To all the mammas who have decided to breastfeed- a breast pump is gonna be your new best buddy. I’ve nursed 2 kids for nearly 2 years each, so I’m an old hand with a breast pump. I’ve worked full-time outside the home, worked part-time outside the home, worked from home, and totally stayed home full time. And through it all, my trusty everyday breast pump has been by my side.
So what’s the best breast pump? Pick from my list of best sellers after reading their totally honest, no-holds-barred reviews. Then be sure to brush up on your breast pump intel- the different types, what to look for when buying, plus how to use and clean your breast pump. Check out the FAQ section for the most popular breast pump questions. Still deciding on whether to breastfeed? Want to discover a breastfeeding secret weapon? Check out the benefits of breastfeeding section.
|Breast Pump||Why It Is Best||Mom Rating|
|Spectra S1 Plus Premier Rechargeable Electric Breast Pump||Rechargeable pump and great suction.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Spectra S2 Plus Premier Electric Breast Pump||Reliable and strong.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump||Working mom favorite.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Medela Symphony Breast Pump||True hospital grade pump.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Philips AVENT Comfort Electric Breast Pump||Great for sore nipples.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Naturebond Silicone Manual Breast Pump||An inexpensive and effective manual pump option.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Signature Pro by Lansinoh Double Electric Breast Pump[/easyazon_link||Great comfort at a good price.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Freemie Liberty Breast Pump||Truly hands-free pumping.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump||Good basic system.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Medela Sonata Smart Double Electric Breast Pump||Smart technology helps you pump from your phone.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump||A classic manual breast pump.||♥♥♥♥♥|
Best Breast Pumps of 2018
1. Spectra S1 Plus Premier Rechargeable Electric Breast Pump
Let’s start with the award-winning Spectra S1 Plus Premier Rechargeable Electric Breast Pump. This beloved pump uses Spectra’s natural nursing technology. It’s designed to make this pump as close to a baby nursing as possible. That means that this pump gets out milk just like your baby would. That’s achieved through the adjustable suction strength and 2 different flange/breast shield sizes. There’s even a massage mode to help mimic a babies sucking, which helps get that milk flowing!
This is a closed system breast pump, which means that it’s more hygienic to use. It even comes with backflow protectors, which keep your breast milk out of bacteria’s way. The hospital grade motor, which can achieve up to a 250mmHg suction rate, only operates at 45 decibels, which is pretty quiet for a breast pump. Other pump features include a night light for those super late pumping sessions, and an auto timer with display. The rechargeable battery and the fact that only weighs 3 pounds make it a fantastic option for moms who will be pumping on the go.
Like all other Spectra products, the S1 features a 2 year motor warranty and 90-day accessory warranty, so you don’t have to worry about a part breaking and you being stuck with the bill.
This all being said, this pump does have some drawbacks. First off, accessories can be hard to find and can be very expensive. Plus, there’s a lot of pump parts, which makes cleaning pretty inconvenient. This pump does vibrate a little when in use. But most importantly, this pump is one of the more expensive ones on the market.
2. Spectra S2 Plus Premiere Electric Breast Pump
The Spectra S2 Plus Premier Electric Breast Pump is extremely comparable to the Spectra S1. The S2 is another compact pump, weighing in at only 2 and 1/2 pounds. This pump requires AC power to work, which does limit portability somewhat. It’s crazy quiet, working at only 45 decibels, and crazy efficient, getting up to 250 mmhg suction strength.
There’s 12 different section modes, including a massage mode, so you can adjust suction levels to get a natural flow of milk. 2 different flanges/breast shields help you get the best fit. While your milk is being pumped, it stays within the closed system, so that there’s no worry of bacteria being exposed to your milk. This is because of the backflow protectors that are exclusive to Spectra pumps. This pump features an auto timer with digital display screen so you can know exactly how long you’ve been pumping. There’s a night light that can be turned on for pumping in the dark.
You get a two year warranty on the Spectra S2 motor and a 90 day warranty on all Spectra accessories.
Concerns with this pump include the tubing attachments, which come apart easily. The duckbill valves like to fall into the milk while pumping, which is a super big pain. Also, the accessories, like the bottles in adapters, are less than great. Oh, and it’s a pain to clean all those pump parts.
Want a more in-depth review? Check out our full review of the Spectra S2 electric breast pump.
Spectra S1 vs S2- what’s the difference?
You’ve read both reviews, so what’s the big difference between the S1 and the S2? The S1 has that fabulous rechargeable battery. See our in-depth breakdown of the Spectra S1 vs S2 breast pump for further comparison.
3. Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump
Now on to one of the most popular breast pumps- the Medela Pump in Style Advanced (PISA). This is one of the top double electric breast pumps. It can be used to pump one or both sides. It’s designed for mammas who are going to be pumping a lot. It uses a 2 phase expression technology to mimic the way a baby sucks- harder at first, then more gently after letdown. You can adjust both the pump speed and suction to get just the right level of suction to mimic your baby nursing. You can also use the letdown button to go into letdown mode, which stimulates milk flow.
Why is the PISA so popular? Well, it’s covered by a lot of insurances, which is wonderful. Also, it comes in a lot of different set ups- from the basic starter pack to the full kit with a tote bag or backpack, a cooler bag, and breast milk collection bottles. But, you can use any bottles to fit the pump. This pump is easy to use, stylish, and can run on both AC and battery power.
Oh, and there is a 1 year limited warranty on the pump, and a 90 day warranty on all parts.
Some things to consider: this pump is loud and it is heavy. The pump and tote bag with a few empty bottles is going to be around 7 pounds, which can be quite heavy with a baby and other gear in tow. And the noise level is enough that you have to go in another room or you could wake your baby up at night. Definitely can’t use the PISA incognito at your desk at work, either!
A last consideration- it’s an open system. That means that milk can potentially get into the parts and cause bacterial growth, which can then taint the milk. I can tell you that I’ve personally used this pump for over 5 years now, and I’ve never had a problem with milk getting in the tubes. Just follow the instructions and clean this pump regularly, and it will be one of the best portable pumps for working mammas and stay at home mammas alike!
Want a full breakdown of all the Pump in Style’s pump features? Take a look at Experienced Mommy’s full review of the PISA.
Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style- which one should you choose?
Spectra S2 and the Pump in Style Advanced. Two of the most popular pumps. How do they stack up against each other? See our complete Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style breakdown.
4. Medela Symphony Breast Pump
In my humble opinion, the Medela Symphony Breast Pump is the best hospital grade breast pump. This thing is a milk collecting monster! It still uses Medela’s 2 phase expression technology, so that you can get lots of milk out using the 50 to 250 mmHg suction. There’s a letdown mode that helps you collect more milk by getting more stimulation. You can use this for pumping both breasts or pumping one breast at a time. It does all this while being extremely quiet and easy to use.
Unlike other Medela pumps, this one is a closed system. That’s what makes it a hospital-grade pump. It can be multi-user because the actual mechanism is totally separate from the collection kit. The pump parts are protected from overflow by a special Medela membrane. That means that this pump can safely be used by more than one person.
How the Symphony pump operates is really cool. It comes with a symphony 2.0 program card, which contains a little microchip that keeps track of all of the pumping program information. That means less work for you each time you plug in to use this because it will remember your maximum comfort vacuum level. Directions and settings are easily identified on the LCD display screen.
A big warning: this pump is extremely expensive. That’s because this is literally a commercial grade breast pump (hence the 3 year warranty). I’ve personally used this in two different hospitals. Even though it costs an arm and a leg, it is one of the most efficient pumps out there. It just might be the best breast pump for low milk supply. It also works well for dealing with flat or inverted nipples.
5. Philips AVENT Comfort Electric Breast Pump
The Philips AVENT Comfort Electric Breast Pump has been purely designed for more comfort. Everything from the silicone breast shields to the tilted design help mom to be more comfortable, which results in better milk production. The breast shields, which come in a larger 25mm size, are more like cushions. They’re textured to make them feel warm against the skin and have a unique petal design. The way that the breast shields attach to the bottle at an angle means that you don’t have lean forward while pumping in order to collect the milk efficiently.
The machine has 3 different settings: low, medium, and high. It also has a stimulation or letdown mode. Otherwise, there’s no fancy bells or whistles with this machine. There’s not even a display screen of any kind. Just 5 buttons for turning on and adjusting suction. This lightweight, 2 pound pump features a closed system for more hygienic pumping as well.
Many moms love that this comes with the AVENT natural bottles. These bottles make it so easy to go from pump to fridge to baby. Just screw on the different tops, and finally use the BPA free natural bottle nipples to give your baby breast milk when you can’t.
The double electric breast pump, which is the best, doesn’t have a battery option, so you have to be able to plug into a power source. The AVENT pump isn’t the strongest, even though it’s so comfortable. It’s also really loud. You have to hold the bottles, which like to come loose from the shields, in place to keep them from slipping since the suction is so low.
If you have problems with sore nipples from pumping, then you’re sure to love this pump. But for those who will trade a tiny bit of discomfort for more efficiency, there are better pumps on the market for the same amount of money.
Want more information on the Philips AVENT Comfort pump? Experienced Mommy has done the research for you! Have a look at our full AVENT Comfort pump review.
6. Naturebond Silicone Manual Breast Pump
Maybe you aren’t a working mom, but you still want a way to pump out some extra breast milk here and there without spending a ton of money. Do I have the pump for you! The Naturebond Silicone Manual Breast Pump is so unique and a wonderful solution to simple pumping. This pump won the Mum Award Consumer’s Choice for Best Manual Pump in 2017 because of it’s awesomeness.
How it works is it creates natural suction with it’s design. It’s an empty bottle with a flanged top. When you squeeze the bottle and place the nipple inside the flange, you get natural suction. This can help to gently relieve engorgement or to collect letdown as you pump or feed from the other breast. It’s a lightweight and inexpensive manual breast pump option for mammas that need to pump for an occasional missed feeding or engorgement.
This inexpensive pump is made from all natural and safe materials. It’s a soft, flexible food grade silicone bottle that can hold up to 4 ounces. It comes with a petal shaped stopper that will keep every last drop in the bottle, plus a dust cover lid for extra protection.
Like I said, the NatureBond manual pump isn’t ideal for moms who are going to be returning to work. This will only work well for a mom who needs to pump small amounts occasionally. Since it only holds 4 ounces (more like 3.5), you can’t pump a lot at once. Other complaints are that it’s hard to clean because of the shape, although you can dishwash it. When it gets heavy, it might drop off and loose suction because it’s too full of milk.
I love this option for collecting milk that would normally be wasted. This pump works without you having to operate a frustrating and painful hand pump and instead uses natural suction and gravity to stimulate let down. Give this unorthodox manual pump a try! You’ll probably like it more than a regular manual pump.
7. Signature Pro by Lansinoh Double Electric Breast Pump
Most breastfeeding moms know and love the Lansinoh breast milk storage bags. So i was excited to take a look at a Lansinoh pump. The Signature Pro by Lansinoh Double Electric Breast Pump can be either electric or battery powered. It only weighs 2 pounds, so it’s a great pump for traveling with. It’s small and the included tote bag is simple and stylish, so it’s a good breast pump choice for returning to work with.
The pump itself has 2 modes: letdown and expression. Within that, there are 3 different pumping styles, which basically control the pattern/speed of the suck. There are 8 suction levels. With all those settings, you can customize this to get out as much milk as possible with each pump!
This pump is a hygienic closed system. There is a diaphragm that helps to keep the milk from flowing back into the motor system. There are a lot of parts that come with the bottle and pump assembly, but they are easy to clean and put together. The LCD display screen is backlit and shows you the modes, the pumping time, and all other settings. This makes it easy to use at night without being obnoxiously bright.
Overall, this is a good and very comfortable pump. It’s also one of the cheapest on the market. And sometimes, you get what you pay for. This pump is often times less than reliable. It also features lower suction than some of the other brands, like Medela. The suction works best if you only pump on one breast at a time, which defeats the purpose of buying a double pump! The Lansinoh Signature Pro can also be pretty noisy, which is embarrassing at work and frustrating during the night.
This is a decent choice if you struggle with pumping soreness. But if you are a hardcore, exclusive pumper, it just won’t do the job.
8. Freemie Liberty Breast Pump
With most traditional breast pumps, you have to hold the pump in place while you are using it. Not so with the Freemie Liberty Breast Pump! This pump features the revolutionary Freemie cups, which are used instead of a traditional breast shield/flange and bottle. This means that it can be used under your shirt and it’s totally, completely hands free! No pumping bra required!
The unit itself if super small and light. It weighs less than a pound and can be clipped to your pants or to your purse. The tubing then goes up into the Freemie cups, which pump out milk while you do what you gotta do. You can even customize the tubing length for whatever you are doing. It runs on batteries and can also be charged via USB cords. You can use it while it while it’s charging, so it’s easy to plug into your car and pump on the go.
This pump is programmable. It has 3 program buttons to save your settings. This makes it so nice to have a setting for nighttime, daytime, and even power pumping. It even has a programmable auto-off, so you can set it to turn off after 5 to 40 minutes at your nighttime pump. You can use it as a single or double pump, and it’s ridiculously quiet compared to regular pumps.
But back to those amazing cups. The Freemie cup is big enough to hold a 25mm or h28mm breast shield. It’s also big enough to hold up to 8 oz of breast milk. The parts are protected and separate from the pump, making it a closed system.
If you didn’t notice, I really, really like this pump! But there are some drawbacks. First of all, it’s not as inconspicuous as Freemie would have you believe. You can wear it under a loose-fitting top, but since the front of the cups are flat, it gives your breasts a weird shape. This makes it a little intimidating to wear out into public, but it can still be done. Also, with the Freemie cups, you can’t tell how much you are pumping. You just have to pump until the cup is full or until you are done expressing.
One final con- it pumps less and takes more time. Let’s say you were pumping with a Medela and you switched to the Freemie Liberty mobile pump. You might pump 5 ounces per side instead of 6, and it might take you 30 minutes instead of 20. This is less than ideal, but if you are able to do stuff while you pump since you aren’t tied to a stationary unit, you are still saving time in the end!
9. Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump
This pump is probably my least favorite on the list, and yet it continues to be one of the most popular breast pumps out there. It’s not the greatest pump, but I suppose the Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump is one of the best breast pumps covered by insurance.
This simple double electric pump allows you to adjust the speed and suction however you want using 2 dials. The rhythmic waveform it uses is meant to mimic a hospital grade pump. Both of these together are meant to help you get the milk just like your baby would.
The pump itself is a closed system. Ameda prides themselves on having an Airlock Protection barrier that helps keep the milk sealed and away from all tubing. The result is no buildup or condensation in the tubing.
This pump runs on either batteries or electrical power. The pump motor is only 1 pound, and the kit comes with a carrying tote bag, so this is a very portable pump. The pump has 2 built in bottle holders, which is so nice for holding full bottles while you take the flange assemblies off. The pump also comes with full breast shield/flange setups that are BPA free. The Ameda Purely Yours has a 1 year warranty.
Now to the con list. This pump is just not as reliable as others. It tends to get weaker over time before giving out all together by year 2 or so. The suction is okay, not great. And it says that there are 32 different customization levels, and yet, there’s no markings on the speed or suction dials, so there’s no real way to measure where you are. It also makes repeating the same setting tricky. It’s pretty noisy and beeps loudly. It has a lot of parts, making cleaning tough.
If you are an exclusive or frequent pumper, then the Ameda Purely Yours just won’t hold up. I’d you pump less frequently and can get this through your insurance, it suffices for occasional pumping.
10. Medela Sonata Smart Double Electric Breast Pump
The Medela Sonata Smart Double Electric Breast Pump is a smart breast pump that was actually inspired by the hospital-grade Medela Symphony pump. This pump features the Medela exclusive 2 phase expression technology. It also has that handy Medela letdown mode, which helps pump users extract up to 18% more milk compared to other pumps. You can also select from two different pumping rhythms to help collect breast milk just like your baby would.
This pump is small, it’s smart, and it’s quiet. Compared to other pumps, like the Spectra, the Sonata is much smaller. It’s also smart, which means it connects to the my Medela app so that you can operate this thing from your phone. This brings breast pumps into the 21st century! The touchscreen display is illuminated for easy operation day or night. And speaking of night, this is actually the quietest Medela breast pump, so it’s discreet to use both during those middle of the night pumping sessions, or while working at your desk (it pairs perfectly with their new, discreet Medela Safe & Dry nursing pads… click to read the review!). It comes with a rechargeable battery so that you can take this pump anywhere.
The whole smart pump thing is great, but does come with some issues. First of all, you can’t program anything into this pump. That just seems silly to me if it’s a smart pump! Second, the screen can be a little bit confusing. Finally, the whole smart technology sets this thing up for a lot of failures and it may require several hard resets now and again to make it work properly.
Another disappointment with this updated pump? The parts. Medela updated the size and structure of the parts they use, so you can’t use any older or alternate Medela Parts. You can only use the ones that are made exclusively for the Sonata. That makes it difficult and expensive to buy extra parts, which all pumping moms desperately need.
This pump is a favorite of working moms because it’s light, it’s small, and you can operate it easily. The tote bag that comes with it looks just like a stylish purse that you would carry anyways, as opposed to a large tote bag that says “here’s my giant breast pump”. For the somewhat high price, you’ll get a reliable and good breast pump geared towards working moms.
11. Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump
Whether you are pumping a lot or a little, it’s always a good idea to have a manual pump on hand. And Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump is one of the best. It’s a simple idea- the lever works to create suction that draws out the breast milk. And with each pump, the Lansinoh can get up to 250 mmHg of suction. That is just as much as a lot of electric pumps! The ergonomic handle means that your hands and arms won’t get so tired so fast, so you can do a full pumping session if need be.
There are two modes on this manual breast pump- stimulation, or letdown mode and expression mode. There are also two breast shield sizes, 25mm (regular) and 30mm (large) to help get a close and comfortable fit. This will help to get the breast milk flowing and to get maximum collection efficiency.
The milk is collected in wide neck Lansinoh bottles that are BPA free. The parts are dishwasher safe. The Lansinoh manual breast pump does have a lot of parts, but the way that you assemble them is pretty intuitive, so it’s no more or less convenient than any other pump.
Like all breast pumps, this manual breast pump will work for some and not for others. As long as you keep all parts in tip top shape, and keep them from warping in the dishwasher, this pump should last you a pretty long time with occasional use. So do yourself a favor and buy a manual breast pump for the intermittent missed feeding or in case your electric one dies!
Breast Pump Types
As you’ve no doubt gathered, there are a few different kinds of breast pumps. There are 2 main breast pump types, according to the FDA. Here’s a little about them, including their pros and cons.
1. Manual breast pumps. These pumps use suction created by a hand pump to stimulate the nipple through the breast shield and draw out milk. The hand pump can either be a lever attached to the collection bottles or the collection bottle itself.
- Pros: Quick to use, don’t depend on power source, less expensive, easily portable, easy to clean
- Cons: Takes a lot of strength and endurance, can’t customize suction levels, takes longer to collect milk
- BEST FOR OCCASIONAL PUMPING
2. Electric and battery powered breast pumps. This used to be 2 separate categories, but nowadays most electric pumps have a battery option, and vice versa. These pumps work by allowing a motor to create suction. The suction goes through tubing and into the breast shields, where the milk then drops down into collection bottles.
- Pros: Collect milk quickly, collect more milk, allow for customization of sucking speed and strength, can get some models through insurance
- Cons: Dependent on electricity or expensive batteries, more bulky to travel with, can be noisy, harder to clean more parts, expensive
- BEST FOR FREQUENT PUMPING
Within these 2 categories, there are both single pumps and double pumps.
- Single pumps can only extract milk from one breast at a time. Nearly every manual pump is a single pump, and most popular pumps come in a single pump option.
- Double pumps allow you to extract milk from both breasts at the same time. Double electric breast pumps are good options because they save time. Many can even be converted to a single breast pump if needed.
Finally, breast pumps can be categorized as opened system or closed system.
- Opened system breast pumps are designed so that the milk could go into tubing that interacts with the motor. Most often, this occurs as the result of pumping too much, creating an overflow into these parts. This is a big deal, because breast milk can transmit certain bacteria and viruses. Opened system pumps are single user and should never, ever be shared.
- Closed system breast pumps are designed with barriers or filters that prevent the milk from being able to go into the tubing or motor. The milk goes straight from the breast shield and into the collection container. Most rental pumps or hospital grade pumps are closed system. As long as new accessories are used, it’s okay to share the motor portion of a closed system breast pump.
How to Choose a Breast Pump
Now that you know the types of breast pump, you’ll want to know what else to look for when choosing a breast pump. Here are some of the most important categories to consider. Look for these pump features when shopping:
- Suction. How strong is it? Hospital grade? Personal use? Many breast pump manufacturers will give you a number, measured in mmHg, that tells you how strong the suction is. Many pumps feature adjustable suction to help you comfortably draw out breast milk.
- Expression modes. Many pumps now have a letdown mode as well as an expression mode. This really helps to get the milk flowing, and it can help you get a lot more milk during each pumping session.
- Battery power. Does the pump have a battery powered option? Does it come with, or do you have to buy a battery pack separate? Also, how many and what type of batteries does it take? Replacing 6 batteries every 2 weeks can get expensive. Reading through the reviews can give you a realistic idea of how long the batteries last.
- Price. Pumps can run anywhere from a few bucks to several thousand. In looking at what you can afford, keep in mind the number of features, the warranty, and the suction strength. Don’t pay more for a pump than you have to. There are a lot of good and affordable pumps on the market, so don’t let price be your driving measurement of pump efficiency.
- Warranty. Nearly every pump sold on the market today will have a warranty. Keep a special eye on this number, because it will probably tell you a lot about the quality of the motor and the accessories. The longer the warranty, usually the more sturdy and reliable the motor is. Most good options have a 2 year or longer warranty.
- Display and programming. You can find breast pumps that have no displays or high tech digital screen displays. LCD screens are the most popular choice. Along with the screen, check for any programming options. Some pumps will have the option to save your favorite settings for repeated success during pumping.
- Portability. These days, nearly all breast pumps claim that you can travel with them. But how functional is it really? How much does the pump itself weigh? That’s going to be the biggest determining factor for portability. Look at other things though, like whether or not the pump comes with the tote bag, how long the tubing is, and also if it can be charged in your car or run for a long time on batteries.
- Accessories. Some pumps come with just the motor itself, while some will come with full tubing and breast milk collection kids, as well as other accessories, like tote bags, milk collection bottles, and even nipples for feeding. This is important, because some brands will charge a lot of money to get the right accessories to go with your pump after the fact. Look for starter kits, which are usually a pretty good deal and come with everything you need.
- Cleaning. The more parts that are included, usually the harder the cleaning. Also, open systems are notoriously harder to clean, since you are often going to have to disconnect the tubing and totally sanitize it. Also, check to see if the flanges, collection bottles, and other parts are dishwasher safe. This will make your life a whole lot easier!
- Noise level. When and where you pump will determine the noise level that is acceptable. If you do a lot of pumping at night while your baby is trying to sleep, then you won’t find a pump that is whisper quiet. Also, if you are trying to discreetly pump while at work, you want to find a quiet pump. Otherwise, noise might not be a huge factor for you. In any case, it’s nice to have a pump that you don’t have to shout over every time you use it.
- Breast milk volume. A last consideration is how much breast milk you will be pumping at a time. If you are a strong breast milk producer and will be getting more than 3 or 4 ounces per pumping session, you’ll want to make sure that your pump can accommodate larger collection bottles. Some pumps may only work well with 2 or 3 ounce collection bottles, while some pumps can take collection bottles that go up to 10 ounces.
How to Use a Breast Pump
You’ve done the research and you’ve gotten yourself a good breast pump. Now what? Using a breast pump can be intimidating at first, but it’s a pretty intuitive process that gets easier each time you do it.
Get dressed. Before you even think about actually pumping, you need to make sure that you are dressed for the occasion. Any nursing top or bra will work just fine. If you are going to be pumping in private, you can wear pretty much anything. Just avoid shirts with a lot of extra material, as they can just get in the way. If you are pumping in public and prefer to be covered up, make sure that your shirt exposes just the breast. If not, you can grab a cover or blanket to use.
Get comfy. If you have an electric pump, find a wall outlet that’s close by. Most electric breast pumps have shorter cords, so you may have to get an extension cord. Aim for a spot that is comfortable. You’ll want a couch or chair that has good back support so that you can sit up straight. You may find that leaning forward slightly will help to collect more milk, because of you know, gravity, so make sure you have enough space in front of you.
Get clean. Once you’ve scoped out your spot, make sure that your hands are clean. Wash and dry your hands well, and make sure that all of your pump parts are clean and ready to go.
Get attached. Before using the breast pump, place your nipple in the middle of the breast shield opening. You want to make sure that they are centered correctly so that you don’t hurt yourself! Many moms who are just learning how to do this find it much easier to do if the bottles aren’t attached. Once you’ve got the breast shields/flanges on correctly, attach the collection bottles. Make sure that all of the parts and tubing are connected and ready to go. If you are just going to be using your double electric breast pump as a single electric breast pump, make sure that the suction is properly blocked off or it won’t work.
Get pumping! Now it’s go time! Turn on the machine and begin pumping. Don’t get discouraged if nothing comes out right away. It can take up to 2 minutes to get milk flowing. If your pump has a stimulation or letdown mode, use that first. Then, switch into expression modes to collect as much milk as possible. If you pump doesn’t have any fancy settings, then manually try to adjust the pump speed and suction at the beginning. This will mimic the frantic motions of a hungry baby nursing. Once everything is going well, adjust to a comfortable speed and relax until you are done!
Get cleaned up. When you are finished, which is when milk is no longer being expressed, turn off the breast pump. Remove the breast shields carefully by inserting a finger gently under the side to break the seal. Watch out for drips! Unscrew the breast shields/flanges from the collection bottles and put lids on them. Store them properly remembering the CDC’s rule of fours: breast milk is okay for four hours at room temperature and four days in the fridge.
Cleaning Your Breast Pump and Parts
Beyond using the breast pump, you’ll need to become a pro at cleaning it. That will help to prevent any and all dangerous germs from getting into contact with your “liquid gold.” Proper cleaning will also help get rid of that build up that some nipple creams can cause on your breast pump parts. (Find the best nipple cream here!) You’ve got 3 basic options when it comes to cleaning your breast pump.
Each breast pump has its own parts that will need cleaning. Handwashing is a simple way to ensure that your parts are always clean. In general, here’s how the FDA recommends that you wash your breast pump parts.
- Start by disassembling the pump and rinsing the breast pump parts as soon as you can after each pumping session
- Then, when you are able, washing the pump parts in warm soapy water and rinse well with very warm/hot water
- Place clean pieces on a clean towel or drying rack to air dry
- Assemble parts only when they are completely dry
This method is so much faster and more convenient than handwashing. Many pump parts, like collection bottles and breast shields, can be cleaned and sanitized in the top rack of the dishwasher. A tip from me: use an unscented and all natural dishwasher detergent to avoid the weird chalky buildup and permanent floral scent that some plastics get from regular scented dishwashing detergent. The biggest drawback to this method is that you have to have extra collection bottles and breast shields unless you want to be running the dishwasher between all your pumping sessions.
3. Microwave Sanitizing
This method is my personal favorite. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it kills germs. You can purchase special microwave bags that use the power of steam to clean your pump parts. Just rinse your parts thoroughly immediately after pumping, add some water to the bag, and nuke it all for a few minutes. Drain any excess water and open the bag so the parts can air dry. This is the best method for working moms who might not have 10 minutes or a clean sink to use to wash stuff.
Keep in mind when cleaning your breast pump that a combination of the above methods can work really well. For example, I would microwave clean my parts while at work, then I’d come home at night and either hand wash or dishwash my pump pieces for the next day. That way, I knew that they were always clean and ready to go.
Once you pump parts are clean, be careful to keep them that way. If you can help it, don’t touch the inside of any pump accessories that will come into immediate contact with the breast milk. Store the pump pieces in a clean place where they won’t get dirt or lint on them. If pump parts have been in storage for a long time, give them a nice cleaning before using them again.
Breast Pump FAQs
What does the term “hospital grade” mean?
This is a marketing term. It’s not a term regulated or recognized by the FDA, so any seller can say that their pump is hospital grade. Hospital grade pumps are designed to work differently than personal use pumps. Namely, they are stronger, which helps to initiate and maintain breast milk supply. That’s why hospital grade pumps are the best breast pump for low supply. They are also designed to be used constantly and by more than one user. If you see a pump with the label “hospital grade,” be sure that it actually is before purchasing.
Does breast shield/ flange size really matter?
Yes! It might seem silly, but the size of the breast shield/flange can make a big difference. Correct flange size will equal better suction and more milk production for you. It will also make the whole experience much less painful. Keep in mind that a breast shield that previously worked for you may not work for another breastfeeding journey, since nipple size and shape cna change with each child. Medela has a great guide for what size shield you will need. Some pumps are only compatible with certain sizes, and that may or may not work for you, so be sure to check what size breast shield comes with the pump that you choose. Also look for inserts that you can place inside a breast shield to make it fit better.
Side note: breast flanges for breast pumps and nipple shields for breastfeeding are sized differently. Read our Best Nipple Shields article for more info.
What are the best breast pump accessories?
Every person will need something different to go with their pump. Here’s my top 10 things you’ll want and need for your pumping sessions:
- A hands free pumping bra
- Milk storage bags
- Milk collection bottles in different sizes
- A microwave sanitation bag for your pump parts
- Small brushes and drying rack for cleaning
- A tote bag or backpack to carry the pump in
- Extra parts, like membranes and tubing
- A couple of back up breast shields in different sizes
- A cooler bag for your pumped milk
- Extra batteries or an extra charger (especially a USB or car charger!)
Can I buy a used breast pump?
Technically, yes, you can buy a used breasts pump. But only if it’s a closed system pump that is intended for more than one user. The FDA warns against buying a used pump, since you can never be sure if it was cleaned or used properly. The big worry with improperly used pumps is that there could be bacteria or mold hiding in the pump that could make your or your baby sick. Breast milk can also transmit certain diseases, and no one wants to risk that! The manufacturer won’t honor the warranty if you aren’t the original purchaser of the pump, so you won’t get much help if something goes wrong. Overall, I’d say that unless you know the original user very, very well (like your sister for example), stay away from used breast pumps.
What’s the best breast pump for twins?
Breastfeeding twins is not for the faint hearted! Mammas of twins need all the help they can get from their pump. Look for durable pumps that are “hospital grade.” These are more expensive, but they will last through pumping many times a day. I would recommend either the Medela Symphony or the Spectra S1 or S2 for twins. They are all durable and have strong, adjustable suction. These three breast pumps are also good options because they have such amazing and long warranties, which comes in handy when you are doing extra pumping!
How can I pump more breast milk?
I wish there were a magic answer for this question. Each mom makes milk differently. Here is some generally good advice that can help you up your milk making quota.
- Relax! Don’t look at the bottle and how much is being pumped. Distract yourself from the numbers.
- Think about your baby. This is proven to get that milk going. Grab your phone and watch videos or look at pictures of your little angel while you pump.
- Eat a good diet. There are certain foods that might help with milk production. Overall, just be sure that you are getting plenty of water and enough calories.
- Try galactogogues. While these aren’t scientifically proven, many moms find that they can get an extra ounce or two from trying certain supplements or herbs.
- Mimic your baby’s schedule. Breast milk is on a supply and demand routine, so try to pump when your baby eats. Pumping as often as baby eats help you keep up with their demand so that you can have enough milk as they need.
- Give yourself enough time. Pumping for 5 minutes obviously won’t be as fruitful as pumping for 10 minutes. If you can help it, don’t look at the clock and instead look at your milk production as a timing cue. Most pumping sessions take between 10 and 20 minutes to get full let down and collection.
How often should I pump?
Your baby’s age will be the biggest determinant for how long you should pump. For example, a 2 month old baby will eat about every 2 hours, while a six month old baby eats every 3 hours. Like I mentioned earlier, the most successful pumping sessions are those that mimic your baby’s eating schedule. Add in a couple of extra pumping sessions to keep your supply going strong and to get some extra as a backup in case you are separated from your baby for longer than planned. Here is a fantastic sample schedule from the experts at lactationmatters.org:
Bonus: Benefits of Breastfeeding (and my success secret weapon)
Maybe you’re on the fence. Maybe you want a good reason to breastfeed. Althought I could give you 141 Reasons to Breastfeed, I’ll make it brief. Here’s why breastfeeding is good in a nutshell- it’s the perfect feeding system for your baby. Breast milk is specifically created to nourish a growing baby by having just the right amounts of fat, protein, and nutrients.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend breastfeeding over bottle feeding whenever possible. Why? It is better for baby, and it’s really great for mommy, too. Some research shows that breastfed kids are smarter, healthier, and have better bonds with their mother. My favorite part of breastfeeding is that it is said to lower the risk of SIDS. Mothers who breastfeed can reduce their risk of certain cancers and can lose baby weight quicker. Plus, it’s cheap, nearly free, and you’ll save time by not having to prepare and clean up bottles of formula.
I won’t lie, breastfeeding is hard. And there are times I wonder, is this really all that great? There are a lot of challenges to breastfeeding, and the science backing the benefits isn’t always convincing. At the end of the day, do what feels right for you and your baby. Each child is different, and each feeding journey will be different too.
But you know all this. Moms are notorious for researching all their parenting decisions. I won’t spend a lot of words in trying to convince you to breastfeed. What I will do is tell you the most indispensible breastfeeding help I ever received. My secret weapon- the lactation consultant.
Lactation consultants are amazing. With their help, more moms are breastfeeding successfully. A lactation consultant is a breast expert that can help you with all your breastfeeding concerns:
- Latching position and techniques
- Low supply or oversupply
- Pumping advice and pump rental
- Nursing patterns
- Painful nursing, especially nipple pain and problems
- Nursing through sickness (yours or baby’s)
- Even weaning!
They are especially invaluable if you have a challenging breastfeeding situation, like nursing a baby with special needs or nursing twins or multiples.
Just one visit is all it will take for you to love lactation consultants. If it weren’t for them, I would not have breastfed my two kids. They helped me to tackle issues with painful engorgement, oversupply, and a tongue and lip tie on one of my babies. I even got help making up a breastfeeding and pumping game plan for when I went back to work. I didn’t know how to do it on my own, so their information was invaluable. Many lactation consultants don’t mind if you call or text them after a visit, so you can contact them any time as issues arise.
For best results, look for a lactation consultant who has the letters IBCLC after their name. It means that they are certified by the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants. In layman’s terms, it means that they know their stuff and they can prove it. You can find one through your local hospital or women’s clinic, or your can search for one online. Most lactation consultants are free, but some may charge a small fee for an in-home visit.
Please believe me when I say that lactation consultants can help you! You will be so thankful that you’ve tapped into their amazing amount of expertise. It’s the secret weapon to breastfeeding success.
Electric breast pumps have totally revolutionized the way that mothers feed their babies in the 21st century. Whether you are an exclusive pumper or an exclusive breastfeeder, you’ll need a pump at some point.
I hope that I have given you some good options no matter what your needs are. I’ve looked at 11 pumps, ranging from single pumps to double electric breast pumps to manual breast pumps. I’ve gone over all the types, terms and pump features. I’ve told you how to use your breast pump and how to clean it. I’ve answered some of the most pressing breast pump questions. Finally, I’ve let you in on my breastfeeding secret- the lactation consultant.
With all these weapons in your arsenal, I have no doubt that you will go forth and choose a great breast pump! Happy pumping!