Looking for a list of the Best Breast Pumps of 2017? Then look no further! From someone who has nursed two of her own children for 18+ months each, pumped and fed 3 others exclusively, plus the 10+ babies that I have sent 100s and even 1000s of ounces of pumped milk to, I know what it takes for a good pump!
Let me start off by saying that anyone who has pumped knows that it is a labor of love. Whether you are exclusively pumping or do it only once in awhile, it is a lot of work! In fact, I’ve never heard anyone say they actually enjoy doing it. However, no matter what your situation, it is oh-so-worth it and something that I don’t think should ever be taken for granted!
There are quite a few things that can make both breastfeeding and pumping more successful/easier though – one of which is your pump! And while, again, we may all have different pumping needs and situations, I have created a list that will [hopefully] best suit yours!
Need more help on finding the right pump, or with breastfeeding in general? Don’t hesitate to CONTACT ME and ask!
THE FOUR TYPES OF BREAST PUMPS
Ok, before we get into the actual pumps, there are 4 types of breast pumps that you should know about.
Hospital Grade Breast Pumps: Hospital Grade Breast Pumps were created for, you guessed it, the hospital. Known for their superior quality and efficiency, they are intended for multiple uses/users and can even be rented or borrowed. These are the pumps that hospitals will give to mothers who have issues with breastfeeding after birth, whose baby is in the NICU, or for mothers with multiples. Considered “double kit pumps”, these puppies express milk from both breasts at once, making the whole process much more efficient. They also accurately imitate a baby’s sucking motions, helping to significantly improve the flow of milk. However, be aware that they are quite loud, and are often big and bulky, so they aren’t something you will want to lug around.
Who Needs It?: Hospital Grade Breast Pumps are best suited for mothers who have a low milk supply or any additional problems breastfeeding. Also, if money is not an issue, these pumps will be much more effective and easier for you to use.
High Range Electric Breast Pumps: While still somewhat expensive, High Range Electric Breast Pumps are definitely more cost effective than Hospital Grade Breast Pumps, and do relatively the same thing. These pumps are designed for women who also need to express milk several times a day, yet they are much more portable than Hospital Grade Breast Pumps (and can even be run on batteries or with a car charger [game changer!!]). These breast pumps also express from both breasts simultaneously, and have a cyclic rate of 40-60 “sucks” per minute, which is the closest to the speed of a baby’s suction. Please be aware that, while smaller than Hospital Grade Pumps, these pumps are also somewhat bulky and do make fairly loud noises. However, many of them (like the Medela Pump in Style – see below), come in convenient carrying cases, making them much more portable.
Who Needs It?: High Range Electric Breast Pumps are a great option for mothers who have to go back to work, or for those who plan on being away from their babies for extended periods of time (yet are still planning on giving them breastmilk).
Mid-Range Electric Breast Pumps: Mid-Range Electric Breast Pumps are generally the most common type of breast pump and are a good choice for mothers who do not have to express milk often, but still don’t want to do it manually. These pumps are lightweight, portable and designed for one breast and usually don’t have a high cyclic rate. They are also more cost effective than the higher range pumps.
Who Needs It?: If you are a Mom who is only planning on pumping occasionally, and/or only wish to pump from one breast at a time, then a Mid-Range Electric Breast Pump is for you!
Manual Breast Pumps: Manual Breast Pumps are the cheapest variety of pumps and are best for moms who want to avoid the temporary discomfort of engorged breasts, but aren’t trying to pump a large excess of milk. They‘re also great if your looking for a silent pumping session. Plus, they are lightweight and highly portable, and there’s no worrying about batteries/charging. However, pumping times may be a bit longer and switching “expression phases” will be based solely on your pumping abilities. Furthermore, you’re hands and wrists may get sore if you are manually pumping for extended amounts of time.
Who Needs It?: Moms who want to take total control of their pumping and/or want their pumping sessions to be [almost] silent.
SOME ADDITIONAL THINGS TO CONSIDER:
Storage: While portability is briefly mentioned in each description above, the storage of your pump, along with the amount of milk you pump, also needs to be taken into consideration. If you go the manual route, you will have the most portable breastpump that you can buy. Since the bottles and breast shields are so compact, and the pump handle is very small as well, everything will easily fit in a medium purse or diaper bag.
On the contrary, Electric Pumps are much larger since you not only need the motor itself, but also the breast shields, bottles, battery pack, charger(s), vacuum tubes, etc. With both systems, you also need a place to store your pumped breast milk: either in disposable bags or bottles, at or below 59 degrees (F).
If you’re not planning on going straight home after you pump, or do not have access to a refrigerator, you will also need to carry a small cooler with a frozen ice pack. According to Medela, the maximum amount of time you can keep the milk in this storage type is 24 hours; then you'll need to move to a refrigerator or freezer (see our explanation of breast milk storage guidelines, here). Fortunately, many manufacturers of automatic pumps have actually started making it so all the pumping equipment, as well as a cooler and ice pack, are placed in the same bag, for both portability and convenience.
Comfort: This is a hard area to assess since the comfort of a breastpump is highly individualized. Generally speaking, I would say that selecting the appropriate sized breast shield is most important (they come in up to 5 sizes).
How do you select the proper size breast shield? Make sure your nipple is centered in the shield and not rubbing the sides as it is pumped and that your areola (dark skin surrounding the nipple) has space to move up and down as it is pumped. You also want to make sure your breast moves gently and rhythmically with the pumping, and that it feels comfortable during pumping. If any of these aren't correct, than your breast shield may be too small and it is best to go a size up. Having the wrong sized shield may also hinder your let-down, so if this is an issue for you, again, check the size of your breast shields.
Another major factor in breast pump comfort is whether or not the vacuum strength/speed while pumping is set to your comfort level. If it’s too strong, you may feel pinching or pulling, which isn’t pleasant. Plus, this undue stress can actually hinder your milk flow. As a word of caution: don’t try to deal with the pain because you think it will improve the amount you will pump – it won’t!
Finally, correctly timing the shift of expression phases (in order to accommodate your body’s unique let-down pattern) can also play a role in how comfortable you are doing pumping, as well as to how successful your pumping session may be. Most pumps will typically begin in a 2-minute "stimulation" phase and then automatically switch to the expression phase. While this pattern may be optimal for many women, it certainly isn’t for EVERY woman, and you may find that more or less time in this initial phase works best for you. Thankfully, many pumps offer a “let-down” button so that you can determine whether or not you need additional stimulation before you move on to the expression phase.
Cleaning/Maintenance: My least favorite part of pumping… No matter which breast pump you choose, there will be a lot of parts that need to be cleaned. From the large breast shield and connectors, to the smaller valve and rubber membranes, every nook and cranny of every piece really does need to be thoroughly cleaned, due to the possibility of mold and residue buildup, as well as additional contamination due to outside influences (ie, where your pump has been, is stored, etc.).
Having washed 10s of 1000s of pump parts throughout my breastfeeding journey, I have found that the best and most convenient way to clean is to initially sanitize all of the parts in boiling water for 5 minutes. Then between uses, run a sink full of warm soapy water and allow the parts to soak a couple of minutes before scrubbing them with a round bottle brush. Next, use a smaller brush to get into the tiny crevices. Finally, I air dry them on a bottle drying rack.
While some brands recommend daily sanitization of the parts in boiling water, I personally think this is a bit over kill (unless the bottles are being shared between multiple children, the child is sick, or the emptied bottle was left out for a long period of time before being cleaned). However, please do what you feel is best for your baby – this is only my opinion!
BPA And Phthalate Content: Although no longer a big concern, since all of the major manufacturers are making their systems BPA-free, this is still worth mentioning – and is another major reason why you shouldn’t buy/borrow a used pump. The models listed below are all BPA-free.
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Ok, so now that your mind is about to explode with all of this info…
But in all seriousness, buying the best breast pump truly does take a lot of thought and is why I have designed this list – to try and make at least THIS part of your breastfeeding / new baby experience as easy on you as possible! Trust me, I’ve been there and know how overwhelming it can be!!
Below is the list of the Top 5 Best Breast Pumps of 2017. Each pump was graded on the very important factors of efficiency, comfort, durability and cost. However, I have labeled each with one specific strength to help you narrow down your choices and make this whole process a little easier! I have also ordered them in regards to their price: from lowest to highest, so you can help keep things straight when going through the list.
THE BEST BREAST PUMPS OF 2017:
1) BEST LOW BUDGET CHOICE (Manual Pump): Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump
2) BEST FOR TRAVELING and/or QUICK RELIEF (Manual Pump): Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump
3) MOST AFFORDABLE ELECTRIC BREST PUMP: Bellema Mango Portable Single Electric Breast Pump
4) THE BEST BREAST PUMP FOR EVERYDAY USE (Hospital Grade): Spectra Baby USA S2 Double/Single Breast Pump
5) BEST BREAST PUMP FOR THE WORKING/ON-THE-GO MOM: Medela Pump in Style Advance Breast Pump
Want to know the details about all of these pumps? Then stay tuned for our next post… Coming soon!