How do I choose a breast pump (and do I really need one)?

pregnant-2006I remember asking myself both of those questions when I was pregnant with my first child in 2006 (see right - that's a photo of me 2 weeks before I had my daughter).

3 1/2 years later, I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 2-month-old...and I'm a little more "baby-wise" than I was then (not to be confused with "On Becoming Baby Wise" by the ezzos...a philosophy that I totally DON'T espouse).

If you recall, I recently posted about 15 newborn necessities, the top 15 things I use with my baby.

I also recently wrote about unnecessary baby items, a list of products not to register for.

Breast pumps made the "wait and see" section of the latter list - meaning you probably shouldn't run right out and get a top-of-the-line breast pump before your baby makes his or her debut. You should "wait and see" if you want one.

That said, you will likely want/need a breast pump if:

  • you plan to return to work part or full-time, but want to give your baby the gift of breastmilk.
  • you want to be able to leave your exclusively breastfed baby at home with daddy or grandma or auntie while you run to the grocery store or meet up with a friend for dinner.
  • you need to leave your baby with someone else for any reason - school, volunteering, etc.

If you're going to be returning to work and/or school, I would recommend going with the best and most efficient breast pump available - a double-electric pump. The price tags may seem steep (between $150-$400), but the ability to pump both sides simultaneously without wearing out your hands/arms is something you will want if you'll be pumping daily/regularly.

The top two customer-rated double electric breast pumps on Amazon.com are:

Philips Avent Isis iQ Duo Twin Electronic Breast Pump (available @ Trusted Breast Pumps for $285):

1_-proavent-isis-twin-electric-breast-pump

Medela Pump In Style Breast Pump With Shoulder Bag (available @ TBP for $269.99):

medela-pump-in-style-advanced-shoulderbag

If, however, you just want to be able to leave your baby with someone for a couple of hours or a weekend away every now and then, a manual pump will likely do just fine. The downside, of course, is that they're not as efficient or fast and they don't have multiple "modes" to stimulate let-down, etc. The upside, however, is the price. Manual breast pumps typically retail for between $30-$60.

The top two customer-rated manual breast pumps on Amazon.com are:

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump (available @ TBP for $33.27):

lansinoh-manual-breast-pump

Avent ISIS Manual Breast Pump (available @ TBP for $49.99):

2_-proavent-isis-manual-breast-pump

I bought the Medela Pump In Style breast pump (see above) shortly after my firstborn daughter was born in 2006 because I *thought* I was going to return to work part-time, but then I ended up bringing my baby to work with me (at my employer's suggestion!). Needless to day, I didn't end up using my pump much...but it was a good pump, overall. Quiet. Not painful. Efficient. Etc. I would recommend it to others who want a high-powered pump to take with them on-the-go.

I now have the sweetest little 2-month-old baby girl and I have yet to break out the pump. I just don't want to leave her anywhere. Ever.

YOUR TURN: Do you/did you own a pump? What brand was/is it and would you recommend it to other moms?

trusted-breast-pumps1WIN IT! One winner will receive a manual breast pump of her choice from Trusted Breast Pumps. To enter, leave any topic-related comment on this post prior to Tuesday, May 19 at midnight (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).

* This is a sponsored post.

*UPDATE* The winner is #4 workout mommy. Congratulations!

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66 comments on “How do I choose a breast pump (and do I really need one)?”

  1. I have to argue that the Medela pump is far more effective per $ spent that the philips ISIS. Philips seems like a company that wants to do everything - phones-headphone...the kitchen sink! lol

    Medela only provides baby products and for that reason they usually work out the best. I still suggest that other people test out other brands but just be aware of company that do too much.

  2. Wow! This blog helps me a lot! The information is very useful. Just like Pumpstation. Please visit Pumpstation.com because there's a lot information about breastfeeding, nursing pads, nursing pillow, breast pump accessories and etc.

    Abigail

  3. Wow that’s great. It's wonderful that you have put together such an inspiring blog., please check this informative site. Our mission is to nurture, support and empower all mothers with compassionate service, quality information and outstanding products. We serve as a breastfeeding resource center that educates, guides and encourages each mother as she learns to care for herself.

    Abigail

  4. I’ve tried this Baby Diaper Spray from Pump Station… Its all natural and soothing, this 25% zinc oxide spray helps prevent skin irritation such as diaper rash. Its safe and extra gentle Baby Zinc Spray provides an enhanced barrier to help seal out the wetness and germs that cause chafing and irritation to the skin. The episencial aromatic oil blend includes thyme and tea tree for their naturally effective antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It's easy, no-touch spray application minimizes mess and is more comfortable for baby.… I love it! Try it! … I’ll have to try the other stuff from Pump Station! Cheer!

    Abigail

  5. Anyone hear of the pumpstation? I love that place, they have all sorts of products and stand by them. They test everytihng so its safe. it helped me alot.

    Abigail

  6. Thank goodness I bought it. It is an amazing pump. It utilizes a style of pumping that mimics a baby's suckling. The suction is very fast and light to begin with, just like a baby. Then it slows down but uses a stronger suction. I get enough for a feeding after 10-15 minutes, depending on how full I am.

  7. I am sick and tired of hearing ladies with good looking breasts telling others those with small breasts not to do anything about it.

  8. I have a medela hand pump. It worked really well for years until one day no suction at all. I got it back in 1997. I would recommend it if you're not pumping constantly.. it would be easier to get an electric one.

  9. i never owned a pump because i was with baby 24/7 but my sister is expecting and will probably go back to work at 3 months post and this would be great for her

  10. I do not own a pump. After reading more about them though, it is definitely something that I will consider!

  11. I have actually looked at many of the electric breast pumps, but then I read your blog about choosing a breast pump - several weeks ago actually. I really appreciate the advice. I am hoping to breast feed and want to have the freedom to occasionally go out and have my husband feed sometimes too. After reading what you have to say, I really think that a manual pump makes much more sense! Plus, it is a lot cheaper!

  12. I own a manual medalla - it's okay. I never use it unless I have a breast infection and need some extra to help. I have never used bottles in my life. I don't know if it's that great or not because I don't have anything to compare it - it gets the job done but like I said I don't really use it a lot. =)

  13. I recommend trying out bottles on her maybe once a week if you want a date night -ever-

    Neither of my babies would take a bottle because I didn't do that with them even though EVERYONE told me to and now, ugh, my son is 9 months old and we can't date unless I leave after I put him down and get back before he wakes up again and pray pray pray that he doesn't wake up sooner!

  14. I don't own a pump, but would love to have one when our baby is born. I won't be working but it would be nice to have one to pump a little so I can go shopping for a little break every once in awhile.

  15. Once we have our 2nd little one (in the process of making) I will be breast pumping and I was told that the manual ones work better.

  16. I have used almost every pump on the market, plus a couple hospital grade pumps. I found I got the best output with the least damage to my nipples with my Medela hand pump. I brought it to work every day and used it to pump milk to mix with my son's solids.

  17. I had a cheap manual hand pump with my first baby, used it a couple of times, but mainly got frustrated with it. Plus, I never left him alone long enough to really need the pump or the milk! My 3rd baby spent her first week in the NICU, so I had the hospital pump (some Medela) that was amazing, but after she was home, we gave the pump back and never needed it again. But, it would be nice to have one, just in case...

  18. I have use a pump off and on during Lily's 4.5 months to help me up my supply. I have rented and borrowed pumps and as rarely as I have a chance to pump wouldn't want to invest in an expensive model.

  19. i was only 16 when i have my first baby and didn't have the support i needed to "stick it out", although i did try bf for 6 weeks.

    my next baby was a preemie and had an undeveloped suck. once he finally got used to sucking (at around 10 days) he had no interest in the breast.

    my last baby was also a preemie and needed to have the amount of milk she took in monitored. so i had to put for her. she never took to breast.

    i am currently pregnant with #4 and i pray this will be a wonderful bf experience!

  20. I had the Medela Pump in Style that I borrowed from my sister for my first kids. I liked it but it has since broken. Really I would prefer a manual pump since I don't pump much since I work at night. I hear the avent isis is the best one around

  21. I had amazing insurance and rented a hospital grade symphony (medela) from the hospital -- it was AMAZING but costs over $1200 so no way I could just buy it =)

    autumn398 (at) yahoo.com

  22. I was unable to breast feed my daughter. My best friend is having her first child late in life and will have no choice but to return to work aterwards. This would be very helpful to her as she is on a very limited income and intends to breast feed as long as she can.

  23. we are expecting our first this July and this breast pump will come in handy. this manual pump looks great for those short term times and i love the price too!

  24. These are really nice products. I am using breast pumps since my first baby, I do use it as my work routine demanded.

  25. I am going to be a first time mom in about 7.5 months... yeah, just getting started in the first trimester! But, I definately want to breastfeed. I don't work outside the home.... but I do a lot of volunteering and will need a pump for those times! I am trying to find the best pump option out there...

    Thanks!

  26. I pump because I work outside the home and don't have the opportunity to bring my kids with me (unless they're sick)...I have 3 under 4, so you can imagine I've done a lot of pumping in the past few years. I currently use the Ameda Purely Yours which I recommend for being affordable as a double pump with a great motor. It's also hygenic and can technically be shared with others.

  27. I am going to be a first time mommy soon and I'm really looking forward to breastfeeding. I still haven't bought a pump yet but I'm doing my research and looking for a good one!

  28. I waited about a month after my baby was born to buy the Aveng ISIS manual pump - but I sure wish that I'd had it in the beginning, when the baby was still learning how to eat and I had plenty extra I could have saved for later.

  29. I rented my breast pump from the hospital. I thought that I would be able to start breast feeding immediately but no one told me that when you have a c-section it takes a couple of days for your milk to come in. It was a tough lesson to learn.

  30. I had bought a cheap Medela pump, hoping it would help me produce more milk, my milk came in a week after I had my daughter, and I was so determined to still try to breastfeed...but it didn't happen! The pump I bought, I can not remember the style for the life of me, but it was one of the cheaper automatic pumps, it was really slow, I had been better off with the manual one from the hospital!

  31. I have never used a breast pump, as I cannot have children. My friend does and liked the Platex one. This would be for my friend who is due next month!!

  32. i am so glad you address such concerns and topics. i really had this question and you answered well.
    thanks. i would very much love to have one of these..!

  33. I am month 7 into breastfeeding and plan to go for many more months. I am a stay at home mom so an electric pump is unnecessary. A manual pump would be perfect. I would love to go to a movie with my husband and leave baby with Grams. I could definitely use a manual breast pump.

  34. Don't enter me, but I LOVE my Medela PIS. Well, as much as you can love something like that. It has been very good to me for the past 7 months, I work part time and would probably not go to any other brand. Replacement parts are easy enough to find, they have AWESOME cutomer service, and their product works phenomenally.

  35. I also purchased the Pump in Style by Medela after my daughter was born. It was a great purchase & even though I didn't end up using much of my pumped milk, I was able to donate it to the National Milk Bank. What an awesome gift!

    **Also, the cheapest place I have personally found to purchase the Medela Pump in Style is via http://www.hackleyhme.com/

  36. I used the Medela Double electric pump and loved it, it was fast and easy. I also used the manual advent pump you have listed, it worked but was a lot slower and I didn't get as much milk, probably half of what I got using the medela double pump. Plus sometimes I could only get a couple drops and can you say hand cramps? I loved the medela electric double pump though, easy and fast, it is good to have a manual one to carry with you if you need to pump while you are out and about, engorged breasts hurt like heck!

  37. I made a mistake with my two month old, and bought a cheap evenflo pump, which didn,'t really work too well. I was hoping to breastfeed till at least 6 months, but having a crappy pump is making it difficult. Thanks for all the advice.

  38. I have an eight month old who is formula fed because of a medication I am on. I did breast feed a tidbit and loved it! =(

    my best friend is expecting and I would love to shower her with gifts! This would be a great start!

  39. I had a medela pump that was second hand from a friend. Considering it was a 1997 model and the motor just died last week, I think it did very, very well! I would def tell everyone I know to get one of the Medela pumps. They are workhorses!!

  40. I bought a Medela PISA from the lactation department of the hospital before I went home. I had planned to buy one and keep it in its packaging until I decided whether I needed it, but Baby C lost too much weight and had jaundice issues so I ended up pumping and supplementing with expressed milk from day one. 9 months later I'm still exclusively pumping because he never went back on the boob. 3 months to go!

    I love my PISA for the reasons you mentioned. It's quiet and painless. It's allowed me to give my child the benefits of breastmilk even though we couldn't physically breastfeed.

    (I don't need to be entered into the contest, just wanted to share my thoughts!)

  41. Yes, yes. Great advice. I had a single manual pump before my first was born, and I found it impossible to use. Then a health issue came up five days after he was born, and I couldn't nurse him for four days. My husband went out to get a breast pump for me because I was pretty miserable, and he came home with the Pump in Style you like as well. It was so much easier to use.

    Still, I hate pumping! I would do almost anything to avoid it! Only if I absolutely have to do I want to bring out the pump.

  42. these days i am lucky enough to stay at home with my boys... but this wasn't always the case. i went back to work when my oldest was 5 months old. he went to daycare and i ended up pumping at work. i was an elem. school teacher so i had recess and lunch to pump. i was able to close my classroom for privacy and it was nice to have a double electric pump that was quick and efficient. i used one by the first years and it was great. i still have it, but have not had to use it with my youngest since that was the only year i went back to teaching after i had kids. for moms returning to work, i would definitely recommend a double pump. depending on the space available for pumping and work schedule, i would also recommend looking at breast pump accessories... batteries, cords, car adaptors. there may come a day when you are out of the office or classroom and have to pump in your car. yes, i speak from experience : )
    (also, please don't enter me in the contest.)

  43. I used an Avent hand pump rarely with Roo but Jasper had some health issues that kept him in the NICU when he was a newborn, so I got accustomed to the hospital grade pump. I rented one for a month or two after he came home and also got a Pump In Style, which I used faithfully to store up the extra milk. I really recommend the hospital grade pumps to anyone who is having trouble with their milk coming in, it made mine almost too abundant... that being said, neither of my kids really took to bottles so most of my pumping was irrelevant. I think I could probably have done without the electric pump at home, but it sure did come in handy whenever engorgement occurred!

    (I don't need another pump, so please don't enter me in the contest. I just wanted to give you my take on pumps!)

  44. I agree with you. Unless you NEED a pump, don't spend your money! I borrowed two different pumps when Clark was born, thinking I needed to use them and get my baby to take a bottle. It screwed me all up when I was trying to learn to nurse. I don't own a pump now and Alice is 8 months old and has never had a bottle and I am so much less stressed! I think new moms should spend the money on a baby scale instead of a pump, so they can see with their own eyes that their breastfed babies are gaining weight. That is the number one reason I have heard from friends that they have started giving formula-- they just can't believe the baby is gaining. Okay, longest comment ever! Having said all of that, I wouldn't mind having a manual pump around just in case of emergency (since the two I borrowed with Clark I have since returned)!

  45. I use the Avent ISIS IQ Uno Single Electronic Breast Pump. It works well but I find it to be noisy. It was a hand-me-down from my SIL so it was free. I didn't buy one because I wasn't sure whether I'd need it or not.

  46. I used the Ameda pump at home. It was easier to use the hand pump when I was away from home. I used the Medela bottles instead of the Ameda ones. Medela bottles are BPA free.

  47. I don't know anyone who needs a pump, so, please, don't enter me in the contest. I just wanted to say that I bought a pump (just a single electric), and then Levi wouldn't take a bottle. So, I ended up bringing him to work with me, too. I was secretly thrilled over it.

  48. I have a Medela Pump-In-Style and love it! I bought it while I was pregnant with Sugar because for awhile after she was born I did go back to work part time and the pump was a blessing. I gave it to my best friend (who bought all the new hoses, etc... that you should replace) and then she gave it back to me! I do recommend it for anyone who is needing a pump like that. It is handy to be able to leave the baby with Daddy while you do a quick grocery store run or etc... and since I work for myself and occasionally have to meet with clients sometimes I need to leave the baby with Auntie - fortunately 99% of my clients want me to bring the baby with me!

  49. I used a Medela pump in the hospital to encourage my milk to come in and one of the recommendations upon discharge was that I rent a similar pump through the first week to ensure that I didn't end up with a supply problem. (If you read my blog back at the beginning of March you'll know how funny that it!). I think the version I rented was even more expensive than the Medela pump in style and we knew I was only going to need it for a short time so we didn't want to buy it outright. I was a bit out of the loop at the time - hubby made that decision!

    Anyway, the pump comes with a kit that you have to buy, so I own all the pumping bits! I must say that it was a real eye opener for me to be put on the pump as I finally understood what Elizabeth was supposed to be getting these suddenly alien appendages to do, how it was "supposed" to feel and also to get a sense of how much milk was available for baby.

  50. I had the Medela pump in style too! I went back to work full time (after my first) and it was a God send.

    With my second, I pumped a lot 'just in case', which left me with a freezer full of pumped milk. (and sadly I ended up throwing most of it away)

  51. I bought an Avent Isis pump with my daughter. It was great! I knew I wasn't returning to work or school or anything, and I didn't know how often I would be leaving her (turned out she wouldn't take a bottle anyway!), but being able to relieve one breast with the pump while she nursed from the other was a blessing when my milk was first coming in. I put the pumped milk in the deep freeze and used it a few months later when I started her on solids and didn't want to mix cereal with formula or water. I definitely recommend that pump if mom just needs something to keep on hand "just in case".

  52. I received the Medela Pump in Style as a gift before my baby was born. I like it pretty well. Like you say, efficient, not painful, etc. I have never used the "double pump" function. I found it lost its suction when used as a double pump. Plus, I found having to be plugged-in a total pain. I did, however, recently buy an Avent Isis and *love* it. The best is being able to pack it along and pump without worrying about power supply. That said, I'm glad I have both.

  53. My oldest daughter had difficulty breastfeeding and I had to pump for her. I bought a double pump at walmart (a cheap one) and it sucked. When Daughter #2 was born, I was afraid of the same problems, so I bought the Ameda Purely yours. I loved that pump. It worked great. Quiet, efficient, and non painful.

    I gave my Ameda to my SIL when my niece was born premature last year and she was pumping while she was in the NICU.

    I probably won't need a double pump this time, as the baby will go to work with me, but we'll see how that works out and I'll start with a manual pump for those rare occasions I need one.

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