The Best Breast Pump 2017

The Best Breast Pump 2017

Last Updated: Aug 3, 2017 @ 11:02 am Best Breast Pump 2017. We researched, tested and evaluated 20+ breast pumps before crowning a winner: the Medela Pump In Style Advanced ($180) is the best breast pump for moms who need to pump frequently. Fast, easy to use, transportable with three different carry bag options, this pump has been a favorite of our readers and lactation consultants we interviewed for several years.

Scroll down for our picks for Best Manual Breast Pump and Best Mini-Electric Breast Pump. New to breast pump shopping? Read our 7 Things No One Tells You About Buying a Breast Pump.

(A quick side note—there are three basic types of breast pumps: manual, mini-electric and high-end/professional pumps. Each serve a different purpose. Jump here to read a quick Breast Pump 101 in case you are new to all this!).

It’s the 800-pound gorilla of the breast pump category—the Medela Pump In Style Advanced is the king of breast pumps, in our opinion. So what’s all the fuss about? If you are serious about pumping every day, the Pump In Style (PIS) allows you to carry a high-quality pump with you to work. You can empty both breasts in a short amount of time with great comfort. As a nursing mom, I personally used a previous version of this pump and found it to be comparable in quality to a hospital-grade pump. (Scroll down for more details on the Pump in Style).

The Best Breast Pump

Medela Pump in Style Advanced

With technology that mimics the way an infant nurses at the breast, the Pump In Style is a high quality pump that empties both breasts quickly with great comfort.

Medela Pump in Style: more details

The PIS has evolved over the years (check out this Medela video with details on features)—the current flagship is called the Advanced, which comes in three flavors. Two of those three flavors have carry bags:

Medela Pump in Style with On the Go bag

Medela’s Pump in Style with On the Go bag

Medela Pump in Style Backpack

Medela’s Backpack version of the Pump in Style

Medela also has a third version of the Advanced—a stripped down Pump in Style Advanced called the Pump in Style Advanced Starter Set, which is provided by some insurance carriers to comply with the Affordable Care Act. All three versions have 2-phases expression, adjustable speed/vacuum control and a one-touch let-down button . . . but the Starter just doesn’t have a bag. Yes, it includes the tubes, flanges and collection bottles. Price: $138. Here’s what it looks like: Medela Pump in Style Starter

Regardless which style you choose, the Advanced features Medela’s “2-Phase Expression” technology that mimics the way infants nurse at the breast. At first, infants apparently nurse quickly to simulate let down, then they settle into a deeper, slower sucking action—the Pump In Style Advance simulates this pattern. Fans of Medela love the availability of parts (sold in many retail stores) and Medela’s great customer service. The take home message: we recommend the Pump in Style—it is an excellent pump.

Flaws but not deal breakers

The Pump In Style may be the Google of breast pumps, but it does have a few critics. Here are the key concerns:

  • Cost. The PIS is $100 or so more than the Ameda Purely Yours, the main competitor in this space. Medela’s success in this category means pricing power. And they can command the $100 premium over other pumps, given their reputation and quality.
  •  Weight. The PIS is heavier than the Purely Yours.

Let’s take a look at another great pump next . . .

Also Great: Avent Double Electric Comfort Pump

AVENT Double Electric Comfort Breast Pump

Avent touts it’s angled breast shields for a more comfortable pumping position that’s easier on Mom’s back.

The Avent Double Electric Comfort pump ($200) is essentially a double pump based on the Avent’s mini-electric Single Electric Comfort Breast Pump. It comes with three flow settings and is much smaller/lighter and less expensive than the Medela Pump In Style Advanced. The design of the flange with the textured massage cushion is impressive. Of course, not everyone is a fan. Some parents have complained the pump did not work as well as the Medela Pump In Style Advanced or broke after a few months.

Best Manual Breast Pump

Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump Best Manual Breast Pump. Our readers love the Avent Comfort Manual, which Avent claims is as efficient as a mini-electric (it takes about eight to ten minutes to empty a breast). That assumes you have the hand strength to pump for 8-10 minutes, of course. Comfort is the focus here: no more hunching forward, the Comfort Manual keeps the milk flowing into the bottle no matter your position. Here’s an example:

Avent Manual Pump in use

Next, they added a “soft massage cushion” to the flange that feels soft to the touch and massages the breast for better letdown. See below:

avent-manual-pump-soft-massage-cushion

Finally, the pump has an ergonomic handle for easy one hand operation. Other great features included easy cleaning (you can pop it in the dishwasher), compatibility with other Avent bottles (it comes with a 4 oz. Avent Natural bottle), and ease of use. See below how the pump assembles: avent-manual-pump-assembly Mom feedback is very positive and at this price, it’s a real winner.

Flaws but not deal breakers

Avent’s Comfort Manual is great, but not immune to a few flaws. Some are the result of the limitations of manual pumps in general:

  • • Since these are single pumps, it takes a while longer to empty both breasts.
  • • Manual pumps don’t express much (or enough) milk.
  • • Pumping manually is physically demanding. Here are specific flaws of our top pick:
  • • Avent Comfort Manual can develop a loud squeak after prolonged use, say a few readers.
  • • A few parents complained they couldn’t get the suction to work.

Also Great: Medela Harmony manual pump

Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump The Harmony from Medela is a great runner up in the manual pump category. Similar to the Avent’s Comfort Manual, the Harmony has even fewer parts to wash than the Avent and some parents tell us it is easier to assemble. Medela notes the Harmony utilizes “two-phase expression technology” that is supposed to stimulate let down, then slows down to mimic slower, deeper sucking action.

One reader with larger breasts found this pump worked better for her than the Avent. The Harmony is also slightly more affordable than the Avent. On the downside, Medela does not recommend using the Harmony every day. It is intended for occasional use only. Some parents complained it lost suction after a while, but they may have been using it every day. And Medela includes only one size flange: medium. If you need a different size, you’ll have to order this from Medela online and wait for delivery.

 Best Mini-Electric Breast Pump

Medela Swing Mini-Electric Breast Pump Best Mini-Electric Breast Pump. The Medela Swing single electric pump ($170) offers Medela’s 2-Phase Expression (the same system as Medela’s more expensive pumps), which is designed to copy baby’s natural sucking rhythm.

The pump has two different modes: first it stimulates letdown and then it simulates baby’s normal sucking pattern. Other features include compact size (weighs only 2.5 lbs.), AC adapter or battery power, shoulder/neck strap (so you can move around while pumping), and user controlled comfort settings.

So here’s the bottom line on the Swing: it is an excellent pump. Moms applaud this Swing’s ease of use and comfort.

The only negative: it’s a single pump and hence is best for occasional use. Most negative reviews we heard from parents center on the fact that the Swing didn’t work well over time when moms were using it every day. But, again, the Swing is only intended for occasional use. For daily use, check out our pick for best professional grade pump.

Flaws but not deal breakers

The Swing gets mostly great reviews, but a few readers noted these problems:

  • The Swing is only available as a single pump. Some moms would have liked a double for the speed and convenience.
  • This pump is only intended for occasional use, not daily use. That means pumping a bottle for a night out with a babysitter, or to relieve engorgement. This disappointed parents who assumed they could use it for daily pumping.
  • Expensive. Parents probably assume this pump is intended for daily use because it is rather expensive compared to other mini electrics.

Also Great: Avent Single Electric Comfort breast pump

AVENT Single Electric Comfort Breast Pump Avent’s Single Electric Comfort breast pump ($130- $150) is a credible runner up to the Medela Swing. Like the Avent Comfort Manual, the Single Electric has an angled neck that allows mom to sit up straight and still get milk into the collection bottle. Avent also added their massage cushion, a feature moms love. But the flange is only available in one size—if it doesn’t fit, you’ll have to buy another size. Another drawback: some parents complain the Avent Single Electric Comfort pump is rather loud.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing breast pumps since 1994. In addition to hands on inspections of breast pumps, we have also interviewed lactation consultants and spoken with actual moms about their experiences with pumps. We also evaluate consumer reviews posted on sites like Babies R Us and Amazon, as well as our own message boards. Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews. We’ve been writing and reviewing baby gear since 1994. Yes, that long!

How we picked a winner

 

Mom pumping milk

We evaluate breast pumps with in-depth inspections, checking models for overall quality and ease of use—for example, checking the pump to make sure it’s pulling the correct pressure. We also gather significant reader feedback (our book, Baby Bargains has over 1 million copies in print), tracking pumps on quality, cleanability and durability.

Besides interviewing parents, we also regularly talk with lactation consultants and obstetricians to see which brands are most trustworthy and other key quality metrics. The reliability of pump manufacturers is another key factor—we meet with key company executives at least once a year. Since we’ve been doing this since 1994, we have developed detailed profiles of major crib brands that help guide our recommendations. See below for links.

7 Things No One Tells You About . . .

7 Things No One Tells You About Buying A Breast Pump!

1. Breast Pump 101: The Three Basic Types of Pumps (and what they do well).

Even if you exclusively breastfeed, you probably will find yourself needing to pump an occasional bottle. After all, you might want to go out to dinner without the baby (yes, that is possible). Maybe you’ll have an overnight trip for your job or just need to get back to work full or part time. Your partner might even be interested in relieving you of a night feeding (okay, maybe you’re interested in your partner taking over a night feeding).

The solution? Pumping milk. Whether you want to pump occasionally or every day, you have a wide range of options. Here’s an overview:

  • Manual Expression: OK, technically, this isn’t a breast pump in the sense we’re talking about. But it is an option. There are several good breastfeeding books that describe how to express milk manually. Most women find that the amount of milk expressed, compared to the time and trouble involved, hardly makes it worth using this method. A few women (we think they are modern miracle workers) can manage to express enough for an occasional bottle; for the majority of women, however, using a breast pump is a more practical alternative. Manual expression is typically used only to relieve engorgement.
  • Manual Pumps: Non-electric, hand-held pumps are operated by squeezing on a handle. While the most affordable option, manual pumps are generally also the least efficient—you simply can’t duplicate your baby’s sucking action by hand. Therefore, these pumps are best for moms who only need an occasional bottle or who need to relieve engorgement.
  • Mini-Electrics: These breast pumps (most work either with batteries or an A/C adapter) are designed to express an occasional bottle. Unfortunately, the sucking action is so weak that it often takes twenty minutes per side to express a significant amount of milk. And doing so is not very comfortable. Why is it so slow? Most models only cycle nine to fifteen times per minute—compare that to a baby who sucks the equivalent of 50 cycles per minute!
  • High-End Double Pumps (aka Professional Grade): The Mercedes of breast pumps—we can’t sing the praises of these work horses enough. In just ten to twenty minutes, you can pump both breasts. And high-end double pumps are much more comfortable than mini-electrics. In fact, at first I didn’t think a high-end pump I rented was working well because it was so comfortable. The bottom line: there is no better option for working women who want to provide their babies with breast milk.

Let’s take a look at some pictures of pumps. Manual pumps are great for occasional bottles or to relieve engorgement.

Avent Manual Breast Pump in action

Here is an Avent Manual breast pump in action. It’s great for relieving engorgement, but unless you have impressive hand strength, it won’t be easy or quick to get a full bottle this way.

Here’s what a mini-electric pump looks like—as we mentioned, these pumps are for expressing the occasional bottle. While affordable, most of these pumps are neither efficient or quiet.

Evenflo's Single Electric Breast Pump is affordable ($40 at Walmart). Unfortunately, mini-electric pumps like this aren't very comfortable or efficient at expressing milk, in our opinion.

Evenflo’s Single Electric Breast Pump is affordable ($40 at Walmart). Unfortunately, mini-electric pumps like this aren’t very comfortable or efficient at expressing milk, in our opinion.

High-End Double Pumps (aka Professional Grade) are the best solution if plan to pump and working outside the home.

Medela Pump in Style Backpack

Medela’s Backpack version of the Pump in Style is portable and perfect for pumping on the go.

2. That free ACA breast pump may not work best for you.

Yes, as a new mom, you qualify for a free breast pump with your health insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

So what’s the catch? (You knew there would be a catch.) That “free pump” is determined by your Insurance carrier—and this whatever breast pump they decide to cover. That means they could give you a cheap, underpowered mini-electric . . . or a top-of-the-line professional grade electric pump. In the former case, you may find yourself needing to purchase a breast pump out of pocket.

3. It may make more sense to rent than buy.

medela-lactina-hospital-grade-breast-pump

Medela is one manufacturer that makes both consumer pumps for purchase and hospital grade pumps for rent. This is Medela’s Lactina model.

Rental pumps are what the industry refers to as hospital-grade or piston electric pumps. They are built to withstand continuous use of up to ten times a day for many years. The interior parts are sealed to prevent contamination from one renter to the next.

Compared to purchased pumps, rentals have much more powerful motors and can often empty both breasts in 10 to 15 minutes without hurting breast tissue.

We recommend renting first before buying, just so you can get the hang of it and determine if you really need a breast pump for long-term pumping. They usually rent from $65 to $90 per month, plus the cost of a collection kit.

4. Don’t purchase a used pump.

We’re big proponents of saving money, but somethings you must draw the line at. One is never, ever buy a used professional grade electric pump. Models like Medela’s Pump In Style can actually collect milk in the pump mechanism—that can expose your baby to bacteria and pathogens from another mother’s breast milk.

So, let’s state it clearly: DO NOT PURCHASE A USED BREAST PUMP. The risk of exposing your baby to any pathogens isn’t worth the savings. Of course, it is fine to re-use your own breast pump for another child down the road. Just replace the tubing and collection bottles to make sure there are no bacteria left over from previous uses.

5. Don’t forget about how you’ll store that milk.

You have options: plastic bags, plastic bottles and ice cube trays. Plastic bags designed for breast milk storage are the cheapest option—we recommend Lansinoh breast pump bags ($29 for 150 bags or 19¢ per bag). Yes, there is some concern that some nutrients in breast milk can stick to the bags, but they are a safe, convenient option, in our opinion.Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags If you prefer plastic bottles, Medela makes plastic bottles ($11 for six five-ounce bottles) that are compatible with all their breast pumps.

Medea Breastmilk Storage Bottles

Milkies Milk Trays is our last recommended storage product. They look like old fashioned ice cube trays, but they include lids to help avoid freezer burn. The cubes come out as long cylinders, perfect for a baby bottle. Cost: $20. Milkies Milk Trays

6. When it comes to breast pumps, don’t skimp on quality.

It’s important to buy a pump you can successfully use. Invest in quality, speed and comfort. Yes, you can find a $20 breast pump in a discount store . . . but if it is slow, painful and inefficient, it’s no bargain.

7. Hiring a lactation consultant is a wise investment.

Lactation consultant

Lactation consultants really know there stuff. Your doctor should be able to recommend someone to help you if you have any issues.

Successful breast feeding and pumping is not just about the pump. A lactation consultant (either affiliated with your doctor or with a hospital), can help make sure you’re using that pump correctly. It should not hurt! Lactation consultants can help troubleshoot problems, enabling your breastfeeding and pumping to be as successful as possible. We strongly suggest using a lactation consultant’s services.

Reviews of 20+ breast pump brands

The Best Breast Pump

Medela Pump in Style Advanced With technology that mimics the way an infant nurses at the breast, the Pump In Style is a high quality pump that empties both breasts quickly with great comfort.

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