Things to Consider Before Buying a Breast Pump

Breastfeeding is an incredible journey, but when you need to be away from your little one, having the right breast pump can make all the difference. With so many options out there, choosing the perfect pump might seem daunting at first.

Don’t worry, this guide has got you covered! We’ll walk through the various types of breast pumps and the key things to consider before purchasing. From how often you’ll be pumping to finding the right suction strength, comfort fit, and portability for your lifestyle – we’ve got all the details you need.

By the end, you’ll be an expert in picking the breast pump that’s the perfect match for your pumping needs.

Types of Breast Pumps

Before looking into things to consider before purchasing a pump, let’s briefly understand the different types available:

Manual Breast Pumps: These pumps are operated by hand and are generally more affordable. They are suitable for occasional use but may require more effort than electric pumps.

Electric Breast Pumps: Electric pumps are powered by electricity or batteries and are efficient for regular use. They come with adjustable suction settings and can save time compared to manual pumps.

Wearable Breast Pumps: These compact, hands-free pumps are designed for discreet use and convenience. They’re ideal for busy moms who need to pump on the go.

Considerations for Choosing a Breast Pump

Frequency of Use

The frequency of use should be a significant consideration when selecting a breast pump. If you plan to pump occasionally or for short periods, a manual pump or a small, portable electric pump may suffice. However, if you need to pump regularly or exclusively, investing in a high-quality, efficient electric pump designed for frequent use is recommended. These pumps are typically more expensive but offer better suction strength, adjustability, and convenience for long-term pumping.

Suction Strength and Adjustability

Suction strength is essential for effective milk expression, and adjustability allows you to find the right level of suction for your comfort. Some pumps offer multiple suction levels or customizable settings, which can be helpful if you experience discomfort or have specific needs. Stronger suction doesn’t necessarily mean better, as excessive suction can cause pain and nipple damage.

Comfort and Flange Fit

The comfort and fit of the breast flanges (the funnel-shaped components that fit over the nipples) play a significant role in your overall pumping experience. Ill-fitting flanges can lead to discomfort, poor milk expression, and even nipple damage. Many pumps come with different flange sizes, or you can purchase them separately to find the best fit for your breast size and shape.

Noise Level

The noise level of a breast pump can be an important consideration, especially if you plan to pump in shared spaces or around others. Some pumps are designed to operate quietly, making them more discreet and less disruptive. However, keep in mind that quieter pumps may sacrifice suction strength, so finding a balance between noise level and efficiency is essential.

Power Options

Consider the power source options available for the breast pump. Some pumps are battery-operated, allowing for cordless use and portability, while others require an electrical outlet. Battery-operated pumps can be convenient for pumping on the go or during power outages, but you’ll need to ensure you have spare batteries or a way to recharge them. Pumps with AC adapters or rechargeable batteries offer more flexibility in terms of power sources.

Double vs. Single Pumping

Double electric pumps allow you to pump both breasts simultaneously, which can save time and often result in higher milk output. Single pumps require pumping one breast at a time, which can be more time-consuming but may be a more affordable option for occasional pumping. Compared to single pumping, double pumping can also help establish and maintain a good milk supply, especially for mothers who need to pump frequently or exclusively.



If you plan to pump while away from home, portability becomes a crucial factor. Look for compact, lightweight pumps that can easily fit into a bag or purse. Consider pumps with carrying cases or cooler bags for storing expressed milk. Battery-operated or rechargeable pumps can be particularly convenient for pumping on the go.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Proper cleaning and maintenance of breast pump parts are essential for hygiene and ensuring the pump functions correctly. Look for pumps with easy-to-clean components, preferably dishwasher-safe or designed for quick disassembly and reassembly. Some pumps come with specialized cleaning accessories or storage solutions, which can make the process more convenient.

Budget Consideration

Breast pumps can range in price from relatively inexpensive manual pumps to high-end electric pumps with advanced features. Determine your budget and prioritize the features most important to you. Keep in mind that investing in a high-quality pump can save money in the long run if you plan to pump frequently or for an extended period.

Insurance Coverage

Many health insurance plans cover the cost of breast pumps, either partially or in full. Check with your insurance provider to understand their coverage policies and any requirements or limitations. Some plans may require a prescription or have specific pump brands or models they cover.

Built-in Night Lights

For mothers who need to pump during the night, a built-in night light can be a helpful feature. These lights provide just enough illumination to see the pump parts and milk collection without disturbing others or fully waking the baby.

Consultation with a Lactation Consultant

Seeking advice from a lactation consultant can be invaluable, especially for first-time mothers or those experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding or pumping. A lactation consultant can assess your individual needs, guide proper pumping techniques, and recommend pumps that are well-suited for your specific situation.

Practical Comparison of Two Breast Pumps

In addition to the factors outlined above, a study published in 2019 has provided valuable insights into the effectiveness and acceptability of different types of breast pumps among exclusively breastfeeding mothers. A study conducted across multiple countries compared two single-electric breast pumps and investigated their impact on breastfeeding practices. Mothers were randomized into three groups: one receiving a Philips single-electric pump, another a Medela Swing single-electric pump, and a control group receiving vouchers.

The study found that both pumps were equally effective in milk expression at 6 weeks, with differences noted in mothers’ opinions on pump characteristics. Interestingly, the provision of breast pumps did not significantly influence breastfeeding practices at 3 or 6 months, but mothers with pumps were more likely to express milk. However, feeding expressed milk was associated with lower exclusive breastfeeding rates at 6 months.

These findings underscore the importance of considering factors such as suction strength, comfort, and portability, as well as the potential implications of breast pump provision on long-term breastfeeding outcomes.


Additional Tips for Selecting the Right Breast Pump

Here are some additional tips to consider if you’re struggling with choosing the best breast pump for you:

  • Look for pumps that come with extras like extra flanges, bottles, cooler bags, etc. This can save you money in the long run instead of having to purchase them separately.
  • Evaluate how easy the pump is to assemble, operate, and clean. Complicated pumps may be frustrating to use, especially when you’re tired or in a hurry.
  • Hospital-grade pumps are designed for multiple users and heavy use in clinical settings. Personal-use pumps are intended for one user over a shorter timeframe. Consider your needs accordingly.
  • Research different breast pump brands and read reviews from other users to gauge quality, durability, and customer satisfaction.
  • Look into the warranty coverage and customer support offered by the manufacturer in case you encounter any issues with the pump.
  • Some hospitals or retailers offer breast pump rentals, which can be a cost-effective option if you only need to pump for a shorter period.
  • Open-system pumps have detachable parts for milk collection, while closed systems form a complete barrier. Closed systems may be more hygienic but can be more expensive.
  • If possible, see if you can test or rent different pump models before purchasing to ensure you find the one that works best for you.


How much does an electric breast pump cost?

Electric breast pumps can vary widely in price, ranging from around $40 for basic models to over $300 for high-end, feature-rich pumps. The typical cost range for electric breast pumps is between $40 and $185. However, dual electric pumps, which allow you to pump both breasts simultaneously, can cost anywhere from $60 to $3500, depending on the brand, features, and quality.

Is the electric breast pump rechargeable?

Yes, many electric breast pumps come with rechargeable batteries, allowing you to use them cordlessly and without the need for disposable batteries. These pumps can typically be charged using a power bank, laptop, car charger, or an AC adapter. Some models also offer the option to use AA batteries when a power outlet is not available, providing additional flexibility and portability.

How do I know if I’m using my breast pump correctly?

To ensure you’re using your breast pump correctly, consider the following:

  • The breast flange (the funnel-shaped component that fits over the nipple) should create a seal without causing discomfort or pinching.
  • Start with a lower suction setting and gradually increase it to a comfortable level that effectively expresses milk.
  • Read the user manual carefully and follow the recommended assembly, operation, and cleaning procedures.
  • If you’re unsure or experiencing difficulties, consult a lactation consultant or healthcare professional for personalized advice and proper technique demonstration.

What is the 120 rule for pumping?

The 120 rule for pumping refers to a guideline that suggests expressing milk for a minimum of 120 minutes (2 hours) per day to establish and maintain an adequate milk supply. This rule is based on the idea that pumping for at least 2 hours per day, spread over multiple sessions, can help stimulate and maintain milk production.

However, it’s important to note that this is a general guideline, and individual needs may vary. Some mothers may need to pump more or less depending on their circumstances, such as their baby’s age, their milk supply, and their breastfeeding goals.

Do I have to wash my breast pump after every use?

A common question among breastfeeding mothers is whether they need to wash their breast pump after every use. The answer is yes, it’s vital to clean your breast pump thoroughly after each use to maintain hygiene and ensure the health of both you and your baby. Clean all parts that come into contact with breast milk, including the flanges, valves, bottles, and tubing. Proper cleaning reduces the risk of contamination and mold growth.

Final Words

At the end of the day, the “right” breast pump is the one that works best for your unique situation as a new mom. Whether you’re heading back to work, exclusively pumping, or just need a pump for occasional use, taking the time to weigh your options is important. Use this guide to evaluate the different factors like budget, portability needs, suction preferences, and more. Don’t hesitate to get personalized guidance from a lactation consultant too. With the perfect pump picked out, you can pump with confidence and focus on nurturing that special bond with your baby.