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Choosing a pump

Thinking about buying a new or used pump?

When choosing a breast pump,
there are a few things to consider:
  • Double or single
  • Electric or manual
  • Multiple user or single user
  • Battery or plug-in
  • Noise of motor
  • Size and portability
  • Variable settings
  • Ease of use
  • Compatibility with collection/storage containers
  • Availability of spare/replacement parts
  • Other features (timer, nightlight, etc.)
Double electric pumps are what is most popular today, partially because they are commonly covered by health insurance. Moms planning to pump frequently most often choose a double electric pump
The double refers to the fact that both breast can be pumped at the same time. However, most double electric pumps can easily be adjusted for pumping one breast at a time. (If your pump is not functioning properly, check to make sure this piece is adjusted properly.) They may also have a variety of controls that allow for variable suction and speed settings, a timer, a nightlight, and other features.

Electric pumps may have a rechargeable battery or just a power cord. Different pumps have different battery life, but expect that it should be able to get through at least one full day's pumping before needing a recharge.
Those who choose to pump at work often want a double electric pump that has a rechargeable battery, a carrying bag, and readily available spare/replacement parts. Portability and a quiet motor are other favorite features.

Moms with a low milk supply, moms with a baby in the NICU, moms of multiples, and moms who choose to exclusively pump may be advised to get a double electric hospital grade pump (HG). However, it is important to note that the term "hospital grade" is not defined by the FDA. It refers to the way the pump motor connects to, but is still isolated from, the flanges to prevent the entry of breastmilk into the motor. Hospital grade pumps are not necessarily more powerful or better than double electric pumps for personal use, but HG pumps typically have a more durable motor and a longer warranty. It used to be that hospital grade pumps were only available in the hospital or via rental program, but some are now available to own for personal use, often covered by insurance with a doctor's order.

Single electric pumps are smaller, lighter weight pumps that are highly portable, but only pump one breast at a time. They have a rechargeable battery, and may have variable settings, but generally do not have a timer, nightlight, or other features. Motors for single electric pumps are smaller, but not necessarily quieter than in other pumps. Batteries are also typically smaller, but size does not always equal battery life.
Those who frequently need to pump while traveling may opt for a single electric pump.

If you will be using a pump only occasionally, you may decide you don't need an electric pump at all. Manual pumps are inexpensive, easy to clean, and may fit in your purse or a small cooler bag. Because your hands are the motor, you can adjust the suction and speed far greater variability than any electric pump. If you plan to pump a lot in multiple locations, you may want to have a manual pump as a back up.

All that said, there are moms who choose to use a double electric pump for only occasional use, and those who choose to use a manual pump for everyday use. It really comes down to what works best for you.

Commonly available manufacturers breast pumps include (in alphabetical order):
WHO Code Compliance info
is from KellyMom.com,
revised 1/11/2016
Double Electric PumpsHospital Grade/Multiple UsersSingle Electric PumpsManual
Pumps
Ameda (WHO Code Compliant)xx x
Ardo (WHO Code Compliant)x
Bailey Medical (WHO Code Compliant)xx  
Bellemax x 
Dr. Brown'sno longer available  x
EvenfloFeedingx xx
First Yearsx xx
Freemie (WHO Code Compliant)x 
x
Hygeia (WHO Code Compliant)xx x
Lanisnohx
 x
Limerick PJs (WHO Code Compliant)xx  

Lucina Melodi (WHO Code Compliant)x  x
Medelaxxxx
NUKx  x
Phillips Aventx xx
Playtexno longer available   no longer available
Rumble Tuffxxxx
SpectraBabyUSA (WHO Code Compliant)xx
Tommee Tippeeno longer available no longer availablex

This section was written by an experienced mom, La Leche League leader, CLC, and Breastfeeding Champion who pumped while working full time and now pumps at home for tube feeding. It is NOT meant to replace advice from a medical professional. Questions about the evidence-based research behind what you see? Email lehighvalleybreastfeeding@gmail.com for a full list of references.
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