Last Updated On January 4th, 2019
Towards the end of a woman’s pregnancy, one of the things she will most like be thinking about is what type of breast pump to purchase. Her decision on the type and model she prefers is one in which her partner is unlikely to help. After all, there are few activities as personal as expressing breastmilk; it’s rare that a husband or partner has any stake in the decision or can even relate to the process much less give any advice. The comfort, convenience and privacy you need from your device are all very subjective preferences. So ladies, the decision on what device can help make feeding your baby easier is totally up to you.
Once you’ve made the decision to breastfeed your baby, there are many reasons that you may need or want to express. You may be getting ready to return to a job, you may be dealing with engorgement issues and need the relief, your baby may not be able to latch properly, to overcome problems with slow or inadequate supply, you’d like to start weaning your toddler or baby from breast feeding – or you may simply want to have available in the house if you want to get out for a few hours and not have to worry about feeding your baby. Some also believe that when dads are involved in feeding their baby with breastmilk, the bonding between father and child is enhanced and this contributes to the baby’s overall health.
Finding one isn’t as simple as just asking your sister or a friend or buying other baby gear, since it’s such a personal matter. The bad news is that shopping will first require some thought about your preferences, and then some research on the alternatives. The good news is that we can walk you through the choices you’ll need to make, and then give you a full list of breast pump reviews, to make the process of selecting the best breast pump simple and rewarding.
Top 7 Best Breast Pumps Comparison Table
Complete Buying Guide
The biggest decision any new breastfeeding woman faces when she decides to express her breastmilk is between manual and powered. Each option has its proponents, but what really matters is your individual situation.
Manual types are less expensive, more portable and easier to figure out. You’ll notice we didn’t say “easier to use,” because some women find the process tiring, slow, incomplete and occasionally even distasteful, while others find it to be much simpler and less forbidding than hassling with multiple cords, dials and accessories. In other words, “easy” is in the mind of the beholder. The other major advantage to this type of device is discretion, because most are small enough to fit into a backpack or baby bag and don’t make any telltale noise if you’re pumping in a rest room or at the office. There are also women who prefer this approach because it feels more natural to them, or because they’re are easier to clean.
The majority of mothers who opt for non-powered models are those who plan to express no more than once a day, or those who simply want the option of expressing milk every once in a while or when they’re on a trip. It does take a bit of coordination to navigate it, at least until you get used to it, since many models require you to use both hands to squeeze. It’s nothing to be afraid of, however, as most women get the hang of it quickly.
Powered models (whether by mains power or batteries) require no “heavy labor” and are unquestionably the faster option. Most are able to express from both breasts at the same time, and the number of adjustments you can make to their suction levels and cycle times allow you to customize the pumping for the maximum production with the least discomfort. Of course, you can tell the “disadvantages” many women find with these just by looking at the “advantages” they credit to manual ones: powered models are generally larger and less discreet, more of a hassle to operate and clean, and often difficult to take on a trip or vacation.
If you ask advice from other breastfeeding moms, they will almost unanimously tell you that a powered model is the way to go, because of speed and the adjustments that can be made to enhance nipple comfort. You can even strap some models around your waist so you can get other things done or hold your baby while you’re pumping.
The options available on powered pumps can be confusing; here are some of the most important to consider.
- Power: Many of today’s models give you a choice; you can run them from mains, rechargeable batteries or battery packs, and some even let you use a car battery adapter.
- Single vs. Double: As you’ve probably guessed, this refers to whether you can express breastmilk from one or two breasts at the same time. Doubles can be a huge time-saver, especially if you work during the day or have issue with supply and stimulation. They can be configured so both express from the same breast simultaneously.
- Closed vs. Open Systems: Closed systems have barriers between the mechanism and the collector to protect the milk from outside contaminants, and to keep it out of the works (in order to prevent mold growth). Open systems are viewed by many women as less sanitary, and should never be shared by several users.
Other criteria to look for are dual-phase expression (the sucking motions made by a baby, slow and shallow for stimulation/let down and then long and deep for expression, are mimicked by the pump), comfortable flanges, flexibility in the collection system and quiet operation.
Think you’re ready? Let’s look at our picks for the best models in today’s market.
Our Top 7 Breast Pump Reviews
An powered model that’s almost as simple as a manual one? That’s the extremely popular, closed-system AVENT Comfort Single, which has a small and lightweight base unit, and is designed to let milk flow directly from the breast to the baby bottle while you remain in a natural, comfortable position. There aren’t a lot of settings to worry about, since it starts in stimulation mode and then gives you the choice of three expression settings. That’s not as full-featured as some other models, but it’s incredibly simple and more than enough power to work well for most women. This single unit also comes with a wide nipple for natural latch on and a soft massage cushion for added comfort. This is compatible with all AVENT Classic and Natural baby bottles and containers, packs up and cleans easily, and isn’t too noisy. It’s definitely one of the best.
The Spectra S1 is labeled “hospital grade” which is really a marketing term, but don’t let that put you off. This closed-system, dual model is strong and effective, yet somewhat small and portable for its abilities. There’s a stimulation mode and then the ability to choose your preferred speed and suction level (there are 12 to choose from) for expression, and the flow is faster with the S1 than most competitive models, at least for the average user. You’ll find a night light, timer and auto-shutoff on this device, which has a rechargeable battery that runs for about three hours, and two sets of 28mm flanges are included. It’s compatible with most wide-necked baby bottles, can be easily carried by the attached handle – and although it’s expensive, we believe it’s the best powered breast pump for women who express more than once a day.
A compact and reasonably-priced model, this closed-system Ameda isn’t quite as fast or comfortable as some expensive competitors, but it’s small, light and performs well. There’s no one-touch let down capability, although the dials for speed and suction settings let you adjust and customize for letdown and then expression with a total of 32 combinations available. The Lactaline can run from a power adaptor, six AA batteries or an optional car charger and comes with 25mm flanges, with other sizes available for purchase. It also accommodates most Medela baby feeding bottles as well as Ameda ones. With this unit’s slightly-lower suction power, you may want to utilize both pumps on one breast and that’s relatively easy to do; it’s not the most comfortable one you can find, but for its price it’s a good choice for once-a-day expressing.
Comfortable, small and quiet, the Lansinoh Single is ideal for a fast and simple pumping experience. This closed-system, two-phase model has one-touch letdown and six selectable suction levels with an LED indicator; its speed isn’t overpowering but its comfort is impressive, thanks in part to a silicone breast cushion that we wish more manufacturers would adopt, along with a proprietary NaturalWave teat that we liked as well. You can run the Lansinoh from either mains power or six AA batteries, and you’ll find that it’s quiet enough to be discreet when used at the office. It’s compatible with MAM baby feeding bottles if you don’t choose to use the separate Lansinoh pump-store-feed solution – oh, and did we mention that it’s really comfortable?
Even the manufacturer suggests that if you must have a one with a letdown mode you should look at one of their other models, like the S1 which we included earlier in our list. That caveat aside, this is an excellent product for its price. It’s closed-system, very quiet and very powerful, able to express at a speed and volume that can compete with some of the very best on the market, at a much lower price. The only drawbacks to consider (other than no letdown mode) are that the Dew 350 isn’t as sturdy or full-featured (there’s just one dial controlling suction) as the S1; that’s how they’re able to offer this downsized model at a much lower price. It’s particularly good, though, for women who must express multiple times per day but don’t want to spend a too much money. The Dew 350 is compact but runs only on mains power, and is very quiet. 25mm flanges are included, it’s is very easy to clean, and is a good alternative to consider to the Spectra Dew S1.
We’ve mentioned that we wish more companies would include silicone breast shields for comfort, and someone must have been listening because this has a terrific silicone breast cup. The Nuby Natural Touch is a two-phase model with digital controls for speed and suction (5 settings are available for each) as well as a timer, and while it runs on mains power you can buy a compatible battery pack for a few pounds. Suction strength is good, it’s compact and quiet, and the only negative we’ve found is that it isn’t compatible with most other brands of baby feeding bottles. Nuby is the #2 manufacturer of baby accessories in the UK, and the Natural Touch is a good example why.
Medela needs no introduction, and the Mini is a long-time favorite of mums for its comfort and its incredibly small size that makes it a breeze to carry around inside a baby bag; there’s just a pumping unit that attaches directly to a baby feeding bottle. This model runs from either mains or two AA batteries and delivers surprising pumping power for a mini, along with a comfortable experience from the 24mm flanges. This is a pretty noisy unit and it’s an open system, so we wouldn’t recommend it for daily usage. But for occasional use, you can’t argue with the millions of women who’ve purchased it over the years.
A Breast Pump For Every Need
We emphasized at the start that the selection of a breast pump is a very personal decision, so we’ve held back from christening any of these units as the best breast pump you can buy. A mother who only occasionally needs to express isn’t going to need a hospital grade unit with power to spare, and a regular pumper won’t find a compact single model worth their time or money.
We’ve tried to provide enough alternatives, though, so that our breast pump reviews include something for everyone. And the specifics we’ve spelled out show let you narrow down the choices to make milk expression more of a tolerable experience (we can’t bring ourselves to call it pleasurable) than a tedious or painful chore. Follow the decision process we’ve outlined, and you’ll be ready to get into the pumping groove quickly and easily.