You’ve had your baby, and you opted to breastfeed with a pump. The next step would be to find and buy the best breast pump for your needs right?
Now comes the research phase, and as we all know it can be quite difficult to narrow the winner down.
Well, the great news is that I have tested and graded every single breast pump out there currently, and have labeled them in a defined way so that all you moms will have but a simple choice to make after reading this guide.
Now before we dive in and show you all the great pumps to express milk for your baby, there are actually certain things you need to know first. Mainly, you should be aware of the several types of breast pumps that are available and the differences between each one.
There are Four Types of Great Breast Pumps
Hospital grade breast pumps: These pumps are of the highest quality and the most efficient. They are intended for multiple uses and can even be rented or borrowed. These breast pumps are most useful for mothers who have problems with breastfeeding after birth, do not have a potent milk flow, or if they have twins. Hospital-grade breast pumps are double kit pumps, which means that they express milk from both breasts at once. They accurately imitate a baby sucking and thus improve the flow of milk significantly. If you have a lack of milk or any problems with breastfeeding, then this is the right product for you. Also, if money is not an issue for you, then grab this type of breast pump over the rest as it will be much more effective and easy to use.
High Range Electric breast pumps: These pumps are designed for women who have a good flow of milk and for any reason have to express milk several times a day. This is an ideal option for mothers who have to go back to work, or who are forced to be separated from their babies for a longer period of time. They have a double kit, and a cyclic rate of 40-60 per minute. This is the closest to the speed of a baby’s suction. The fast pumping feature is very important if you use yours at work for milk expression. The advantage of these pumps over the hospital grade is their portability, as well as the possibility of working on batteries.
Mid-range electric breast pumps: These are good choice for mothers who do not have to express the milk often, and do not want (or know) to do it manually. They are lightweight, portable and designed for one breast and often do not have a high cyclic rate. These are the most common and a great choice for most mothers looking for value and effectiveness.
Manual breast pumps: Are the cheapest variant of the rest and are designed for mothers who want to avoid temporary discomfort in the breasts, and pump either an excess amount of milk at once or maintain the supply at their own pace. They are lightweight and do not take up much space. Cyclic rate depends exclusively on your ability to pump.
Now you are ready to see my list of the top breast pumps in each category. The way these pumps were graded depends on the very important factors of efficiency, comfort durability, and cost. With that in mind, you are ready to find out which breast pump is the best by viewing Maternityathome’s top 7 breast pump reviews.
Top 7 Best Breast Pumps of 2017:
- Medela Symphony
- Spectra Baby S2
- Medela Pump In Style
- Lansinoh Affinity
- Ameda Purely Yours
- Philips Avent
- Medela Harmony
These are the 7 pumps that I will cover in much more detail below. They range heavily in price and usability, so I have labeled them with one specific strength that will hopefully help you narrow your choice down!
Let’s dig in:
Top 2 Manual Breast Pumps
Low Budget Choice
– Very cheap.
– A lightweight design that is portable.
– Looks discreet if you are shy about taking it on the go.
– Very easy to use and quiet.
– Some have problems generating suction with it, and hands get tired while pumping.
– Rubber parts may break off if not careful.
What You Need To Know
Overall, the Medela Harmony is a solid manual pump for first time mothers, and the one I would suggest if you are looking for a cheap and affordable option, or even an alternative pump just in case something happens with your primary one.
It is super quiet and very easy to take with you on the go, so if you are a working mom who wants to pump discreetly at work, this is the one for you. While it may have suction problems for some mothers, if you notice that you have poor milk flow, skip this one and pick another. For most mothers, it will generate a sufficient amount of milk and it will not be uncomfortable on your breasts.
The two phase system is decent but helpful on this pump, especially considering the price. The way it works is that first you pump hard with your thumb to get the milk flowing, and then when you see a steady flow rising, you simply switch to the handle.
The shield is very soft to mimic a baby’s mouth, and it does a great job for that matter. Lastly, the Harmony has such few parts that are removable so cleaning it is a breeze.
Maternityathome’s Rating: 9 out of 10
Best For Traveling
– Super lightweight design.
– Massage cushion really helps in terms of comfort.
– Great milk expression for a manual pump.
– Short neck is in close proximity to the breast, making it easy to use.
– Super quiet with no excess parts.
– Great for travel.
– Harder to assemble.
– Requires the new Avent bottles to work.
– Milk might drip down from the cushion.
What You Need To Know
The Philips Avent breast pump is definitely the top manual pump of 2017. It has a low price and some great features. It is made out of BPA-free plastic so you don’t have to worry about any health issues, and it is great for sore or flat nipples. The usability of the Avent is very conducive and it does not strain your hands at all. It can pump a very sufficient amount of milk for a manual pump and it is comfortable to use because of the soft gel pad.
Keep in mind that this only works with the new, wide-mouthed Avent bottles but that shouldn’t be a problem because they are very affordable and decent bottles for your baby. Some mothers have complained about some milk dropping down from the cushion, so you might need to position yourself in a more upright way to prevent that. If you have no issues with milk flow and want a manual pump for either traveling or work, this is the one I`d recommend.
Maternityathome’s Rating: 9.2 out of 10
Top 3 Electric Breast Pumps
Easy To Clean
– Great hygienic closed system made of silicone diaphragm that prevents anything from getting to the tubes and motor.- Double electric pump that you can unplug for single bottle use as well.
– Super easy to clean and lightweight.
– Ultimate comfort with adjustable suction and cycle frequency: 30-60 per minute.
– The cycle frequency may feel a bit low to some mothers, but if that’s the case you would need a high end hospital grade pump anyway.
What You Need To Know
The Ameda Purely Yours is a great choice for a high end double electric breast pump. The design is very well built for a lightweight machine and I love how versatile it is considering the price. You can adjust the suction and cycle frequency to suit your preference, which is definitely a plus in terms of comfort and milk expression.
The fact that you can insert the bottles into the holder while pumping render it much less likely to spill than the Pump In Style, so that is definitely a plus. Speaking of the bottles, they hold 4-5oz of milk each so that is more than an ample amount considering you can pump two at a time.
The Purely Yours comes with a car adapter addition that you can purchase as well, but I find it to only be worth it if you have no issues with pumping at a lower cyclic frequency. So for you mothers that need a higher frequency to express more milk, just avoid it altogether.
Maternityathome’s Rating: 9.2 out of 10
Great Value Choice
– Double electric breast pump with customized vacuum strength and cycle speed.
– Closed system works marvelously. No milk spillage into tubing or motor.
– Flanges come in standard and large for a choice of better fit.
– Suction is not the strongest out there, but it is gentle.
What You Need To Know
The Lansinoh Affinity is a very affordable double electric pump that is quite similar to the Ameda Purely Yours. The closed system works very well and helps a lot with the hygienic aspect. It comes with very few parts which makes it very easy to clean, so that is definitely a big plus.
The motor is not very loud at all, and you most likely won’t be waking up your baby while running it. There are two modes, stimulation and expression, and it will pump just fine for most mothers. A great addition are the Lansinoh storage bags (which you will get a sample of with a purchase of this pump ) because they help you store the pumped milk until it is bottle ready during feeding time.
Now the one main con of the Lansinoh Affinity is that the suction is not the best, and this is not the strongest electric pump out there. Therefore, the same advice applies with the Ameda Purely Yours; if you need a strong pump, skip this and get the Medela below.
Maternityathome’s Rating: 9.3 out of 10
Best Breast Pump For The Working Mom
– Double electric pump for maximum efficiency and convenience.
– Compatible with all standard sized bottles.
– Medela’s two phase expression technology is incredible for milk flow.
– Fully adjustable vacuum and speed settings.
– Easy to replace parts due to wide availability.
– Battery feature may not work properly.
– Open system so there will be condensation in the tubes and the milk may leak out of the flanges.
What You Need To Know
For it’s double electric capabilities, the Medela Pump in style advanced does a great job of providing both value and efficiency. This set comes with a tote bag, 5 ounce Medela milk bottles, 24mm breast shields, a cooler bag for insulation and an ice pack as well as a battery pack and AC adapter. You have the ultimate choice of pumping either with one or two breasts, and you can adjust the settings to fit your specific requirements.
For first time mothers who have never used an electric pump before, and especially with this one, you should go to your lactation consultant at your local hospital so that she can assist you in using one of these. The battery feature has been an issue for some mothers so if you are on the go, you should probably buy the car charger extension as well. This is an open system pump as well so you need to make sure that you clean the tubes adequately to prevent any mold from occurring. Aside from that, this is a great electric pump that will produce an amicable amount of milk flow so that you can feed your baby.
This is the best electric breast pump of 2017 and one of the most recommended by industry experts. The most annoying part is that the milk can leak out of the flanges and you don’t have much control over the suction, but for the most part it does a very good job for the vast majority of mothers who use it.
Overall, many mothers and I love the high end electric Pump In Style, so definitely consider it especially if you are planning to be back at work soon.
Maternityathome’s Rating: 9.4 out of 10
Top 2 Hospital Grade Breast Pumps:
Best Breast Pump For Everyday Use
– Closed system that is very hygienic.
– Incredibly quiet for a hospital grade pump.
– Built in timer and nightlight. Keeps track of how long you’ve been pumping.
– Customized features such as suction speed and vacuum control.
– Massage feature actually works pretty well to induce letdown.
– Very low price for an such an effective hospital grade pump.
– No batteries or car charger feature, so you need to buy the travel adapter separately.
– Bottles are not great and it does not come with a carrying case.
The Spectra S2 is a wonderful hospital grade breast pump considering the price that it costs. The ability to customize just about everything on this pump makes it very appealing for any mother, regardless of your breasts. Mothers of twins love the Spectra and you can pump either single or double with ease.
Furthermore, the suction is very comfortable and which is definitely an important factor when comparing breast pumps. I have never seen one mother complain about the Spectra being uncomfortable. Instead, mothers that have used this pump almost always compliment the massage feature that so adequately induces letdown. Also, this is the best breast pump for twins because of the great comfort it provides and it’s potent milk expression.
Overall, this is a great breast pump for everyday use and it overachieves when it comes to comfort and usability. The bottles are the only real downside as they are pretty cheap, but that is not a big issue at all as you can even fit the Medela bottles pretty adequately instead.
Furthermore, if you have issues with the breast shields, you can swap them out for Medela breast shields and they work very well.
Aside from that, if you have any issues with milk flow, this pump will definitely help you out with that. Lastly, it is very cute and pretty lightweight so you can even take it on the go if you absolutely need to, which is pretty uncommon for a hospital grade pump.
Just make sure to get a travel adapter if you plan on doing this.
Maternityathome’s Rating: 9.7 out of 10
Ultimate Power and Comfort
– Very hygienic closed system as expected from this price point.
– Super effective single and double pumping available.
– One of the most comfortable pumps in the market.
– Plenty of mothers see their milk expression augmented significantly when using this pump.
The Medela Symphony is definitely the most effective hospital-grade breast pump out there right now, however it is also one of the most expensive. It comes with Medela’s 2 phase expression technology that allows for more milk to be double pumped and is very conducive to a high usage rate.
What You Need To Know
This pump is usually rented from hospitals because of its effectiveness, and there are very few issues that arise with it. If you do encounter anything, it is most likely a defect and you should return it for a replacement immediately.
This is usually the pump that is given to mothers how have trouble expressing milk, and for good reason too. With that said, this is also the best breast pump for twins because of how effective it is at expressing milk.
You cant change the cyclic frequency on this pump, but you really wont have a reason to do so.
Furthermore, the Symphony has to be plugged in to work and is pretty heavy like most expensive hospital-grade pumps. Portability is therefore difficult with this product, so avoid it if you are always on the go and don’t have time to pump at home. The one thing you should note is that you need to purchase the double pumping kit separately as it does not come with it, but if you have the money to purchase this product than you won’t have any problem buying the kit anyway.
Overall, the Medela Sympony is the overall best pump and any mother who is lucky enough to use this will appreciate both the comfort and potency that it provides.
Maternityathome’s Rating: 9.9 out of 10
Five Reasons To Buy A High Quality Breast Pump
There are many reasons why mothers choose to purchase a breast pump, some more common than others. Here are five of the most common ones that you should take into account if you are still unsure whether you want to pick the more traditional way or the modern way of breastfeeding.
- There is an issue with the establishment of normal milk flow.
- Breastfeeding isn’t an option yet because the baby does not latch on or know how to suck the milk from the breast yet.
- The mother goes back to work and has no time to dedicate to manually breastfeeding her baby.
- The doctor recommends you use one over manually breastfeeding for health reasons (ie: very sore breasts that require a hospital-grade pump ).
- Just a preference over manual breastfeeding or a need for a more convenient method to feeding your infant.
These are the five main reasons as to why you would want a breast pump over the formula or breastfeeding, however there are many others as well. Now some mothers have some difficulty expressing milk while pumping, so that leads us to the next point.
How Do You Express More Milk?
This is a very common concern for many mothers out there, and I hope that I can shed some light on it. If you have issues expressing enough milk, especially with the weaker pumps, there are certain things you can do to increase your chances and ultimately make your life much easier. Here are a couple of things that you can try which should definitely help you the next time you pump:
- Take a supplement: Motherlove More Milk Plus is a great one and has helped many new mothers.
- Use the double pump feature if you have it.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet with enough protein, oats and vegetables incorporated within.
- Granola bars are a great snack that help with expressing.
- Drink an ample amount of water! ( 70-80oz a day if you can )
- Massage your breasts with coconut oil: Some women see great results with this.
- Most importantly, relax. Stress can seriously hinder milk expression so try and avoid it as much as possible.
Aside from these tips, you should look at this guide on how to pump properly. Use all this knowledge and you should have no problems. If you still aren’t expressing enough milk, you must visit your doctor as the reason will most likely be out of your control.
Two Common Questions That Mother’s Ask About Breast Pumps
Q: Should I get a single user or multiple user pump if I plan to rent one?
A: The pumps are primarily differentiated by whether they are for single use or multiple use. By no means should you get a single user pump if you plan on renting one. If you plan to borrow or rent a pump, make sure that it is intended for multiple use. Breast milk in single user pumps can reach the inner parts that are difficult to clean. This milk can contain bacteria and viruses, including HIV and hepatitis, so these breast pumps can be a potential risk to your babies. When pumps are labeled as multiple user pumps, this danger does not exist because they were designed in such a way that the milk cannot penetrate inside the pump mechanism.
Q: Should I get a closed or open system breast pump?
A: For safety and hygiene reasons, it is always better to choose a closed system breast pump, instead of an open system breast pump. Closed system pumps have a barrier between the pump mechanism and the container with the milk ,that prevents penetration of bacteria and dirt from the outside. An open system is still fine if you are the only user of it, but if you plan on renting or borrowing one, make sure that it is a closed system no matter what.
Closing Thoughts About Breast Pumps
Your health and diet are very important when it comes to pumping milk effectively. When you have a healthy balanced diet and you drink an ample amount of water a day, you will be able to pump much easier and not have any problems, aside from any residing health issues that you may have. A lot of mothers do not have follow a nutritional and healthy diet, and they often run into problems with pumping milk for their baby. The truth is that you need be in contact with your doctor and even a nutritionist so that you can have discuss what foods you should be eating and what foods you should avoid.
Hygiene is another important factor as you need to choose a pump that is comfortable on your breasts. This means that the pump needs to have:
- An appropriate size of the breast nipple shield so that it does not cause discomfort.
- An appropriate level of vacuum or suction, which should not be greater than 250 mm Hg because it can cause pain.
Also , you should keep in mind how often you need a pump and in what conditions it is to be used. Do you use it several times a day, once a day or occasionally?
Depending on those factors, you should take into account the portability, cycling rate, a possibility of battery power when choosing a breast pump. All the information is above for you to use, so the final choice is solely dependent on what your needs are, and which pump fits those needs.
Keep in mind that using a breast pump is not a mandatory way of nursing. It may happen that you do not need it at all and that you have the time and ability to breastfeed your baby just fine. In that case, this would be an unnecessary investment.
On the other hand, the fact that you are here means that you have chose to pump as your method of feeding your baby, and you have nothing to worry about because you are one of many other women out there who have chosen to do so.
In this case, it is very important to be prepared and to make the right choice from the start by buying the ideal breast pump depending on your needs. That way, you can save the headache of having to waste time and money in getting a second or third one.
Preparation is key, and that is the most important lesson that I try to portray here at Maternityathome.