Buying Guide for Breast Pumps
Why buy a breast pump?
Breast pumps are great for parents who choose to feed their baby breast milk either exclusively or alternately with baby formula. Breast pumps can help empty your breasts, which helps to relieve pressure or pain and can help increase your milk supply. Many new mothers prefer to build up a freezer stash through pumping, making it easier for other caregivers to feed the baby with a baby bottle, giving the mom a much-needed break.
What should you consider in a breast pump?
- Weight: Heavy pumps can be fine at home. If you are commuting to the office, it might be easier to have a lightweight pump to travel with. But if you prefer a more heavy-duty breast pump, try and find one that comes with a bag with shoulder straps or one that fits neatly into your diaper bag, making it easier to carry.
- Sound: If you are pumping around your sleeping baby or in a quiet office, you might want to pick a quieter pump. All breast pumps make some sound, but the pump and motor can be a bit louder in some models than in others.
- Hands-Free: There are newer styles of breast pumps that allow you to pump completely hands-free, and a few that are so discreet they can be worn beneath your shirt or tucked into your bra. In fact, there are many nursing bras that have special pockets that keep your pump in place, particularly if that nursing bra is made to accommodate a specific breast pump brand.
- Open System/Closed System: Both systems are made to work well, but you’ll find that a closed system will be easier to keep clean since it blocks milk from reaching the pumping mechanism.
- Flanges: Flanges are the cups that suction to the breast, and it’s crucial that they fit properly to effectively and efficiently empty the breasts of milk. They are not one-size-fits-all, so look for pumps and brands that offer multiple flange sizes.
How do you clean your breast pump?
Breast pumps come with several parts that must be cleaned regularly: cones or flanges which go right on your breasts, connectors, valves and membranes, tubing, bottles, and often a backflow protector. Each different pump has some or all of these parts, and each comes with specific cleaning instructions, but generally, they involve cleaning with gentle soap and water. Most pump parts can fit easily into a baby bottle sanitizer, and the cones and bottles can be scrubbed with a bottle brush. If you’re not sure that your breast pump parts are getting as clean as they should because of small parts and tiny crevices, many parts can be easily and inexpensively replaced as needed.
Our Picks for the Best Breast Pumps
Bellababy Double Electric Breast Feeding Pumps
With pain-free, adjustable, and effective suction, this pump is sure to be a favorite for busy moms.
Pros: Affordable for most, this breast pump is specifically designed with new moms in mind to help them achieve all their breastfeeding goals and pump comfortably. It is especially effective for moms who choose to pump several times a day to increase their milk supply. Because it’s small and discreet, it gives breastfeeding moms the ability to pump anywhere they need. Thanks to its large-capacity built-in lithium-ion battery that a power bank charges, you won’t need to sit near an outlet to use it. And this pump is easy on the breasts, mimicking the rhythm of a baby sucking with a soft silicone petal cushion. It also has nine adjustable suction settings between four modes.
Cons: This pump is heavy, which makes it less portable than others. And it also emits a higher level of noise than some people like.
Bottom Line: This economical breast pump has excellent suction and an easy-to-use touchscreen. Most moms who have reviewed it found it quite comfortable and efficient. Despite it being a little on the noisy side, it works so well that most people can excuse the sound.
Elvie Pump (Single) Smart Wearable Electric Breast Pump
Comfortable and discreet enough to be worn under a bra, this quiet, wireless smart pump makes pumping anywhere a breeze.
Pros: This breast pump is small and lightweight enough to be worn inside a bra for easy, hands-free, wireless pumping anytime or anywhere. It also has revolutionary “stealth mode” technology to minimize noise. This little pump can be connected to the app and monitor milk volume in real-time, track your pumping history for each breast, and allow you to remotely control the pump. This breast pump is also rechargeable and responsive: it switches from stimulation into expression mode when it detects letdown and pauses when the bottle is full. This pumping set comes with two pumping hubs, four bottles, four breast shields in two sizes, four valves, four spouts, four seals, four storage lids, four bra adjusters, two USB charging cables, two carrying bags, and instructions for use.
Cons: Some moms found the output and battery life of this pump a bit underwhelming. Also, it doesn’t suck when wet, so you have to wait for the parts to dry out completely between uses.
Bottom Line: This hands-free pump makes life easier for busy moms. They can wear it while they work or do chores around the house. It’s pretty easy to clean as well. Because it’s low in suction strength and battery life, many people use this as an extra pump or an on-the-go pump rather than their primary breast pump.
Medela Breast Pump Pump in Style with MaxFlow
This pump is equipped with everything you need for pumping at home or on the go and is easy to clean and assemble.
Pros: This doctor-recommended breast pump has hospital-grade performance and operates with efficiency to give you more milk. Its modern technology uses phrase expression to mimic a baby’s natural sucking rhythm. The advanced motor with a vacuum generates MaxFlow micro-vibrations for efficient breast milk expression. And the closed system keeps any overflow of milk from entering the tubing or motor of the machine. This pump also comes with two sizes of PersonalFit Flex breast shields with a soft rim and a specially designed oval shape for comfortable pumping that is proven to get you more milk. The system itself is easy to clean, and there are fewer parts to worry about cleaning and assembling.
Cons: It takes eight batteries that need to be changed relatively frequently to keep the performance high. However, this pump can also be plugged into an outlet at home. And car adapters are available separately.
Bottom Line: This closed system breast pump is a high-quality pick. The parts are easy to find online or in retail stores when you need to replace them because it comes from a well-known and well-trusted brand. It’s easy to clean and sanitize as well.
Haakaa Breast Pump with Silicone Nipple
This award-winning manual breast pump is easy to use and environmentally-friendly.
Pros: With this manual breast pump, you can express milk using the power of natural suction. It’s easy to squeeze and simple to use: simply flip the flange back, squeeze the base, bring it to the breast, and put the flange back over to create suction on your breast. You can give it a couple squeezes to get the milk moving if needed. This pump doesn’t require any cords, batteries, or assembly, so it’s perfect for on the go, and it fits seamlessly into any diaper bag. It’s comfortable and smooth on the inside, and the flange was made to fit multiple breast sizes comfortably. It’s made with super soft silicone that is gentle and comfortable on sensitive skin. This pump is an eco-friendly product made with high-quality food-grade silicone that’s BPA-, PVC-, lead-, and phthalate-free. Plus, it’s extremely easy to sanitize by simply boiling it in water for two or three minutes.
Cons: This pump isn’t as powerful as electric models. Plus, the pump can tip over and spill milk easily if you aren’t careful when you put it down.
Bottom Line: For those who prefer an eco-friendly alternative to massive battery-operated breast pumps, this is a great solution. It can take more effort to pump manually, but many find that it’s worth it. And this budget-friendly option is easy to use to catch letdown on the side you aren’t actively breastfeeding on.
Lansinoh Breastfeeding Essentials for Nursing Moms
This simple, all-inclusive kit can help you begin your breastfeeding journey with confidence.
Pros: This kit includes everything a new mom needs to begin her pumping and breastfeeding journey. First, there’s a small, hand-operated silicone breast pump, perfect for collecting from one breast with natural suction while feeding with the other. The pump is made from food-grade BPA-free silicone that’s soft and has fantastic suction without being painful. It also includes 25 milk storage bags that can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer for future use. Plus, the kit includes lanolin nipple cream, which soothes and protects sore nipples with 100% baby-safe lanolin. And the included breast therapy packs are perfect for treating engorged breasts which can be very painful in the first week or two after having a baby.
Cons: While the pump is great as a milk catcher while breastfeeding on the other breast, it’s not the most effective pump when compared to others. Plus, it’s small and doesn’t hold much milk.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a gift for a new mom, this kit comes highly recommended. It’s got everything a nursing mom needs, especially at the beginning of her journey. And it comes from a trusted brand name in products for new moms.
Breastfeeding is an intimate, personal journey for new moms. It can also be stressful and uncomfortable, so it’s important to have the correct breast pump to help harvest milk effectively and comfortably. A breast pump should fit the mother’s lifestyle, and these picks can work for many different women.