The 13 Best Breast Pumps for Every Situation (2018 Reviews)

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.

Our Top 10 Picks
ProductAwardOur Rating
1. Spectra S1 & S2Best Electric Breast Pump4.75
2. Medela Pump in StyleBest for Large Breasts4.25
3. BelleMa Double ElectricBest for Working Moms4
4. Medela HarmonyBest Manual Pump4
5. Haakaa Silicone PumpBest Milk Catcher4.5
6. Medela FreestyleBest Hands Free Pump3.75
8. Philips AVENT SEBest Single Electric Pump4.5
8. Lansinoh Signature ProMost Affordable Electric Pump4.25
9. BellaBaby Electric PumpBest Pain Free Pump4.25
10. Medela Sonata SmartBest Smart App4
Use the links above to check the latest prices on Amazon or read our in-depth breast pump reviews below.

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.

Even if you aren’t returning to work, you’ll still likely encounter situations when you’ll need refrigerated or frozen milk on hand for your baby to eat. Whether it’s a family emergency, a medical situation or simply a night out with friends, you can’t be attached to your baby 24/7.

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.

The 4 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 4 following different categories:

  • Manual Pumps: These have no external power source and rely on you to generate the suction 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.
  • Electric Pumps: These require a power cord and an external power source. They 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: It’s important to note here that the term “hospital grade” is more of a marketing term than a medical one. The FDA has made it clear that they do not recognize the term “hospital grade” (source). Hospital grade usually refers to high end 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.
  • Battery Powered Pumps: The battery-powered pump is a convenient twist on the original electric pump design, by adding a rechargeable battery to the unit. This removes some of the disadvantages of traditional electric pumps by making them more portable and removing the single point of failure — the plug point.

Open System vs. Closed System: What’s the Difference?

You might see some pumps referred to as “closed” or “open” system. 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 “hospital grade” pump, make sure it’s a closed system one. These days, most pumps are a closed system (notable exceptions are Medela pumps).

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 considering purchasing a breast pump will want to go over this checklist:

  • 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.
  • 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 needs 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.

Breast Pump Accessories You’ll Need

You may want to buy extra breast shields 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 breast milk 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.

Some accessories aren’t necessities, but they can make your life easier – like a bottle drying rack, or a nursing cover which can help you pump in public without feeling self-conscious.


The Best Breast Pumps in 2018

Now that you have a better understanding of what to look for when buying a high-quality pump, let’s dig deep into the reviews of what we think are the 13 best models on the market in 2018.

1. Spectra S1 & S2 Breast Pumps

Spectra Baby USA - S1 Plus Premier Rechargeable Electric Breast Pump,...

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.

This unit comes in Spectra S1 (blue) and Spectra S2 (pink) models. They’re both great choices.

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 battery pack could really open up your world when you’re pumping exclusively.

Both models 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 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!

Related Reading:
Spectra S1 Review

PROS

  • 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.

2. Medela Freestyle Breast Pump

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 this pump works with 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. The suction level adjusts from setting 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.

Related Reading:
Medela Freestyle Review

PROS

  • This unit provides true mobility for women who are pumping.
  • It’s lightweight.
  • Comes with a cooler bag and ice packs.

3. BelleMa Double Electric Breast Pump

BelleMa Effective Pro Double Electric Breast Pump (Mom's Choice Award Winner),...

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, you also have to find a way to comfortably pump breast milk 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 for pumping.

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 levels 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 by pumping.

PROS

  • A good price for a double electric pump.
  • Lightweight.
  • Easy to clean and assemble.
  • Quiet.

4. Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump

Medela Pump in Style Advanced with On the Go Tote, Electric Breast Pump for...

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 Pump in Style 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 bag that comes with the kit, you can move the entire thing from one room to another. This pump’s strong suction 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 moms who want to pump outside the home.

Related Reading:
Medela Pump In Style Review

PROS

  • Strong suction feature.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Replacement parts are easy to find because the brand is so well known.

5. Philips AVENT Single Electric Breast Pump

Philips AVENT Single Electric Comfort 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 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.

This 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.

PROS

  • Comfortable pumping experience.
  • Affordable.
  • Lightweight.
  • Easy to clean.

6. Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump

Medela Manual Breast Pump, Harmony Breast Pump, Portable, 2-Phase Expression...

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 comes with a 24 mm breast shield, other Medela breast shields will also fit on this unit, which means you’ll be able to set up the most comfortable breast pumping experience for your body. Best of all, this pump is kind to even the tightest budget.

PROS

  • Affordable.
  • Portable.
  • Quiet, which can be important for those who value discretion.

7. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

Haakaa Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump Milk Pump 100% Food Grade...

Best Affordable 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.

PROS

  • It’s extremely cheap.
  • Easy to use.
  • Perfect for traveling.

8. Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Pump

Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Electric Breast Pump with LCD Screen, Portable...

Best 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 models.

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.

PROS

  • Gentler on the breasts, so great for first-time breastfeeders.
  • Affordable quality.
  • Hygienic, closed system.

9. BellaBaby Double Electric Pumps

Bellababy Double Electric Breast Feeding Pumps Pain Free Strong Suction Power...

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.

PROS

  • A car adaptor is available to purchase for use while driving.
  • Freedom to snuggle your baby, work, or relax while pumping.
  • Adjustable suction levels.

10. Medela Sonata Smart Double Electric Breast Pump

Medela Sonata Smart Double Electric Breast Pump, Connects to MyMedela App,...

Best Breast Pump with App

Breast pumping? There's an app for that. If you like the idea of an electric pump with all the bells and whistles, consider that many models 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 pump itself is a sturdy double electric model with two-phase technology and different pumping rhythms. 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 model.

PROS

  • Small and compact.
  • App helps you monitor your feeding sessions.
  • Double pump extracts high volumes.

11. Freemie Hands Free Double Electric Pump

Freemie Freedom Double Electric Hands Free and Concealable Breast Pump, White

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 model 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.

Related Reading:
Freemie Breast Pump Review

PROS

  • A car adaptor is available to purchase for use while driving.
  • Freedom to snuggle your baby, work, or relax while pumping.
  • Adjustable suction levels.

12. Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump

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 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.

PROS

  • Affordable.
  • Easy on your back because its design doesn’t require you to lean forward.

13. Medela Symphony Breast Pump

Medela Symphony Breast Pump, Hospital Grade Breast Pump, Convenient Single or...

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 breast milk particles will reach the pump motor.

This pump was made for daily 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.

PROS

  • 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.

Should I Buy My Pump New or Used?

Whether it’s safe to buy used breast pumps has been a controversy for years. But what many women who claim it is safe to buy used pumps don’t understand is that there are two different types of pumps – there are purchase pumps and there are rental pumps. They can also be called closed systems or open systems.

Pumps women purchase for their own home usage are generally open systems. It simply means that it is possible that a woman’s milk particles could reach the motor of the pump, which would make it unsanitary for another woman to use that pump. Purchase pumps are not safe to buy used (source) because they could contaminate your baby’s milk.

Rental pumps are different – they are what is known as a closed system, which means that a woman’s milk particles can’t reach the parts of the pump. That’s what makes it okay from a health viewpoint to share a rental pump.

What are Breast Shields?

Breast shields are one of the most important breast pump features. Proper fitting breast shields, also called flanges, are crucial to your success while pumping breast milk. Breast shields are the cups that you put on your breasts.

You choose your size of breast shield on the size of your nipples, not the size of your breasts. And if you’ve used a different pump in the past, don’t depend on the size of breast shield you once used. Sizes of flanges aren’t uniform from brand to brand, and your pre-birth nipples may not stay that size after you have your baby.

When Size Matters

If you get a breast shield that is too tight, you can scrape and hurt your already sore nipples. It can be so painful that it might even cause you to reconsider whether you want to breastfeed at all.

You don’t want to purchase a breast shield that is too big either. Because your breast, not just the nipple, will be sucked in. That can mess with the flow of your breastmilk. Breastfeeding can be difficult enough without your milk supply dwindling.

If you begin breastfeeding and the process is painful rather than just uncomfortable, you should reevaluate the size of breast shields you are using in case they are the wrong size.

When Should I Use My Breast Pump?

Women who are only pumping occasionally and are feeding their babies directly from their breasts most of the time should:

  • Pump milk in the morning where they are likely to get the most (source).
  • Space breastfeeding sessions with pumping sessions by about an hour. You can either pump an hour before you expect your baby to be hungry again, or an hour after she breastfeeds. That will give you milk for both sessions (source).

Women who are only pumping and aren’t doing any actual breastfeeding should:

  • Pump about every 2 and a half to 3 hours. Emptying your breast milk signals your body to make more (source).

How Do I Use a Breast Pump?

You can either choose a manual or electric breast pump.

Manual pumps are cheap, small, portable and easy to operate. Because you are the one supplying the manpower to express your milk, you’ll only be able to do one breast at a time so it might be best for moms who are only going to pump occasionally.

Moms who are going to be pumping a lot will want to consider a double electric pump that will allow them to pump both breasts at once. It’s a time saver being able to pump both at once, and you won’t have to do any work. They are much more expensive however than manual pumps.

  • You need to encourage what is known as letdown, which is milk moving from the back of the breast to the front. You can gently massage your breasts or place a warm washcloth on your breasts (source) to encourage letdown.
  • Cover your nipple with the breast shield and make sure it forms a tight shield.
  • Use one hand to hold the shield in the correct place, and start squeezing the handle of the pump with the other hand.
  • If milk isn’t wanting to flow, lean forward and put gravity to work.
  • Keep pumping until your flow starts to slow.

  • Cover your nipple with the breast shield. Do the other side as well if you are using a double pump.
  • Then you turn the machine on.
  • Pay attention to your comfort level. If the suction level hurts, turn it down. If your milk is coming out too slowly, turn up the suction.
  • Once your milk starts to slow, turn off the machine and break the suction of the pump with your finger.

  • No matter which pump you use, you need to make sure your hands and pumping equipment are clean before you begin.
  • Your milk won’t come out immediately – it’s not like turning on a faucet.
  • Don’t pull off the breast shields while your electrical pump is still on unless you love pain. Instead turn off your pump. The suction will be gone, but the shields will still be suctioned onto your breasts. Use your finger to break the seal, then gently remove the breast shields.

How Do I Clean a Breast Pump?

Some pumps may have separate instructions for cleaning, and some will be easier to clean than others.

But, in general, you’ll want to rinse every individual piece that comes in contact with breast milk with hot water, or wash them with soapy water before rinsing them well. Some pieces can be put in the top rack of the dishwater as well (source).

Let the pieces air dry. Some breast pump pieces for certain brands can be sanitized in a baby bottle sanitizer or a bag in the microwave.

Tips for breast pumping hygiene:

  • Avoid creams, lotions or nipple creams that are scented.
  • Change your breast pad at least twice a day, if you’re using them.
  • Wear light, loose clothing made of breathable natural fabric.
  • Wear a clean nursing bra every day.
  • Wash your hands before every feed.
  • Clean your breast pump as soon as possible after using.
  • Shower frequently, and give your breasts a quick wash before a feed if you’re sweaty from exercise.
  • Use warm water to rinse nipples throughout the day, and dry with a clean, soft towel.

Tips for Expressing More Milk

Your breasts work on a kind of feedback system: when they’re full and there’s nobody to drink the milk, your body gets the message and slows production. If, on the other hand, milk is flying off the shelves faster than your body can restock it, so to speak, supply will increase to match.

This means that if you want to increase supply, you need to remove milk from your breasts often, rather than waiting for them to fill up (source).

Even if your baby isn’t drinking yet, keep on expressing milk so that you establish a regular supply. It’s tempting to think that the more you pump, the less there will be for your baby, but it’s actually the opposite. Getting used to regularly draining and refilling your breasts means your body is more able to adjust to your baby’s needs.

Besides, if you do pump and end up with extra, it can always be frozen. Focus on maintaining an even, steady flow and you’ll soon come into sync with your baby.

Other Pumping Tips & Hacks

As long as your baby is gaining weight on your milk, you’re producing enough (source). But if you’re worried your supply is low, here are some other things you can do to increase it:

  • Efficient nursing: Firstly, make sure your baby is nursing well and has a good latch, since a suckling baby is the best way to drain your breasts thoroughly and completely.
  • Nurse frequently: Aim for every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours during the night.
  • Galactagogues: Try using a substance that can increase milk supply (however, always consult your doctor before taking new medication while breastfeeding).
  • Pump to increase supply: Try pumping for a few minutes after the last drop to encourage flow.
  • Keep healthy: You need a balanced diet with plenty of rest and fluids anyway, but even more so when breastfeeding.
  • Alternate: Offer both breasts at feedings and switch sides during a feed to encourage even milk supply.

Frequently Asked Questions

Generally, yes, although your insurance provider may have some fine print. Breast pump rental and lactation consultants are all covered as part of the Affordable Care Act if you joined after 2010, but you may not always be reimbursed for the purchase of a new one (source).

The downside is that you may need a doctor prescription and you may not get to choose the pump you get, or will have to hunt one down from the right supplier. The first step is to call your insurance company and ask.

The wrong setting on a breast pump can definitely cause pain. Suction that is too hard can cause trauma to the delicate tissues of the breast, although in most cases this doesn’t last.

Pumping too much or too often can also disrupt your flow, causing an overactive letdown or leaking as the body fills with the necessary breastfeeding hormones. Over-pumping can also lead to swollen breasts or blocked milk ducts, which can cause further issues (source).

More serious tissue damage will only happen if you push yourself too far and ignore the pain signals your body is sending you. Long-term breast damage is a possibility if you pump too hard for too long, but this is easily avoided if you choose only a comfortable setting and don’t pump more than you need to.

Clogged milk ducts can cause one of your breasts to swell up with inflammation. This is called mastitis, and as you can imagine it’s pretty painful. You may also experience flu-like symptoms (source).

The treatment for mastitis is pain medication, warm compresses, rest, plenty of fluids, and doing whatever you can to keep your milk ducts clear and open. This means that pumping may actually help ease mastitis, even if it does feel a little uncomfortable.

Pumping is seldom responsible for causing mastitis, unless you are over-pumping and aggravating your milk ducts so that they become clogged. If you experience mastitis, keep expressing milk one way or the other until the ducts clear.

Usually, no (source). Breast milk flow is encouraged and maintained by nipple stimulation, but this can come from your baby during breastfeeding or from the breast pump you use. Match your pumping schedule to your baby’s hunger and you will not reduce your supply unnecessarily.

Nope! Breast milk flanges come in different sizes to fit the size of your nipple (note: not the size of your breast).


The Bottom Line

When you factor in both affordability and function, the Spectra Baby S1 is my 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 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.

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!

12 Reader Comments

  1. Selena

    what about karmin breast pump??

    • Jenny

      Hey, Selena.

      Sorry, I haven’t heard of Karmin before. Is it a new brand? Which country are you based?

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Tiffany

    What about the Naya? I just saw an ad for it and wonder how it compares.

    • Jenny

      Hi Tiffany, thanks for sharing! Naya looks really impressive! Can’t say I’ve used it myself, but I’ll look into it and try find out more information.

  3. Jen

    What is your opinion of the Motif Duo Double Electric Breast Pump?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      I haven’t had a chance to try it yet Jen. But it does look like a very well made pump.

    • Tara0909

      I find it hard to get anything with it as the suction isn’t great. I’m actually looking to get another pump because I’m so unhappy.

  4. Chrisana Hodes

    Have you tried the new Ameda, the one they made after the purely yours?

  5. Myrtle Criss

    This is wonderful information about breast pumps. It helped me a lot!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Myrtle. Which pump are you currently using or looking to buy?

  6. Rose Falcon

    I drink Healthy Nursing Tea daily and add a little honey to help with the bitter taste. The more I drink, the more milk I produce. So I brewed a large pot and stored it in the fridge for a quick cup of iced tea during the day!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      That’s a great idea, Rose. How much honey do you put in?

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