electric pumps work with an open-system; these are only designed for one user as there are multiple areas that touch breast milk and residue may be left behind.
First, you should note that while the FDA regulates breast pumps, they do not have a hospital-grade classification. To further complicate matters, there doesn’t seem to be an agreed definition as to what manufacturers mean by hospital-grade. Often, but not always, this is taken to mean a high-end, electric, closed-system breast pump.
For reference, closed-system pumps (which ensure milk never touches working parts) are the only suitable options for sharing or renting, though extreme care must still be taken and lactating mothers must still invest in their own accessories.
Most women do not require such systems; those that do usually receive a referral from a medical professional. However, women who are exclusively expressing and have the budget available may want to consider a breast pump labeled as hospital grade, though these are more commonly rented out by hospitals and lactation specialists.
A recommendation from your sister, friend, or co-worker does not mean you will end up with the right breast pump. Sorry. But, as you know by now, you don’t have the same breasts as they do. You also don’t have the same child. And, you probably don’t even have the same needs or comfort levels.
By now, you’ve probably got a good idea of whether you’re interested in a manual or an electric pump, and whether double or single pumping is right for you. But there are a few more things you should consider before you look closely at specific models.
If you’re almost exclusively expressing milk (or you will be at some point), you definitely want to consider the higher-end models. Sorry. Remember that the more powerful the motor is, the longer your breast pump will continue to be effective. Luckily, this means that you’re more likely to get a few extra features.
This is such a tricky one as you really don’t know until you give it a go - and it can be different for every baby. If you’ve previously had a lot of success expressing, you’re more likely to have an easy time of it… but not necessarily. However, if you’ve experienced problems in the past, you probably want to opt for a higher-end model that features more suction-and-release cycles and stronger suction than cheaper breast pumps.
Remember, though, you should never try out your breast pump until your baby is born, as you can bring on early labor if you do!
If you’re after a manual breast pump, you have almost no need to worry about this. And, if you’ll normally express at home, you probably don’t need to spend too much time on this aspect either. Everyone else should consider how easy (or difficult) a pump will be to tote around. This is where battery packs and car adapters can be important.
Portability goes further than the pump itself, however. It’s also critical to consider the safe bottling and storage of milk once it is expressed. Some breast pumps will come with everything you need in a single pack while others will require you to buy additional pieces. Either way, it’s important to understand the ease of use for every item in your breastfeeding bag when you use it away from home.
Cleaning your breast pump and all its accessories is critical for the health and safety of both baby and mom. If you’re only pumping on the odd occasion, you can spend a little more time cleaning than women who plan to express several times a day. So, pay close attention to the number of parts you need to clean as well as the cleaning method.
This isn’t a deal-breaker for all women. But, everyone has an optimal suction strength (which may be different for every baby) and having some control over this is one way to ensure a breast pump works for you. In addition, babies drink at their own pace and variable cycle lengths can make or break the pumping experience for some moms. It’s not usually critical, but it’s worth taking the options if they’re affordable.
Babies are expensive as any parent will tell you. And, while you may be tempted to skimp a little on your breast pump, it’s better to purchase the best model you can afford that ticks all of the right boxes for you. Otherwise, you may just need to go through the whole process again and shell out for a second pump.
If you are covered by health insurance, Medicaid, or WIC, you can be reimbursed in full or in part by your provider. But, this may not always be the case.
In the US, the Affordable Care Act includes specific provisions for insurers to cover breast pumps in their policies. However, it is uncertain when and if this requirement will be dropped. It is, however, likely. And, it is also possible that legally-mandated workplace spaces for breastfeeding will fall away, as well as coverage for breastfeeding support from qualified lactation specialists.
Despite a mandate, employers and insurers may continue to offer these services. However, upon the complete repeal and (or) replacement of Obamacare, you will need to check with your health insurance provider rather than assuming a breast pump will be covered.
You may also want to check out Aeroflow Breastpumps, a company that assists women with the process, investigating whether their insurance covers the cost of a breast pump (or to what amount they will pay) as well as obtaining the necessary prescription from your doctor and completing required paperwork. This company can take a lot of work off your plate and it’s always worth the look.
A breast pump isn’t the end of the road; it’s the beginning. You will need some extra pieces to make the most of your new pump. And, some aren’t as obvious as you may think.
When it comes to breast pumps, you absolutely need to be safe about it - even if you’re pumping and dumping. We seriously recommend reading through all the instructions and warnings included with your pump. But, there are a few things you really should pay attention to.
It is possible to purchase a second-hand pump or to rent one, but only if it is an FDA-recognized multi-user pump. And, even then, you need your own accessory kit and bottles. Single-user, open-system pumps can easily harbor bacteria and viruses from previous users - including HIV and cytomegalovirus which are really not the start you want to give your baby.
Unless your healthcare provider has recommended such a pump to you, it’s always advisable to buy a new one rather than save a few bucks this way.
We know you’re not going to do a full sterilization in the office after expressing during your break. But, you should wash parts with dish soap and rinse with hot water for at least 10 seconds. It’s preferable to air dry pump parts (even if you give them a once over with a paper towel), but you may not have the option to do so when you’re away from home. When you do return, it’s worth the extra washing, drying, and sterilizing according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
These only need to be cleaned if milk gets into them. But, you will need to refer to the manual as to the best way to clean and dry the tubes according to your specific model. Keep in mind that some breast pump models advise replacing certain tubes if they become foggy and it’s better to do so than to provide a convenient breeding ground for bacteria.
Always turn off an electric breast pump before removing the shields. While this is a mistake you’ll only make once, you want to avoid it altogether if you can. Need we say more? Even after switching off, it’s best to use a finger to break the seal before removing the flanges.
If you have a double pump, but only plan to empty one breast, seal the other side, otherwise you’ll have an issue with the suction. While this isn’t a matter of safety, per se, you’ll appreciate the reminder if you don’t want to sit with your pump for the next three hours.
This is where things get personal. And, as every breast pump is different (as are the women using them), we can’t advise you how to use yours. You really do need to read the instruction manual and contact the manufacturer if you have additional questions.
If you’re really struggling, your first port of call should be your doctor or a licensed lactation specialist. Not every pump is for every woman, but some issues go beyond pumping itself. But, one thing we can tell you before you head off to find the right machine for you is that pumping can take time - the first couple sessions are likely to be trial and error as you find the right settings and the most comfortable positions. And, at the beginning of every session, you’ll need to exercise plenty of patience (it’s not as if you’re a faucet that can be turned on and off at will). But for your sweet little baby, it's all totally worth it.