When people talk about the best way to feed babies, the conversation typically concludes with the declaration that “breast is best.” There are different ways to accomplish the goal of providing your baby with the best nutrition. Pumping is one way to deliver breast milk to your child. It is often left out of the lactation conversation, but fortunately, this is starting to change.
Pumping deserves to feature prominently in that conversation. It is hard work but also a great way to provide your baby with the best nutrition. Still, there are many factors to consider when choosing a breast pump for your lactation journey.
Breast pump types
There are 2 main types of breast pumps: manual and electric.
A manual pump uses a lever or a handle to create suction and draw the breast milk into the collection container.
Whether battery-powered or corded, all electric pumps utilize a mechanism to create suction. They come with various settings, allowing the suction strength to be changed.
Many of them have an expression mode that also helps stimulate a letdown. The customizable options are what make electric breast pumps a popular choice. Breasts aren’t the same, so finding what works in each individual case is important.
With electric pumps, your needs will determine whether you should get a battery-powered one, which is a cordless, more flexible option and suitable for moms often on the move, or a corded pump, which will work if you mostly stay at home.
What’s in a pump?
I think most people don’t realize the number of parts that can go into a breast pump. It’s one of the factors that determine the type of pump people buy. Who wants to do a jigsaw puzzle every time they need to feed their baby? Although manual and electric pumps work differently, they both have some basic parts necessary for successful pumping.
The parts of a breast pump include:
- Flanges or breast shield: This is the part that connects to your nipple and areola, allowing suction to form. In hands-free breast pumps, this part looks a little different from your average flange.
- Pump: This is the important bit that does the suction and gets the milk going.
- Milk container: All pumps need a container to collect the expressed milk. With some pumps, it’s an attachable bottle, while others, like the hands-free electric pumps, have an attachable milk bag on the inside.
These are the 3 main components a breast pump needs to do its job.
The best breast pumps
Let’s have a look at some popular, affordable, and flexible brand offerings that cater to different pumping needs. Whether you want to supplement, let family members do a feeding, exclusively pump, adopt a baby, or something else, there is bound to be a product in there that will be a great fit for you.
Hands-free pumping options
As their descriptor indicates, these are breast pumps that you don’t have to hold or touch in order to express your milk. There are several options on the market, and hands-free pumps are becoming more and more popular. They are a bit on the expensive side, but considering what they do, the price tag seems to be justified.
Elvie Double Electric Wearable Breast Pump
Our 1st hands-free (and quiet) option is the Elvie Double Electric Wearable Breast Pump. This 5-part pump has several suction modes. Download the Elvie app to set up your breast pump, track milk amounts, and see your pumping history. This will help revolutionize and organize your pumping journey. There are 3 sizes available (2 included in the purchases box) for a customizable fit. It’s the same price point as the Willow with a few key differences.
Willow Pump Wearable Breast Pump
The Willow Pump Wearable Breast Pump is a pump you can slip into your bra. Besides being quiet and completely hands-free, it can also be controlled via an app on your smartphone. It comes in 2 sizes—24mm and 27mm. The Willow has a special patented technology that guarantees spill-free suction, so it can be used in any position. On top of being easy to use, the Willow is also easy to clean up—it only has 2 parts and is dishwasher-safe. It’s a top seller for a reason and is great for all breast sizes.
Freemie Freedom Pump
The Freemie Freedom pump gives you flexibility and saves time. The cups slip into your bra for a hands-free pumping experience and come with 2.5-ounce cups. You can wear your regular clothes while using this pump. This is a great option for an on-the-go mom who still wants to pump a bit.
Electric pumps, often double electric pumps, are the usual go-to option. Available at various price points, electric breast pumps often comprise 2 flanges attached to catch containers (usually bottles) and a mechanism with settings that control the suction. Below are some of the most popular double breast pumps on the market.
Medela Pump in Style with on-the-go tote
Medela is one of the most popular and trusted brands when it comes to breast pumps. Offered with an on-the-go storage bag, this double electric breast pump has multiple settings, with both pump speed and suction level adjustable. A battery pack enables the use of this pump anywhere. There are bottle holders, so there’s no fear of spilling the milk. The Medela Pump In Style has everything you need for your pumping journey. This would be best for someone pumping several times a day or exclusively pumping.
Medela Freestyle Flex
Another option from this brand is The Medela Freestyle Flex, which is a handheld double electric portable pump. You can connect it to your mobile phone to track your pumping history. It has a nice touch screen and is easy to set up. It’s extremely small compared to other breast pumps, presenting a convenient portable option. The lightweight feel is great for active parents. This pump is also an excellent fit for moms who need to pump regularly.
Tommee Tippie Made For Me Double Breast Pump
Tommee Tippie is known for its baby bottles, and it now has a double breast pump on the market. The Tomme Tippie Made For Me Double Breast Pump is affordable as far as double electric pumps go. It comes with a rechargeable battery, so no cords to worry about. It’s small, light, and uniquely made with soft massaging cups that have several suction modes. You can pair this pump with the Tommee Tippie anti-colic bottles that can be used with the brand’s portable bottle warmer. The company touts its pumps as made with moms in mind, and given their flexibility, we’re inclined to agree.
Last but not least, we have some manual pumps for your consideration. With these pumps, the lactating person puts in the work necessary to express the milk. Manual pumps are a good fit for moms who just supplement or don’t pump often.
Haaka Silicone Breast Pump
We’re going to count the Haaka as a manual breast pump even though it takes no effort at all to use. The Haaka isn’t your average breast pump. It uses natural suction to draw out the breast milk. It’s extremely portable, easy to store, and simple to use. You can have the Haaka pumping while feeding from your other side or in between feedings. Even if you choose to purchase another electric or manual pump, having a Haaka in your arsenal is a wise move.
Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump
The Lansinoh manual breast pump is an affordable, lightweight pumping option for those supplementing or wanting a quick on-the-go pump. The box comes with 1 pump, so you can only do 1 side at a time. You work it by attaching the flange and using the squeeze trigger to pump the milk. The flanges come in 2 different sizes. This is a great “throw in the purse/diaper bag” option. Pair it with the company’s slow-flow bottles for a feed that mimics breastfeeding.
Lactation is truly a journey. Choosing what to use along that journey is an important and sometimes difficult decision seeing as the breast pump market is rife with options. The products we discussed above are the most popular ones right now, but as technology evolves and we learn more about lactation, the choice will certainly become even wider.