We’ve had lots of requests for a breast pump review and we’ve created the ultimate breast pump guide. While this post is part product review it is also part buying guide. The reason being is to pick the right breast pump for your lifestyle you have to know there are three types of breast pumps for three different lifestyles. There is LOTS of info to cover when it comes to breast pumps so bear with us on the length of this post. In fact there is so much information, we are going to cover breast pump accessories in a later post. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on which pump you choose and how it worked for you!
Personal electric breast pumps: Possibly the most common type of breast pump these pumps are best suited for mom’s who are going to pump multiple times a day and need the ability to transport the pump from place to place. Personal electric pumps tend to be lightweight, portable and come in single or double varieties. The double allows you to pump both breasts at the same time and not surprisingly, cuts pumping time in half. Electric pumps are fully automatic and some models allow for hands free pumping. Most of these models have adjustable suction levels and some even have two phases to mimic the stimulation a baby provides. These pumps are either open or closed system. A closed system prevents the breast milk from coming into contact with outside air and does not allow milk to get into the pump or the tubing. High quality personal electric pumps are expensive and will run you $200 and up. Based on advice from the lactation consultant we discussed this post with they do not recommend the less expensive electric pumps. Before purchasing a less expensive electric pump the lactation consultant recommended a rental or high quality manual pump.
Medela Pump In Style Advanced (pictured) The Wise Baby Rating:
Highlights: The Pump In Style Advanced is a double pump that comes in three discreet bag types and comes with a “storage kit” that consists of extra bottles, a re-freezable ice pack to store milk and a cooler for easy transport. In addition to the milk storage accessories the Pump In Style comes with a battery pack as well as car adapter and can easily be used on the go. The Pump in Style has Medela’s patented, “2 Phase Expression” system which has a stimulation and let down phase to closely mimic a baby’s feeding patterns. A big perk of the Medela pump is the hands free capability. The Medela brand of pumps gets rave reviews from mothers for its portability, quiet pumping and overall suction quality. Medela as a company gets great marks for customer service as well.
Lowlights: The downside of Medela pumps is the price. They are expensive and most are upwards of $250. Medela pumps are open systems pumps and there is a risk for milk to get in to the tubing. If milk gets in the tubing the tubing needs to be washed with hot water and/or santized. The other complaint worth mentioning is the the parts must be cleaned after each use, which at times can be cumbersome.
Bottom Line: As a Medela Pump In Style user, I highly recommend this pump and give it a five out of five rating. While it is a significant investment it has been worth every penny. I have had milk get in the tubing but it is easy to clean and not a problem since I am already washing the other pieces.
Ameda Purely Yours Ultra Breast Pump The Wise Baby Rating:
Highlights: The Ameda Purely Yours Ultra is a double pump that operates on a closed system. Feedback for this pump is generally positive – mother’s like the convenience, portability and various size flanges provided with purchase (flanges = cones that go over your nipples). The Ameda Purely Yours has 32 speeds and suction combinations and most reviewers state they can find a combination that works for them. Like the Medela pump, the Ameda Pump comes complete with the necessary travel/storage components as well as AC adapter and battery pack. Lastly, it is important to mentoin the Ameda pump runs about $100 cheaper the Medela models – a huge bonus in our minds!
Lowlights: Perhaps the largest complaint from users is the loud motor. Many mothers note they find the noise slightly unbearable and that note it has awoken their sleeping babies (yikes!). The overall quality of Ameda pumps seems to be subpar compared to Medela. Lastly, reviewers remark the Ameda does not have as efficient suction as Medela pumps.
Bottom Line: We give the Ameda a four of five rating. We certainly recommend the pump but the noise, lack of hands free capability and subpar efficiency gives the Medela the edge.
Other electric pumps? As mentioned, based on the expertise of a lactation consultant, we are not recommending any other electric pumps than the two reviewed here.
Hospital grade electric breast pumps: Most hospitals offer rentals programs for hospital grade electric pumps. These pumps are the “superwomen” of pumps and retail for $800 and up (hence the rental). Hospital grade pumps have very fast cycle time or rapid suck and release motion and these pumps most closely mimic a nursery baby. These heavy duty pumps are great for mothers who have trouble breast feeding, are trying to build their milk supply or have babies in the NICU. Hospital grade pumps are closed systems so there is no risk of infection/cross contamination from a previous renter when a collection kit is purchased. Typically hospitals offer a Medela and/or a Ameda option. Due to the fact each hospital offers different models we haven’t reviewed specific models.
Medela Symphony shown above
Highlights: Hospital grade pumps are the most efficient out there and are great for building your milk supply.
Lowlights: If you insurance doesn’t cover the rental it can be expensive – again depends on your area/hospital. At our hospital three months of a rental was over $300. These pumps are not as portable as the other electric pumps which is something to keep in mind if you would be taking it back and forth from the office each day.
Bottom Line: We definitely recommend looking into these if the perks apparel to you lifestyle. For some mothers the perks and capability of hospital pumps may be overkill and for the cost a personal electric pump could be purchased.
Manual breast pumps: Manual pumps are exactly as they sound and are typically for a single breast only (not to say you couldn’t use two at a time). These pumps are best for mom’s who aren’t going to pump often as they require quite a bit more time and effort than the other pumps we mentioned. However, these pumps are affordable, light and portable. Manual pumps are great for mothers whose babies may not completely empty their breast and quite a few reviewers noted they could breast feed and when necessary, manually pump the other breast at the same time.
Medela Harmony breast pump: (pictured) The Wise Baby Rating:
Highlights: As noted above, the Medela Harmony is portable and affordable. Mothers say the overall efficeny is quite good and comparable to some electric pumps. Like the electric Medela pumps, the Harmony has the two phase expression system. Another perk of this manual model is that if you decide to upgrade to the electric models this pump is compatible with the Medela Symphony and Lactina.
Lowlights: With generally positive feedback there isn’t much negative to note. Some mothers complain about the cleaning after use however, that is the same with any pumps. A few of complained about general quality of the pump but noted Medela replaced it in its entirety where issues were had.
Bottom Line: We give the Harmony a five out of five. For a manual pump, it can’t be beat.
There you have it. The three types of breast pumps with our suggested models reviewed. Look for our breast pump accessories coming up soon!
**Important to note: Breast pumps should not be shared. Breast milk can contain bacteria and viruses (including but not limited to HIV and hepatitis) which can be passed to you and your baby. Rental pumps are closed system pumps which do not allow milk to get into the internal systems of pumps. As long as you purchase your own collection kit they are safe to use.**
Please note, this review and buying guide is purely for informational purposes. Breastfeeding/pumping is a personal decision and we are not advocating one way or another.