Breast or bottle? It’s a question every new mother gets asked. But for an ever-growing group of mothers, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” to breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your newborn or small infant. It’s long been a scientific consensus that breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby’s overall health and development for the first 6 months of its life, and it’s highly recommended all throughout its first year to 2 years.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.”
But not every mom can feed her little one on demand, and remain with her baby 24 hours a day during its first year or more. If you’re a working mom for example, chances are that it might be tough to balance work and breastfeeding, and fortunately, breast pumps provide you with a great way to establish and maintain a good milk supply.
There are many reasons why pumping breast milk might help you out with all the difficulties of breastfeeding.
- The most immediate one is that you might want to store your milk, so there’s always a supply for your baby when you’re away in circumstances like going back to work, leaving your baby with your family, a babysitter, or a friend, or if you’re simply running errands.
- If your baby doesn’t latch or feed directly from the breast
- You want to feed your baby with breastmilk but don’t want to feed directly from the breast.
- You’re feeding more than one baby
- You’re looking into donating milk to a milk exchange program or a milk bank.
- You’re trying to increase your milk supply, when under medications, women may tend to produce less milk and using a breast pump can be a solution
- You’re weaning and you need to alleviate the pressure
- You’re suffering from mastitis or need to drain your breast to help healing
- Breast pumps are best suited for women that have undergone breast surgery and are unable to stimulate for suckling
Do I really need a breast pump?
If you work full time outside the home but don’t want to compromise breastfeeding your baby, then, you most probably do. Unless it’s possible for you to bring your baby to work with you and take nursing breaks, a breast pump, either manual or electric, is a necessity.
If you’re a full-time mommy, you may think you don’t really need an electric breast pump. But trust us when we say this, even if you can dedicate your whole attention to your baby every day of the week, chances are that you’ll run into a situation where having a breast pump on hand could be a lifesaver.
Electric or manual breast pumps – which should you pick?
If you’re new to breastfeeding or you’re considering buying a breast pump for the first time, there’s an important choice to make. Electric or manual?
Both can help out tremendously in maintaining a steady supply of breast milk and allow you to give your baby milk in whatever way works for both of you best, but there are several factors you might want to take into account before you dedicate to one.
How often will you be pumping?
If you plan to mainly nurse your baby, and you’re in a position where you don’t expect to have long separations from your baby often, you can easily get by with a manual pump. But if your motive for considering a breast pump is because you want to get back into the workforce, your best bet is an electric one. Because it operates with a battery, an electric pump expresses milk more quickly and efficiently than a manual pump, and it can be a real time-saver. Unlike a manual pump, once the cup is in place on your breast, the work is automatically done for you, at a pace that you preset. This saves you from aching hands or difficult-to-maintain pumping patterns.
How large is your budget?
Price plays a huge role when you’re making the decision between manual and electric. Electric pumps, even single electric pumps are generally more expensive than manual pumps, so if you need to keep an eye on your budget that might be a deal-breaker.
However, if you’re a working mother who’s going to use the pump every day and you’re trying to save up for an electric pump, it might be worth it to invest in a pricier, higher-quality pump.
You’ll likely want to stick to something within your price range, but if you buy a cheap pump, you might find it doesn’t work well for you. And if that happens, you’ll have to buy another one to replace the one you got the first time. You might save yourself a lot of time and aggravation if you just buy the one you want to begin with. Breast pumps can be a little on the expensive side, but when you think about it, pumping is definitely still cheaper than buying formula all the time. Plus, there’s the possibility of your health insurance covering at least part of the pump’s price.
There are more affordable options out there, which can work well, but some of them might have a shorter life, break easily or not have enough suction. One last thing to do before you decide is check the warranty on your product before you commit, and possibly decide to play it safe with a reliable retailer that offers some kind of buyer protection.
Do you need your pump to be portable?
Most electric pumps are designed to be compact and can be packed away and taken to work or while you’re on vacation. However, not all of them are created equal, and they often aren’t as easily portable as manual breast pumps. Manual pumps are generally smaller, lighter, and easier to clean. They don’t depend on a power source or battery power, so you’ll be able to express milk in any circumstances.
If you’re planning on really putting your pump to good use daily, a manual one can be really time consuming, so before you buy your electric one research how portable it is. There are definitely some electric breast pumps on the market that are easy to take with you when you need to just pack up and go.
How much time do you have to pump?
Pumping breastmilk can be time consuming and uncomfortable. If you want to spend as little time attached to your pump as possible, you’ll want to consider purchasing a pump that can express milk from both breasts at the same time, rather than just one at a time. And if you want extra advice – research how easy it’ll be to clean your new breast pump, because that can be a great time-saver as well.
It’s the right investment
You’re a new mother and you have full intention of doing it full-time. You might think you won’t need it, or you’ve already got a manual one from the hospital that serves you just fine in the rare occurrences when you do need it. But there are certain issues only an electric breast pump can fix.
Not all little ones are the same. Some are easy and happy eaters, while others might have a bit of a fussy nursing behavior. When they start teething, things might get a bit more complicated.
Sometimes you don’t get to decide if you’re going to nurse – your baby does that for you. In some cases, babies aren’t able to latch properly onto the breast, but they’re able to feed from bottles. If you want to breastfeed in those situations, you’ll have no choice but to pump so your baby still gets the benefits of breast milk.
I know this from experience. I didn’t think I’d need one either. My little manual one from the hospital was doing the job in the rare occurrences when needed it. But then, with my second daughter, we suddenly had an issue that only an electric breast pump could fix. Let me explain.
When my second daughter was about 8 months old, she was a healthy, perfectly happy little bundle of joy. Then teething began. My little joy turned into a howler monkey. She didn’t sleep well and woke up screaming unless I gave her Orajel and let her sleep beside me. That was bad enough.
Then the strike happened.
Yep, babies can go on strike too. A nursing strike. She suddenly wouldn’t nurse no matter how much I tried to coax her. The pain from her teething and me jumping when she bit me scared her, I guess. She’d been such a good eater, too, all nice and plump. While she did eat quite a lot of solid baby foods, she still depended on regular nursing to fill her nutritional needs.
So there I was, engorged with a baby who wanted nothing to do with my milk. And the little booger would not take a regular baby bottle. The only thing she would drink from was an infant sippy cup.
So I used the manual pump and the sippy cup to feed her, but after many accumulated hours of squeeze, release, squeeze release, my wrist hurt and my breasts were still engorged. The manual one wasn’t enough for what we needed.
We needed help STAT, so we rented a double electric breast pump from the local medical supply shop. Within the first few minutes of using it, OMG, what a difference! I emptied both breasts within twenty minutes or so and could pump enough to store for her next meal. It was awesome!
But the one thing I wished was that I had actually bought one for myself. Yeah, the rental was a lifesaver, but I worried about contamination because other moms had used it. If I had my own, I wouldn’t have had a worry in the world.
Learn from my experience, and invest in a good electric breast pump.
If you’ve carefully weighed the pros and cons and feel like a manual breast pump might be the choice for you, check out our list of best manual breast pumps available at Amazon.
Here is our ranking of the top electric breast pumps on the market
If you finally decided that you do want to invest in an electric breast pump, but you have no idea which one to get, we’ve made it easy for you with our pick of the best electric breast pumps you can order online. Here are seven great options in this table and more details below:
|Product||Photo||Customer Rating||Double Pumping||Portable||Powered by||Cost|
|Nibble Double/Single Electric Breast Pump||★★★★||Yes||Yes||AC|
|Spectra Baby USA Double/Single Electric Breast Pump **EDITOR'S CHOICE**||★★★★||Yes||No||AC||$$$|
|Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump||★★★★||Yes||Yes||AC|
|IHappyHapi Double Electric Breast Pump||★★★||Yes||Yes||USB|
|Momcozy Automatic Electric Breast Pump||★★★★||No||Yes||USB |
|Philips AVENT Double Electric Comfort Breast Pump||★★★||Yes||Yes||AC||$$$|
|KidsTime Electric Breast Pump||★★||Yes||Yes||USB||$|
Reviewers have very good things to say about this one!. This breast pump mimics your baby’s sucking patterns from let down to slower patterns. It’s designed with your comfort in mind, and with the carry strap, you can wear it while you move around so you’re not glued to your seat. The quiet operation is perfect for work environments and won’t wake the baby up from her nap. If you have experience with noisy pumps, you’ll be surprised at how quietly this one runs!
The BPA free and closed system design keeps milk free of harmful chemicals, mold, and germs so you can rest easy knowing your baby will have a safe meal. Easy to remove parts are dishwasher and sterilizer safe to save you time.
While it’s more expensive than some models, it’s a lot cheaper than some of the big name brands. It’s definitely a great option.
The Nibble pump on low settings is actually amazingly gentle – the suction cup has silicon padding, and as you turn up the suction it doesn’t get more uncomfortable, but rather, the pumps get longer.
The Nibble electric breast pump comes with 1-year limited warranty. If you need a replacement or an accessory, you can contact the store on Amazon.
- Portable neck strap to carry it on the move
- 10 suction levels
- Dishwasher safe, hospital-grade parts
- Gentle suction
- Moderately expensive
- The suction is not as powerful as other brands on this list
This is a company “made for moms, by moms”, and they have indeed delivered a superb product enjoyed by nursing mothers for its quality, efficiency, and comfort.
The team of moms, nurses and lactation consultants responsible for Spectra breast pump products have made sure that everything that comes in contact with this pump from manufacture to retail is BHP and DEHP free, so you won’t have to worry about lingering chemicals contaminating the milk. The closed system prevents mold and germ growth, and you don’t have to clean the tubing. The careful design ensures that the milk is kept safe from viruses and bacteria.
The Natural Nursing Technology is designed to eliminate back-flow and its Massage Mode mimics the experience of breastfeeding as closely as possible – two-phase cycling simulates the letdown and expression cycle of actual nursing. The suction levels are comfortable and highly customizable, so every mom can find what feels best. Fully customizable settings work with your own comfort needs and your body’s expression response. On top of that, the pump is incredibly quiet, which allows a much more enjoyable pumping experience.
All that combined together gives you an amazing pump that a lot of moms say is definitely worth investing in, and it’s definitely our editor’s pick!
All Spectra pumps come with a 2 year warranty, and a 90 day manufacturer’s warranty on all accessories.
- BPA/DEHP Free
- Closed system; no need to clean tubing
- Customizable settings w/ 2-phase cycling
- Natural Nursing Technology designed to mimic the experience of breastfeeding
- Includes a multi-volt power adaptor that makes it easy to use it in any country
- It features a night light
- No battery, if you need a rechargeable pump you can take a look at Spectra’s S1 Plus Premier Rechargeable model
- Requires special bra for hands free pumping
For moms who work out of the home and travel a lot, this one’s a winner. It’s specifically designed to be used several times daily. Battery backup provides portability for efficient and discreet use. There’s only one knob to control speed and vacuum, which makes adjustments simple and quick. The cooler bag is not only stylish, but it holds an ice pack and four bottles, so you’ll have a good supply of milk and won’t have to worry about it going bad.
This is one of the pricier models on the market, but if you’re always on the go, it’s a wise investment. Medela is one of the best-known and trusted brands for nursing equipment out there, which has made it a staple.
This is a breast pump that is capable of a lot of fast, efficient suction, but it can feel too rough to some mother’s out there.
The Medela electric pump has a 1-year warranty for the actual pump mechanism, and 90 days for the parts, from the date of purchase.
- BPA & lead Free
- Battery pack; good for working or traveling mothers
- Cooler bag holds ice pack and 4 bottles
- Heavier than other pumps (7 lbs)
- Requires special bra for hands free pumping
When you already have a baby and bags to carry, this model could come in handy. It’s very light at less than 2 pounds so it won’t add much to your load. The USB charging cable is perfect if you’re working on a computer or driving – you can charge it at the same time so it’ll be ready when you need it. The affordable price makes it a great option if you’re on a tighter budget.
An anti-back flow system prevents contamination while 9 adjustment levels provide personalized comfort.
No warranty information available on Amazon.
- USB chargeable
- LED display
- No bag or ice pack included
- May require more pumping time than other brands
If you’re looking for affordable, lightweight and quiet, this may be the pump for you. The lightweight and quiet operation is handy for travel and work. If you do a lot of computer work, you can charge and pump at the same time with the USB cable if you need to. This one isn’t for those who need high-volume milk production and storage, but if you don’t need to pump a lot, it’s a really good option.
It has 16 adjustment levels and an automatic mode that starts slowly to stimulate milk production. Better yet, there’s a memory mode, so once you find your favorite settings, you can set it and forget it.
No warranty information available.
- USB Chargeable
- 16 adjustment levels with memory mode
- Only single pump mode
- No accessories included except pump, cable, and manual
- Suction may be weaker than other brands
Avent is another big name in the baby feeding industry. This double pump is lightweight and has a great carry bag for easy transport. The design allows you to sit up straight and be more comfortable while expressing.
While more expensive than other brands, its simple design is good for those who don’t want a lot of bells and whistles. Plus the parts are dishwasher safe and it comes with a 2-year warranty.
There are 3 comfort settings that allow you some customization on the sucking intensity, and there’s massage mode designed to mimic
This product comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Massage mode plus 3 comfort settings
- BPA Free
- Only 3 settings doesn’t make it as customizable
- Expensive compared to other brands
Weighing in at less than two pounds, this pump is not only lightweight but pretty!
While this one is USB powered, making it handy for travel and using at work, it’s not rechargeable, which docks a point or two from its portability. Some users say the manual isn’t very clear, so first-time pump users may not be able to rely on that if they have any issues. The very affordable price, however, is just what the mom with a very tight budget is looking for.
The purple cushioning on the cups provides warmth and is comfortable too. Pretty, warm and comfortable – I’d say that’s a good trifecta. It’s also quiet, so you can pump discreetly at work and not wake the baby at home.
- BPA free
- The manual isn’t well written
- Not rechargeable
Breast pumping guide: when, how, and how long to pump
What you need to know before you start
All that is well and good, but if you’re a first-timer with the pump the process might seem a bit daunting at first. That’s what we’re here for! Once you’re ready to start breast pumping, there are a few things you need to know.
In normal circumstances, where you need to express milk for a healthy, full-term bundle of joy you can wait between 4-8 weeks before you start with the pumping and storing routine and introducing your baby to the bottle.
If your little one was born preterm or ill and it’s unable to latch onto a breast or if you have chosen to pump exclusively, do it right after birth, and within one to six hours of delivery if you can.
If you’re mainly breastfeeding and you only use your pump occasionally:
Use your breast pump in the morning
Many lactating mothers find that they get the most milk first thing in the morning.
Pump between breastfeeding
Pump between breastfeeding, either half an hour to an hour after nursing, or at least 60 minutes before breastfeeding. This will allow you to get more than enough milk in time for your baby’s next feeding.
- Does your baby want to breastfeed right after you’ve expressed milk? Do it!
If you’re breast pumping exclusively:
- The goal here is to pump as often as 8 to 10 times in a day (24 hours) and reach full milk production – between 25-35 oz. (750-1,035 mL) in a 24-hour period.
- Once you have reached it, you should maintain a pumping routine that continues producing about 25-35 oz of breastmilk in that same period.
Now while it’s true that these are the recommended guidelines, every mother and baby are different, and not all can maintain a pumping schedule set in stone. So get a feel of what works for you and what doesn’t, and you’ll come up with your own little routine. If you want to express milk this consistently, believe us when we say that a quality electric breast pump is absolutely essential.
Choosing the right breast shield size is crucial
That’s right. If you want proper suction and an airtight fit, so you can express milk efficiently, you need to pay attention to breastshields, and pick the right size. If you don’t know your nipple size yet – no problem! Most of the products on our list include nipple rulers or sizing charts that will help you measure the diameter of your nipple and pick the right size.
Learning how to use your breast pump
We’ve already established that getting your way around a breast pump can be a little intimidating for a first-timer, so here are the most important steps you need to be aware off.
- Make sure you review the instructions on your brand of breast pump first.
- Pick a comfy, quiet corner where you can relax, and if you really want our advice, bring a drink and a snack.
- Wash your hands with water and soap.
- You need to make sure that your pump has working batteries so plug it in and check.
- Assemble the pump kit according to the instructions included in the package
- You should start by centering the flanges included in most breast pump models over your breast (or breasts, if you’re using a double electric breast pump) and center the nipple in the opening of the flange. You’ll know it’s all good when the air seals. Pay attention to Flange fit when buying a pump!
- If you’re using a double electric pump, you’ll have to cup each flange to the breast with your fingers placed right under the flange and your thumb on the top of it. When you’re turning your pump on, you should switch to one arm splayed across both breasts, to make sure you keep an airtight seal. At this point the pump is ready to be turned on.
- The process is really similar to how your baby feeds from your breast. You need to start out with a high speed setting and low suction until your milk flow starts, then adjust the speed to medium or low and customize the suction to whatever suits your comfort level best.
- Once you notice that your milk flow starts decreasing, just increase the speed to high until it picks up, then decrease to medium again.
As with everything else in life it might feel unusual at first, but practice makes perfect!
How Much Should You Pump
The amount of milk you pump out depends on a variety of factors including the age of your baby, how much time has passed since the last time you nursed your baby or used the pump, the time of day, the type of pump, and how efficient it is; whether you’re relaxed or stressed, and of course, whether you’ve had much practice.
Here’s what you can expect if you’re primarily breastfeeding, on average.
- Your milk production will be higher in the morning hours .
- Milk volumes will gradually decrease throughout the day, and they’ll be their lowest in the evening.
- Each breast may produce different quantities of milk.
It’s possible that your baby may end up taking more milk from the bottle than when you’re breastfeeding her or him – sometimes even more than they need, because of the faster, steadier flow of the bottle. If you have this problem, we suggest getting a slow-flow bottle that can help prevent overfeeding.
How Do I Reach Full Milk Production?
Here are some tips that will help you reach and maintain full milk production, which is really important if you’ve decided to pump exclusively due to various reasons. There’s one rule of thumb here: When you pumping often to drain the breast completely you are effectively sending a signal to your body that it needs to produce more milk. So, the more you pump, the more milk will your breasts produce.
Getting started – from birth to day 4
- Start pumping within six hours after birth if it’s possible.
- At first, you’ll be pumping colostrum (the first milk), and that’s perfectly normal
- You should gradually increase the number of pumps per day until you reach a number of 8 to 10 times every 24 hour period. That’s equivalent to the times your bundle of joy needs to feed. Remember, more pumping equals more milk, but the reverse is also true – the less often you pump, the harder it’ll be to maintain a full milk production.
- If you want to save time, considering buying a double electric breast pump – not only will it save you a lot of time, it actually might boost your production.
- Each milk expressing session should last between 10 to 20 minutes until your actual milk starts flowing on the third or fourth day. Then, hand express any remaining milk. You can place the breast flange under your breast to collect the milk you hand express. This way you can drain your breast better which will help you make milk faster.)
- Expressing milk at least twice between 1 to 6am will help you establish a steady milk supply because your hormone levels increase during the morning hours.
From Day 4 to Full Production
From day 4 onwards you’ll start noticing that your milk production has gone from mere drops to ounces, so you need to make a few changes to maintain it.
- Pump a bit longer, even if you’ve already expressed the last drop. You can do it right until your breasts no longer feel full (or soften).
- It’s better to focus on the total number of pumpings per day rather than the time interval between sessions, and it’s easier to keep it up that way as well.
- While your little one is in its first two weeks of life, don’t allow more than one 5-hour period to pass without expressing milk at all.
Many moms find it easier to focus on their daily total rather than pumping at a set time each day. This daily total also seems to be most important to your milk production.
Want some tips on how to express as much milk as you can?
- Don’t stress about it. Always find a way to do or watch something relaxing or listen to music while you’re pumping so that your focus is not solely on getting that bottle full.
- Consider getting a hands-free bra, because oh boy is it worth it. That way you’ll be free to read, polish your nails, or even drive a car!
- Keep the snacks handy and make sure you stay hydrated. If you can help it, go easy on drinking coffee or soda.
How To Wean From the Pump
The first thing you need to know about weaning is that you have to do it gradually. You can do that either by:
- Dropping one daily pumping first and then just getting your body at least a couple of days to adjust. After that you can drop another daily pumping, and adjust again and repeat the process until you’re fully weaned. .
- An alternative method is instead of reducing the number of pumpings, you keep it the same, but reduce the time you pump. This works much like the same method mentioned above – reduce the time, give your body time to adjust and repeat. You can stop once you don’t feel the need to pump.
Keep this in mind however – don’t let your breasts stay full, as it can lead to pain and even infection. If they do, just pump long enough to feel comfortable and then stop!
Over and out!
We hope our list of the best electric breast pumps out there will help you get the perfect tool of the trade, and a few tricks up your sleeve on how to use it. After all, expressing milk is not easy, and it’s important to not lose self confidence in your ability to breastfeed. Pumping definitely is something you young mothers need to first get the hang of, and some mothers with large milk supplies who breastfeed may well struggle to get enough milk to fill a bottle when pumping. Practice and trying some of these techniques can help.
PS: My daughter did finally start nursing again. But that couple of weeks was a real challenge. The electric pump saved us from having to depend on formula. You’ve seen our list, so which one of these would you choose?