Finding the best breast pump can leave you feeling like Goldilocks, constantly searching for the perfect fit.
The trouble is that some pumps just won’t be right for you, even if they are right for someone else. What one mom finds comfortable can feel like a specially designed torture device to another. But if you’ve decided you’d like to breastfeed your baby, at some point you’ll likely need a breast pump.
For some moms, their pumps become a daily fixture of life for months on end, so it pays to invest in one that really works for you. This guide will help you figure out what’s most important when selecting a pump, and give you a closer look at the popular models on the market right now.
Quick ComparisonOur Top Breast Pump Picks of 2019 Read Full Reviews
Do I Need a Breast Pump?
Some women who have exclusively breastfed have gotten by without a pump, but, I swear, I have no idea how they did it.
When my baby was 10 weeks old, I went back to work. I would have loved nothing more than to be a stay-at-home mom, but since my student loans were hanging over my head, there was no way around it – I had to go back to work.
Sometimes I was lucky and I was back home after a 6-hour workday, but there were days where things were super busy and I put in 12-hour days. I hated every minute of it and I would have rather spent that time with my baby, but it was something I had to do.
The only way I was going to make breastfeeding a doable option was by pumping while I was at work. If I had any hope of breastfeeding, I had to express milk with a pump so my baby could eat while I wasn’t with her.
Sometimes you don’t get to decide if you are going to nurse – your baby does that for you. In some cases, babies aren’t able to latch properly onto the breast, but they can feed from bottles. If you want to breastfeed in those situations, you’ll have no choice but to pump so your baby still gets the benefits of breast milk.
Types of Breast Pumps
Breast pumps come in two broad types: single and double. Single pumps can only attach to one breast at a time, whereas double pumps attach to both. Double pumps tend to express more milk, but come at a higher price.
Pumps can also be further broken down into the following different categories:
- Manual Pumps: These have no external power source and rely on you to generate the suction or vacuum using your hands to squeeze a handle. Manual pumps tend to be light and portable. However, the downside is that they usually express much less milk due to their reduced suction power.
- Personal Electric Pumps: Electric pumps have a much greater suction strength than manual pumps, and usually come with electronic features, such as LCD screens, a timer, multiple expression modes, and sometimes even a nightlight. The disadvantages of electric pumps are their weight and higher cost.
- Hospital Grade Pumps: Despite the fact that the FDA does not recognize the term “hospital grade” (source), the term usually refers to double electric breast pumps that have a closed-system, a long motor life, and are durable enough to express milk 8 or more times a day. Hospital grade pumps are often rented, due to their higher prices.
What to Look for in a Pump
Before you randomly pick a breast pump based on a friend’s recommendation, remember that you both might be looking for very different things. We’re all on different paths in life, with different bodies, different babies and different sets of goals and obstacles.
Nevertheless, any woman purchasing a breast pump will want to go over this list of factors to consider:
- Cost: You’ll want to stick to something within your price range, but if you buy a very cheap pump, you might find it doesn’t work well. If that happens, you’ll have to buy another anyway, so save yourself the aggravation and buy a good pump, to begin with. Regardless of what it costs, it’s still cheaper than buying formula every week (source), plus health insurance might kick in and cover part of the pump.
- Milk volume: If your milk flow is a little Niagara Falls-style, you need to pick a pump to cope with heavy usage. Some pumps are only made for occasional use, while others are designed to handle many sessions a day. Knowing how much you expect to pump can help you choose between manual or electric pumps (source).
- If you want to pump both breasts at once: Pumping breastmilk can be time consuming and uncomfortable. If you want to spend as little time attached to your pump as possible, consider a double pump rather than a single one.
- Portability: Moms who plan to go back to work a few weeks after childbirth should consider buying a portable pump so they can express milk during lunch breaks. Portability is also an issue for women who travel a lot. Stay-at-home moms, on the other hand, might be less concerned about portability.
- How easy it is to clean: Buying a pump that pieces together like a puzzle might scare you off the whole breast pumping thing. Plus, women might resent the time they spend trying to get milk out of complicated tubing when they could be spending that time with their baby instead.
- Adjustable suction: The same amount of suction won’t work for every woman. You’ll want to look for a pump with adjustable suction in case you’re one of the women who need more or less than usual.
- Power source: Blackouts do happen. If you’ve pumped enough milk ahead of time that you have an adequate freezer stash, you might not worry about a lights-out situation. But if you don’t want to have to depend solely on an outlet, you can buy pumps that also use batteries. If you have money to burn, you could even keep a manual pump on hand for emergencies or a car adapter that lets you use certain pumps in your car.
The Best Breast Pumps in 2019
Now that you have a better understanding of what to look for when buying a high-quality pump, let’s dig deep into our list of reviews of the most popular products and brands currently on the market in 2019.
1. Spectra S1 & S2 Breast Pumps
Best Electric Breast Pumps
Electric pumps can cost a lot – I’ve had car payments that weren’t as much as some electric pumps. But, for some women, they're well worth the money. They're cheaper than formula feeding, and they let you express milk in mere minutes, which is a huge time saver for moms.
The S1 is a tiny bit more expensive than the S2, but it has the option to switch to battery power in case you can’t or don’t want to use the power cord. It’s a little thing, but that rechargeable battery pack could really open up your world when you’re pumping exclusively.
Both products are robust and can last for months or even a year, depending on your usage. They make quick and comfortable work out of pumping your breasts, and you won’t need earplugs when you operate this unit either – it’s extremely quiet.
Both pumps are lightweight at just over 3 pounds. With the Spectra S2 pump, you can express milk one breast at a time, or you can do both breasts at once. While some electric pumps are loud and attract attention, this one is quieter.
Another key feature is that the pumps have a closed system, which means your milk particles won’t go inside the actual motor. This is a more sanitary choice if you need to lend out or give away your pump when you’re done.
The pumps have a letdown mode which signals your breasts to release their milk supply. It also comes with a timer and a night light, which is a welcome addition for those 2 a.m. feedings!
- The S1 model can be operated with batteries or a power cord.
- Quiet, which makes for a more relaxed pumping experience.
- Expresses milk quickly and comfortably.
- Closed system.
- The tubes fall off easily during pumping.
- The pump vibrates during usage.
2. Medela Freestyle Breast Pump
Best Hands-Free Breast Pump
Breast pumping can be a time-consuming task. We already have so much to cram into our schedules, that pumping 8 to 10 times a day can seriously affect how much we get done. Considering you might be spending multiple hours a day pumping, finding a good hands-free option at least frees you to do other things.
This small double electric pump becomes a hands-free unit, but it can take some effort to find a way to make it work for you. Since the Freestyle is powered by both a cord, but also a battery pack, you can move around doing household chores while you’re pumping if you want to kill two birds with one stone.
It has a one-touch letdown button that sends a message to your body that your milk needs to start flowing. Medela’s 2-Phase Expression Technology creates a powerful suction and the levels adjust from 1 all the way to 9. It also features a pumping timer that lets you keep track of your sessions, and a memory button to save your favorite settings.
While the pump might feel too gentle for some women, this machine gives moms freedom from being tied down to a stationary machine. It also comes with a cooler bag and ice packs in case you use this when you’re outside the house.
- This unit provides true mobility for moms on-the-go.
- It’s lightweight.
- Comes with a cooler bag and ice packs.
- This machine is pricey.
- Figuring out how to use the hands-free capability is tricky.
3. Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump
Best Breast Pump for Large Breasts & Twins
Determining the breast shield size you need is based on the size of your nipples, and not your overall breast, and it’s possible to have large breasts with smaller sized-nipples. Furthermore, if you have twins, you need to find a pump that will drain your breasts as fast as possible. You have two babies to feed and you need to make sure you have an adequate supply for them.
The Medela Pump in Style Advanced model has many features that make it a good investment, but for women with large chests and bigger than average nipples, the nice thing is that you can separately buy extra-large breast shields to make this pump work.
This kit already comes with two sizes of breast shields – the 24mm and the 27mm. Before automatically ordering the extra-large shields, you should give the included shields a test drive. One of them might work for you even if you’re well endowed.
Because the pump is attached to the carry-all tote bag that comes with the kit and accessories, you can move the entire thing from one room to another with ease. This pump’s impressive suction strength will help keep your supply up, but it’s also adjustable if you prefer a lighter touch. The cooler and ice packs are great for providing moms the freedom to pump when they’re out and about.
- Strong suction feature.
- Easy to clean.
- Replacement parts are easy to find because the brand is so well known.
- This pump costs a little more than some on the market.
- It’s a heavy pump, which makes it less ideal for moms on-the-go.
4. Medela Sonata Smart Double Electric Breast Pump
Best Pump with App
Want to take your pumping digital? There's an app for that. If you like the idea of an electric pump with all the bells and whistles, consider that many products now come with touch screens and the ability to connect directly to an app on your smartphone.
MyMedela is this company’s tool to help you track your baby’s growth and pumping session output on your smartphone. The Sonata is a sturdy double electric model with 2-phase expression technology and different rhythms designed to mimic the fast beginning and slower progression of breastfeeding. The lithium-ion battery is rechargeable and a little alarm will ping to remind you when the battery is low.
The unit is small and lightweight, and surprisingly quiet for what is a strong, “hospital grade” suction. Many women have found that their supply is greatly increased and that they can pump a lot more using this product.
- Small and compact.
- App helps you monitor your feeding patterns.
- Double pump extracts high volumes.
- Short operating life: users report the unit breaks down often, and is tricky to fix.
- Good performance, but unreliable.
5. BelleMa Double Electric Breast Pump
Best Breast Pump for Working Moms
Going back to work after having a baby is a challenge. Not only are you strapped for time and doubting whether returning to work is the right choice, but you also have to find a way to comfortably pump while at work to keep your milk supply flowing steadily. That’s when finding a good breast pump for the workplace becomes a priority.
Some electric breast pumps have short power cords that mean you have to sit right next to an outlet to get any pumping done. Also, offices don’t always have outlets in spots that give you the privacy you need.
The BelleMa pump has a longer power cord, which makes it easy to find a comfortable place to pump from. But the longer cord isn’t all this unit has going for it.
It’s a closed system, double electric pump which has left and right independent controls where you can choose different suction speeds for each breast.
It only weighs 14 ounces which makes carrying it into your workplace a breeze. While you can still hear this pump, it’s pretty quiet, making it a great choice for at-work pumping sessions. It’s easy to assemble, so you won’t cut into your work time too much.
- A good price for a double electric pump.
- Easy to clean and assemble.
- The battery pack has to be purchased separately.
- Doesn’t come with a carrier.
6. Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Pump
Most Affordable Electric Pump
Sometimes the best option is the middle of the range one: a pump that is moderately priced but still gives you all the peace of mind and quality you want when it comes to something as important as your baby's food. You might find yourself wanting a hospital grade, electric breast pump but feel a little hesitant about the price tags on some products.
This Lansinoh pump fits the description of good, mid-range quality you can trust. You get a lot for your money: a closed, hospital grade system with a stimulation phase, adjustable suction levels and a kit with all the accessories you could possibly need.
Some moms really love that this unit offers three pumping “styles”, and can run off battery power or its mains cable. It’s a double pump with special back-flow caps that prevent the milk flowing back into the tubes. Plus, it comes in a helpful carry bag.
If a pump has hurt you in the past, this one may be up your alley since it’s geared towards lighter, more massage-like suction than other pumps. Many first-time moms report that they pumped for the first time with no issues using this unit.
- Gentler on the breasts, so great for first-time breastfeeders.
- Affordable quality.
- Hygienic, closed system.
- The gentler suction may feel too weak to moms with heavy flow.
- The pump can be a little loud.
7. Medela Symphony Breast Pump
Best Hospital Grade Breast Pump
If you're willing to pay for a top-quality hospital-grade pump to ensure your peace of mind, there are some good options out there. Hospital-grade pumps are generally closed system pumps, which means that none of your milk particles will reach the pump motor.
This pump was made for intensive use and unless you plan to give it a run for its money, you might want to find a more inexpensive pump. It uses 2-phase expression technology to help your milk start flowing freely.
If normal pumps are taking too long to remove your milk, you might want to try this one because it’s designed to express milk quickly. That’s a big deal when you’re pumping exclusively and start to feel like you’ve spent half your day hooked up to a breast pump.
You can use this pump for expressing milk from one breast at a time or from both at once. It’s a closed system so you won’t get any backflow of your milk into the tubing and motor. That can cut down on the risk of your baby ingesting mold or nasty bacteria along with their breast milk.
- These pumps are built to last, and can work for years.
- It’s so quiet you can barely tell it’s on.
- It’s a sanitary, closed system.
- The collection bottles and other items you need for this pump are sold separately in a kit.
- This is a very expensive breast pump.
8. BellaBaby Double Electric Pumps
Best Pain Free Pump
You might need a strong, reliable suction from your pump but be more than a little nervous about it hurting your nipples. If your breasts are on the sensitive side or you'd like a pump that doesn't maul you to get the milk out, look for something designed primarily for comfort.
This BellaBaby pump tries hard to be “pain-free,” and it succeeds. The silicone petals are softer on the skin and meant to mimic the more gentle sucking motion of your baby. You can easily find a setting from one of the nine possible levels to make you most comfortable.
There are three different sucking modes (continuous, frequency conversion and normal) so you can pick the speed and intensity of the sucking motion that suits you best. It also comes with a pre-stimulation level to help you let down comfortably so you are ready to start expressing without discomfort.
This is a lightweight, safe pump that is 100% FDA approved, plus it comes with some milk storage bags in the kit.
- A car adaptor is available to purchase for use while driving.
- Freedom to snuggle your baby, work, or relax while pumping.
- Adjustable suction levels.
- It won’t work well for larger busts.
- Some users reported the sound as quite loud.
- Pouring from the cups can be tricky.
9. Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump
Best Manual Breast Pump
A good manual breast pump should do a great job of expressing milk, but it shouldn’t be painful for your breast or your arm. The repetitive motion of manually pumping requires a pump that has an easy-to-squeeze handle. Manual pumps are ideal for moms who don’t have to pump multiple times a day, or for those who are traveling and don’t want to drag along a bulky machine.
The Medela manual pump is easy to use and simple to clean. Anyone will be able to figure out how to use it, and it’s a cinch to bring along wherever you go because it fits neatly into purses or bags.
Since you do all the work, manual pumps like this one don’t make noise and so they’re perfect for pumping discreetly during a lunch break at work. No one has to know what you are doing behind closed doors if you feel uncomfortable about pumping away from home.
Although it includes a 24 mm nipple shield, other Medela breast shields will also fit on this unit, which means you’ll be able to set up the most comfortable experience for your body. Best of all, this pump is kind to even the tightest budget.
- Quiet, which can be important for those who value discretion.
- Seems to lose suction over time.
- Can make your hand tired if you pump a lot.
10. Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump
Best Portable Breast Pump
When you’re going on vacation, you can’t beat the convenience of a portable pump. If you're going on an all-day adventure with your family, you can’t guarantee you’ll have access to an outlet and battery packs can die at the most inconvenient times. Portable, manual pumps, however, can go anywhere you do and won't let you down as long as you're able to squeeze the handle.
This Philips Avent manual pump has a small, wide bottle attached to the pump, instead of a longer, thinner one that other portable pumps use. Another thing moms might appreciate about this breast pump is that it’s compatible with other Philips Avent bottles and milk storage containers.
The small, compact size of this pump makes it easy to position and use – you can even operate it with one hand. It has an angled neck which works with gravity to allow your milk to flow directly into the bottle, so you won’t have the strain on your lower back of having to lean forward. This pump also has a soft massage cushion designed to stimulate milk flow.
Lastly, moms who aren’t content to just wash their portable pumps will be glad to know this unit can be sterilized in the microwave or by dropping it in boiling water.
- Easy on your back because its design doesn’t require you to lean forward.
- Can squeak a little sometimes while operating.
- You have to press it hard against your breast to form a vacuum.
11. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump
Cheapest Breast Pump
Sometimes you might be able to get by just fine with a cheap breast pump. If you're primarily breastfeeding your baby, you may be able to just have an inexpensive model on hand to do some light pumping now and then. It will save you the expense of buying one of the more big-budget, heavy-duty pumps on the market.
Although this unit from Haakaa is called a pump, there’s no actual pumping involved. You’ll still end up with a significant amount of breast milk by the time you’re done using it, though.
All you do is take this BPA-free, silicone device and attach it to one breast while you’re feeding on the other side. Then just let nature take its course. As you let down and your milk begins to flow from both breasts, this small pump on your free breast will let you catch an extra 2 or 3 ounces you would have otherwise wasted.
And the best part is, there’s no discomfort involved and no extra effort on your part.
- It’s extremely cheap.
- Easy to use.
- Perfect for traveling.
- It won’t completely empty your breast.
- Measurements on the bottle are a bit inaccurate.
12. Freemie Hands Free Double Electric Pump
Hands-Free Runner Up
As a mom, you learn pretty quickly to multitask. You always seem to have one thing going on in one hand and something else in the other. Hands-free pumps are a great choice if you'd rather skip all the tubing and levers entirely. These pumps attach directly onto your breast and can even be used discretely under you shirt.
This Freemie hands-free pump is stealth pumping at its finest. It’s a double electric unit that’s a bit like a Robo Bra that collects your milk in two attached funnels. You pop it on and sit back, and the pump extracts your milk right inside your bra.
Though it’s a slim profile under clothing, each cup holds a full 8 ounces. Because you don’t need to hold anything in place, your hands are free to get on with whatever work you need to, or else enjoy quality time with your baby.
This product could not be more discrete for working moms who might not have the time to step away from their desks every time they pump. Alternatively, this pump can easily be used around others without too much distraction and without you needing to remove any clothing.
- A car adaptor is available to purchase for use while driving.
- Freedom to snuggle your baby, work, or relax while pumping.
- Adjustable suction levels.
- It might not work well for larger busts.
- The pump can be a little loud.
- Pouring from the cups can be tricky.
13. Philips AVENT Single Electric Breast Pump
Best Single Electric Pump
If you want to pump one breast while your baby is nursing from the other, you’ll want to consider getting a single electric breast pump. Between your baby and a single pump, you’ll make sure your breasts are fully drained so they keep producing that liquid gold.
The joy of this Philips Avent single electric pump is twofold: firstly, it’s cheaper than a double electric pump, which makes it a good alternative for moms who’d rather save their cash. Secondly, it lets you get breastfeeding and pumping done in one shot, saving you time as you essentially get two feeds for the effort of one.
Avent’s pump has also been designed to eliminate lower back strain for moms. Many pumps require you to lean forward to let gravity assist you, but because of the design on this one, you don’t need to lean forward at all.
When you use this breast pump, you start with the stimulation mode to let your body know it’s time to release milk. But after that, you get to choose which setting feels most comfortable to you – low, medium or high.
- Comfortable pumping experience.
- Easy to clean.
- Some moms have reported that the unit breaks down.
- Loses suction over time.
Open System vs. Closed System: What’s the Difference?
A closed system pump keeps the parts that collect the milk completely separate from the parts that pump it out. This barrier prevents mold, dust or spoiled milk from contaminating things.
An open system pump has no such barrier, so milk can get into nooks and crannies in the unit and encourage bacterial growth. While it’s possible to buy clean tubes and parts for an open system pump, and you can try to sterilize the individual pieces, you’ll never completely sterilize the motor itself, which could harbor microbes that could get into your babies milk.
If you’re getting a second hand or rental “hospital grade” pump, make sure it’s has a closed system.
Breast Pump Accessories You Might Need
You may want to buy extra breast shields (also known as flanges) and valves to have on hand for when you don’t feel like washing up right after pumping. It can be difficult to find the time immediately after a feed, especially if you’re pumping multiple times a day. If you’re not feeling well or just enjoying a lazy day with your baby, a drawer of extra parts will come in handy.
Having a compartmentalized breast pump bag can help you organize all your spare parts and keep everything in its correct place. Many breast pump bags also include insulation or have a built-in cooler to help you transport your expressed milk when on-the-go.
You’ll also need storage bottles so you can keep that liquid gold safe in the refrigerator or freezer. If you plan to pump at work you should also consider purchasing breast milk storage bags or a mini cooler bag with ice packs so you can keep your breast milk cold until you get home. If you have a refrigerator at work, use it, but if your commute is a long one, you’ll still need a way to get those bottles home safely.
When you factor in both affordability and function, the Spectra Baby S1 is our clear favorite. No matter what you’re looking for in a breast pump, the S1 delivers.
Here are some of the features that make it stand out from the crowd:
- It’s lightweight, which makes it portable.
- You can use it with a rechargeable battery or power cord for great mobility.
- It pumps quickly.
- It’s comfortable and it has a variety of settings to help moms find a mode that works for them.
- It’s quiet, unlike some pumps which can be almost deafening at times.
- The price is better than many other higher-quality pumps.
- If you need to pump exclusively, you can pump both breasts at once.
- Comes highly recommended by lactation consultants.
Whether you’re occasionally pumping or multiple times a day, the S1 will help you reach your goals. In no time, your baby will be thriving from the benefits of the freshly pumped breast milk you’ll be providing.
Breastfeeding is such an important part of your child’s early life, and the right pump can make the difference between it being a painful disappointment or a happy success. I know it can be a drag to research all the models out there, but more than worth it when you consider what you gain by buying just the right one.
Breastfeeding superheroes out there, it’s your turn to share your words of wisdom to the newbie moms out there who are doing their best for their babies. Can you recommend a pump? Do you have any tips and tricks? If so, don’t be shy and share in the comments below!