Breast Pump Buying Guide

Breast Pump Buying Guide

Manual breast pump, baby nappies, thermometer and baby dummy

The right breast pump is an essential for every breast feeding mum.  And it’s important that you buy right first time because breast pumps are expensive and, as they come in contact with bodily fluids (breast milk), are usually a single-use product only

Follow our easy steps to buy the best pump for you first time.

1.  Decide how often you need to pump

This can be hard because your breast pumping needs may change over time.  But it’s an important decision because it may determine whether you invest in a manual or electric pump.

Manual breast pumps come in single style only.  The hand pumping action creates the vacuum and suction motion that imitates your baby’s sucking motion. Manual breast pumps have the advantage of being the cheapest style of pump, but require a bit of effort so you don’t want to using one multiple times per day.

Electric breast pumps come in single and double styles.  They are powered by an electric or battery operated motor that creates the vacuum and suction that imitates your baby’s sucking motion.  Electric breast pumps feature several suction strengths and pre-programmed pumping rhythms that encourage breast milk let-down and then electronically mimics the suck, suck, breath, breath rhythm of your baby’s feeding.

When in doubt (and presuming you can afford it), go electric. Electric pumps are more versatile should your needs change.

Electric breast pump with portable cooler bag

2.  Decide what breast pump features are most important to you including …

  • easy to clean and assemble (minimum of parts)
  • battery operated/portability
  • single or double pumping action
  • noise levels
  • availability and cost of replacement parts

3.  Choose the best style of pump for you

In our opinion there are four main types of breast pumps to consider here:

Don’t stress – we will give an overview of each type below and highlight pros and cons to be aware of:

Manual Breast Pumps

Manual breast pump with 3 full bottles

Best For – Occasional use

Price Range – $40 – $120

Brands to investigate : Medela, Avent, Tommee Tippee, Closer to Nature, Nuk, Chicco, Ameda, Mam, Pigeon, Spectra, Unimom

Pros

  • The cheapest option
  • Plenty of choice
  • Light and Portable
  • Ergonomically designed (all but the very cheapest)

Cons –

  • Single breast pumping only
  • It can be physically tiring (as if you’re not tired enough already…)
  • Often takes longer to pump milk than the electronic breast pumps
  • You cannot do any other activity with your hands (a big time suck, no pun intended!)
  • Spare parts are often limited and hard to find

Single Electric Breast Pump (with top attached pump motor)

Simple electric breast pump with some expressed milk on wooden table

Best For – Occasional pumping

Price Range – $150- $350

Brands to investigate : Medela, Avent, Tommee Tippee, Closer to Nature, Nuk, Pigeon, Unimom

Pros

  • The cheapest electronic option
  • Pumps (a single) breast faster than a manual pump
  • Easier and more comfortable on the hands
  • The more expensive models offer a choice of suction strengths and rhythms
  • There is no tubing to mess around with
  • Fewer parts, meaning fewer things can go wrong

Cons –

  • Single breast pumping only
  • Usually don’t have as many features as the double breast pumps
  • Pump is controlled at top and so hands-free pumping is not easy
  • Fewer accessories are available

Single Electric Breast Pump (separate motor and tubing)

mother pumping with electric breast pump

Best For – Occasional pumping

Price Range – $150- $350

Brands to investigate : Medela, Avent, Tommee Tippee, Closer to Nature, Nuk, Pigeon, Unimom

Pros

  • Cheaper than double electric breast pumps
  • Hands-free pumping
  • Is faster than a manual pump
  • Offers a variety of suction strengths and rhythms
  • Most models can run on either mains or battery

Cons –

  • Single breast pumping only
  • Usually don’t have as many features as the double breast pumps
  • Fewer accessories are available

Double Electric Breast Pump (separate motor and tubing)

Mother expressing milk using electric double breast pump

Best For – Regular, daily pumping or expressing out of the home (eg at work)

Price Range – $200- $500

Brands to investigate : Medela, Avent, Ameda, Tommee Tippee, Spectra, Unimom

Pros

  • Highly efficient (both breasts within 15 minutes)
  • Studies have shown that double pumping produces more milk
  • Models come laden with features and functions, strengths and rhythms
  • Most models can run on either mains electricity or battery
  • Many accessories, add-ons and spare parts are available

Cons –

  • Expensive
  • Generally heavier and less portable
  • Some double pumps are not portable at all
  • More parts to clean (and store)

Hospital Grade (or Hospital Rental) Electric Breast Pump

Hospital grade breast pump on side of desk whilst mother works on computer

Best For – Multiple daily pumping and exclusive breast milk feeding from the bottle

Price Range – $80- $150 per month

Brands to investigate : Medela, Avent, Spectra, Unimom

Pros

  • Highly efficient (both breasts within 15 minutes)
  • Studies have shown that double pumping produces more milk
  • Heavy duty motor
  • Gentlest suction action designed to maintain your milk supply
  • Hiring rather than purchasing can be convenient

Cons –

  • The most expensive option available when the total cost is taken into account
  • Generally very heavy and not easily portable
  • Unusual to have a battery power option
  • More parts to clean (and store)

It’s important to understand that hospital grade breast pumps have long motor lives and are designed for multiple users. As such they are sturdy and hardy and fitted with back-flow protection systems so that milk does not contaminate internal parts.

A Quick Overview Of Breast Pump Accessories

When buying your breast pump, you should also consider what accessories might prove useful.

A pumping bustier/bra used in conjunction with a single or double electric breast pump will allow you to pump hands-free. A hands-free bustier will fit over your feeding bra.

A travel kit will allow you to transport your pump and pumped breast milk and is great for mums pumping breastmilk at work (some portable pumps will come complete with a travel kit). Many of the breast pump travels bags now available are not just practical but very stylish too.

A car adaptor will allow you to use your electric breast pump in your car.

Breast milk storage pouches & systems will allow you to pump your breast milk directly into a pouch for easy storage and feeding.

** All prices listed are an indication only and may be subject to variation.

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