Do You Need A Breast Pump?
If you've decided to nurse your baby, you may be wondering why you'd even consider a breast pump. That's a valid point, and the reality is that you may very well be able to travel down your breastfeeding journey's path without ever pumping once.
But, whether you need one and whether having one makes life better and easier are two different things. Many moms actually do need to express their milk for different reasons, and for those moms, finding the best breast pump is important.
Who Needs The Best Breast Pump?
We applaud your decision to give your baby breast milk. Research continues to support the incredible benefits of breast milk, for you and for baby.
But what do you do if your baby is not nursing well (or even at all) and you still want her to have breast milk? Believe it or not, some babies even go on nursing strikes, but you're still making milk (and need to feed her!). You may choose to pump your milk so you can not only feed your child, but help maintain your milk supply as you do. In these situations, hospital-grade or quality pumps are the way to go because they'll most closely simulate baby's strong suck and stimulate your breasts the closest to your baby doing so.
Some moms plan to return to work part- or full-time after the baby is born, and they're not going to be able to nurse their baby from the breast while working. In this situation, moms pump their milk so that they can fill baby's bottles with nourishing breast milk, and a breast pump makes this process a whole heck of a lot easier.
Some moms need to be away from their babies every now and then for more than a few hours, and they want to make sure their baby has breast milk while they are gone. Others want to pump their own milk after baby's been fed because they want to stock up on milk for supplementing or when they're not able to make milk anymore. Other moms still may need breast pumps because they did not birth their baby and they are working on inducing or supplying milk for their child A breast pump makes that process easier too.
And some moms just prefer to give their child breast milk, but in bottles so that they know exactly how much baby is getting every feed or they can allow another to feed their baby if they want. Many moms choose exclusive pumping so that their partners can also be involved in the feeding process of their babies, and a pump can make expressing milk exclusively much faster and easier.
There are many moms who like to have a pump because they make so much milk that they are often engorged, or they like to have a pump on hand after their baby is born for that initial engorgement that occurs when the milk comes in. Obviously, you can nurse frequently to ensure the engorgement isn't too painful, or you can even manually express extra milk. In fact, your breast tissue can be damaged more easily if you're pumping when engorged, so you may want to consider a gentle manual pump to help.
Other Reasons A Breast Pump Can Be A Valuable Nursing Tool
There is no shame in you wanting to have a little bit of time to yourself after your baby is born. Self-care is important, as it can help lower the chances of postpartum depression. But, when nursing a baby, finding that time alone can be hard, as can extending it so your baby doesn't miss a feed. Pumping some milk for those situations makes the best breast pump invaluable.
You will also find that when you are sick or recovering from an illness, breast milk is still beneficial (maybe even more so as baby gets your antibodies in the milk) to your little one. But, even still, sometimes when you're feeling miserable or recovering from a surgical procedure, you may find it easier to still offer your baby nourishing breast milk, but it's easier to pump the milk. Additionally, though rare, you may end up in a situation where you need to take a medicine that is contraindicated during breastfeeding and you might want to pump milk for your little one before you take the medicine so again, baby is still fed the nourishing breast milk.
What To Know When You Choose The Best Breast Pump
One of the biggest things you'll want to know is whether or not a breast pump has an open or closed system. When a breast pump has a closed system, there is a barrier that exists between the milk collection kit and the pump mechanism that prevents any contamination of the milk by mold, bacteria, viruses or more. Open system pumps do not have that barrier. We'd not really say that one system is better than another, but it is important to note that you'll never be able to completely sterilize the inside of any open system pump. In an open system, even new tubes or parts does not mean that the motor of the pump itself is sanitized, so just something to keep in mind as you are looking for the best breast pump. That being said, no one has documented any instances of a baby becoming ill from breast pump contamination.
You'll also look at types of breast pumps that are hospital-grade. A breast pump that is hospital-grade is one that is multi-use and it has stronger suction than a standard double electric breast pump. It has programming ability and special wavelength ability that allows a mom to produce the maximum amount of milk she can. There IS a difference between multi-use and closed system pumps. Just because a pump is closed-system, that doesn't mean it is multi-use or hospital-grade.
And when it comes to a breast pump that labels itself as 'hospital strength,' realize that there are no regulations or standards that define 'hospital strength,' and is often something you'll see on a single-use electric breast pump to relay the image that there is stronger breast suction than a standard pump.
Electric or Manual? That Is The Breast Question
Believe it or not, there is a bigger difference between an electric breast pump and a manual breast pump than one just being electric and the other not. A manual pump is one where you will use a lever to suction your breast and express milk. It's pretty simple, super quiet and very easy to clean. It is often portable with few tubes and no electricity needed, but it does often take longer to express milk if you are looking to use it for an entire pumping session.
An electric pump does most of the work of pumping. You attach it to your breasts, adjust a few things in most cases, and push a button. The motor stimulates your breast and creates suction to express milk, and if you're going to exclusively pump or even pump on a fairly regular basis, you're going to want an electric pump. Trust us.
If you're deciding whether you need a manual or electric breast pump, you'll probably want to think about how often you'll be expressing milk. If you believe it'll be often, and you want the convenience and ease, an electric pump is for you. If you believe that you'll maybe only need a pump occasionally, you can probably get away with a manual pump. Manual pumps are easy to use, there are no wires, buttons or gadgets to figure out and it's pretty cost-effective.
If you go the electric breast pump route, you'll want to be careful with choosing a pump with a good motor, and you'll also want to look at how the motor is charged. Is it battery-operated? How easily can you replace the AC adapter if not? If you're going to use the pump a lot, you may want to be more selective with the motor. Typically, an electric breast pump that doesn't use batteries may be the way to go if you're planning to use a breast pump often.
The Best Breast Pump For Every Nursing Need
Best Overall: Spectra Baby USA S1 Plus
Time and time again, the Spectra S1 Hospital Grade breast pump is a hit with mamas. It has a 12 volt AC power adapter, and is a closed system that includes a Spectra backflow protector. The Spectra S1 keeps tubing dry by preventing airflow between the pump tubing and expressed milk and also includes a built-in rechargeable battery. Moms love the customizable settings that they can adjust based on their own body's needs, and the 2-phase cycling of let-down and expression-mode make it easier for the pump to mimic baby's natural suck. We also love that Spectra Baby USA is mommy owned and run by registered nurses, board-certified lactation consultants and the best: moms!
Runner-Up Best Overall: Medela Pump In Style Advanced
Another long-standing favorite, the Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced is made for optimal efficiency and maximized flow. Since 1961, Medela has been a recognized industry leader and advocate of breastfeeding. It's often the most recommended in mom groups and by doctors, and the 2-phase expression technology lets mom make more milk in less time. The tote bag makes it super easy to keep everything together and that includes a portable battery pack and removable cooler. Double breast pumping is easy to do whenever and wherever you like. It's a closed system at the motor with overflow protection, so you don't have to worry about milk contamination, and we love that you can use the one-touch button for letdown when you want to adjust the speed and get the milk moving.
Best Value Manual: Haakaa Manual Breast Pump
When it comes to power in a manual pump, Haaka knows what it's doing! This silicone breast pump is like a little celebrity in the breast pump world, as it's used by celebrities, doulas and lactation consultants across the globe. The Haakaa Silicone Breastpump lets you use the power of natural suction to express milk. You just squeeze and attach it to your breast and the milk goes. No lever and the silicone is ergonomic for comfort. There's no cords and it's super easy to clean by simply boiling in water for 2-3 minutes. For portability, you can't beat it and many moms love to have it just as a catcher of any other milk that's let down on their other side as baby is nursing. Mom also love the flange that's attached because it's super soft and gentle, and it also fits all kinds of mama breasts.
Runner Up Manual: Lansinoh Manual
Lansinoh is another industry leader in the breastfeeding world, and their lightweight and portable manual breast pump is a fan favorite. It's got an ergonomic easy-express handle that helps keep your hand from getting tired, and it's super discreet for taking with you wherever you go. You can pump directly into the pre-sterilized storage bags--keeping milk clean and saving you time.
Plus, Lansionoh was founded by a breastfeeding mama and they're committed to helping moms succeed in breastfeeding. For 35 years, they've supplied moms with award-winning breast pumps, nursing pads, storage bags, nipple creams and more, and they've helped mamas feel safe in choosing them.
Best Budget Electric: MomCozy Electric Breast Pump
MomCozy is another brand that works to keep mamas nursing and feeling their best as they do. The MomCozy electric breast pump is an affordable and lightweight system that will allow you to have power despite the size. The large capacity rechargeable battery gives you some freedom and its closed-system backflow protector valve prevents milk back up in the tubing. MomCozy also provides universal breast milk storage bag adapters so you can pump directly into storage bags--any storage bag of your choice. Moms love the timer and memory function on the pump, as it helps you record all your preferences and time pumping. It's a lot of power in a small punch, and the affordability makes it accessible for more moms.