Choosing a breast pump is a very personal decision. Every person is different, every breast is different, every experience is different, and every breast pump is different. That means that there are a lot of factors that go into choosing a breast pump.
When trying to decide which breast pump is right for you, there are several things you’ll want to think about first, before even looking at your options. If you’ve decided that you need a breast pump (and most new moms do), here’s what you need to know.
- 1 How to Choose a Breast Pump
- 2 Types of Breast Pumps
- 3 Best Aeroflow Models
- 4 Willow Generation 3 Wearable Double Hands-Free Electric Breast Pump
- 5 Spectra S2PLUS Breast Pump with AFBP Sydney Breast Pump Backpack
- 6 Medela Pump In Style Double Electric Breast Pump
- 7 Motif Luna with Battery Double Electric Breast Pump
- 8 Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump
- 9 Alternatives to Aeroflow Pumps
- 10 FAQ
- 11 My Pick
- 12 Final Thoughts
How to Choose a Breast Pump
You may have just found yourself plopped in the middle of a world so foreign to you that you’re not only lost, but you have no map and you don’t speak the language either. That’s okay, because the more you learn about breast pumps, the more you’ll understand what you need.
There are two basic types of breast pumps: manual and electric. From there, you have more options, but the first thing you’ll have to decide is how often you’ll use it and how big your budget is.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom who will only have the occasional need to express, then a manual pump will most likely be fine for you. You don’t need to waste a lot of time or money on something fancy.
If you’re going back to work and you’ll need to be more efficient with your pumping time, it’s best to do some research on a double pump electric model that will allow you to express both sides at once. It’ll be more expensive, but you’ll be thankful you did it.
Types of Breast Pumps
Okay, so remember how I said there were two basic types of breast pumps? It’s a little more complicated than that. There are manual and electric models. But there are also battery-operated models.
You can get single or double-breasted options, there are smart breast pumps that come with pumping apps that track your ounces per breast (whaaaat?), and there are all kinds of accessory kits that are brand and model specific.
However, all breast pumps come with the same basic components. There’s a breast shield (sometimes called a phalange), which is a cone-shaped device that fits over your nipple. There’s a pump that creates a vacuum that you attach to the breast shield.
And, of course, there’s a milk container, which is typically a bottle or a breast milk storage bag that collects the milk for immediate use or storage until you’re ready to use it later.
Beyond these basic parts, there are a lot of other options and attachments. It can get pretty complicated quickly. Here are the basics.
Manual breast pumps are the simplest. You express your milk by hand. They come with the three basic components mentioned above.
There’s no fancy equipment, you don’t have to plug them in, and they’re relatively inexpensive. You don’t have to worry about single or double-breasted models because you’re doing the pumping.
You can either do one or both breasts at a time. You have two hands, so it’s up to you.
These pumps have a handle or lever that you squeeze to create suction, which pulls your milk out of your breast and into the bottle. While it takes a little bit longer to express, and you likely won’t be able to empty all the way, they’re a great option for moms who typically breastfeed all the time and just need to express occasionally.
Battery operated models
These types of breast pumps are great because they’re instantly portable. You’re not hooked up to any wires and you don’t have to plug into a wall outlet. However, depending on size, you still may need a private space for pumping while you’re out and about.
They also run through batteries really quickly, you won’t get the suction power you will from an electric model, and they won’t last as long.
These tend to be the most complicated because there’s tubing attached to the breast shield that connects it to a machine that then must be plugged into the wall to create the suction.
While these are pricey, the benefit here is that they’re completely hands-free. Equipped with a pumping bra, you can work, read, or relax while the machine does all the work.
You can get single or double models. Double models are more expensive but can be used on only one breast at a time if necessary.
Some electric models have battery packs you can purchase separately, converting them into battery-operated breast pumps. This makes them more portable, but you’ll run through batteries quickly and you’ll still have to carry a large machine with you.
Best Aeroflow Models
While there are a whole lot more ins and outs to the different types of breast pumps, you should know at least the basics now. Hopefully, you have a better idea of which type of breast pump will suit you, so you can skip straight to the Aeroflow breast pump that you think you might like best.
Aeroflow is known for making it crazy easy to get breast pumps through insurance, and there are a lot of options from hospital grade pumps to hands-free modern varieties. Here are some of the best options.
Willow Generation 3 Wearable Double Hands-Free Electric Breast Pump
The Willow breast pump is a truly unique product. It launched a few years ago as a wireless breast pump that fit in your bra. It’s a patented, no-spill technology that allows you to pump fully hand (and cord) free.
The pods fit directly into your bra and the quiet operation is virtually undetectable. You can pump into milk bags or reusable containers and connect your pods to the Willow app.
With just a press on your phone, you can start or stop pumping, track your volume, get personalized tips, or look at step-by-step onboarding. It’s compatible with Android and iOS.
This is a pretty revolutionary breast pump that made pumping feel freeing for the first time in, well, forever, for a lot of working and traveling moms.
It offers more control and more comfort. It’s spill-proof in any position, so you don’t have to worry about walking or bending over. You don’t need any cords or attachments to put it in.
There are 7 levels of suction and the 3rd generation has a new sensitivity setting. Depending on which suction level you use, the rechargeable battery lasts up to 5 pumping sessions.
All parts are dishwasher safe, it’s BPA-free, and it comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
- Completely hands-free
- Comes with Android and iOS smartphone app
- Dishwasher safe
- Spill-proof even when bending over
- Expensive without insurance
- Suction is not as powerful as plugging straight into the wall
Spectra S2PLUS Breast Pump with AFBP Sydney Breast Pump Backpack
This is an electric breast pump that comes with a backpack for easy transportation. It’s perfect for the working mom. The enclosed system makes it a bit more quiet and discrete. Old breast pumps used to be much more obvious, so this is a significant upgrade.
You can use it as a single or a double pump and it comes with a timer and a night light, which is perfect for late-night pumping with your little one starts to snooze a bit longer.
The digital controls are easy to operate and you can set your own speed and rhythm with a massage mode that imitates your baby. The suction is also adjustable in both expression and lets down modes.
The system is entirely closed to prevent backflow, so you won’t have a build-up of harmful bacteria.
The backpack contains an insulated cooler on the bottom for storing breast milk. The top compartment holds supplies. There are also insulated front pockets and 9 internal pockets for organization.
The fabric is waterproof and the internal lining is easy to wipe down in case of a spill.
While the pump itself may be covered by insurance, the backpack is not.
- Cute, concealable backpack design
- Plenty of storage pockets for pumped milk and accessories
- Comes with a nightlight and a timer
- Digital controls are easy to operate
- Single and double breast pump functionality
- Backpack is not covered by insurance
Medela Pump In Style Double Electric Breast Pump
The Medela Pump In Style double electric breast pump is a hospital grade double electric breast pump. Not only that, but it’s been one of the most popular, best-selling hospital-grade models for decades. It’s that good.
Its performance is inspired by the Medela Symphony model that’s used in hospital maternity departments across the United States.
The MaxFlow motor generates micro-vibrations that are more efficient at secreting breast milk and it can actually increase your volume by up to 11%.
Medela combines speed and vacuum settings based on their extensive hospital research on pumping and breastfeeding. They pre-programmed the Pump In Style to mimic the most productive settings that mimic your baby’s natural sucking rhythm.
The machine contains the fewest parts and is easy to clean and assemble. It’s a closed system to prevent backflow.
Each breast shield has a soft rim with an oval shape for superior comfort and patented PersonalFit Plus.
This machine is highly durable and designed for daily use by moms who need to pump several times every day. It even includes a battery pack for convenient pumping when you’re not near a power outlet.
- Single and double breast pump functionality
- True, hospital-grade performance with MaxFlow motor
- Capable of increasing volume
- Contains patented PersonalFit Plus breast shields
- Durable enough for daily use
- Comes with battery pack
- Must be plugged in if not using battery pack
- Expensive without insurance
Motif Luna with Battery Double Electric Breast Pump
The Motif Luna is strictly a battery-powered breast pump with double pumping abilities. There is no power cord, so you will rely only on a rechargeable battery for your pumping needs. It takes about 2.5 hours for the battery to recharge, so you may need to invest in a second battery pack if you need it more frequently.
This is a great option if you need mobility and don’t want to be chained to a power outlet. It has a built-in LED night light with three variable settings so you can pump while your baby sleeps.
The backlit LED screen is easy to read and the motor is quiet.
It comes with an expression mode that makes it easy and efficient to express while the massage mode stimulates your let down and mimics your baby’s nursing patterns.
The auto shut-off ensures you won’t waste your battery if you forget to turn it off. It’s easy to use, it’s lightweight, and it’s sturdy.
- Quiet pumping
- Backlit LED screen is easy to read
- Highly portable and easy to use
- No alternative method of use other than battery pack
Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump
This is one of the best selling manual breast pumps, has always been, and likely always will be. While it’s not covered by insurance, it’s affordable and accessible for most mothers.
Its simple design ensures that it’s easy to use and it hasn’t changed, because it doesn’t need to. Moms for years have trusted the Harmony manual breast pump for their occasional pumping needs because it’s simple and effective.
It works great for the occasional pumper or as a backup option. The handle swivels in an ergonomic design that helps relieve fatigue and it features soft-touch, one-handed operation.
It comes with a bottle stand so your bottle won’t tip over and spill when you’re done. It’s small and lightweight, so you can take it everywhere and it will fulfill all of your basic pumping needs.
- Ergonomic design
- Simple to use
- Great backup pumping option
- Compatible with PersonalFit breast shields
- Manual breast pump requires more work
Alternatives to Aeroflow Pumps
You’re always welcome to purchase any of these pumps from any other outlet rather than going through Aeroflow. They’re available on the manufacturer’s individual websites as well as retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target. However, if you don’t like the looks of any of these, there are some other options available.
BellaBaby Double Electric Breast Pump
This closed system is a good budget option if you’re looking for something that won’t break the bank. It has a touch screen that’s easy to operate and the battery life is good. It’s a double electric pump that you can use all the time or as a backup.
There are four pumping modes and nine different levels of suction, which means that even though you’re spending less, you’re not actually getting less. The design is sleek and the display shows you the current mode, suction level, battery status, and time of day.
This particular pump also comes with a battery pack so you can use it wirelessly. It’s lightweight, at just less than 3 pounds, but some moms have complained that the suction is a bit too strong. It’s also pretty loud, which can be annoying or embarrassing, depending upon where you are.
Medela Freestyle Flex
If you like the idea of the Medela, but you want a bit more portability, the Medela Freestyle Flex is a good option. It gives you all of the same features, like a double pump and a natural sucking pattern, but it weighs less than one pound. It’s one of the lightest and smallest breast pumps on the market. If you’ll be carrying it back and forth often, it’s a great option.
It’s also a good option for a trip. The rechargeable battery lasts for about two hours, which is enough for several pumping sessions, and it comes with Bluetooth, so you can connect to the Medela app.
The design is pretty sleek, it’s easy to use with only four buttons, and the digital display is backlit with information like the suction level and a timer. You can also program in your favorite settings so it will remember for next time.
If you’re looking for the ease and efficiency of an electric pump in a single variety, the Nuk Expressive is a good option. It’s affordable and it’s quiet. The dial twists to adjust the suction and there are only five parts to it so it’s a cinch to clean and reassemble. It weighs just over a pound and it’s battery operated.
This one is great for moms who are only going to be away from their baby for a few hours at a time but still don’t want to pump manually.
If you’re still on the fence about which breast pump to purchase, these frequently asked questions should help.
Answer: There are plenty of brands out there to overwhelm just about anyone. However, a few brands stand out quite a bit more than the others. Here’s what you need to know.
Medela is likely the best breast pump brand you’ll find. They have some of the highly-rated breast pumps of any style. However, you’ll also find excellent breast pumps in Lansinoh, Motif, and Spectra.
While Willow makes a unique product and definitely targets the modern mom, make sure you know what you’re getting into before purchasing something as new as what they make. They haven’t been on the market long, so it may help to read some reviews.
Answer: This is a personal decision that no one else can make for you. It depends on how you’ll be using the breast pump. If you’re going to be taking it back and forth to work every day, you’ll want to make sure you have a bag to carry it in.
Some come with backpacks and some don’t, but you can always buy one of your own.
If you don’t need anything big or expensive, a manual pump may work just fine for you.
On the other hand, if you travel a lot and don’t want to be chained to an outlet, you’ll either want a battery pack or you’ll want something lightweight and manual so you won’t have to worry about lugging around the weight of a motor.
Answer: Pumping your milk can be a very emotional experience for some women. Expressing breast milk releases hormones in your body that can make you feel very emotional. You could feel sad, happy, or sleepy.
In fact, many women feel the sudden urge to want to nap while they’re pumping, and that’s completely normal. When you’re done, depending on how much you pumped, you could feel an overwhelming sense of pride, or you could feel a little disappointed. It’s all normal.
Physically, it could hurt, or you could feel some arousal. While that might seem unusual, that’s also normal. If there’s anything that feels out of the ordinary to you, you can always speak with your doctor.
Answer: While breast pumps are wonderful, convenient tools, there are also some downsides. For instance, when your baby isn’t attached directly to your breast, you’re not receiving any biological feedback from their saliva.
Believe it or not, you and your baby communicate via breastfeeding and your body can produce antibodies based on what your baby needs. If your baby has a cold, your body will produce medicine in your breast milk that will make your baby feel better.
Our bodies are miraculous things, and if you’re not actually breastfeeding your baby, they won’t get the same immune system benefits from you that they normally would. However, they are still getting better nutrients than they would be from the formula.
You have to factor in the added expense of the breast pump itself. If you didn’t have to buy a breast pump, it wouldn’t cost you any money. You wouldn’t have to find a place to store it and you wouldn’t have to carry it around with you or find a place to pump.
You also wouldn’t have to consider privacy or convenience when it’s time to pump. Mother’s rooms are few and far between, despite how far we seem to have come as a society. It can still be difficult to find comfortable (and less embarrassing) places to pump.
Answer: Pumping before your baby is born is called colostrum harvesting. Your body begins to produce colostrum before your baby comes, and it is sometimes advocated by doctors that you begin expressing early.
However, nipple stimulation increases your risk of going into early labor, so it’s not usually recommended for women who are giving birth for the first time or those who are only having one child.
It can sometimes benefit those who are having multiples, as they are at risk for giving birth earlier anyway. It can also be recommended for women who have already reached their due date and are full term.
It is advised that if you plan on harvesting your colostrum, you wait until you are at least 36 weeks pregnant to do so. However, I’m not a medical professional, so you should definitely talk to your doctor.
Answer: This is a very common question with a lot of confusing answers, but I feel very strongly about it, so here’s how I feel.
The answer used to be hard and fast no. Absolutely not. It’s not safe, especially with the build-up of bacteria in the machine and no way to clean it out.
However, if there were a risk of bacteria building up in the machine and no way to clean it out, your own used breast pump wouldn’t be safe for you to use either! Every breast pump would be a single-use breast pump and then you’d have to buy a new one!
That’s just silly.
Yes, of course, you can buy a used breast pump. But it’s important that you replace all of the tubing and accessories with your own. If you feel more comfortable buying a used breast pump from a friend you trust, then, by all means, do that.
But you’re completely and totally safe buying a used breast pump, especially with the advances in breast pump technology that include backflow prevention devices and other things that keep bacteria from building up in the actual machine.
There’s no reason you can’t save some money by purchasing a used breast pump that still has plenty of life left in it. And when you’re done with your used breast pump, pass it on to someone else. Throwing a breast pump away is absolutely absurd. Especially when someone else could benefit from an expensive machine that still works perfectly well.
My favorite breast pump of all time has always been the Medela Pump In Style. It features a great balance of features, performance, and affordability. Isn’t not the cheapest, but it’s a solid performer and it will last a long time. It lasted through my friend feeding her two daughters for 12 months each and me feeding all four of my children. Now one of my other friends has used it for 12 months with her first child and is getting ready to use it again with her twins this spring.
It simply won’t give out. Medela makes quality breast pumps, and this one, in particular, is easy to use, comes with the features most pumping moms need and is super durable and versatile.
If you’re in the market for a breast pump, there are a lot of options out there to choose from. There’s no wrong decision, but it’s important to understand the options so you make the right decision for you.
Make sure you know how you’re going to use it and why you want a breast pump before you spend money on something you won’t end up using. Breast pumps are fantastic and efficient tools when used properly. Happy pumping!