Babies eat. A lot. And for nursing mothers, that usually means investing in a breast pump, be it an electric breast pump, a hands-free breast pump, or a hospital grade breast pump. And so the quest begins for the best breast pump for her specific needs, whether she’s pumping at work or at home or in the car.
For mothers who are able to nurse, the American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that infants be fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months after birth.
Companies have gotten smarter and realized that even if a woman has access to a lactation room or—even more rare—her own office, she doesn’t necessarily want to be tethered to a bunch of wires, tubes and bottles. The stalwart hospital pump might still be the best choice in certain situations, like for those nursing twins, trying to establish supply in the early weeks or working to increase overall output.
But for work purposes, there are many portable, battery-powered alternatives that, in some cases, can even be worn directly inside the bra. (A great option for those hoping to make a long commute more productive or, you know, running an Ironman while pumping.) Read on so you can get yourself up to speed on all things breastfeeding, and your partner is already nursing, go ahead and start working your way down this list of nice gestures—she is, after all, sustaining a tiny human, so it’s the least you can do.
Best Breast Pumps
How popular is this pump? Let's just say that if it were human, many breastfeeding moms would marry it.
The Spectra, which has a sleek profile and weighs just under three pounds, is a true workhorse. Moms report that it fully empties the breasts (it works as either a double or single pump), and it’s also fairly quiet with lots of customizable settings. She can opt to use the rechargeable battery or plug it in, and it’s small size makes it nice for keeping at work. The pump uses a closed system, meaning the milk stays completely separate from the skinny tubing (so no need to deal with the nightmare of sterilizing it). It isn’t officially wearable, but it can be paired with the Freemie Closed System Collection Cup set and eliminate the whole bottle-flange setup. A nightlight and timer are handy extras she’ll come to appreciate.
This electric breast pump is battery-powered, with a backup battery, so moms never run out of juice, and comes with an LCD display that tracks their pumping.
We love that this breast pump comes with a rechargeable battery, so it’s ideal for working moms who have to pump throughout the day and don’t need the hassle of always finding an electrical outlet.
Pretty much the gold standard in breast pumps, the Medela Sonata system maximizes flow and is ultra-efficient.
This double-electric breast pump has a corresponding app that tracks milk production, taking the guesswork out of it. The brand’s new breast shields extract 10 percent more milk per minute than pumping with traditional breast shields. The pump has a touch screen display, a one-touch letdown button, plus comes with all the accessories nursing moms need.
Weighing in at less than two ounces, the Baby Buddha, which would be perfect for travel, looks more like a smartphone or a work ID badge than a breast pump.
The pump hangs around the neck with a lanyard and connects to two traditional bottle-flange set-ups, so it’s not considered wearable like the Elvie or Willow. That said, it is teeny tiny, operates using a closed system and is fairly powerful given its size, although some moms find it less efficient than a larger pump like the Spectra.
This breast pump is so quiet and so small, it's absolutely ideal for pumping on the go.
The best part about this breast pump, aside from its super-quiet motor and the fact that it fits into a purse or pocket, is that it has a built-in rechargeable battery that gets two hours between charges so you can pump without needing a power adaptor. Plus, this breast pump has 10 unique levels of expression mode and five levels massage mode. Moms rave that it empties your breasts out in minutes.
This electric breast pump has a textured massage cushion that stimulates milk flow.
We like the flexibility of this breast pump, which lets you choose your desired position when you sit and pump instead of having to hunch forward. The breast pump’s angled neck lets milk flow naturally from breast to bottle. The breast pump has a simple design that’s easy to take apart and clean. You can choose from three expression pump settings to find the one that works for you. As for the aforementioned massage cushion, it has five textured petals intended to help stimulate milk flow by mimicking your baby’s natural sucking patterns. Do note that some moms complain that this breast pump does not have powerful-enough suction.
If you opt to go the manual breast pump route, this is one of Amazon's top sellers. It's easy to use, it's lightweight and portable, and it's foolproof.
This manual breast pump does all the work for you. You simply suction it to your breast, and the milk flows. It’s incredibly soft and made from high quality food-grade silicone. It’s especially ideal for plane rides, road trips, and other outings. Oh, and it’s dishwasher-safe. Just note that some users say that it doesn’t provide enough suction.
The Willow fits inside the bra and can be controlled via smartphone app, and it uses either milk-collection bags or a reusable four-ounce container. It also has the auto-shutoff feature should the container or bag fill up before the pumping session ends.
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