If you’re in the market for a new electric breast pump, the options may have your head spinning.
Particularly because when you realize you want to look into an electric pump, you go straight to mama forums (and why not? We’re great!) to see what the best electric pumps for nursing moms look like. The thing is, just like in most things motherhood, mamas have lots and lots of opinions. And, since there are so many different opinions, it can be tough to figure out what’s best for you.
But that’s the thing…what’s best for you is best for you. Keep that in mind when looking at needs and features of the different breast pumps.
There are hundreds of different options for electric breast pumps for nursing moms, and it can be hard to narrow down the one that is right for you. And since you’ll be shelling out a couple of hundred dollars for this thing, you want to be sure it’s something that fits your needs and your lifestyle.
No matter if you are an exclusively nursing mom or an exclusively pumping mom, your breast pump is something you will be attached to- literally and figuratively. You will likely spend a significant amount of time using, cleaning, and sterilizing its parts so much so that you might even be able to rebuild one from scraps if given a chance. There are a few different types of pumps available on the market but each one comes with its own set of accessories and functions. The kicker? You might not know a pump does or does not work for you until after your baby arrives and you actually try it. So it’s a good idea to know all the options out there just in case the one you end up choosing isn’t a good fit.
Different Types of Electric Breast Pumps
There are two main pump designs: open-system pumps and closed-system pumps.
An open-system pump has no barrier between the milk collection kit and the pump mechanism. Milk may come in contact with parts of the pump that cannot be cleaned or sterilized such as the pump motor. This means that the milk collected can possibly contaminate different parts of the pump with bacteria, mold, and viruses.
All Medela pumps except the Symphony and the Lactina are open-system pumps.
A closed-system pump does have a barrier between the milk collection kit and the pump mechanism. Milk cannot get into pump or the motor area, and it can be cleaned easily by sterilizing the tubing and milk collection kits like the bottles or bags attached to the pump.
Here are some brands that carry closed-system pumps:
- Medela (some)
- Rumble Tuff
A hospital-grade pump can either be on an open-system or a closed-system- it depends on what the hospital carries. However, these pumps are known to have a little more power behind them than a personal pump you can buy at the store. They are often prescribed by doctors or lactation consultants when a mom is having a hard time pumping or producing milk. Some hospital-grade pumps are also multi-user pumps, meaning someone else may have used the same pump in the past. You’ll need your own materials if you get one from the hospital. They’re typically pricier as they suck at faster and stronger frequencies. Because of this, many mamas opt to rent them from the hospital first before they decide what they want to buy for themselves. Just make sure you know you’ll be buying your own tubing, milk containers, breast shields and such.
An electric breast pump (not hospital grade) however is a bit different and popular with moms because you can set your speed and suction level. There are single and double electric breast pumps. Consultants typically advise you to chose a double electric breast pump if you plan to pump fairly regularly. Doing so means more efficiency as it will empty both of your breasts at the same time. This saves YOU time and makes the whole pumping processes easier. Electric pumps may run on batteries or adapters. If they run on batteries, mamas love ones with rechargeable batteries because babies can get pricey. Many feature the option to run on outlet power or batteries.
How to Decide Which Type of Pump is For You
Many people opt for closed-system pumps because they ensure new and new-again moms that their milk will not be contaminated by bacteria, viruses, or mold when going through their system. However, some older hospital-grade pumps still work on an open-system so if you end up needing something with a little more power compared to a store-bought pump you may be subject to whatever they have available to you.
Once you have decided which pump system is right for you then you can begin to explore the different pumps available. When looking at the different pumps available there are a few things you can ask yourself to help you narrow down your search:
- What will I be using this pump for?
- How long is the motor life for this pump?
- What accessories does this pump come with?
The type of pump you get will depend on if you are a working mom who will be using this pump regularly or a mom who will only be using the pump occasionally. Working moms will need a pump with a longer motor life as well as one that can be used with an electrical outlet as well as battery-operated in case there are no outlets where she is pumping. You will also need some additional accessories like a bag to carry the pump and its parts, as well an insulated pouch to hold the breastmilk after it has been pumped.
Stay-at-home moms or moms who plan to exclusively nurse or only pump occasionally don’t need as many things for their pump. An electric breast pump that uses an AC adapter is usually preferable so you aren’t continually replacing batteries, and you typically don’t need a bag to carry your pump or an insulated pouch to hold pumped milk.
Motor life is a big concern for many of those who are looking to purchase a breast pump. Since you are spending hundreds of dollars on a pump, you want to make sure it will last a long time. The best way to see the average length of your pump’s motor is to look up reviews online. Working moms or moms who exclusively pump will want to choose a pump that has a stronger and longer motor since they will be using it more often.
Many pumps come with a few accessories like flanges and bottles for the expressed milk. Some moms may find themselves needing other accessories like a pumping bra, extra tubing, extra bottles, or different size flanges to fit their breasts.
Another thing to note is how closely a breast pump will work to mimic how your baby feeds. Obviously, none can get it exact, but many come very close to mimicking baby’s suck. They have two-phase extraction systems that first stimulate the flow of milk and then the second phase helps produce the letdown. Again, it really will be telltale how it works with you and feels with you fairly early on.
Does Insurance Cover Pumps?
Some insurance companies will cover a breast pump for expecting moms, but many moms find themselves paying out of pocket for one. Check with your insurance company to see if they offer reimbursement for breast pumps and which pumps are eligible under their policies.
Can I Buy an Electric Breast Pump Used?
Breast pumps are expensive, so you may be considering buying a used breast pump instead of a new one, especially if you are only going to be using it occasionally. You can safely purchase a used electric breast pump if it is a closed-system pump and if you are buying new tubing, flanges, and bottles to ensure there is no cross-contamination.
How Can I Get the Most Out of My Pumping Experience?
Pumping isn’t on the list of “fun things about motherhood” for anyone. Even if you have pumped previously, attaching your nipples back to your breast pump can still hurt. Here are some things you can do to make sure you are getting the most of out of your pumping experience:
- Get a pumping bra, this way your hands are free
- Have water and snacks handy- pumping can take 15 to 30 minutes, so water and snacks are key
- Use lanolin cream or cold-pressed breast pads to relieve pain before and after pumping.
- Massage your breasts before and during pumping- this may help you to express more milk faster
- Be patient- pumping takes a long time and sometimes you just don’t want to do it. But sit back, relax, and let the pump do its work. A stressed out mama expresses less milk than a relaxed one.
The Top 10 Best Electric Breast Pumps
The Calypso-To-Go has everything you need when you are pumping. It includes a double breast as well as a bag to carry all the essentials. Accessories also include cool bag and cooling elements for storing breast milk. Like all hospital-grade pumps, it uses medical technology featuring pistons and cylinders that make it top-of-the-line. The Calypso-To-Go breast pump features independent vacuum and cycle (suction/speed) adjustment with 64 total setting combinations for maximum customization by mom. Ardo’s vacuum-seal technology makes the Calypso-To-Go a completely closed system by preventing milk from entering the tubing, let alone the pump, and ensures hygiene and safety. It includes three different sizes of breast flanges to ensure that every mother can find the right size to suit her nipple. The Calypso-to-Go also contains a very comfortable hand pump with very easy-going handle and three different handle positions to minimize the possibility of carpal tunnel syndrome when pumping.
Some mamas are exclusive pumpers. And if that’s the case, the rechargeable battery that comes with the Spectra Baby S1 is so nice! It makes your life much easier as you’re probably going to be pumping pretty much any and everywhere.
Spectra is mommy-owned and run by registered nurses, lactation consultants and moms. This means you have a whole additional support team when using this Hospital Grade/Double or Single breast pump. It uses a closed system, so there’s no cleaning any tubing and you’ll protect the milk and baby from mold, viruses and bacteria. It’s a hair bigger than the Spectra S1, but the rechargeable battery is something you’ll probably fall in love with. We love the accompanying tote too–super cute!
The Spectra Baby S2 Plus is also a closed-system breast pump. It is designed to bring a soothing confidence to every moment of the breastfeeding journey. The S2 is quiet and discreet for soothing pumping. The added night light allows you to pump at any hour easily. This pump conveniently weighs only 2.9lbs. The suction is adjustable in both let-down and expression mode. It also has four flanges in two different sizes and two bottles for expressed milk. It’s a little smaller than the S1 but still offers that Spectra quality moms love and rely on.
The perfect pump for working moms, the Medela Pump in Style comes with a carry-bag, insulated pouches, and a battery pack. The 2-Phase Expression technology with one-touch let-down button produces more milk in less time when pumping at Maximum Comfort Vacuum in the expression phase. The extra cooler bag also has an ice pack that holds four breast milk bottles and keeps milk cool.
This is a great little Bella-baby (get it?) that’s perfect for traveling and taking little trips. It’s small but mighty, with nine different suction levels. And, it’s light enough for you to wear as you wander. Yes, it’s perfect for walking around and doing whatever you need to do in your house, as you just throw it around your neck with a pumping bra and voila. It’s perfect for here and there pumping, and it’s so much less bulky than many others with similar power.
The Sonata is a double electric breast pump from Medela. Like the Pump in Style, the Sonata also has 2-Phase Expression technology. It also connects to the MyMedela app for access to a personalized dashboard, real-time tracking of your pumping sessions, and a variety of breast milk feeding resources such as evidence-based lactation guidance and customized content to help you reach your breast milk feeding goals.
The BelleMa Euphoria Pro is an award-winning pump that has a unique IDC feature letting you control the right and left side individually. The tote and cooler allow you to carry the pump itself and all accessories as well as several containers of expressed milk. The built-in rechargeable battery can run for up to two hours, making it convenient and portable. It’s small, discreet and quiet.
This double electric breast pump pumps milk comfortably and can be used as a dual pump or single pump. The vacuum technology is actually comfortable and ensures the most natural possible simulation of the sucking process. The pump features 10 stimulation levels and 10 pumping levels – which lets you completely personalize. Accessories include a tote bag and two bottles. It is also compatible with AVENT and NUK bottles.
The Little Lucky double electric breast pump starts with an automatic mode that massages breast and then switches to pumping automatically, eliminating the trouble of frequently switching modes and helps you do what you need to do. The breast pump is compact and light, easy to be stored and carried when going out. It has a built-in rechargeable battery charged by mobile power bank or notebook, allows you to pump on the go, perfect for working moms.
Lansinoh was founded by a mom and parent-led in its development and technology. For 35 years, mamas have turned to Lansinoh, and they’re keeping up with the wants of today’s mom with their Double Electric Breast pump that can connect with the Lansinoh Baby App via Bluetooth. This tracks and records your breastfeeding sessions as well as baby’s milestones and activities. It also offers mama tips and resources. It has eight different suction levels to match your little one’s feeding patterns and you can pump your milk directly into the pre-sterilized Lansinoh breastmilk storage bags.
Pumping is hard work, but getting the right pump makes it easier. These top ten electric breast pumps are perfect for exclusive or occasional pumpers, and the accompanying accessories will help fit your lifestyle.
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