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Since learning you’re having a baby, you’ve been making decisions, decisions, decisions. You’ve had to decide on a car seat, a crib, a stroller, a changing table. You’ve had to choose doctors, make medical decisions, and figure out child care.
Many moms don’t need a breast pump, but if you find you need one, and it’s now time to decide on a breast pump, you might be feeling overwhelmed.
We get it! Decision making can be stressful, especially in the final stretch of pregnancy. So to offer you a bit of a breather, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best breast pumps on the market (and descriptions of why they might be the right match for you).
As you shop for a breast pump, you’ll first want to consider whether you want a closed or open system. “Closed system” and “open system” aren’t formal medical terms, so brands may use them in different ways. It’s important to make sure you know what a particular brand means by the term if you see it in a product description!
A closed system breast pump is one that includes a barrier to prevent overflow milk from leaking into the pump system. This helps to keep the whole system hygienic. No system can be completely closed, as some air is need to flow in and out for the vacuuming action of the pump. But a true closed system will come as close as possible.
An open system breast pump lacks this barrier.
It’s possible that you’ll encounter used breast pumps on the market. (After all,
Because of the higher risk of someone else’s milk having reached the pump in an open system, many people avoid buying these types of pumps secondhand.
When choosing what pumps to include on this list, we looked first and foremost at consumer experiences. We aimed to include a variety of pumps and price points as we understand that different types of pumps work best depending on the reason for pumping — and budgets vary!
In addition to popularity and prices, we looked at features that make the whole process of pumping easier and more convenient. Let’s face it — when it comes to something you’ll potentially use several times a day, comfort and ease of use should be paramount.
Whatever your needs, one of these options should work for you.
Spectra S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump
A closed system, the Spectra offers the option for single or double pumping and has a strong, adjustable vacuum pump that many insurances will cover.
It’s lightweight and portable, with a carrying handle in its design. (The S1 version includes both power cord and battery options, which is very useful on the go!) It also has a night-light with two light levels and a timer that can be useful for those 2 a.m. pumping sessions.
Particularly in the beginning, it’s important to be careful putting together the backflow valves to keep moisture out of the tubing. The bottles included are not a fit for every baby, so it may be necessary to use a separate bottle brand.
Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump
This is a very affordable and portable option. The Haakaa offers a convenient way to store breast milk that might otherwise go to waste: Simply attach the Haakaa to the opposite breast from the one your baby is feeding on to preserve milk that is let down at the same time! It’s also perfect for taking out a specific small amount of milk when weaning or trying to reduce breast fullness between feedings.
Because there’s no actual pump involved, there are no concerns about open or closed systems — and it’s easy to completely clean! — but the Haakaa requires more manual labor than an electric pump. The Haakaa’s shape can easily result in spilled milk if knocked over, so it may be worth it to invest the extra money for the storage cover.
Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump
A key component of any manual breast pump is the handle, and the swivel handle of the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump sets it apart from the rest.
In part because of the ability to move the handle to the most comfortable position for each individual user and switch positions every time if needed, the Harmony offers a great amount of comfort and ease for a manual pump. Plus, it has the lower price point and higher portability than most electric models. Like the Haakaa, the Harmony is easy to clean, since there’s no motor or tubing.
The pump can lose suction over time as the O-ring becomes ragged, but it’s fairly easy to locate spare Medela parts to replace or fix this pump. (Additionally, the low price point makes it more affordable to completely replace this pump if necessary.) Like all manual pumps, if you intend to do a lot of pumping, this may not be the choice for you.
Willow Wearable Breast Pump
A hands-free option, the Willow is a useful pump for working women and anyone frequently on the move. Because it fits inside your bra without the need for cords, this is an extremely popular option for people who need to pump in public. It comes with extensive customer service options and doesn’t get a lot of complaints about lost milk due to leaking.
Because of the Willow’s size, its bags can only hold a smaller amount of breast milk than other pump containers, so some lactating individuals find it necessary to switch storage bags mid-session. The Willow also involves a slightly more complicated method of assembly and can be more difficult to latch in the beginning.
Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump
The makers of the Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump really were thinking about comfort in the creation of this pump. It’s designed to allow you the option of manually pumping in a reclined position. The silicone liner also makes the actual pump more comfortable than those made only with plastic! Like most manual pumps, the parts are easy to disassemble and clean. It’s also easy to transport and comes with a more affordable price tag.
The Philips Avent Manual is on the louder side for a manual pump, as the handle doesn’t have a bumper to prevent it from banging against the collection bottle. It also can give your hands a bit of a workout, since the handle doesn’t swivel and the grip can’t be adjusted. Although parts can wear out, because this is a more common brand of pump, replacement parts are easy to locate.
Medela Pump In Style Advanced On-the-Go Tote
Built into a bag, this pump is ready to be taken on the go! The Medela Pump In Style was designed to optimize suction and pumping efficiency, so speedy pumping sessions are frequently noted when using it. (It doesn’t offer the same amount of control over suction levels as some other pumps, however.) As a closed system pump, it’s more hygienic than some other options.
A little louder than the Spectra, this breast pump isn’t the quietest, but it’s easy to find spare parts for it. It’s lightweight, so it travels well.
Medela Symphony Double Electric Breast Pump
We’re not going to lie: This is a major splurge, and your situation is unlikely to require buying it — but you can consider renting it. If you’re trying to initiate or increase your breast milk supply, a hospital grade pump will provide more suction your breasts are needing. The Medela Symphony is the choice of many hospitals. It might be a good choice if you are trying to establish milk for an adopted baby.
This pump has great suction that mimics a baby’s actual nursing pattern. It is such a well-sealed closed system pump that hospitals are willing to let multiple lactating women use the same machine. It’s also a quieter pump, which many parents appreciate.
While this pump has great longevity, it’s heavier and not great for portability. Also, due to the hefty price tag on this pump, it may be worth your while to see if there is a hospital or birth center in your area that rents out this pump.
Medela Freestyle Flex Double Electric Breast Pump
This is a hands-free option for the mom on the move! The Medela Freestyle is extremely light and fits conveniently in a purse or diaper bag. It comes with a digital display and timer that includes a memory function to save your favorite expression suction patterns. It’s also compatible with most top flat nursing bras.
The downside to the Medela Freestyle Flex is that it doesn’t include as strong of a motor as the hospital grade. (When the battery is low, the suction decreases significantly, so it may become necessary to plug it in.) The Freestyle Flex is also a louder pump.
Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Electric Breast Pump
This is a very price-effective hospital grade pump. The Lansinoh is lightweight, portable, and has a backlit LCD screen. It runs on a power cord or batteries. The three pumping styles and adjustable suction options help with letdown, and the closed system keeps the pump hygienic.
The Lansinoh isn’t the quietest of the breast pumps available and can run through batteries quickly, but it’s a very affordable option for people seeking a hospital grade pump.
Bellababy Double Electric Breast Pump
The Bellababy Double Electric offers a touch HD display screen with a sensitive touch panel. This screen has all the information a lactating individual could hope for, as well as a convenient one-touch option for controlling the pump. The Bellababy Double Electric offers a closed system with strong suction that continues well even with a low battery.
While the Bellababy Double Electric is portable, it’s not the most compact option on the market. It also tends to run a little louder than some pumps. It has a lot of parts to clean and sanitize.
When choosing a breast pump, there are many things to consider:
- Your particular pumping needs and lifestyle. How often are you going to use your pump? What’s your goal for pumping — maintaining milk supply, doing it daily during work hours, etc.?
- Which pumps your health insurance will cover. As of
late 2012, private health insurers in the United States do need to cover breast pumps under the Affordable Care Act.
- Price point. Find that balance between your budget and the type of pump that will serve your needs best.
- Strength/variability of suction.
- Comfort. Does the pump fit your body well?
- Loudness of the pump.
- Other parts you might need in addition to the pump.
Don’t forget to consider cost-effective ways to test out a potential pump before purchasing it for yourself. Some hospitals offer pump rentals. Talk to a local lactation consultant about why and how to use a breast pump and where to rent them.
There’s a breast pump for every person and situation. Whether you need to pump every day on the go, want something to help take a bit of the edge off in the middle of the night, or are looking for a pump designed to help bring in your milk, these options should help take one more decision off your to-do list. (Don’t worry. You’ll still have plenty of other ones to make.)