Pumping Sucks. The Best Breast Pumps Make It Easier

Whether you go electric or manual, these are the best ones.

Oct 21 2019, 3:21 PM

Babies eat. A lot. 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. The best breast pumps enable nursing mothers to pump milk without being tethered to wires, tubes and bottles, and wearable breast pumps free them up to feed tiny humans while also doing other stuff.  Finding the best breast pump for working moms is pretty crucial, because it enables them to actually multi-task while also producing more milk in less time. 

Electric breast pumps are the most common choice among nursing mothers because they have a motor that does the work for them. Moms can opt for a battery-operated pump, or one that plugs into the wall, or both. To get the most milk in the least amount of time, women can get a double pump, which draws milk from both breasts simultaneously. Many of today’s fanciest pumps have something called a closed system: It means that milk doesn’t circulate through tubing or the motor of the pump, thus keeping things simpler and more hygienic.

If mom is primarily breastfeeding but needs a pump to use on occasion, a manual one is a good option. For moms who prefer to operate in hands-free mode while at work or while playing with the kid, they can choose a pump like the Willow that is spill-proof and fits directly into the bra, without any dangling wires.

The 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 its 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.

Pretty much the established gold standard in breast pumps, the Medela is designed to be ultra-portable. Medela's new breast pump weighs just one pound, meaning it can go anywhere. It's small. It's mighty. It's designed for moms who pump multiple times a day, and has a closed system that stops breastmilk for getting into tubing. It has a rechargeable battery and Bluetooth connectivity to the MyMedela app.

Another wearable breast pump, the Elvie is among the quietest ones on the market, although it's not silent. It's ideal to use while the baby is napping, or while mom is on a conference call. It's worn inside the bra, and has only 5 parts for easy cleaning. The app monitors milk volume in real-time. The pump itself is rechargeable and has auto shut-off when it fills a container.

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.

The Luna is the pump to use if you need to produce more milk in less time, because moms swear by its quiet, efficient power. The Luna is a closed-system pump, meaning the tubing stays clean. It has a built-in LED nightlight for midnight pumping that won't wake a sleeping baby. Moms get a single or double pumping option. It weighs only two pounds, so it's ultra-portable.

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 ultra-affordable 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.

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.

Wear it, and forget it: That could well be the motto of the brilliant Willow. The upgraded version of this next-gen breast pump has a slower, softer pumping rhythm for added comfort. Its smart suction technology adjusts based on her own preferences, so she doesn't need to press any buttons or play with any settings. The app gives her personalized pumping tips. But the name of the game here is convenience. She pumps directly into storage bags or reusable containers. Even better, she can attach the pump to each breast, and use it without having to deal with wires, cords, or any dangling containers. It's great to use at work, at home, or even in the park.

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