In the United States, new moms are entitled to just twelve weeks unpaid maternity leave though many don’t take anywhere near this much time due to the financial pressures not getting paid puts on family life (new babies are expensive!). In fact, most moms take an average of just ten weeks off after having a new baby before returning to work, meaning that unless they plan on putting their baby on formula milk, they’ll need a breast pump to make sure their baby is well fed.
Which, though, is the best breast pump for you if you’re a working mom? Here, we share five we think fit the bill, looking at price, size, ease of use, features (such as noise levels) and how comfortable they are to use. First, though, we look at just what a breast pump does, the different types available and the factors you should consider before deciding which one to buy.
- 1 What Does a Breast Pump Do?
- 2 Different types of breast pumps
- 3 What to look for in a breast pump
- 4 The best breast pumps for working moms – Our top 5 picks
- 5 1. BabySteps Independent Double Electric Breast Pump
- 6 2. Spectra Baby USA – S1 Plus Premier Rechargeable Electric Breast Pump
- 7 3. Medela Sonata Smart Double Electric Breast Pump
- 8 4. Babytec Electric Breast Pump
- 9 5. Bumblebee Manual Breast Pump
- 10 Final thoughts on the best breast pumps for working moms
What Does a Breast Pump Do?
Simply put, a breast pump is used to express milk from your breasts into a bottle, allowing your baby to be fed breast milk rather than formula while you’re at work (though you can just as easily use it when you’re enjoying date night or sharing feeding responsibilities with your partner, which many new parents want to do).
Pumps, as the name suggests, use suction to draw out your milk into the bottle. This can feel strange, and some new moms find using a pump difficult, though – as with most things – this does get easier with time. Thankfully, however, there is a range of different models on the market. This means that, if one doesn’t work, another probably will and is why we’ve looked on five which have different features, allowing you to compare different options.
Different types of breast pumps
There are three different types of breast pumps available for new moms:
These allow you to change the speed and suction level of the pump based on how much milk you want to express. Electric pumps can run from the mains or batteries and come in single or double pump models, meaning you can express milk from both breasts at the same time. Double electric pumps may be the best option for working moms who need to pump regularly and quickly, though they can be somewhat cumbersome. Want to know more – check out our top five list here.
2. Hospital grade
These are also electric and are, in all honesty, the best of the bunch in many ways because of how quickly they can pump milk. However, they are also the most expensive, coming in at several hundred dollars in most cases; if you need to, you can rent a hospital grade breast pump. Because of the costs of these type of pumps, they are not always the best option; especially if they need to be taken to work where there’s a risk they might be damaged or lost. You can read more about hospital grade breast pumps here.
These require moms to use a hand or foot pump to draw out the milk. The strength used determines the speed and suction level. Unlike electric pumps, manual ones tend to be quieter and easier to carry, which could make them a good option if you commute on public transport, though it can take longer to express the amount of milk you need. For more on manual breast pumps, visit our list of eight of the best.
What to look for in a breast pump
There are a lot of different breast pumps on the market, and not all of them will be right for each working mom. There are, however, certain things you should look for when deciding which one you might want to buy including:
- Type: The type of pump you choose will depend on what you are using it for – occasional use, for example, might be best served by a manual pump while everyday use (especially at work) probably needs an electric pump.
- Strength: The stronger the pump is, the quicker it will be to express the amount of milk you need.
- Portability: If you’re using the pump at work, you will need one you can use in different situations – electric pumps that run off the mains, for example, won’t work if you don’t have access to a socket.
- Noise: Not all breast pumps are quiet, which is probably something you want if you are using one at work. By their nature, electric pumps are going to be louder than manual ones. However, even here, there can be significant differences in noise levels.
- Weight: Pumps can be heavy, something you won’t necessarily want if you have to carry your pump to/from work, meaning lightweight ones will probably be a better option.
It’s also worth thinking about what comes with your pump too as this could save you money (even if the initial price seems more expensive); look for pumps that include spare parts, a cooler or a pump bag.
The best breast pumps for working moms – Our top 5 picks
1. BabySteps Independent Double Electric Breast Pump
12.2 x 7.5 x 9 inches
6 Volt AC / DC adapter (100-240 V ~ 50/60 Hz)
4.5 out of 5
The BabySteps Independent Double Electric Breast Pump is an incredibly quiet machine perfectly designed for use at home or at work (as long as you have access to a power socket).
It is lightweight, coming in at under one pound, making it easy to carry, and designed to make it simple to use. It has two phases (simulation and expression) which mimics your babies suckling and – because it is a double pump – allows you to express milk quickly. The pump itself is BFA free, and FDA approved meaning you can feel safe using it around your baby.
- Incredibly light
- Single or double pump use and ability to control suction (9 levels), including on left or right breast only
- Breast shield with a cushion insert for comfort
- Closed system pump
- Cushion Insert for breast shield for comfort while pumping
- Two Milk Collection Bottles with anti-colic slow flow nipples and tops
- Two phases which automatically switch
Pros and cons:
· Very quiet
· Flexible, allowing you to pump one or both breasts and control the suction
· Designed for comfort
· Easy to use control panel
· Can be used with different bottle brands
· Needs to be operated via the mains
· Cannot stop it switching from simulation to expression mode; the pump does this automatically
2. Spectra Baby USA – S1 Plus Premier Rechargeable Electric Breast Pump
12 Volt AC / DC adapter
4.4 out of 5
The Spectra S1 double breast pump is one that receives consistently good reviews and is known as a leader in the market. However, as a hospital grade pump, it is also very expensive meaning it may be out of the reach of many working moms.
If you can afford it, you’ll get a great looking machine that has a closed system, stopping bacteria getting into your breast milk and is nice and portable. Plus, it comes with a rechargeable battery, meaning you can use it anywhere.
- Can be used as a single or dual pump
- Two phases (simulation and expression)
- 12 different suction levels
- Rechargeable battery
- LED display
- Night light
- Auto shut-off
Pros and cons:
· Hospitable grade suction and speed of expression
· Incredibly quiet
· Rechargeable so you can use anywhere
· Adaptable with multiple suction levels and ability to choose a single or dual pump
· Is larger and harder to carry than other breast pumps on the market
It’s also worth mentioning that, if this is a little out of your price range, there is an S2 version in which is the same apart from it isn’t rechargeable. You can find out more here.
- Spectra S2 Breast Pump Review: Everything You Need To Know
- Spectra S1 vs Spectra S2: What’s the Difference, Which is Best?
- One IS Better: Spectra S1 vs Medela Freestyle: Which is Better
3. Medela Sonata Smart Double Electric Breast Pump
16.5 x 9 x 10.4 inches
12 Volt AC / DC adapter
3.7 out of 5
While the Medela Sonata Smart Double Breast Pumpdoesn’t have as high a rating as the Spectra S1, more than one mommy blogger recommends this pump, meaning it has ended up on our list of the five best. Another hospital grade pump, this one is a bit of a beast at 8.1 pounds, meaning it isn’t that portable, but it makes up for this with the number of additional features including two pumping rhythms and two phases, making it easier to express milk. You can also personalize the Medela Sonata breast pump through the MyMedla app and the touch screen display.
- Hospital grade pump that responds to the environment
- Whisper quiet operation
- 2 pumping rhythms and 2 phases
- SMART technology with links to a MyMedela app that allows you to customize the pump
- Touch screen display
- Responsive Pump Technology adjusts the pump to the environment and your body for consistent suction
- Air-leak alert
- Timer (adjustable)
- Rechargeable battery
- Medela Symphony Breast pump vs Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced Breast Pump
- Medela Symphony Breast Pump Review
- The Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump Review
Pros and cons:
· Easy to use with simple controls
· Adaptable through the use of a touch screen display and SMART technology
· Multiple suction levels and phases
· Very quiet
· Portable (in theory)
· Easy to assemble
· Pairing with the app via Bluetooth isn’t that easy
· Heavy, meaning it isn’t as portable as the rechargeable battery would suggest.
4. Babytec Electric Breast Pump
6.3 x 9.1 x 7.1 inches
4.3 out of 5
$69.99 ($39.99 for a single pump)
For those who don’t have a Medela-sized budget, the Babytec Double or Single Pump is a great option. Made of BPA-free material, making it safe to use with your baby, it is easy to put together and break apart in order to keep it clean. It comes with a touch screen display and eight suction levels as well as three phases – massage, stimulation or expression, all of which can be set using memory mode meaning you don’t need to keep selecting them each time you use the pump.
- Quiet pump
- 8 levels of suction strength
- 3 phases/modes: massage, stimulation, expression
- Memory function
- USB charging
- LED touch screen
- Anti-backflow design
Pros and cons:
· Easy to use, including assembly
· Memory function means you can set your preferences
· USB charging and a rechargeable battery mean you can use it anywhere (and recharge it through your computer, which is very handy for work.
· Very light and very quiet
· Fewer suction strength levels than other pumps meaning it isn’t as adaptable
· Some reviewers say sound levels are higher than expected; one likened it to a phone vibrating on a table top when a text comes in.
· Memory mode sometimes forgets your settings, so it’s worth double checking before you use.
5. Bumblebee Manual Breast Pump
6.1 x 0.4 x 6.2 inches
4.4 out of 5
For moms who are on a tight budget or aren’t comfortable with the idea of electric breast pumps, the Bumblebee Manual Breast Pump is a great choice. Being a manual breast pump, it’s incredibly light and easy to use, though fairly small (collecting only 4 ounces of milk in a bottle). With no cables and no need to charge, you can use it anywhere. However, as with any manual model, there are no bells, whistles, modes or suction levels – everything is down to the power used by the mom herself.
- Light and easy to use
- Made with food grade silicone: BPA, PVC, and Phthalate free
- Comes with 1 breast pump, 1 stopper, 1 dust cover lid, and a luxury pouch
Pros and cons:
· Easy to use
· No noise whatsoever
· No need to charge so you can use it anywhere
· Very affordable
· Can’t control suction levels
· No modes/phases
Final thoughts on the best breast pumps for working moms
With the five breast pumps we’ve picked here, we’ve tried to choose ones that will fit into every budget and the different ways working moms work. Some, for example, will be office-based and have their own offices with easy access to sockets to plug in their breast pumps and the ability to close the door and lower the blinds so they can express milk easily and without much disruption.
Other moms won’t be so lucky. They may work in an open plan office, for example, or on a shop floor, meaning privacy isn’t as easy to come by, and a portable breast pump with a rechargeable battery or a manual model will be better options.
However, if we had to choose, we would probably go for one of the rechargeable electric models with a dual pump (but able to work as a single pump if needed). That’s because, while we are focusing on finding the best breast pump for working moms, you might not just use the pump in the office, so it needs to be flexible. Moms might want to use it while traveling, for example, or if they are going out and need to leave milk for the babysitter to use to feed their baby. Alternatively, as we mentioned earlier, they might want to share feeding responsibilities with their partner.
This narrows our choice down to three: the Spectra S1, Medela Sonata, and Babytec Electric Pump. Of these, the Medela has the lowest overall user rating. So, while it gets good reviews on parenting sites, we aren’t sure it is the one we want to recommend. Plus, it’s heavy, meaning it won’t work that well for moms who want to take their breast pump into the office or when they go to meetings.
The S1 is heavy too, though not as much as the Medela Sonata. However, this doesn’t seem to put people who use it off, and it gets excellent reviews on both parenting sites and general review sites. The S1 is a breast pump that you know will last and does the job. Our main problem with it is the cost; at over $300 it is probably out of the reach of many of our readers.
Which leaves us with the Babytec Electric Pump. And, while this one doesn’t have as many features as the S1 or Sonata, it does have enough to meet the needs of most working moms. Plus, it’s incredibly light, easy to use and easy to charge and it’s very affordable, with the single pump model starting at just $39.99. Taking all this into account, it means it’s our top pick for the best breast pump for working moms, though in all honesty, you won’t go far wrong with any of our recommendations.
- Madenal Double/Single Electric Breast Pump vs. Bellema E3 Double/Single Electric Breast Pump
- The Best Time To Breast Pump: According to the Professionals