When it comes to baby registry decisions, choosing the best breast pump isn’t nearly as fun as picking out a cute layette, but the right one can change your life (really!). Pumping not only allows you to collect breast milk when you’re separated from baby; it helps breastfeeding moms keep up their milk supply. Plus, pumping lets you build up a milk stash to freeze and store if you’re returning to work or traveling without baby. All good things for women who’ve decided to breastfeed.
How to choose a breast pump
Since the first at-home electric breast pump debuted in the US in 1991, moms have been able to take more control of baby’s feeding schedule. And while all breast pumps promise to do the same thing—retrieve your milk—not all pumps are equal when it comes to a mom and her specific needs.There’s many factors to consider, from suction speed and flange style to whether or not the carrying case is insulated. Here, we break down the three main types of breast pumps.
1. Electric breast pump. Considered the most popular of the three choices, personal breast pumps allow you to adjust both the speed and suction. A double electric breast pump empties both breasts at the same time, making it an especially efficient choice for women pumping at work. Most electric breast pumps can be plugged in or run on batteries, and range from $100 to $400.
2. Manual breast pump. This style pump doesn’t have a motor, meaning you’ll have to squeeze the lever repeatedly to create the suction needed to express milk. While they’re not as efficient as electric pumps, they’re much more quiet, smaller and cheaper, making them a great travel option or a good choice if you don’t pump often. Manual breast pump prices are typically right around $40 or less.
3. Hospital-grade breast pump. The most efficient type of breast pump out there, a heavy-duty hospital-grade pump sucks at a faster and stronger frequency. It’s also the most expensive type of breast pump—typically above $1,000—so they’re often available to rent.
It’s worth noting that the US Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate the term “hospital grade.” But typically, a pump referred to as “hospital grade” is designed as a multi-user pump. As long as each mom uses her own attachments (milk container, breast shields and tubing), cross-contamination can’t occur since breast milk will never touch the shared components of the pump.
Best Electric Breast Pump
You don't always need a hospital-grade breast pump for high-tech efficiency. The motor of the Lansinoh Smartpump Double Electric Breast Pump quietly powers three pumping styles and eight suction levels. And it connects via Bluetooth to Lansinoh's free tracking app, letting you record milk volume as well as log each session date and time.
Buy it: $123, Amazon.com
Best Manual Breast Pump
If you plan on pumping a bottle for baby once in awhile (or want a backup pump), you may only need a manual breast pump. The best-selling Harmony Breast Pump by Medela works to produce more milk in less time with “2-Phase Expression” technology, mimicking the fast beginning and slower progression of breastfeeding. And it comes with a convenient stand to prevent spills.
Buy it: $27, Amazon.com
Best Hospital-Grade Breast Pump
While it’s designed with the same hygienic closed system found in hospital-grade breast pumps, that’s where the similarities end. Everything else about the Naya Smart Breast Pump is different—including the way it pumps. Naya uses flowing water to pump rather than air, which means a quieter, gentler process and stronger suction. Initial tests demonstrate Naya expressed 29 percent more milk than existing best-selling pumps.
Buy it: $999, NayaHealth.com
Best Affordable Breast Pump
The only thing the Evenflo Deluxe Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump lacks compared to its more expensive double electric counterparts is a Bluetooth-enabled app. Sure, it’s not a flashy breast pump, but it comes complete with insulated cooler bag, ice packs, three different flange sizes and additional milk storage bottles. An added bonus? Evenflo includes two educational programs with expert advice for breastfeeding in every purchase.
Buy it: $96, Target.com
Best Breast Pump For Working Moms
The Medela Pump In Style Advanced has been a working mom favorite for years thanks to its efficiency, cooler bag and portable tote bag. But sometimes, change is good. In 2016, Medela introduced the Sonata breast pump, which combines the portability of the Pump In Style with the heavy-duty efficiency of the hospital-grade Medela Symphony into a more compact breast pump. Plus, this best breast pump for working moms is app-enabled, allowing you to track pumping sessions and easily access lactation information.
Buy it: $360, Target.com
Best Travel Breast Pump
Going on a road trip and it’s a given you want to travel light? The Philips Avent Comfort Breast Pump is small, with fewer parts for easy cleaning. And it boasts intelligent design: The neck is angled for sitting and pumping comfortably, while the included bottles and nipples are shaped more like mom to help baby switch back and forth from breast to bottle. Bonus: you can pump right into them—meaning fewer bottles to pack.
Buy it: $200, Amazon.com
Best Hands-Free Breast Pump
The worst part about pumping? Feeling chained to your breast pump. Enter the game-changing Freemie Freedom breast pump. This gives you the use of both hands and even lets you pump with your shirt on. Sound impossible? Just slide the cups under your bra, connect it to the pump and do your thing. Invented by an ER doctor, the Freemie cups are compatible with the Freemie-brand pump, Medela, Philips AVENT and Ameda.
Buy it: $146, Amazon.com
Best Breast Pump Bra
Intrigued by the idea of pumping hands-free but don’t want to commit to a totally new type of breast pump? A breast pump bra can do the trick by firmly holding your pump’s milk collection cups in place. Moms love the Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra since it easily adjusts as their bodies change thanks to velcro, a removable zip-in center panel and removable straps.
Buy it: $35, Amazon.com
Best Rechargeable Breast Pump
This Spectra S1 electric breast pump packs the best of two worlds; it has the strength and high performance of a hospital-strength breast pump, but its inbuilt rechargeable battery means that you can bring it just about anywhere. When fully charged, it can express milk for three hours. And entire unit only weighs four pounds.
Buy it: From $199, Target.com
Updated March 2018