7 Best Breast Pumps to Suit Your Needs
When it comes to prepping for baby’s arrival, choosing the best breast pump isn’t nearly as fun as picking out a cute layette, but the right one can change your life (seriously!). Pumping not only allows you to collect breast milk when you’re separated from your little one, but it also helps nursing moms keep up their milk supply. Plus, pumping lets you build up a milk stash to freeze and store, which will come in handy if you’re returning to work or traveling solo. So what are some top considerations to keep in mind when shopping, and which are the best breast pumps on the market today? Keep reading to discover our top picks for every need.
In this article:
Best electric breast pump
Best wearable breast pump
Best manual breast pump
Best hospital-grade breast pump
Best breast pump for working moms
Best portable breast pump
Best affordable 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 their schedules. 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 requirements. Here, we break down the five main types to help you find the best breast pump for your needs.
Electric breast pump
Considered the most popular option, electric breast pumps allow you to adjust both the speed and suction. Single models (one breast at a time) are available—but a double electric pump empties both breasts at the same time, making it an especially efficient choice for women pumping at work. Some electric breast pumps need to be plugged into an outlet during use—but many options are now portable—and range in price from $100 to $500.
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 quieter, smaller and cheaper, making them a great travel option or a good choice if you don’t pump often. Manual breast pump prices typically start around $40.
Hospital-grade breast pump
The most efficient type of breast pump out there, a heavy-duty hospital-grade pump has a stronger motor than other options. It sucks at a faster and stronger frequency. This type is a good option for parents looking to increase milk supply or those that cannot nurse their child due to medical reasons. These heavy-duty machines have to be plugged in, and you may need to buy a collection kit (parts that connect your breasts to the pump) separately. It’s also the most expensive type of breast pump—typically above $1,000—but luckily they’re often available to rent. It’s important to note that hospital-grade pumps are the only type of breast pump that you should rent or borrow,as they’re designed with protective barriers to prevent cross-contamination.
Battery-operated breast pump
Battery-powered pumps are wireless and tend to be smaller than electric models, making them a convenient option for overnight travel or long commutes. Single or double pump options are available and some even come with rechargeable batteries.
Wearable breast pump
This is the newest style of breast pumps on the market. Rather than having a separate motor that connects to flanges and bottles, wearable breast pumps combine the motor and milk collection system into a single device that you wear inside your bra. This innovative design allows you to pump hands-free while on the move. One possible downside? These pumps are pricey, hovering around $500 for a double-electric version.
There are many factors to consider, from suction speed and flange style to whether or not the carrying case is insulated. Here are a few of the main pain points to address when shopping for a breast pump.
Open-system or closed-system breast pump. Don’t know the difference? No worries! These terms simply refer to whether there’s a barrier between the pump parts and the expressed milk. A “closed-system” has a built-in barrier that prevents milk overflowing and entering the pump mechanism. Whereas, “open-system” models don’t have a barrier to prevent contamination. If milk gets into the device it needs to be cleaned and dried before its next use.
Weight and size. If you’re returning to work or travel a lot, remember that you’ll have to bring a pump with you. Hospital-grade machines and some electric pumps can be big and bulky; whereas, wearable devices are small enough to be worn inside a nursing bra.
Noise level. We’re yet to come across a completely silent option, but some breast pumps are much noisier than others. If you’re pumping during your commute, in bed or during conference calls at work, you’ll probably want to choose a quieter model.
Flange style. A flange—also known as a breast shield—is the soft, cone-shaped cup that fits over your nipples and areolas. It’s important that this part fits correctly to avoid pain while pumping, so opt for a device that comes with adjustable flanges or a range of size options.
Suction speed: Another key factor when it comes to buying the best breast pump for you? Suction speed. If the speed level is set to high on an electric pump it can hurt, so go for one with adjustable settings.
Cost and insurance coverage. Cost is a big factor when it comes to purchasing a breast pump. First off, consider how often you’ll be using it. If you plan to breastfeed longer than six months and have a good milk supply, it’s worthwhile investing in a good quality personal pump. Yes, you can find cheap options out there—but this is one item that’s worth a splurge. If you don’t plan on pumping often, a manual device is another cost-effective option. The good news? Many health insurance plans provide a free breast pump. Contact your provider to find out more information on what is covered under your specific insurance plan.
Whether you’re looking for a highly efficient double electric breast pump, something lightweight and portable or a pump that won’t break the bank, we’ve rounded up the best options available today.
Medela offers plenty of great options for breastfeeding moms. Our top pick? The Freestyle Flex Portable Double Electric Breast Pump. Efficiency and easy portability are key, and this model checks both boxes. The 2-Phase Expression technology and flex fit breast shields help you produce more milk in less time, which is key if you're in a rush. The motor is powerful but quiet enough that you can pump while on a call or around the house, and no one will be the wiser. But what really earns this the title of best breast pump is that it weighs less than 1 lb. (no schelping a heavy pump to and from the office or on weekend trips). It’s also small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and has a USB chargeable battery so you don't have to worry about scrambling to find an outlet! (It offers two hours of active pumping on a single USB charge.) Is it any wonder this pick has won a Best of Pregnancy award two years in a row?
- Weighs under 1lb
- Flexible-fit flanges come in two sizes
- Track pumping sessions and milk supply with the Medela Family app
- Some customers report a loss of suction over time
- Compatible pumping bra is sold separately
“I breastfed both my babies and swore by the Medela Freestyle—it was a constant companion during my breastfeeding journey. The lightweight portability and long battery life made pumping in all sorts of places (IYKYK) so much easier. Most importantly though, flex shields and two-phase expression made things comfortable and efficient,” Lauren Kay, mom of two and executive editor at The Bump
Sure, you can snag a standard double electric breast pump that's compact and lightweight, but for the best wearable breast pump, consider the Elvie. This innovative breast pump features two "hubs" that each combine a motor and milk-collection container into one unit that can be placed inside your bra cups. It's completely wire- and tube-free, meaning you can get up and go about your daily routine while you pump. Ah, freedom! It's billed as the world's first silent breast pump, so you can express milk on the go without everyone around you knowing what you're up to. Monitor how much milk you're expressing with the free SmartUse app.
- Weighs under 1 lb.
- Silent operation
- App milk measurements may be inaccurate
- Expensive option
- Not as powerful as other electric pumps
If you plan on pumping a bottle for baby once in a while (or want a backup pump), you may want a manual model. Lansinoh’s manual breast pump will get the job done. It works to produce more milk in less time with two stimulation and expression modes, which mimic the fast beginning and slower progression of breastfeeding. While many manual pumps work via a squeeze and release action, this model has a nifty handle that reduces hand fatigue. Plus, the ergonomic design has minimal parts, meaning it’s easy to clean. Thanks to Lansinoh’s “pump-store-feed” system, you can express directly into a wide-neck bottle that attaches to a NaturalWave nipple to feed baby right away, or seal to store breast milk for later use.
- Ergonomic handle reduces hand fatigue
- No power source needed
- Affordable option
- Single-breast model
- Manual pumps are not as efficient
“There’s something oddly gratifying about using a manual pump. It takes a bit more effort, but it’s effective and convenient on the go. Plus, it’s great for relieving engorgement if you’re not quite ready for a full-on pumping session,” Lauren Barth, mom of three and senior editor at The Bump.
The Spectra S1Plus boasts the best of both worlds: It has the strength and high performance of a hospital-grade breast pump, but its built-in rechargeable battery means you can bring it just about anywhere. Digital controls allow you to adjust the pumping program, suction speed and rhythm at the touch of a button. Another winning feature is its closed system, which prevents milk (and therefore bacteria, mold and viruses) from backing up into the tubing. If portability isn’t a major concern, the Spectra S2 Plus is also a good option. It has the same great features as the S1, but needs to be plugged into the mains. Jen Lee, mom of three and Head of Marketing at The Bump says: "I made the switch to the Spectra S2 with my second baby. I loved the portability of the handle and stability of the base. It was also strong, yet super quiet. Plus, middle of the night pumping sessions felt a little more soothing with the soft light that emanated from the base."
- Rechargeable and portable
- Can be used as a single or double pump
- Built-in timer and night light
- Weighs just under 5 lbs.
- Assembly required
Career moms need a hard-working breast pump that won’t weigh them down (or let them down for that matter). Introducing the Elvie Stride Plus. This hands-free electric device allows you to collect milk in-bra, while the compact motor can be worn on a lanyard or clipped onto your belt. Plus, it’s designed with noise-reduction technology and only emits a low hum, meaning you can express during a conference call with total discretion. And it doesn’t compromise on power either—designed with a hospital-grade motor and 10 intensity settings, this pump is small but mighty. Dual stimulation and expression modes offer optimal comfort during speedy pumping sessions. The Elvie app also lets you control your pump remotely, adjust the suction and track your pumping history. It even comes with a sleek carry bag with a freezer pack to keep breast milk at the ideal temperature while you work. Genius!
- Rechargeable, wearable and cord-free
- Hospital-strength suction (300 mmHg)
- Cooler bag makes it easy to store breastmilk
- Milk storage bottles sold separately
- Customers report that it’s difficult to track how much milk you’ve expressed on the app
“As a working mom, I needed a quiet, portable, powerful pump that I could use while on calls or multitasking around the house, and that would help me express the maximum amount of milk in the shortest amount of time. I found that in the Elvie Stride+. The collection cups fit right into your bra and the motor clips onto your waistband, letting you pump discreetly and move around freely,” Ashlee Neuman, mom of two and content director at The Bump.
Like the Elvie, the Willow—another all-in-one, wearable breast pump—lets moms slip it into their bra and pump hands-free while going about their daily lives, whether tackling household chores, meeting up with friends or chasing toddlers. It doesn’t come with any of the usual cords or long tubes—instead, the flanges, milk-collection containers and ultra-quiet motor are combined into two separate pumps that you slip over your breasts and into your bra. It has two modes (expression and stimulation) with 15 levels of suction. The best part? A full charge has enough juice for three pumping sessions (AKA enough power to last a full day on the move). Looking for ultimate freedom of movement? Check out the Elvie 3.0, designed with a gravity-defying latch that allows you to pump in any position.
- Nine levels of suction (280 mmHG)
- Cordless, in-bra wearable design
- Dishwasher-safe accessories
- Milk may leak if you bend over
- With this model you can’t track milk volume or pumping history on the app
You don't always need a pricey, hospital-grade breast pump for high-tech efficiency. Meet Bellababy's double-electric model, one of the most affordable breast pumps around. The motor quietly powers four modes and nine suction levels, so you're sure to find a setting that works for you. Handy adapters allow you to express directly into milk-collection bags for easy storage. Plus, it's lightweight and can be charged with a USB power bank for mobility. The best part is, you can score a best-in-class breast pump for far less than other leading double-electric pumps on the market. Still not convinced? This pump is a smash-hit with real moms and has thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon.
- Easy to clean
- Affordable option
- Can be used with most bottles and milk storage bags
- Louder than other options
- Sensitive touch screen
- Suction settings cannot be dialed back—pump needs to be manually reset to level one after each use
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.