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Spectra, Medela, Lansinoh — which breast pump rules them all? Here’s the scoop on the best breast pumps in our experience.
- Best overall breast pump: Spectra S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump | Skip to review
- Best budget breast pump: Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Electric Breast Pump | Skip to review
- Best natural suction breast pump: Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump | Skip to review
- Best manual breast pump: Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump | Skip to review
- Best cordless wearable breast pump: Momcozy All-in-one M5 Wearable Breast Pump | Skip to review
- Best portable breast pump: Medela Pump in Style with MaxFlow | Skip to review
- Best hospital-grade breast pump: Medela Symphony Double Electric Breast Pump | Skip to review
Decision making can be stressful, especially in the final stretch of pregnancy or the early months of parenting. So to offer you a bit of a breather, we’ve compiled a list of the best breast pumps on the market in our experience (and descriptions of why so you can decide if they might be the right match for you).
- Customer reviews: When choosing what pumps to include on this list, we looked first and foremost at consumer experiences.
- Price: We aimed to include a variety of pumps and prices as we understand that different types of pumps work best depending on the reason for pumping — and budgets vary!
- Convenience: 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.
- Brand reputation: Our team thoroughly vets the products we recommend for medical credibility, good business practices, and social impact. You can read more about that process here.
- Experience: As editors and writers who are also moms, we’ve used these breast pumps ourselves and highlighted the ones we’ve found most reliable, and we’ve included our feedback to offer insight.
- $ = under $100
- $$ = over $100 to under $250
- $$$ = over $250 to under $500
- $$$$ = over $500
Here’s a comparison of our picks for best breast pumps and some honorable mentions from above:
|Product name||Price||Type||Closed vs. open||Portable|
|Spectra S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump||$$||electric||closed||yes|
|Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Electric Breast Pump||$||electric||closed||no|
|Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump||$||manual||n/a||yes|
|Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump||$||manual||n/a||yes|
|Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump||$||manual||n/a||yes|
|Momcozy All-in-one M5 Wearable Breast Pump||$$||electric||closed||yes|
|Willow Wearable Breast Pump||$$$$||electric||closed||yes|
|Elvie Stride Breast Pump||$$$||electric||closed||yes|
|Medela Freestyle Flex Double Electric Breast Pump||$$$||electric||closed||yes|
|Medela Pump in Style with MaxFlow||$$$||electric||closed||yes|
|Medela Symphony Double Electric Breast Pump||$$$$||electric||closed||no|
A breast pump is considered a medical device, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Breast pumps can be manual or electric, and they can be single expression (pumping one breast at a time) or double expression (pumping both breasts at the same time). They can also be deemed closed or open system.
Breast pump glossary
Closed system breast pump: A closed system breast pump uses a barrier between the different parts of the breast pump, such as the valve, breast shield, flanges, and connectors. These pieces (which can be a pain to clean) prevent liquid, be it the breast milk itself or the moisture from the heat of the pumping parent’s body, from affecting the electric motor. It also helps to maintain a more hygienic environment for the milk. Most major pumps are closed systems.
Open system breast pump: Open system breast pumps don’t have this separation between the pump parts and the motor, which may cause milk to get into the motor if you use an electric pump. The milk is at greater risk of contamination with an open system. These pumps are not very common anymore.
Electric breast pump: Electric breast pumps are connected to an electronic device that creates suction. This type of breast pump is ideal for parents who pump frequently and need to express a significant amount of milk at a given time.
Manual breast pump: A manual breast pump requires you to manually remove milk from your breasts. They are more affordable. Natural suction cups like Haakaa are a type of manual breast pump.
Double pump: A double breast pump allows you to pump from both breasts simultaneously, which is the most efficient way, especially if your goal is to create an excess milk supply or if you’re pumping instead of nursing.
Single pump: A single breast pump only allows you to pump from one breast at a time, which may come in handy if you plan on pumping from one side while your baby nurses from the other.
Hospital-grade pump: These pumps typically have heavy duty motors and are designed to be used by several people. They often offer a higher level of suction and are more efficient than some of their less innovative competitors. Many major breast-pump brands offer hospital-grade models, but it’s rare that a family would need one for at-home use.
Wearable breast pump: A wearable breast pump, also known as a cordless or wireless breast pump, is a type of breast pump that you can wear in your bra and that doesn’t require being connected to cords.
Hand expression: This is the process of manually extracting milk from your breasts without a pump. You can do this by forming the letter “c” with your hand around one breast and gently squeezing from the outer breasts towards the nipple. Though not a popular way to pump, it’s a useful skill to have and certainly an option when you need it.
Closed system vs. open system breast pumps
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 needed to flow in and out for the vacuum action of the pump. But a closed system will come as close as possible.
An open system breast pump lacks this barrier.
Used breast pumps
It’s possible that you’ll encounter used breast pumps on the market. (After all, according to research,
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. In some cases you can purchase replacement parts for closed-system pumps and reuse the motor attachment.
But according to the FDA, it’s never safe for a pump that’s designed for a single user to be rented or resold to someone else.
Hospital grade vs. hospital suction
Some pumps that are marketed as hospital-grade pumps are designed for multiple users and have a much more powerful motor than a single user pump. The only true hospital-grade pump on our list is the Medela Symphony.
Electric pumps (such as the Spectra and most of the pumps we recommend above, sans the Symphony) sometimes reach the same level of suction as a true hospital grade pump, but don’t necessarily have all the same modes and the motor won’t last as long.
That said, the
When choosing a breast pump, there are many things to consider:
- Your 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: Find that balance between your budget and the type of pump that will serve your needs best.
- Portability: Pumps vary in this department, so it should be a factor you strongly consider. Some breast pumps require you to be plugged into an electric outlet at all times, which confines you to a certain area. Others are charged with a battery, so they allow you to move around freely so long as you’re attached to the battery-operated device, which can range in size and heaviness.
- Strength/variability of suction: Not all pumps are created with the same suction and efficiency. It’s a good idea to check the mmHG, or millimeters of mercury, a measurement that indicates the strength of the suction.
- Comfort: Does the pump fit your body well? With any pump, it’s crucial to make sure you can get compatible flanges that fit the size of your nipples.
- Loudness of the pump: Some pumps have motors that are louder than others. It can be hard to know how loud a pump is until you’ve tried it, so be sure to read reviews to determine whether a pump you’re interested in purchasing is louder or on the quiet side.
- Additional parts: In addition to your breast pump, you may look for other accessories that can help streamline the pumping process, such as breast milk storage bags, nursing pads, nipple creams, and nursing bras.
Don’t forget to consider cost-effective ways to test out a potential pump before buying it for yourself. Some hospitals offer pump rentals. Talk with a local lactation consultant about why and how to use a breast pump and where to rent them.
When should I start using my breast pump?
When your baby is gaining weight and keeping a moderate weight, experts recommend waiting 6 weeks to use a breast pump to first establish a nursing routine. However, low birth weight, separation from your baby, and other factors may mean your medical team recommends you start pumping sooner (but never during pregnancy).
How often should I clean my breast pump?
If you’re using a shared pump, such as a rented medical-grade breast pump, clean it before each use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend
How do I know which breast pump will work for me?
Most breastfeeding parents don’t need a pump at all. If you decide to get a pump, most lactation experts agree that a double expression breast pump is ideal, though a single expression pump can be beneficial in certain scenarios, such as when nursing and pumping at the same time.
You can also choose between manual and electric breast pumps, which comes down to preference.
If you have a low milk supply, need to build up stores, or establish your milk supply, a hospital-grade breast pump is a good choice. If your baby spends time in the NICU or is born prematurely, your healthcare team may recommend one. In most cases, a double electric pump will fulfill pumping needs.
How do I pump breast milk?
Always wash your hands and then assemble the breast pump parts.
For electric breast pumps, center the breast shield over your nipple, pressing gently. Start on a low intensity and then increase slowly if you want. It should never feel painful.
Manual pumps require a slightly different process. You will want to stimulate your breast by hand first and then center and press the pump to your breast before you start manually pumping the handle. Check out our full article on how to pump here.
What breast pump do lactation experts recommend?
Lactation experts all may have different favorite breast pumps they recommend, but they do all agree that a double expression pump is the best so you can pump on both sides at the same time.
Will a breast pump change my breasts?
Your breasts after breastfeeding and pumping may be different than before having your baby, but many people experience minimal long-term changes. Nipples may change in size and appearance while breastfeeding, and stretch marks may intensify.
Pumping should never be painful, but breast pumps can cause trauma to breasts when used incorrectly or too often. So it’s crucial to choose the right size shield and not to overpump, which can lead to engorgement and mastitis.
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.)