Breast pumps have long been a crucial tool for new mothers, providing convenience and flexibility when it comes to feeding their babies. With so many options available on the market, it can be overwhelming to find the best breast pump that suits your needs. From the overall best breast pump to budget-friendly options and even smart pumps, this article covers it all. We'll explore the different types of breast pumps, their features, and help you determine which one is right for you. Additionally, we'll address common questions such as the cost of a breast pump, when to start pumping, and how to use one effectively. Whether you're a first-time mom or looking to upgrade your current pump, keep reading to find your perfect match.
Top Breast Pump Overall
An Exceptional Breast Pump That Comes Highly RecommendedTarget
When our Forbes Moms chat group and other parents in various forums were asked to share their top breast pump recommendation, the Spectra S1 Plus received glowing praise. One of its standout features is its cordless design, which sets it apart from its sister model, the S2—another fantastic option if cordlessness isn't a priority for you. Weighing in at around 3.3 pounds, the S1 is still somewhat bulky to carry, but you won't be tethered to a wall. Say goodbye to tangled cords with this pump.
In terms of practicality, the S1 offers both single and double pumping, a massage mode to stimulate letdown, adjustable suction, and even a built-in night light—an incredibly useful feature during late-night feeding sessions. One Forbes mom shares, "It has a built-in timer, which was a lifesaver during work hours, and it performed as well as a hospital-grade pump." Another mom adds that it's quiet enough to pump during Zoom meetings without causing too much disruption.
- Quiet operation
- Cordless and rechargeable
- Built-in night light
- Bulky and weighs 3.3 pounds
Most Versatile Breast Pump
A Powerful Pump That Offers Battery and Carrying Case OptionsAmazon
Medela Pump In Style With MaxFlowThe Medela Maxflow is a highly regarded breast pump that delivers exceptional suction power. It incorporates MaxFlow technology inspired by hospital-grade pumps, ensuring efficient milk expression. It may take some adjustment at first since it comes on strong right away, but it follows a two-phase expression technology to mimic your baby's natural sucking rhythm.
The Pump In Style is known for its simplicity and ease of use. It includes the pump itself, breast shields, bottles, and tubing, all of which can be neatly stored in a compact bag that fits easily into your daily tote. Choose from two sizes of the brand's PersonalFit Flex breast shields for optimal comfort. The pump also comes with a battery pack and a convenient cooler for on-the-go pumping. If you're struggling with milk expression or low milk flow, this powerful pump is sure to help you reach your breastfeeding goals. It weighs just one pound, making it extremely portable.
- Strong suction power
- Compact size
Best Portable Breast Pump
A Compact and Mighty Pump Weighing Less Than 1 PoundMedela
Medela Freestyle Flex Portable Double Electric Breast PumpThe Medela Freestyle Flex is impressively compact compared to other pumps, measuring only 9.5 inches in height and 13.5 inches in width. It's powered by a rechargeable USB battery, allowing for seamless pumping on the go. I even brought it to a wedding and easily concealed it in an oversized tote, whereas my bulkier primary pump would have been more conspicuous.
Despite its small size, the Freestyle Flex doesn't compromise on power. While not on par with hospital-grade pumps, it provides impressive suction. It also features two-phase expression technology to mimic your baby's natural feeding pattern. Choose from two sizes of breast shields to ensure a comfortable fit. Once you're done pumping, store your milk in the included cooler and conveniently carry your gear in the provided bag.
- Petite and lightweight
- Powerful yet quiet
- Cordless option with rechargeable battery
- Not as powerful as hospital-grade pumps
- Battery may require resetting after a few months
Best Wearable Breast Pump
A Convenient Cordless and Tubeless OptionMOST POPULAR
Elvie Double Electric Breast PumpWearable breast pumps offer incredible convenience, but it's important to note that these ultra-portable models may not match the power of hospital-grade machines. Nevertheless, they serve as an excellent alternative for pumping on the go or during busy workdays. The Elvie is one of the most popular wearable pumps, boasting an average review rating of around 4 stars across major retail sites, including Walmart.
Here's how it operates: You simply slip the cups into your bra, choosing between double or single pumping sessions, and control the settings and monitor output through a dedicated app. The brand also claims that this pump is virtually silent, making it less noticeable compared to standard machines. Each cup has its own motor, eliminating the need for tubes and cords. However, keep in mind that the battery life is limited to approximately two and a half hours of pumping time and requires around two hours to recharge. Additionally, it may take some time to adjust to the wearable design for optimal results.
One Forbes mom admits that her traditional pump is more powerful, but finds the Elvie perfect for on-the-go pumping. Another mom shares, "[The] Elvie is a timesaver—it's easier to assemble and manage compared to a similar model." If you're looking to save some money and don't mind sacrificing a bit of convenience, consider the Elvie Stride (priced at around $270). Unlike the Double Electric, the Stride cups are connected to the pump via tubes as they share a motor.
- Completely hands-free
- Wire and cord-free
- Limited battery life (2.5 hours)
- Not as powerful as traditional breast pumps
- Higher price
Best Affordable Breast Pump
A Powerful and Affordable PumpLansinoh
Lansinoh Smartpump 2.0 Double Electric Breast PumpThe Lansinoh Smartpump offers a range of features that enhance usability, all at an affordable price point. Setting it up is a breeze—simply connect the tubes to the machine and bottles, and you're ready to go. Adjust between eight suction strength levels, three pumping styles, and enjoy its hospital-grade strength to effectively empty your breasts. Personally, I found that the Smartpump expressed more milk compared to my standard Medela Sonata, which is always a plus.
This pump operates quietly, allowing you to use it during work calls without constantly muting yourself. Additionally, it offers three power options: a plug, AA batteries, or a separately purchased car adapter. With its built-in carrying handle and lightweight design, weighing only one pound, this pump is easy to transport. It's also Bluetooth compatible, enabling you to track your pumping sessions conveniently through a phone app.
- Affordable price
- Strong suction with quiet operation
- Battery-operated or plug-in options
- No rechargeable battery
- Comes with multiple pieces to keep track of
Best High-End Breast Pump
A Technologically Advanced Breast Pump Highly Recommended by Our Executive EditorEditor's Pick
Spectra Synergy Gold Double Electric Breast PumpThis breast pump belongs to the higher price range, but it has received rave reviews from notable sources, including Forbes Vetted's executive content director and new mom, Cory Baldwin. Baldwin handpicked the Spectra Synergy Gold after experiencing subpar performance with the only insurance-covered option, the Ameda Mya double electric breast pump. What sets the Synergy Gold apart is its double motor, allowing users to independently adjust settings for each breast. On expression mode, moms can select from 15 vacuum suction levels, and on massage mode, they have five options.
The Spectra Synergy Gold features a patent-pending suction motion that closely resembles natural breastfeeding, offering a more comfortable and productive pumping experience, according to Baldwin. Its memory function, quiet operation, three-level night light, and LCD touchscreen are other favorite features. While its sleek control panel and metallic accent may not be essential, they certainly add to its appeal. Keep in mind that the dual motors make it heavier at over 5.5 pounds, and it requires an outlet for operation, making it powerful but not particularly portable.
- Independent settings for each breast
- Superior suction power due to dual motor
- Memory function
- Requires a cord and cannot be recharged
Best Manual Breast Pump
Lansinoh ManualThis manual pump is incredibly affordable, compact, and lightweight, making it an excellent backup option for slight engorgement or occasional pumping of a few ounces.
Despite being a manual pump, it packs a punch with two modes for faster pumping and a specially designed handle to minimize hand fatigue—an important feature for manual pump users. It also requires fewer parts to clean.
Sarah Darby, What to Expect's Senior SEO Content Strategist, prefers her Lansinoh manual pump even though she also owns a double electric pump. She shares, "I felt that I was able to express more milk in the same amount of time, and it was so easy to clean between pump sessions."
Sarah also highlights Lansinoh's pump-store-feed system, which eliminates the need for transferring milk between containers. You can pump directly into the wide-neck bottle that you'll use for feeding—an incredibly convenient solution that also reduces dishwashing.
Christine uses the Lansinoh Manual pump occasionally. She found it most helpful when her daughter began sleeping longer stretches at night, causing engorgement. Since she didn't want her milk supply to increase, she used the Lansinoh Manual for a few minutes to relieve pressure. Additionally, her daughter only accepted Lansinoh bottles, making this pump a no-brainer choice.
Weight: 0.3 pounds
Dimensions: 7.5 x 3.88 x 7.5 inches
- I have a Lansinoh manual pump and really like it. I have an electric Medela pump and think it's a lot harder to clean. It's a little larger in size than the Medela manual pump, but the Lansinoh manual pump I can do one-handed, which is a big plus for me.
- I use the Lansinoh manual pump at night. My little one is 3 months now and usually eats only on one side for his middle-of-the-night feed. I always pump the other and get 4 ounces or so.
Types of Breast PumpsThere are three main types of breast pumps:
- Electric Breast Pumps: These models require a wall outlet and are typically the most powerful options available. You can choose between double-electric pumps, which express milk from both breasts simultaneously, or single-electric pumps, which require you to pump one breast at a time. Single-electric pumps are less efficient since they double the pumping time, but they are generally more affordable than double-electric models.
- Battery-Operated Breast Pumps: These pumps run on batteries and come in both single and double models. Additionally, there are wireless breast pumps that allow for completely hands-free pumping. Battery-operated pumps are usually smaller and more portable than electric pumps, making them suitable for situations where you won't have easy access to an electrical outlet, such as during your commute or while traveling. However, they may not be as powerful as electric pumps.
- Manual Breast Pumps: Manual pumps are operated by hand, requiring you to squeeze a lever repeatedly to create suction and express milk. They are lightweight, portable, and affordable. However, using a manual pump requires more effort and skill compared to electric pumps.
Top Affordable Double-Electric Breast Pump
BellaBaby Double Electric Breast PumpWe are dedicated to finding ways to save money on baby supplies, but sometimes opting for a lower-priced option means compromising on quality. Fortunately, this is not the case with the BellaBaby Double Electric Breast Pump. This breast pump can serve as your primary pumping device or as a backup for convenience.
This compact and lightweight pump offers two pumping modes and various suction levels. It is also designed with a sleek and modern look. The device, which easily fits in the palm of your hand, clearly displays the selected mode and suction level for easy use.
One of the impressive features of this affordable pump is its wireless capability. It operates on battery power and can last up to 100 minutes without requiring a recharge. This means that you don't have to worry about the battery dying in the middle of a pumping session, especially if you need to multitask.
It is important to note that even the lowest suction level of this pump is quite strong, which may cause nipple tenderness for some moms who find it too intense.
Weight: 1.96 pounds
Dimensions: 9.33 x 6.97 x 6.57 inches
Top Custom-Fit Breast Pump
Evenflo Feeding Deluxe Advanced Double Electric Breast PumpMost breast pumps on the market are designed as one-size-fits-all, but this may not provide the optimal fit for every mom. However, the Evenflo Feeding Deluxe Advanced offers a solution to this problem by including three different flanges with your purchase. If these options don't fit you perfectly, you can also find additional flange sizes sold separately.
In addition to its customizable fit, this pump offers a wide range of speed and suction settings. It features a closed system, which ensures that milk remains protected from mold and bacteria. This updated version of the original model also boasts a 50 percent reduction in noise and a 30 percent weight reduction (weighing less than a water bottle). It even comes with the brand's Balance bottle nipple and lactation consultant support.
As a bonus, your purchase of this pump includes a convenient carry case and a small cooler. This saves you the hassle of transporting the pump and your expressed milk to and from the office.
Weight: 1.05 pounds
Dimensions: 7 x 5.5 x 2.5 inches
- I used the Evenflo with my first child and had a great experience with it. That's why I'm planning to get another Evenflo pump this time.
Top Single-Electric Breast Pump
Evenflo Feeding Advanced Single-Electric Breast PumpIf you only need to be away from your baby for a few hours each week but still want the convenience and efficiency of an electric pump, a single-electric pump may be the perfect choice. While these pumps may be less efficient than double-electric models, they typically come at a lower price point. Consider it the best of both worlds.
Moms appreciate the Evenflo Feeding Advanced Single Electric because it is more compact than other single-electric pumps. Its controls are located on top of the pump itself, rather than in a separate unit. Additionally, it features a hygienic closed system with minimal parts, making assembly and cleaning a breeze.
Thanks to its battery operation (three AA batteries required), this pump is highly portable. You can discreetly pump in the car, in a bathroom, or even in a changing room without the need for an electrical outlet. Weighing just over one pound, it is easy to carry in your purse. This compact and affordable pump can even be stored in your glove compartment for emergencies.
Weight: 1.39 pounds
Dimensions: 4 x 7.88 x 9 inches
- This pump is great. I never had any issues with it. The suction is not as strong as a plug-in pump, but I believe that's to be expected.
- I have a Medela pump from my insurance, but it doesn't extract as much milk as I produce. I bought the Evenflo pump on a whim, and I absolutely love it. It is gentle, and my milk flows freely. I get 4 ounces every time. It's my favorite pump.
Top Natural-Suction Breast Pump
Haakaa Silicone Breast PumpThe Haakaa Silicone Pump is an excellent option for mothers who need assistance in stimulating their milk flow. This pump allows you to create suction without the need for tiresome hand pumping. A gentle squeeze is all it takes to initiate the natural letdown process. It is also highly effective in collecting letdown milk from the breast that your baby is not nursing on, allowing you to save a significant amount of milk effortlessly.
Leah discovered the Haakaa when she experienced leakage from the breast that her daughter wasn't nursing on at the beginning of each feeding session. She was amazed by the amount of milk she was able to collect using the Haakaa. However, it's important to position the Haakaa carefully, as your baby's movements may accidentally dislodge it.
Sarah found the Haakaa to be a game changer when her son started sleeping for longer stretches at night. She would leak from the breast he wasn't nursing on due to engorgement. Using the Haakaa prevented wasting that milk.
Christine, on the other hand, used the Haakaa to manage a forceful letdown. The Haakaa helped stimulate her milk flow before she nursed her daughter, and it also captured any leakage during the feeding session.
Many members of the What to Expect community have also praised the Haakaa for its convenience and effectiveness. In fact, it was named the Best Manual Breast Pump in the 2022 Feeding Awards.
Cleaning the Haakaa is a breeze thanks to its all-silicone design. A simple wash with hot soapy water and a bottle brush will do the trick.
Dimensions: 7 x 3 x 3 inches
Capacity: 4 ounces (100 ml)
- Love it!!! I can collect 3 ounces each time from the breast my baby is not nursing on, and there is still plenty of milk left for her when I switch sides.
- I love my Haakaa! I finally have a small stash in the fridge!
Top Smart Breast Pump
Elvie Double Electric Breast PumpOne of the advantages of a wearable breast pump is the ability to pump discreetly anywhere. However, the secret is out if your pump produces a loud whooshing noise. Fortunately, the Elvie Pump is known for being one of the quietest options available.
Another benefit of the Elvie Pump is that it doesn't require a separate collection bag. You can pump directly into a bottle, saving you money on additional accessories. However, the collection jar can be a bit awkward to clean due to its shape. A flexible bottle brush should do the trick.
The Elvie Pump is easy to use. Simply insert each 8-ounce pump into your bra, turn it on, and let it do its magic. It may take some practice to find the best positioning, but you will quickly get the hang of it. Be sure to monitor the output levels using the app provided, as a full collection jar can cause milk to back up and leak.
Sarah used the Elvie Pump extensively during the four months she pumped, finding it to be an incredible device. She appreciated the convenience of being able to wear her regular nursing bra and easily insert the Elvie Pump. Not only was it quiet, but she could also continue with various activities while using it. However, she did find that the pump would pause if she bent over. Sarah also mentioned that cleaning the Elvie Pump between sessions was a breeze.
It's worth noting that the suction of the Elvie Pump may not be as strong as that of regular pumps, which may affect the amount of expressed milk.
Weight: 0.49 pounds
Dimensions: 5 x 4.3 x 2.7 inches
- The Elvie is my only pump, and I absolutely love it. I had a difficult pumping experience with my previous baby, so this time I invested in the Elvie to make it easier. I am extremely satisfied with the results. I'm actually producing twice as much milk as my daughter consumes in a day, which is incredibly fulfilling compared to last time!
- I used the Elvie with my first baby, and it was fantastic for travel and pumping on the go. The suction is not as good as my Spectra pump, and cleaning can be a bit annoying. But overall, it is convenient for pumping on the go!
Guidelines for Selecting the Right Breast Pump
- Size: Many pumps offer different shield sizes (usually around 24mm) or massage cushions to ensure a comfortable fit. It is essential to choose a pump that fits properly, maintains strong suction, and allows for painless milk extraction. If you are unsure, consider getting two different shield sizes in advance of your baby's arrival.
- Suction: Battery-powered and electric pumps come with various suction modes and strengths to aid in let-down and maximize milk expression. Some manual pumps also offer similar options. A pump with reliable suction is crucial for effective milk extraction.
- Purpose: Determine whether you need a pump for simultaneous pumping while nursing or if you simply want a device to collect excess milk and prevent clothing stains. Consider factors such as noise levels, especially if you plan to use the pump in an office setting. Your specific needs may require multiple pump models and types.
- Ease of use: Evaluate how easy it is to assemble, use, and clean the pump after each session. Opt for a pump that is efficient and does not require excessive effort. If you have multiple pumps, consider purchasing them from the same brand to allow for compatibility between parts.
- Portability: While hospital-grade pumps offer many benefits, they are not particularly portable. Electric pumps that rely on outlets restrict your pumping locations, while battery-powered pumps are ideal for on-the-go use. Manual pumps can be easily carried in your purse or diaper bag, making them perfect for travel.
Understanding the Difference Between Open System and Closed System Breast PumpsYou may already be aware that breast pumps come in manual or electric options, and can be either single or double expression. However, these are not the only factors that distinguish different breast pumps. They can also be categorized as either closed system or open system.
Our team of experts notes that a closed system pump has a small barrier that prevents overflow milk from leaking into the system, making it easier to clean. On the other hand, an open system pump lacks this barrier, allowing milk to potentially enter the tubing during pumping.
All the pumps featured in this list are designed with a closed system to ensure hygiene and ease of cleaning. We advise against purchasing secondhand breast pumps due to the risk of contamination, even with closed systems.
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Are you in need of a breast pump?
Although not all new mothers require or desire a breast pump, for those who are interested in nursing their infant, a reliable breast pump can prove to be quite useful. Breast pumps are particularly helpful in maintaining your milk supply when your baby isn't hungry or when you need assistance in increasing your supply if necessary.
A breast pump is also essential for expressing milk while you're at work, running errands, or whenever you're away from home. Some mothers even rely on breast pumps for a technique known as exclusive pumping—this involves pumping milk and then bottle-feeding instead of directly breastfeeding.
What is the optimal time to start pumping?
The ideal time to commence pumping varies depending on your lifestyle and the recommendations provided by your doctor. You have the flexibility of starting pumping at various stages. For most mothers, it is best to begin pumping a few weeks after giving birth. However, in certain cases, you may receive advice to start pumping immediately after birth if your baby isn't very hungry or has a low birthweight. Consult with your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant to determine the most suitable approach for you and your little one.
What is the average cost of a breast pump?
While the prices of breast pumps can vary significantly, you can expect to spend approximately $100 to $300 for a high-quality electric breast pump. Manual models tend to be much more affordable, typically around $50. On the other hand, true hospital-grade breast pumps can cost considerably more, sometimes reaching $1,000 or more.
It is advisable to check with your insurance provider before finalizing your decision on a breast pump. The Affordable Care Act mandates most insurance plans to cover the cost of a breast pump, although the specific models covered may differ among providers.
Complete guide on how to use a breast pump, step-by-step
Ahead, Shapiro provides a user-friendly manual on operating a breast pump before you embark on your shopping journey:
- Begin by washing your hands.
- Then, assemble all the necessary parts, including the phalanges, receptacle, and any required tubing to connect them.
- Focus on your baby to facilitate the milk let-down process. Position the breast shield or flange over your breast, ensuring the nipple is centered within the shield.
- Switch on the pump. Initiate pumping at a low suction level and higher speed (or stimulation mode), gradually increasing the suction and reducing the speed once the milk starts flowing (or expression mode). Some pumps may automatically adjust these settings for you.
- After pumping, clean your pump components and promptly store your milk in the refrigerator or freezer unless you plan to use it soon.
In conclusion, finding the best breast pump for you can be a daunting task, but with the help of this comprehensive guide, you can make an informed decision. Whether you are a new mom looking for an affordable option or a seasoned mother in need of a high-end, custom-fit pump, there is a perfect option out there for you. Consider factors such as portability, versatility, and suction style to find the best fit for your lifestyle and needs. Remember that every mother's journey is unique, so take the time to research and choose the breast pump that will make your breastfeeding experience as comfortable and convenient as possible.