With so many breast pumps on the market, it’s difficult to choose which one to buy. Medical grade pumps, standard double electric pumps and hands-free pumps are the most commonly used. Let’s discuss the different kinds of breast pumps and which ones I recommend, based on different situations.
If you have a baby who was premature and/or a NICU baby and you’re separated for long periods of time, a medical grade pump is probably your best choice. The medical grade pump such as the Medela Symphony is the Ferrari of breast pumps and can help get your milk supply established or help to increase it. The stimulation you get from this type of pump is superior to all the pumps on the market. That’s why it’s a very expensive pump and deemed ‘medical grade’. If you need a medical grade pump, often times insurance will cover the cost to rent it with a prescription from your doctor. Or, you can rent it yourself from a medical supply company.
Standard double electric pumps such as the Spectra, Medela, Motiff, Lansinoh, etc. are the most popular pumps among moms however, they are not all created equal. Most of these pumps are covered by insurance. Be aware, some brands such as the Medela have ‘insurance versions’ of the pump which are much less efficient and sturdy than if you were to buy the same pump in the store. It’s important to know that some double electric pumps just don’t have the ability to stimulate a letdown as well as others. I always recommend the Spectra. I’ve used the Spectra myself (after trying other brands) and I’ve had countless clients who have also used it. The Spectra is far better than any other standard double electric pump on the market right now. It’s quiet, gentle, it has multiple settings, and it tends to be the best at mimicking how a baby suckles and removes milk. I’m not sponsored by Spectra, I’m just sharing my personal and professional opinion. If your insurance covers a Spectra, get this brand. The Spectra insurance version is the same as store bought. The Medela is a very popular pump. I’m not quick to recommend the Medela because it’s loud, it can be rough on the nipples, the insurance version is not as efficient as the store bought one and the motor tends to burn out quicker than others. Don’t get me wrong, I love Medela products and use them often but I’m not a huge fan of their breast pump. I do however, know many moms who use the Medela with no issues and love it.
The other types of pumps on the market that are quickly gaining popularity are the hands free pumps such as the Freemie or the Willow. I love that these pumps can be worn relatively discreetly and they allow a mom to be completely hands free and mobile. I recommend these pumps for second time mamas who only occasionally pump or need to stimulate their breasts a little more after nursing their baby. There’s nothing better than being able to pump milk while chasing around a toddler. However, for some moms, the hands free pumps are not good at increasing or even maintaining milk supply. They don’t have the ‘baby power’ to replace nursing sessions on a regular basis. So if you’re a mom with a history of low milk supply, if you’re going back to work full time or you need to exclusively pump, the hands free pumps are not ideal. Another downside to the hands free pumps are the cost! They are very expensive and it’s not recommended to buy them used because of possible contamination. Not to mention all of the parts and assembling required to use the hands free pump.
If you plan to pump whether it’s occasional or more regularly, ask an LC to help you choose which pump would be best for you and your situation. If we know more about your history and your pumping plans, we can help you choose the best breast pump for you.