Breast Pump Buying Guide – Key Features To Look For

There will be times when breast milk needs to expressed and put aside, so being able to choose the best breast pump can help tremendously.  For whatever reason, the milk has to come out, and a breast pump is the best way to achieve this.  We have reviewed the best breast pumps and put together our list of the top 10 for you.

This guide let’s you know everything you need to consider before purchasing your first breast pump.  It covers when you would need one, the different types, some common issues, and how to use the breast pump correctly.  We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started.

What to look for in a breast pump Medela, Harmony Breast Pump

Breast Pump Buying Guide

So why would you need a breast pump?

When Do You Need A Breast Pump?

A lot of people are not very sure when they need a breast pump and if they can use it immediately after the birth of the baby. In this section, we are going to answer these questions for you and your doubts, to begin with, we would again reiterate that breastfeeding is not natural and it certainly involves a lot of skills as well.

With time you will come across situations when breastfeeding is not just possible directly, and in such a case, you will be really thankful for breast pumps.

The breast pump will not only make it easy for you to breastfeed, but the baby will also get breast milk whenever he or she needs it. Let us look at six situations when the breast pump may be required.

Difficulty in Latching Baby – During the early stages after childbirth, a lot of people have issues breastfeeding. It can be particularly challenging to maintain the supply of the milk, and it becomes really time-consuming.

The baby can also have difficulty attaching to the breast, which is again an issue. Hand expressions can also take a lot of time, and in such a case, it is straightforward to opt for a breast pump, which will save time and which will help you in extracting milk during the early days.

When Baby Is Not Around – There are times when you might be away from your baby, but your milk is still being produced, and you need to ensure the milk supply continues. There could be a situation for instance when the you or the baby are in hospital.

Issues with Milk Supply – A lot of moms will try using a breast pump on the advice of a lactation consultant, to increase their milk supply. Just follow their guidance in how you use the breast milk pump.

When Your Partner Wishes to Feed the Baby – Feeding your baby helps you to bond with the baby, and there are times when your husband or your partner would also wish to feed the baby. In such a case, you can express the milk using a breast pump and give the bottle to your hubby or partner to feed the baby.

In The Case Of Medication – There are times when you might suffer from illness, and when you might have to go through a particular course of medication. Medication such as antibiotics can be passed on to the baby via breast milk and cause harm.

In such a case, you can pump breast milk before starting the medication. This can also be of great help when you need some time away from the baby as the milk will already be available for the baby, even in your absence.

Relieve Discomfort – So the fact is that oversupply of the milk can be really uncomfortable for the mother, and in such a case, a breast pump can prove to be of great help. Expressing the milk using the breast pump can help you in dealing with the issues associated with the oversupply.

These were all the times when the breast pump would absolutely be necessary. Let us now look at the different types of breast pumps available in the market.

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump

Different Types of Breast Pumps

There are different types of breast pumps available for use, and you really need to check out the available options before you really buy one. No, we are not talking about the buying guide yet, but we are just going to talk about the different types of breast pumps available for use. This will help you in finding out the breast pump that you need to buy.

Manual Breast Pump – The first type of breast pumps available are the manual breast pumps, and they are the most popular type of breast pumps in the market. They are not expensive, and they are easy to use as well. The manual breast pumps are being used with the help of the hand, and there is a trigger behind the pump.

You can use the trigger to create a suction effect on the breast, which in turn helps you in expressing the milk. In addition to this, breast pumps are also very portable, so you can easily travel with them. The process of using the manual breast pump can be a little tiring.

Bulb Style Breast Pump – These are the most inexpensive models available, but once again, these ones should be avoided. These breast pumps are not very efficient, and they can also be a breeding ground for bacteria.

Battery Operated Pumps – If you find it exhausting to use the manual breast pumps, then you can opt for an automatic model. The first one available on our list is a battery-operated pump that uses a battery to run an electric motor. The motor creates a suction effect, and hence it helps in expressing milk.

These types of breast pumps are also very portable and easy to use, but you would need to change batteries frequently, and you also need to know that the suction might not be strong enough for everyone.

breast pump buying guide

Electric Pumps – The next on our list is the electric breast pumps, and they are the best ones for the automatic breast pumps. These pumps are robust and powerful because of the fact that the motors that are used to create the suction effect have a lot of power since they are running directly on electricity.

The only problem with these breast pumps is that they are expensive, and they need a power source for use. Apart from this issue, this type of breast pump is the best.

Under these categories, you will also come across single pumps and double pumps. So most of the manual models are the single pump breast pumps, while the other electrical models are double pumps, which means that the electric models will help you in expressing the milk from both the breast at one single time.

This will speed up the process for you, and it is certainly something that you can consider while buying a breast pump.

You have now seen the different types of breast pumps available in the market. Now know the buying tips:

How to Choose a Right Breast Pump – The Beginner’s Guide

While you know a lot about breast pumps now, it is still essential to choose the right breast pump. You just can’t go ahead and pick any of the breast pumps from the market, and you need to consider a lot of different factors while choosing the breast pump for yourself. Let us now go ahead and check out the buying guide for choosing the right breast pump.

Type of Pump – The first thing that you need to consider is the type of pump that you want. You can check out the different types of breast pumps available in the market using the information listed above, and this can be an initial selection that you make while buying a breast pump.

Choose a manual pump if the frequency of use is occasional and go for the electric pump if you are going to use the pump on a regular basis. Once you decide the type of pump you want, you can go ahead and make the rest of the selection.

Source of Power – If you are going to use the electric pump, then this is another factor you need to consider. You can ignore t if you are purchasing a manual pump. For the electric pump, there are two power sources available. One of them is the battery and the second one is electricity. The electric ones are better, but they are not portable, whereas the ones who use the battery as a power source are much more portable.

Comfort – This is yet another factor that you need to consider while buying a breast pump. You need to see how comfortable it is to use the breast pump, and you need to find the best-suited breast pump for you.

You can also consult a lactation professional for guidance, and this will help in saving you from the pain of purchasing the wrong pump. Ideally, the electric ones are more comfortable to use as they enable you to relax while you are pumping milk from the breast.

Single or Dual Pump – Most of the manual pumps would come with a single pump, and it can be exhausting to use single pumps. The electric pump comes with dual pumps, and it is best to opt for a dual pump if you need something that is quick.

The dual pump has two pumps that express milk from each breast simultaneously. In addition to this, the manual pumps also help you in cutting the pumping time by half. Another advantage of the dual pump is that it helps you in avoiding the leaks from the second breast, which is not being used for expressing milk in case of a single pump.

Single or Double Phase Pumping – The electrical pumps have an option for single-phase and dual-phase expression. This can again vary with different features. The dual-phase pumping action is better than single ones. The two phases in dual-phase pumping action are the stimulation phase and expression phase.

The stimulation phase stimulates you to increase the milk supply, and the expression phase provides a suction effect to express the milk. This basically helps in mimicking the feeding behavior of the baby. It is one of the best features that you can have in the breast pumps, and this also helps you in increasing the milk supply and reducing the pumping time.

Suction Speed – Another factor that you need to consider before you actually buy a breast pump is the suction speed. The speed is defined as sucks per minute, and to give you an idea, the baby has a suck rate of 1.28 suck per minute. Most of the electric breast pumps have an average suck rate of 60 sucks per minute, but you can also find the one with variable speed and variable suction force. For the manual pumps, the sucking rate depends on the manual pumping action for you.

Pumping Time – You must also check out the pumping time for the breast pump and be specific about it. The variation can be huge as it can vary from 10 minutes to 40 minutes. The dual expression pumps are better in terms of the pumping time, and the electric ones offer the best pumping time. If you are short of time and if you need to pump multiple times a day, we would recommend you opt for an electric pump with a lower pumping time.

Adjustable Suction Speed – Next thing that you need to consider is the feature that allows you to adjust the suction speed. This is possible in manual pumps without any efforts, but for the electric or the battery-operated pumps, you need to ensure that you have this feature. The higher the suction ate, the better it is, and the more comfortable you will be. Ensure that your pump has an adjustable suction speed if you are planning to purchase an electric breast pump.

Ease of Use – You must also consider how easy it is to use the breast pump. Some of the breast pumps need a lot of preparation and assembling before you can go ahead and use the breast pump, but there are some which are very easy to use. Opt for the ones which do not involve any sort of assembly and the ones which are also easy to clean.

Flange Size – The size of the nipple varies from one person to another, and in such a case, it is essential to check the breast shield which fits your nipple. Some of the brands offer a wide range of shield sizes, which can accommodate different nipple sizes. If you think you need a different size of the nipple shield, then check for brand or model, which comes with different sizes.

Portability – If you travel a lot, then go ahead and buy the portable breast pump as it would be easy to carry around when you need to. The pump should be lightweight, and it should also be compact. The electric ones are weighty, and it gets difficult to travel along with them. You can’t even use them when you are traveling. For such cases, the battery-operated on the manual ones is the best.

Grade of the Pump – This is something like choosing the type of pump, but it is a little different from exactly selecting the type of pump. There are generally three available grades, which include manual grade, personal use grade, and the hospital-grade.

The best ones are hospital grades for the people who mean to use the breast pump on a daily basis, but at the same time, they can prove to be really expensive. The cheapest ones are the manual grade ones, but they are not meant for daily use.

Reviews and Brand – Just do not rely on your choice if you are using the breast pump for the first time. Go ahead and check out the reviews associated with the product. It is difficult to find the reviews offline, but you can get the reviews online via e-commerce sites.

You can also check out the reviews on the Amazon as they are authentic reviews from the people who have actually purchased the breast pump. Also, ensure that you are purchasing the branded product and not any locally assembled breast pump.

Noise Generated – The electric breast pumps can prove to be really noisy because of the motor, so go ahead and check the details before you buy. The manual ones are the most quite breast pumps, but the electric ones can also be less noisy.

You can check the details, and you can also refer to the user manual. Apart from that, you can check out the YouTube videos where people are demonstrating the use of the particular breast pump to check the noise level of the breast pump.

Cost – The cost of the breast pump can also vary, and you need to ensure that the breast pump that you have selected fits in your budget. This is an important factor that you need to ensure that matches in. Moreover, you also need to consider that the battery-powered breast pumps would need replacement batteries, which are a high cost. So keeping all these factors in mind, make a selection.

Insurance – You can also check if your health insurance covers up for the cost of the breast pump. If your insurance has support for specific brands, then you need to choose the breast pump which falls under the brands supported by the insurance providers.

These are all the factors that you need to consider while buying a breast pump.

How to Use a Breast Pump Properly

It is crucial that when you have to stay away from your newborn baby for any reason, to supply them with breast milk. This can be done using a breast pump. There are varieties of breast pumps available in the market based on how frequently you use them. If you just need to occasionally pump, then a manual breast pump suits you best.

If you have to pump regularly, an electric breast pump is a good option. For mothers who have premature or ill babies, a hospital-grade breast pump is recommended. It is essential to know how to use a breast pump. Continue to read to find out how to use a breast pump.

  • First, you need to read the instructions of the breast pump, of any type, for using and cleaning it. A sterile pump is absolutely necessary to keep your baby healthy.
  • Before using the pump, wash your hands thoroughly with a clean soap.
  • If you are using an electric pump, position the nipple at the center in the flanges, lean forward in a comfortable position, and turn the pump on. There are different speeds available as options. You need to set the option for low speed and low suction. This is important because a baby sucks the milk slowly and with less speed. This simulation is essential for the mother’s body. Otherwise, it is disturbing for the mother’s body to pump at high rates. So, start slowly and comfortably with low suction and speed.
  • The ideal pumping time is 7 minutes for an electric pump. The manual pump takes a little bit longer. If you don’t get any milk up to 5 minutes, don’t panic as this is normal. The pump is preparing the breast to get some milk out. At the end of 5 minutes, you will notice milk flowing down.
  • After this, stop the pump for 1 minute and give the breast a break. This is important. In this time, gently massage the breast, comb it from armpit to nipple, all around. This gives the breast all the time required for simulation and milk formation.
  • After this break, gently start pumping again for another 7 minutes. This produces sufficient milk required for the baby.
  • Repeat the process whenever required and store the milk in baby bottles for feeding the baby when required.

It is essential that the whole process is done in sterile conditions. The baby bottles should be washed frequently to ensure clean and healthy milk each time your baby drinks.

Now, let us look at the Dos and Don’ts of using a breast pump.

Breast Pump Do’s and Don’ts

There are Dos and Don’ts associated with every product that you buy, and this is also true for the breast pumps. If you wish to use a breast pump, then you need to consider these do’s and don’ts before you move ahead with the usage.

Do’s While Using a Breast Pump

  • If you still haven’t purchased the breast pump, then remember to choose a manual pump if you are buying it for occasional use and buy an electric version if you are planning to use the breast pump on a regular basis. The electric ones are expensive, so that is the reason why we are recommending a manual pump for occasional use.
  • If you need something that can help you very quickly and if you have a busy schedule then we would again recommend you to opt for an electric pump.
  • While purchasing the pump, check out the reviews, and go for the branded product. You can also select a pump from the list that we have shared above.
  • Before you start using the breast pump, check out the instruction manual, and use it as it is intended only. Do not go for anything that is not recommended at all.
  • Always sterilize the breast pump before and after the use. Also, wash your hands before you go ahead and express the milk. It is essential, or else the milk can be contaminated easily.
  • The next thing that you need to consider is that you place the breast shields correctly, and it covers the areola adequately to get a proper milk extraction.
  • Once you have completed using the breast pump, then clean the nipples. You can wash the nipples just with plain water and wipe them dry. Once that is done, you are good to go. You do not have to go ahead and wash the nipples with any kind of soap or anything else.
  • Opt for a breast massage if you experience the cracked nipples or sore nipples because of the breast pump. However, do not express milk just after the massage.

Dont’s While Using a Breast Pump

  • Do not buy a pump without finding out the details of the breast pump. This is something significant.
  • A lot of people also opt for used breast pumps, and we would again not recommend this for the safety of the mom and the baby.
  • While using a breast pump, it is essential for the mother to stay relaxed. You need to ensure that you are not stressed while using the pump.
  • The next thing to consider while using an electric pump is that when you start the breast pump, do not start it up a high speed. Start it at the lowest possible rate and then increase the speed to a comfortable setting.
  • You must never apply any gel or cream or ointment on the breast or on the nipple while you are using the breast pump. This will contaminate the milk and cause harm to the baby.
  • If you are going for a shower, then you need to ensure that you do not use any harsh soaps or scented products to clean the nipples. Just the warm water is enough to clean the breast, and it is also healthy for the baby.
  • If you experience any soreness or pain while using the breast pump, then stop it immediately and check if the breast pump is latched correctly.
  • Do not continue the pumping action for a long time. You need to take brakes and take short sessions to express the milk.
  • You can also avoid wearing a bra or any kind of inner-wear if you come across any soreness on the breast. This is again something which you can go ahead and try.

This was all the possible information about the breast pumps. We are going to answer some of the critical questions before we conclude this article.

Final Thoughts

Once you have purchased your first breast pump you may need to read over this guide again.  It may take a couple of goes to get used to it, but you will be pleased that you took the time to learn how to use it correctly.

Our recommendation for the best breast pump is the 3rd breast pump on our list – the Spectra Baby USA.