For all new moms out there, this post is for you. Looking for the best breast pump you can afford might not be easy but luckily, if you follow certain guidelines, the entire process will become a lot simpler and stress-free.
The short version is this: search a breast pump that’s easy to use and doesn’t take long to assemble. A good option should also be durable, compact, and lightweight. The long version of all these characteristics is revealed below.
What Is a Breast Pump?
This is a device that enables you to extract milk from your breast (if you’re lactating, of course). With the help of a breast pump, you can collect milk into a special container and safely store it for later use. Most breast pump’s structures imitate a baby’s suckling action. Some devices are manually and you must pull the handle of a piston in order to create suction while other pumps like electric ones work automatically.
Pros and Cons of Using a Breast Pump
- It helps you feed your baby with all the nutrients of breast milk even when you’re not able to directly breastfeed your infant;
- Using a pump to express milk means that any other member of the family or maybe even a nurse or a nanny can feed your child. In the meantime, you can solve some of your tasks or even rest for a while;
- A breast pump comes in handy particularly in the first couple of months right after giving birth. During that period, a mom’s milk supply is normally high which may lead to breast engorgement. If you use a pump to express the excess milk, you might prevent that problem.
- The regular use of a breast pump requires you to carefully sterilize this device. If you don’t clean it properly, your baby’s health might be negatively affected;
- If you want or need to express milk on a daily basis, you will have to carry the pump along with all its accessories and components wherever you go;
- Some moms who use a pump have seen certain changes related to the amount of milk their breasts produce. In other words, using a pump might lead to a lowered milk supply.
The Reasons Why You Might Need a Breast Pump
Breastfeeding is by far the best way to feed your newborn. In fact, breastfeeding provides a wide range of health benefits for both the mother and her child.
Several studies have shown how important a mother’s milk is for the little one’s proper development. However, there are situations in which breastfeeding becomes challenging or difficult to do. In these types of circumstances, a breast pump represents a useful device that will definitely help you overcome numerous obstacles.
1. Latching Issues
- Suckling troubles – babies aren’t born with suckling skills. They need time to learn how to attach to their mothers’ breast in order to drink the milk in a correct manner. Many moms deal with this problem at first and suckling issues represent a major blocker when it comes to breastfeeding;
- Common health conditions – illnesses like chest congestion, ear infections, or even a mild cold can make your infant experience difficulties in latching on to your breast in a successful way;
- Cleft lip or palate – unfortunately, some newborns come into this world with a medical condition called “cleft lip.” This will certainly cause latching problems so you should purchase a breast pump and then feed the infant with a specially-created bottle or by using a spoon;
- Tongue-tied newborns – another medical condition that makes latching almost impossible is known as ankyloglossia or, more commonly used, a tongue-tie. This is a congenital anomaly that lowers the tongue’s mobility. Some babies are born with a very short lingual frenulum (the membrane located under the tongue) which can lead to this health problem.
Faced by the Mother
- Mastitis – sometimes a mother can suffer from a breast bacterial infection caused by damaged or cracked nipples. Because of the pain, a new mom might become unable to breastfeed her baby directly, in which case, using a breast pump comes as the perfect solution to keep nourishing the infant while also relieving pain and taking out the extra milk;
- Inverted or flat nipples – if you have one of these two types of nipples, a breast pump will surely be useful due to the device’s breast shields which effectively draw your nipples out while also expressing milk;
- Breast engorgement – this happens when your organism produces a lot more milk that your baby needs. So, expressing milk using a pump will alleviate certain symptoms such as soreness and pain that are brought by breast engorgement;
- Emptying your breast when you’re not breastfeeding regularly – if you’re not giving your little one breast milk directly every day, you should definitely use a pump which will help you take out the futile milk as well as storing enough milk for when your little one needs it.
2. The End of the Maternity Leave
Once you’ve completed your maternity leave, you’ll have to return to work which means you won’t be with your baby all the time anymore. Still, feeding your infant with breast milk should continue for a longer time which is why you will need0 a breast pump, for sure.
This way, you can express milk every day and store it for your toddler. It is an excellent way to make sure that your little one gets all the nutrients he or she needs.
Most pediatricians recommend new moms to diversity their infants’ diet once they turn six months old. It’s a good time to familiarize the baby with semi-liquid or even solid foods. This means that breast milk will now play a secondary role. Successful weaning happens when you lower the baby’s breast milk consumption or reduce the number of times he or she drinks the milk.
By now, your milk will also start to slowly diminish and weaning is a great method to avoid a lot of pain once the milk lowers in quantity. There are two main purposes that breast pumps serve during this particular period:
- Your baby gets accustomed to eating from containers instead of suckling on your breast;
- You will be relieved from the fullness that excess milk creates when you’re not breastfeeding your child.
4. Breastfeeding in Public Places
Sometimes and for some women, breastfeeding in public can turn out to be quite challenging. Therefore, pumping and then storing your milk allows you to offer your infant his or her necessary nutrients regardless of where you are. So, a pump will save you from the stress, effort, and hassle that public breastfeeding might represent.
You can try: The Best Travel Pumps You Need
How to Choose the Best Breast Pump for Your Needs
Consider the Type of Pump You Want to Purchase
Based on technology, there are currently three main types of breast pumps that you can choose from. You must pick the one that suits your needs and preferences while also falling within your budget. Still, before making a purchasing decision you should gather as much information as possible about each alternative.
Should you opt for a manual pump or electric breast pump? Obviously, manual devices are less expensive than electric pump options. Moreover, they don’t make noise and they are very useful for occasional milk expressing.
On the other hand, if you tend to use a pump every day, a manual one might not be the ideal choice because you must keep pumping the entire time which requires a lot of effort from your part. Simply put, electric pumps are more convenient and easier to use.
Some of the best electric pumps are the ones that mimic an infant’s milk sucking behavior. Usually, babies start by sucking quickly with short suction movements and then, once the milk flow begins, they switch to stronger and slower sucking movements.
Should you buy a single pump or opt for a double electric pump? As you have probably guessed, double pumping expresses milk from both breasts at the same time and it is a better option if you want to draw milk regularly. A single pump should be bought by moms who express milk once in a while.
Choose One That Matches Your Pumping Lifestyle
The best breast pumps are really dictated by your pumping style. Each new mom should pick the right type of pumping device that suits her lifestyle. You must consider several factors such as how often you will be expressing milk, how long you have been breastfeeding your infant, etc. The journey of lactation has three different phases:
- Initiation – this stage lasts the first 5 days;
- Building – the second lactation stage starts the 6th day and lasts until the 30th day;
- Maintaining – this is the final and third phase of lactation and it starts after the 30th day.
Think about what stage you are at and then pick a breast pump that matches it. Also, you must take into consideration other aspects as well: the infant’s needs, your personal circumstances, your attitude and approach on breastfeeding and expressing milk, etc.
For instance, think whether or not you want to pump occasionally or regularly. Moreover, are you having difficulties initiating your milk supply? Are you returning to work and that’s the main reason why you want to purchase a pumping device?
Medical Disclaimer: DO seek the advice and support of a medical professional, such as a lactation consultant (they can be amazing!).
The Best Moment to Consider Buying a Pump
The best time to get a pump varies from one mother to another, based on her personal circumstances. For that reason, you should pick a product that suits your situation. First and foremost, if the mother or the infant isn’t able to nurse, most specialists suggest the use of a special type of hospital grade pump.
Every hospital should have a pump available for new moms to use during their stay. Some clinics even rent these devices for moms who continue to have issues while nursing. If renting a pump is possible, you can take it home with you.
Women who are about to return to work should also consider purchasing a pump before the maternity leave is completed. In fact, those of you who are decided to work again pretty soon after giving birth must definitely buy a pump before the child is born.
Think About the Reason for Which You Need It
Not all breast pumping devices are created and designed equal so don’t waste your bucks on a cheap or low-quality pump. Those products aren’t very effective, not to mention they make a lot of noise, can break down easily, and might even lead to nipple sores.
Make sure to check the product’s warranty and its length because, usually, that amount of time represents the pump’s lifecycle. An interesting thing is given by the fact that buying a high-quality breast pump or renting one saves you a lot of money in the long run and it’s cheaper compared to buying formula.
Before choosing a certain model, you must know your nipple size. Yes, you read that right! When it comes to breast pumps, is not the breast’s size that’s important but the size of your nipples. They should fit perfectly in the pump’s so-called “nipple tunnel” which also gives the device’s fit. When you consider how often you express milk, there are three different pump types:
- Those for occasional use – smaller pumps which are used a couple of times per week. Their warranty ranges between 30 and 90 days. These pumps run on batteries (sometimes rechargeable battery) and they are pretty expensive. Also, they tend to create quite a noise;
- Pumps that are good for regular use – if you have established your milk supply by now and your baby is nursing very well, the perfect choice is to buy a pump specially designed for regular use. You can pick multi-user electrical pumps, although they are a tad on the pricey side. This type of pump has a three-year warranty;
- Special pumps that suit the lifestyle of new moms whose infants are younger than eight months old or mothers who haven’t really established their milk supply.
Should You Buy a Second-Hand Pump?
I, for one, would never want to use somebody else’s breast pump. I am pretty strict when it comes to hygiene and health safety rules. Furthermore, choosing a used pump might cause nipple damages because it might not work as well as a new one.
Finally, think of it this way: expressing milk by using a second-hand device is very similar to brushing your teeth with another person’s toothbrush (yuck! right?!). All in all, the best choice is a brand new device. After all, nothing lasts forever and breast pumps wear out after a while.
Important Things to Look for Before Purchasing a Breast Pump
Before you go and choose a certain model or brand of a breast pump, there are several aspects to keep in mind:
- Usage – how long will you use the pump? How often do you plan to use it? The answers to these questions play a crucial role in figuring out the ideal type of pump for your needs. Other things like the place where you will use the tool the most are also essential;
- Time restraints – another important aspect is related to the time amount during which you will express milk;
- Features – breast pump features such as massagers, breast pads, cooling cases, and others should be looked out for. These elements improve user experience;
- Price – there are plenty of available choices out there so the price varies quite a lot, based on the seller, brand, features, etc. So, feel free to opt for the best pump that falls within your budget while also meeting your expectations and serving your desired purposes;
- Maintenance cost – before purchasing this product, you should also consider how much it will cost you to replace broken parts after a while. The cost of accessories and electricity consumption shouldn’t be overlooked;
- The amount of milk you need to pump – think about how much milk you will express on a daily basis and see if the pump you think of buying can hold that quantity;
- Why you need it – another major role is played by the reason you need to buy this product for. There is a wide range of possible reasons from medical issues to going back to work.
Important Safety Tips
- With the risk of repeating myself, you shouldn’t get an already used pump. I know I’ve said this before but it is of vital importance. Breast milk might contain and carry viruses and bacteria. These harmful elements will contaminate the pump and pass the disease to both you and your infant;
- If you have a double pump but you’re only using one side, you should seal the other part to make the device more efficient;
- Choose the proper shield size. Breast shields or flanges come with the pump and must fit your nipples perfectly to create a higher suction power while also making the entire experience a good and safe one for you (many brands offer different flange options);
- After every single use, you must clean and sanitize all the pump’s components. Well, I might have exaggerated when I said you should sterilize them. Washing these parts with lukewarm water and dish soap should suffice but once in while sterilization is also recommended. After washing it, the pump must be air dried. To do that, just place the device and its elements on a paper towel;
- The tube cleaning isn’t necessary unless your milk gets inside it. If you notice tiny water drops on the inside part of the tubing after expressing milk, you should turn on the device and keep it on until the tubes are all dried. On the other hand, if, instead of only water, you also see milk there, go ahead and verify the instructions provided in the user’s manual.
Main Types of Breast Pump Options to Consider
Top-end electric breast pumps for personal use – this is a very popular choice among new moms who find themselves away from their children quite frequently so they need to express milk at least once a day. These devices work automatically and they feature adjustable suction levels in order to avoid nipple discomfort;
Find some electric breast pump models here:
- Top 5 Best Double Electric Breast Pumps You’ll Love
- Madenal Double/Single Electric Breast Pump vs. Bellema E3 Double/Single Electric Breast Pump
- The Motif Duo vs Spectra S9 Breast Pumps
- Spectra S1 vs Spectra S2
- Lanisinoh Smart Pump Review
- Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump In Style
- Evenflo Double Electric Breast Pump Review
- Ameda Finesse vs Spectra S2
- Ameda Finesse Review: Will You Love It?
Hospital-grade breast pumps – these are also electrical and are meant for women who, for certain reasons, cannot nurse directly right after they give birth. These pumps are usually used temporarily, for only a couple of weeks since the birth. Such a pump comes with a quick suck-and-release system so they are stronger compared to regular electric pumps. Still, hospital grade pumps can be purchased “over the counter” and outside of a hospital setting.
Find some Hospital-Grade breast pump models here:
- Manual pumps – these are simple devices that work great for those of you who express milk only once per day or even less. Manual pumps should be your number one choice if you are rarely away from your baby and just for a short period. Although they are not as effective and powerful as the other alternatives, manual pump options are very portable and lightweight. Still, you must pump for a longer time and the effort is significantly higher.
The Best Breast Pumps – My Personal Recommendations
1. Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump
The manufacturer provides a trademarked technology. This pump model comes with several useful features such as proven airlock protection that maintains the milk pure and custom suction and speed controls.
So, you can easily adjust the parameters. Ameda is a device that’s created for daily or occasional use. It’s a double pump and it also works for special circumstances like sore or inverted nipples and breast engorgement.
2. Medela Breast Pump
This brand is both popular and trusted. The model incorporates a unique technology and since the company’s first option, Medela has come a long way in terms of performance. This device offers the following features: 2-phase expression, one-touch let-down button, and maximum comfort vacuum.
It’s best used for multiple milk expressions per day. Medela is a portable and lightweight pump. All its materials are BPA-free.
Pump in Style is designed for daily use and moms who pump several times a day, thanks to its patented, research-based 2-Phase Expression technology which produces more milk in less time for efficient expression and maximized flow.
Find other Medela Models here:
- Medela Symphony Breast Pump vs Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced
- Spectra S1 vs Medela Freestyle: Which is Better
- Medela Freestyle vs Pump in Style Comparison
- Ameda Purely Yours vs Medela Pump in Style
- Hygeia Enjoye vs Medela Pump In Style
- The Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump Review
- Medela Symphony Breast Pump Review
- Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style
How does Medela compare to other models?
3. Freedom Hands-Free Pump by Freemie
This pump model makes the entire process of collecting milk a lot easier and less painful. According to the manufacturer, Freemie Freedom is supposed to be compatible with an active way of life. The pump was created by the company’s owner which is also a mother and a working physician. It comes with collection cups which are compatible with several different brands of pumps.
The product works for daily use and it allows mothers to express milk wherever they are while keeping their shirt on.
Freemie is an excellent choice if you are in need of a powerful pump that you can use at home or at work. The pump allows expressing milk with your clothes on, and has two cups for double pumping in the same time.
You can find other hands, free models, here:
- The Top 5 Best Hands Free Pumping Bras You’ll Really Love
- The Top Hands Free Breast Pumps to Consider
- Willow Breast Pump Review
- Freemie Review
- Elvie Breast Pump Review
- Willow vs Freemie Breast Pump
How to Find the Best Breast Pumps – Bottom Line
So, as you can see, there are several important things to keep in mind before buying the best breast pump that fits your size, needs, and budget.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options available on the market and, more importantly, you have the possibility to purchase this milk-expressing device through your insurance.
To conclude with, I truly hope that today’s guide on how to find the best breast pump you can afford has answered all your questions. If there’s something I missed, feel free to leave me a comment.