I have to admit – I never noticed breast pumps before I became pregnant, I always assumed it was for women who had some medical condition. I am sure I am not the only one who was fuzzy about these contraptions when they did not need to know about it. In this post – I will provide you detailed breast pumps reviews – which will help you choose the right one for your needs.
For those who are in the early stages of pregnancy and breast pumps have never caught your attention before – a breast pump is a device that is used to extract milk from the breasts of a lactating mother so that it can be stored for later use and fed directly to the baby through a bottle.
Here is a good rundown of the benefits of using breast pumps. Now that the Affordable Care Act is in place, your insurance company should be able to pay for your pumps and so I see no reason not to get one. Let me attempt to simplify the decision making process for you.
There are two types of pumps
1. Manual Breast Pumps – These are manual pumps which are operated by the hand. The handle needs to be squeezed to create a suction and the entire process is laborious and inefficient. So this is only for occasional users as a complement to your electric pump or to relieve excessive accumulation of breast milk also called engorgement.
Here are some features
– They are hand-held
– You can work only one breast at a time
– You have to manually pump yourself which can be quite the workout for your hands!
– Convenient for travel bc they’re small
– Nice to have as a backup in case something goes wrong with your electric pump (I have both manual and elec)
2. Electric breast pumps are of two types – hospital grade and personal use. They are powered by a motor which supplies suction through a plastic tube to the horn that fits over the nipple. Not only is an electric pump more efficient on account of its higher suction power, it also allows pumping of both breasts at the same time, thereby saving time. Some have batteries in order to allow portability of these pumps. To sum up
– Electric pumps can be plugged in or used with rechargeable battery
– Does both breasts at the same time with option to do just one at a time
– Saves loads of time
So which one should you buy?
Here are some pointers that will help you in your decision
- Buy a manual pump if you must, but be aware that is not going to be your go-to breast pump. They do help to relieve an occasional engorgement but cannot be used on a daily basis and definitely not if you are working. The Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump and Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump are both decent options.
My advice – choose the Medela since I am recommending the Medela Electric pump and you might be able to reuse some accessories. This is also quieter and easier to clean than the Philips Avent and is definitely a superior option for women with larger breasts. A manual pump is helpful if you travel once in a while – as investing in a portable pump might be unnecessary.
- Mini Electric Pumps – This is definitely a slight upgrade over the manual pump and works well for the occasional user who does not want to pump manually. Again – this is not for mothers who want something for daily use. The only one in this category to consider is the Medela Swing Breast Pump. This is a single breast pump just like the manual pumps and is not a replacement for the sturdy hospital grade pumps.
- My top recommendation regarding breast pumps is not to buy a breast pump but to rent one from the hospital. Several reasons for this
- The Hospital Grade Breast pumps or double electric pumps are the most robust pumps you will ever find. Nothing can match the speed and efficiency of these work horses.
- These amazing machines like the – Medela Symphony Breast Pump cost upto 2000 dollars and are definitely too expensive to buy. Buy you could rent it for 60 bucks and you could use it all year or return after 6 months when you are not pumping as much.
- After the C-section pumping was the last thing I wanted to do and a lot of mothers I know have given up the thought of breast-feeding at this crucial juncture because the whole process seems too demanding. A hospital grade pump makes everything easy for you.
- You are only renting the pump and not the accessries that are in contact with your skin. So those of you who don’t like to buy used stuff – please note that you need to buy a Medela Symphony Double Pumping System to go along with this.
- Another reason to rent is that you cannot be absolutely sure that you are going to breast feed. A lot of people find that their situation does not allow them to continue pumping for too long. I would suggest you rent the hospital grade breast pump and get used to the process and check whether it is right for you, before proceeding to buy one on your own. In addition the hospital grade one will be more powerful and will allow you to get used to pumping more easily since its more powerful. Your chances of success are higher and in case it does not work for you, you can send it back and focus on formula feeding.
- Especially for my twins I needed to pump a lot of milk and I needed a powerful breast pump and this one did the job perfectly. I would never recommend buying used equipment but hospital grade pumps are certified by the FDA since most of the parts are sealed and you have to buy a separate collection kit for your use anyways. The kit costs around $30 and the breast pump costs in the $80 range per month. I made the mistake of buying a regular Medela Pump in Style and found that it was not strong enough for such frequent pumps and also cumbersome. These workhorses are just perfect. Other brands include White River Concepts and Hygeia. I would ideally recommend this for stay at home moms – if you need to take a pump for work I would choose a Spectra or Pump in Style.4. If renting is too expensive or not an option you want to consider ta hospital grade personal use pump. I would recommend one of these two especially if you need one to carry to work
- Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote
- Spectra Baby USA Double/Single Breast Pump with Rechargeable Battery, 3.3 Pound
Both work decently for mothers who have to feed only one child but definitely are not match for the power of the rented – Medela Symphony, especially if you have multiples.
I would recommend the Spectra over the Medela even though Medela is the best seller in this category. Some bloggers have called it the “Cadillac” of breast pumps – as it works silently and effectively. It is definitely a more portable option and therefore if you need one pump to buy for the home. office during travel etc – this is the one.
Some more pros in favor of spectra
- More aesthetically pleasing than any other pump in the market and easy to put in different bags.
- Very quiet operation.
- Advantage over the Medela Symphony is that it works on battery as well.
- Great Customer service
- Not compatible with hands free bras
- Less number of accessories
To sum up – these are the major factors to consider
- How often and how long – I realize most mothers may not start off deciding that they will rarely pump, so they might be tempted to buy a pump in any case. My advice – rent one for the first few months and then choose one that you need. If all you need is an occasional pump – once a day or lesser frequency use the manual or mini electrical one.
- Efficiency – The goal is to get the maximum amount of milk in the shortest time possible and therefore efficiency is the number 1 consideration. The Medela Symphony is by far the most efficient that I have seen but it is hospital grade and need to be rented. The Spectra Baby and Medela Pump in Style Advanced are also efficient but no match for the Symphony.
- Comfort – No matter how efficient, you still need to spend a lot of time with the breast pump and it better be a comfortable experience. Spectra and Medela Symphony scored well for me – Spectra because of its breast flanges and Symphony (even though the flanges are the same for any Medela pump system) because of its superior suction that was just right for me.
- Ease of use – The Spectra socres over the Medela symphony simply because its more compact
- Portability is a important factor for most parents who plan to return to work and so a professional grade breast pump such as the Medela Advanced or Spectra baby are a must, even if you rented a hospital grade pump in the beginning of your pregnancy. Don’t buy an mini electric one for work since it will take you more time to pump each breast. Availability or rather non-availability of outlets is another reason to choose a portable one even if you are staying at home most of the time.
- Price – A lot of parents may look at the cheapest option to get the job done, but in the bargain end up with less than efficient pump which does not help them. The net result is that they give up on pumping and end up paying thousands for formula. So price may be a consideration but my suggestion is to stick to a higher quality pump rather than try to save a few bucks.
I hope these breast pumps reviews will enable you to