- How to choose a breast pump
- Do you need a breast pump?
- Breast pump options
- How much do breast pumps cost?
- The best double electric breast pump: Medela Freestyle Double Electric Pump
- The best manual breast pumps: Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Made for Me Single Manual Breast Pump and the Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump
- The best wireless breast pump: Elvie Double Electric Wireless Pump
- The best hospital grade pump: Spectra S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump Hospital
- The best budget-friendly pump: Lansinoh Double Electric Breast Pump
How to Choose a Breast Pump
There are many breast pump options on the market, so choosing one can be overwhelming. My own feeding journey involved 16-months of exclusive pumping and here are some of the things I wish I has asked myself as I “auditioned” my trusty sidekick:
- How does pumping fit in with your breastfeeding plans?
- Where will you be using your breast pump the most?
- Is there a chance you’ll be using your breast pump for more than one baby?
- What portion—if any—will your insurance cover towards the purchase of a pump?
- Do you have a budget for your breast pump?
While it can be difficult to know exactly what you need out of a breast pump before you’ve had experience as a pumping mom, knowing some of the different options on the market can help. It’s also a great idea to ask around from your mom friends, get recommendations from a lactation consultant you trust, and of course, consider Truly Mama’s guide to breast pumps.
Do You Need a Breast Pump?
First things first–do you actually need a breast pump? Not all breastfeeding parents will want or choose to buy a breast pump, but they are extremely useful (and even necessary) in some situations. Some parents may need a breast pump because they are working away from their baby and need to pump to maintain their milk supply, while others may simply want the freedom of having a bottle to feed once in a while.
With my first daughter, I did not buy a breast pump right away. I had planned on staying home with her during the day, and figured that during my night shifts as a nurse, I would be fine using a manual pump to empty my breasts. However, I was very, very wrong. I ended up purchasing a double Medela electric breast pump and I used that thing for the next six years, through three more babies.
For me, because I was working part-time away from my baby, a double electric breast pump was a necessity. But that might not be the case for you. To help you decide if a breast pump might be right for you, ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Is feeding only from the breast important to you?
- What about if your baby has trouble eating from the breast–would you still like them to have your breast milk?
- Will you be working away from your baby out away from your baby during feeding times? (Consider that a newborn can eat as frequently as every hour during cluster feeds!)
- Would you like someone besides you to be able to feed the baby breast milk?
And don’t forget–if you are undecided on if you actually want to purchase a breast pump, you have time! There’s no expiration date for pumping and you can always try out exclusive from-the-breast feeding to see if it works for you first, then go from there. The advantage of having a breast pump from the beginning is that some moms prefer to pump right away, or may want to build up a stash of frozen milk as soon as possible, especially if they have to go back to work soon.
Breast Pump Options
There are different types of breast pumps on the market, and understanding their differences can help you make an informed decision about what is right for you. Overall, breast pumps are broken down into four different categories:
- Double or Single Electric Breast Pumps. These are pumps with electric motors that do the work of suctioning the milk out for you, with different levels of suction and expression levels. Most moms purchase electric pumps as a double, so you can pump both breasts at once, but they are available in single pumps as well. You can use these pumps hands-free with the addition of a hands-free pumping bra, but there will still be wires connected to the milk containers and pump portion.
- Hospital Grade Pumps. A hospital-grade pump is an electric double pump with the highest-level of quality and suction available. These pumps cost in the thousands, however, so most moms rent a pump like this if needed, or use it at the hospital.
- Manual Pumps. These pumps rely on a hand crank or a mom’s own natural letdown to induce letdown, and don’t require electricity to operate.
- Wireless Pumps. These pumps are all-in-one electric pumps that fit directly into your bra—the motor, milk container, and pump are in one unit, so you’re completely wireless and hands-free while using. So far, there are only two real wireless pumps on the market are the Elvie and the Willow.
How Much Do Breast Pumps Cost?
You can spend as little as under $20 for a single, manual breast pump to upwards of $500 and more for a double electric wireless pump like the Elvie or Willow. There are also options to rent hospital-grade pumps, like the Medela Sympony, for a short amount of time. For instance, Medela has a monthly rental program so you can try out the pump or use it for a short amount of time if needed.
But when you’re ready to buy, here are some of the different options you can consider.
The Best Double Electric Breast Pump
Medela Freestyle Double Electric Pump, from Amazon
Double electric breast pumps come with a motor and two bottles with flanges and shield so you can pump both breasts at once. The Medela is a popular and powerful option used by a lot of hospitals in the country.
Personally, I had a great experience with the Medela Freestyle Double Electric Pump. It’s a full-sized yet portable, electric pump that can be used as a single or a double breast pump (double being a hands-free option). The Freestyle is a closed pumping system and also has different speeds to help pumping be as efficient as possible. You can use the Freestyle with Medela’s selection of hands-free pumping bras, or buy any of the different types of pumping bras on the market to create your own. Having the option to pump hands-free can be helpful so you can work at your computer, return emails, or just scroll Instagram while you make food for another human. No biggie, right?
Medela Freestyle Double Electric Pump Features
- Can be used with rechargeable battery (included)
- Battery lasts 2 hours
- Bluetooth connectivity with matching MyMedela app
- Weighs less than 1 pound
- Comes with included carrying case and cooler for breast milk
One note: A double, electric breast pump has the immediate benefit of being incredibly effective (a plus at the office), but the noise of this pump is noticeable, so it might be something to consider if you think it will bother you or be a distraction while you’re trying to pump. The noise isn’t always a problem for all moms—some have reported it actually helps cue their body for milk let-down—and others have found workarounds, like a white noise app to drown out the sound. It’s really all about what works for you, so give yourself patience as you trial and error to find your best option.
The Best Manual Breast Pumps
If you’re planning on pumping being a more occasional part of feeding, a manual breast pump may be a good place to turn. It is considerably less to cart around, is much quieter than an electric breast pump, and a lot easier on the wallet.
The Tommee Tippee manual pump was one of my favorites. I would suggest finding a manual pump that goes directly into bottles (this one does), which means that there’s less stuff to mess around with, especially if you’re just expressing milk quickly.
One thing to consider with a manual breast pump, however, is that you will be hands-on as opposed to hands-free, but it can be a great option for traveling.
Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump, from Amazon
Speaking of traveling, I’d be remiss not to mention the Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump. The Haakaa fits over the breast that is not being pumped or nursed through natural suction to catch any milk released while baby or breast pump works on the other side—this can reduce leaks, catches valuable milk, and means less waste as you avoid nursing pads. Even if your baby is nursing on one side, or you’re just pumping one side, when your milk lets down, it does let down on both sides, so this handy little device can catch any letdown milk from the other side. Moms rave about how much they are able to collect with virtually no effort by simply placing the pump on the breast not being nursed. The Haakaa can turn any nursing times into easy, simultaneous pumping sessions too.
This single piece of 100% silicone is great to have when baby is feeding on a breast/chest, or you happen to be single-side pumping. The Haakaa has measures on the side to see how much milk is produced, which can be helpful in the event you’re looking to measure your milk production or how much baby is eating.
Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump Features
- 100% silicone
- Suction base so you won’t spill any milk
- Includes a lid
- Hand-wash only
Two quick notes: the Haakaa does not stimulate milk letdown, so most moms use it as a way to collect breast milk from the non-nursing breast, so you should definitely be aware of that before you buy if you are in need of a pump for working or being away from your baby. Additionally, the Haakaa is not dishwasher safe, so you have to steam sterilize. You can our full review of the Haakaa Silicone Pump.
The Best Wireless Breast Pump
The Elvie is Truly Mama’s pick for a wireless electric breast pump—it’s effective, user-friendly, and can be life-changing for any parent who pumps on a regular basis. Using a wireless pump lets you do anything while pumping. You can walk around, take care of your baby, make lunch, take the dog out…you get the picture. It’s a game-changer.
The Elvie is incredibly easy to put together and use, comes with an app that you can use to see how much milk you are producing, and even control the pump through remotely, and has included pumping bottles so you don’t have to insert bags while you’re pumping. The Elvie also holds 5 ounces in each container, which is the largest amount of wireless milk collection available. And it auto-senses when the container is full and shuts the pump off for you, so you don’t have to constantly monitor it as you pump.
To use the Elvie, you snap in the breast shields, valves, and milk collector, then slip both pumps directly into your bra to begin pumping. It’s super important to make sure you use the correct flange to get the right fit and effective pump—you’ll also want to be sure all pump parts are completely bone-dry (any drop of moisture can interfere with the suction power and thus, the pump’s effectiveness). And while it’s definitely possible to use this pump discreetly in a crowded area, in a quiet office setting or one-one-one, you’ll be able to hear some noise. Additionally, the pumps both have bright “on” lights when in use, so unless you have a really dark-colored or thick shirt on, the lights will be noticeable too.
Elvie Breast Pump Features
- Wireless, completely hands-free breast pump
- Fits in your bra
- Runs totally on a rechargeable battery
- No bags are required; uses reusable milk containers instead
- Corresponding app lets you control pump from your phone
My biggest concern when using the Elvie instead of a traditional breast pump was my milk supply–I worried that the suction may not be as strong and I wouldn’t get a good output. But I found that my milk supply stayed exactly the same and in some cases, my supply even increased because I was able to pump more often because I didn’t have to stop what I was doing or could pump in the car too.
The Spectra is a beloved pump by many parents for good reason: it’s hospital grade, it’s covered by most insurances, and it’s an incredibly effective and easy-to-use pump. Moms rave about the fact that it’s lightweight (with a handle!) for taking on-the-go, comes with a light for middle-of-the-night pumping sessions, and can be controlled with the touch of a button. Another cool feature? It includes a timer so if you have a goal for pumping, you can keep track of how long you are pumping. Spectra S2 Electric Breast Pump Features
- Includes pump, power adapter, bottles, valves, tubing, and 24 and 28 mm flanges
- Closed pumping system
- Completely personalized suction and flow settings
- Auto shut-off after 30 minutes
- Rechargeable battery back-up
- Battery life lasts about 3 hours
One potential drawback a few parents noted is that the S1 has relatively short pumping tubes, so that can make pumping a bit cumbersome unless you have the pump directly next to you if you have limited space with a chair, etc. The battery will definitely help alleviate that problem though, as you don’t have to be solely plugged into an outlet to use it.
The Best Budget-Friendly Pump
Lansinoh is a name familiar in the breastfeeding world and this budget-friendly pump offers a great double electric pump option for under $85—not too shabby. Users rave about how easy it is to operate and clean, and how powerful the suction and pump is. Plus, this pump is compatible with Lansinoh products, so you can easily use it with any bottles or milk bags you may already own.
Lansinoh Double Electric Breast Pump Features
- Can adjust suction strength
- Closed system for pumping and cleanliness
- Lightweight for portability
One note that some parents mentioned in reviews is that getting the latch just right on the pump can be tricky, so that can affect how strong the suction is. You may need to experiment with positions and latches in order to get the best suction for you if you choose this pump.
Buying a Breast Pump
As you choose the best breast pump for you, don’t forget that many insurances will either cover the cost of the entire breast pump, or reimburse you partially for the purchase if you choose a pump that exceeds their limit. For instance, if your insurance covers up to $250 for a breast pump, but you really want the Elvie, you may be able to submit receipt of your purchase to your insurance company, and receive the $250 back after you buy it. So, it’s definitely worth checking with your insurance company on the rules and purchasing process to save you money.
Breast pumps can be amazing devices and for moms who want to continue breastfeeding even with fresh-from-the-breast is not an option, they can be a lifesaver. So, if a breast pump will be in your life soon, you need to feel proud of your choices and of the extra work that goes into pumping. It’s not easy being a pumping mom, and a feeding journey that includes a breast pump deserves to be celebrated.