Our Top Pick for 2018: Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump
Read our full review.
Breastfeeding is recommended by pediatricians and specialists, for at least the first six months of your baby’s life. A good breast pump will help you achieve your important breastfeeding goals during that time, and even beyond. There are many different options you can look into for expressing breast milk, including double and single electric pumps and manual pumps, but what makes one stand out from the other? With all of the different benefits and pitfalls to each type of pump, we want to help you narrow down your options and weigh those features so you can feel confident you have made the best decision for you and your baby.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
|Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote||1,252 Reviews||$299.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Philips AVENT Double Electric Comfort Breast Pump||233 Reviews||$209.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Spectra Baby USA - S2 Plus Premier Electric Breast Pump, Double/Single, Hospital Grade||1,604 Reviews||from $175.50||Buy on Amazon|
|Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump||2,878 Reviews||$41.99||Buy on Amazon|
#1. Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump
The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump is our top pick, and for good reason. It is top ranked by customers and recommended by many lactation consultants across the board. This pump is designed for the mom who will be pumping multiple times each day, over a prolonged period of time. The reliable Medela motor and the easy to assemble pump parts are designed to make the breast milk expression process a breeze in comparison to many other pumps on the market. The Pump In Style is efficient, portable, comes with multiple accessories, and is quite comfortable.
Some of the efficiency comes from it being a double electric pump, meaning both breasts are pumped simultaneously. This encourages a quick letdown and both breasts can be emptied in as few as 6-10 minutes, depending on the person. It was noted by one reviewer that her milk supply had dwindled on another pump, but was back up to normal in 3 days using the Pump In Style. Medela also has the 2-phase pumping technology, which imitates a baby’s natural rhythm during the letdown phase with quick, shallow suction at the beginning of each session, and then it is followed by steady, deeper suction to fully empty each breast. The speed and suction are easily controlled on the front of the pump, so you are able to set your pump to the most comfortable and efficient pace for you.
The Pump in Style comes in a stylish, black microfiber bag, which is large enough to carry all of the parts and any stored breast milk, along with personal items you would normally carry in your purse. One Amazon Reviewer said that the supplies she used everyday at work, fit into the bag nicely. It weighs 7 pounds and is 10X5X7 inches. 7 pounds may sound heavy, but the comfortable straps disperse the weight well. While you will most likely plug it in for regular pumping sessions, it also comes with a convenient battery pack, operating on just 8 AA batteries, which, according to the Baby Gear Lab, can last up to 6 hours of pumping time. You can also use it in the car with the 9-volt, AC adapter to save the batteries on long trips. It is the ultimate in simple portability for moms on the go.
This pump comes with so many useful accessories, some of which we have already mentioned, such as the tote and the car adapter. However, the Pump In Style also comes with many other great extras. The basic parts, such as the tubes, the bottles and the 24 mm breast shied flanges, are not only BPA free and easy to use, but they are also easy and affordable to replace if they are damaged, lost, or in need of replacement for hygiene purposes. You can find them at many retailers that sell the Medela brand products or on the Medela website or other online sources. Other sizes of breast shields can be purchased separately, for added comfort and efficiency. Inside the tote, you will find a cooler bag with a contoured ice pack, for storing your expressed milk to keep it fresh. A reviewer stated that, “with cooler and ice pack, my milk is so cold its like I had it in a mini fridge!” The 4 bottles that the pump comes with will hold up to 5 oz of breast milk each. They come with a nipple to feed directly, and 4 lids for storage to use the milk later.
The ability to change out the breast shield flanges for the size that best fits you, not only makes the pumping process more efficient providing maximum suction, but it also makes it more comfortable. Expressing breast milk can be an overwhelming and uncomfortable process, but Medela put a lot of thought into the design of the Pump In Style to make sure that it was easy to set up and provided the most comfortable fit, speed and suction possible. The simpler the process and the less discomfort you experience, the longer you will want to stick with pumping for your little one, whether you exclusively pump or just pump for a backup supply. It was also mentioned by an Amazon Reviewer that it was quiet and discreet, helping her be able relax while pumping at work, as well. Being comfortable using it in public settings is a plus that should not be overlooked, especially when you will be going back to work.
While there is not much negative to say about such a well-designed and easy to use pump, there were some cons mentioned in the reviews that we want to address. The Pump In Style is not a closed system, and milk can back up into the tubes. It is important that you not let the milk make it all the way up the tube, into the pump. It is also easy to keep this from happening. If you notice milk in the tubes, after you are finished pumping, disconnect the tubes from the bottles and let them hang down while you run the pump for 1-2 minutes to dry them out. The tubes are long and it is not likely that you will have milk make it all the way through the tube to the motor.
#2. Philips AVENT Double Electric Comfort Breast Pump
Our runner up, the Philips AVENT Double Electric Comfort Breast Pump, has a lightweight, compact design, but it is not a lightweight when it comes to quality. The pump only weighs 2 pounds and comes with a compact travel pouch to store the pump and parts. The Double Comfort Pump also comes 2 bottles along with lids, 2 AVENT natural nipples, and 2 sealing discs. This double electric pump, also offers exceptional benefits such as comfortable pumping, ease of use, and some unique improvements that are sure to help you see why this was one of our top breast pump choices.
Most pumps will require you to lean forward for the duration of the pumping session, in order to allow milk to flow downward into the bottles and not pool in the flange, or worse, back into the tubing. However, with the AVENT Comfort Pump, the angled flange allows you to maintain a more natural posture for nursing. The pump comes with the 25 mm flange but there is also a 19.5 mm flange available for purchase on the Philips website, though most accessories for this pump cannot be found in stores. The flange also has 5 soft massaging petals that provide a gentle stimulation for milk flow to protect your breasts and nipples from unnecessary pain in the pumping process. Amazon reviewers agreed with that assessment, saying that the flange was much more comfortable than the standard hard plastic flanges on most breast pumps. These massaging petals also better mimic the suckling pattern of your baby, not just for comfort, but also for improved lactation. It is important to note here that the rubber inlays are removable for easy cleaning and for varying comfort needs. In research, it is mentioned that you must have proper nipple and breast alignment in the flange to achieve the level of comfort and milk production you are looking to find.
The rubber inlays are easy to insert or remove to accommodate your needs in use and for easy cleaning. All of the parts that come in contact with breast milk must be cleaned regularly, which is why these parts being BPA free and dishwasher safe is so important. The AVENT Comfort Pump is also designed to be simple to use. There is an automatic, gentle letdown setting at the beginning of each pumping session. From there, it will transition you to your desired pump suction setting, low, medium, or high. You can choose this setting with the operating buttons on top of the pump before you begin and then you are able to relax. In the reviews it was mentioned a few times that this pump works well with hands-free bras, also, which only adds to the comfort and ease of use for the amazing multitasking mom. The AVENT natural bottles and nipples allow for smooth transition for your baby from breast to bottle, many of the reviewers on Amazon and Target pointed this out as a major bonus for them when using the Double Comfort Pump.
Some of the unique improvements that Philips has done with this Double Comfort Pump were to incorporate a closed vent system and provide buttons that light up. The closed vent system is becoming a major selling point for many buyers because it keeps the milk from getting into the tubes, or ultimately into the pump itself. This is a consideration when it comes to hygiene, as the milk in the tubes can breed bacteria if not promptly addressed. And, while the back lit buttons may not seem to be an outstanding feature, it was important to note because many new mothers use pumps to increase their supply rapidly and use it all day and throughout the night. This little feature can make a big difference at 4 AM.
#3. Spectra Baby USA S2 Double/Single Breast Pump
The Spectra Baby USA Double/Single Breast Pump is becoming very popular, and is our #3 choice, for several reasons. It is a super quiet double, or single, breast pump that begins with a gentle let down mode and is fully adjustable in both the letdown and expression phases. Weighing less than 4 pounds, with a compact and sleek design, it is also discreet when you need to bring it along to work, or out and about. While it is ranked with some of the best pumps, it has a great price that is less than you normally see with hospital grade electric pumps. A few of the outstanding features about the Spectra S2 are that it feels closer to the natural sucking motion of a baby, it has an easy to understand digital display, and it versatile for many different pumping needs.
Many of the reviewers on Amazon raved about the natural sucking motion created by the gentle, but effective, pump system on the Spectra S2. It is said to feel less mechanical and that it can feel like the fluttering sensation that occurs when breastfeeding a baby. This can stimulate milk production and even additional letdowns during the pumping session, which will ultimately lead to more efficient and abundant milk output. It is also very comfortable and will help new mothers, or mothers who are working to increase their supply, to avoid some of the discomfort that can be associated with prolonged pumping and feeding sessions.
The digital display is easy to read, easy to use, and will help you to find the perfect setting every time. While many pumps will allow you to control the speed and suction simultaneously, the Spectra S2 gives you freedom to independently adjust each, to find the mode that is right for you. It even gives you the ability to adjust the strength and rhythm while in the letdown mode. Every woman’s body works differently and having a fully customizable pumping experience can insure that you will get the best results, each time you sit down to pump. There is a timer function, as well, so that you will not have to watch your clock anxiously. And, there is a nightlight, which as we mentioned before, makes pumping around the clock a little easier.
The Spectra S2 is a double/single pump, meaning that it can be used to pump both breasts at the same time, or can easily be switched to pump only one side. This feature is very useful for increasing supply in the early stages of breastfeeding. When your baby is satisfied after only fully emptying one breast, you can either pump the other breast as the baby eats, or pump afterward. This pump is also a closed system, with a physical barrier between the milk and the pump and tubing. This means less cleaning time and better hygiene overall. While all of these features make it very versatile, it is not as portable as some models, since there is no way to operate it off of battery or to plug it into your car. Many people mentioned this as a negative, but quickly followed by saying that all the wonderful features outweighed this one drawback.
#4. Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump
If you are looking for a pump that is a little easier on your bank account, the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump is cost effective, but will still give you the results you need when working to express milk for your baby. While this may not replace the need for a double electric pump if you are a frequent pumper, it is a great supplement for traveling and works well for moms who exclusively breastfeed but need to express occasionally for a date night or to run an errand. It can also be used discreetly when traveling, especially air travel, versus pulling out the louder, bulkier double electric pumps. The pump and all of the parts that come with it, weigh in at only one pound, making them easy to store and transport, wherever you go. The Harmony Manual Pump has 2-phase expression technology, it is very comfortable for a manual pump, and it is easy to assemble and clean.
The 2-phase expression is common on electric pumps; however, very few manual pumps have yet to incorporate this important feature. To use the stimulation mode, which mimics the initial quick shallow suction of a baby that encourages letdown, you simply use your thumb and press on the top of the pump lever. After letdown occurs, you switch to the larger end of the lever, at the bottom, and pump till you feel you have fully emptied your breast. Many reviewers, across several sites, said that they were able to get as much milk with the Harmony Manual pump as they could with their electric pumps, though it does take a little longer since you are doing it one breast at a time, by hand.
Though, like any manual pump, your hands will get a little bit of a workout, Medela has made the Harmony Manual pump more comfortable than the traditional hand pumps that are available. The handle is soft to the touch and has an ergonomic design that allows it to swivel to each side so you can easily express milk with one hand. People that have used the Harmony Manual pump have said that the design of the pump made it not only effective at milk removal, but also proved to be gentle and less irritating on their breasts than other manual pumps.
The Harmony Manual pump comes with minimal, easy to assemble, parts. It can be put together or taken apart quickly, which also means that it is easy to clean thoroughly. Upon taking the pump out of the box, several reviewers said that they did not even need to consult the assembly directions, but were able to understand quickly how to put the pump together. While it is only designed for occasional pumping and, therefore, some of the parts may wear out in the long run, they are also easy to find wherever Medela brand products are sold.
Manual or Electric
The first thing to decide is whether you will need a manual or electric pump. Both types of pump can be very useful and have their place in aiding women to reach their breastfeeding goals. The manual pump is meant more as a supplemental tool, either to exclusive breastfeeding or as an alternative to your electric pump when you are on the go. You will be only able to empty one breast at a time and it can be quite a daunting task for your hand when you use a manual pump. If you will be using your pump frequently to gain a stash, improve your milk production, or while at work, you will probably be better off buying a double electric pump that works quickly and will maintain suction and power throughout the time you will be using it.
Every woman is built differently and will respond uniquely to their pump’s different levels of suction and speed. Stronger and faster are not always better and, in fact, can stifle production when it becomes painful or uncomfortable. Having adjustable speed and vacuum can help you find what works best for you and it will make your pumping experience all-around more pleasant and productive. Some pumps will adjust both settings at the same time or allow you to adjust each by itself. If you are more sensitive, it could be worth looking into a pump that allows you more settings combinations. Manual pumps have the advantage of being controlled entirely by you, so they would be considered fully adjustable, though some have more comfort features added, as well, that should be considered.
Hygiene and Health Issues
First of all, buying a used pump is not recommended. Because of issues with bacteria, you will not want to share a pump, regardless of how thoroughly you think it has been cleaned. Other things to consider in this category are whether or not it is a closed ventilation system, if it is BPA free in all of the parts that come in contact with the milk, and if it is easy to clean. The closed ventilation system makes it so much easier to control the spread and build up of bacteria in the tubes and pump itself, since there is a physical barrier between the milk and those parts. However, some people will say that they feel there is a loss of suction power because of the barrier. Most pumps are now completely BPA free, but it is still something to watch out for because of the dangers that the chemical can present. As far as being easy to clean, it should come apart completely and easily so each part can be cleaned well.
Most mothers will need their pump to be somewhat portable at different times over the span of the several months that they will be pumping and breastfeeding. Whether you will be using it while traveling, just running daily errands, out for an evening, or at work, having a machine that can be toted from one place to another, can be crucial. Features that make pumps more or less portable would be whether it comes with a bag or tote to carry the pump and parts, if the pump can be operated off of battery power or has a car adapter that comes with it, how heavy it is, and whether there is a way to properly store the breast milk after you pump. Whether you will need all of those features or just a few depends on your lifestyle and needs during the time you will be using your pump. Manual pumps are completely portable, though, if you will be in a hurry when using them, it might not be the best option.
Easy to Find Parts
Over time, the flanges, tubes, membranes, bottles, nipples, and other essential parts of the pump and collection kit, may need to be replaced for one reason or another. While most pumps will provide a way that these things can be purchased, some only offer the parts from their websites or through their customer service centers instead of in local stores, which can mean a waiting period of days or weeks before you can continue to use your pump, or that you will have to use a pump that is not functioning at it’s best. That can have a negative impact on your supply and ability to continue providing breast milk for your child. Many women also need to purchase different sized flanges than what is supplied in the kit, to properly fit their breasts for increased comfort and efficiency.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
While there are many things to weigh in your decision making process, the reviews and features listed here will be a tremendous help to guide you to the pump that is the perfect fit for you, your lifestyle, and your budget. Whether you purchase the top of the line or the budget pick, you will find each pump has different things to offer and different drawbacks. Having an infant is a joyous time and you can protect this special time by choosing the right tools to make everything run a little bit more smoothly.