According to this article by The Atlantic, 85 percent of breastfeeding mothers use a breast pump at least some of the time. And some of those mothers exclusively pump their baby's breastmilk and give it to them by way of a bottle. With the majority of mothers choosing to breastfeed their babies at birth, there is a good chance that you will need a breast pump at some point in time. Other mothers will end up using them countless times over their baby's first year and beyond. This means that it's important for new moms to have a quality breast pump. We've come up with a list of the best breast pumps of 2020.
You might be thinking that breast pumps are mostly created equal, but there's a lot of variation. Every mom's body is different and each mother's pumping needs are different, too. For example, a mom who pumps all of her baby's breastmilk will need a very high-quality double-electric breastpump, whereas a mom who only pumps once in a while may be able to get away with a manual breastpump.
Here we'll discuss:
- Why new moms need a breast pump,
- how you can utilize your health insurance to get a breast pump,
- the different types of breast pumps available, and
- the best breast pumps.
Why New Moms Need a Breast Pump
Before the baby comes, most moms plan to breastfeed. In fact, the CDC found that about 83% of mothers started out breastfeeding. Many moms will breastfeed completely in the beginning without having any need to pump, while other mothers end up pumping exclusively from the start. Eventually, most breastfeeding moms will need a breast pump at least one time or another. And for moms who want to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, a breast pump becomes a necessity.
Here are some reasons why moms decide to pump breastmilk:
- baby won't latch properly or painful breastfeeding
- to relieve engorgement
- pump between feeding sessions to stimulate more breastmilk production
- create a freezer stash for later
- for missed feedings when away from baby
- when it's time to go back to work
If you are a breastfeeding mother or plan to be one, the chances are high that you will need a breast pump. Luckily, most moms are able to get a breast pump for free through their health insurance.
Breast Pumps and Health Insurance
Because breastfeeding has been widely researched for its benefits to an infant's health, most mothers no longer have to pay out of pocket for a breast pump. According to healthcare.gov, "most Marketplace plans must provide breastfeeding equipment and counseling for pregnant and nursing women." The caveat here is that the health insurance itself gets to decide (along with recommendations from the mother's healthcare provider) what kind of pump they will cover, as well as if they will provide a rental or a new breast pump for the mother to keep. So even though moms will have breast pumping options - they may not be the mother's preference.
Which means many moms are still spending the extra money to get the breast pump that meets their needs.
Ultimately, it's smart to try the "free" option through your insurance to see if that will work for you. However, if you do end up finding that the provided option isn't working for you in your breastfeeding journey, paying out-of-pocket for a great one is a good investment for you and your baby.
Here are the different types of breast pumps available.
Types of Breast Pumps
Some breast pumps are best for the occasional pumper, whereas others were designed for exclusively pumping mothers who use them around the clock. Here's what you can expect from each kind.
Hospital-Grade Breast Pumps
These are the most expensive options of any of the pumps. If you do find that you need to pump when you're in the hospital, this is what the hospital will provide. They utilize a "closed" system, meaning that they can be used repeatedly by multiple mothers without any bacteria getting transferred. They have powerful motors, are quiet, and can express milk quickly. These are generally rented but can be purchased if you're willing to spend the extra $$.
Electric Breast Pumps
Electric breast pumps are the most popular for moms who need to pump breast milk more than a couple of times per week. These come in single-electric and double-electric. If you are planning to pump after going back to work, double-electric is what you need. These vary widely in their functionality. You'll want to look for efficiency, reliability, and portability. It also must be a comfortable fit (this may have more to do with the flange size than the pump you choose, however.) With the right equipment, you can achieve hands-free pumping while utilizing an electric pump.
Manual Breast Pumps
Manual breast pumps require you to press them with your hand in order to express milk. They are smaller and quieter than an electric breast pump, but are less efficient at getting the milk out. These are best for moms who only need to pump occasionally, or for when a small device is needed for traveling.
Best Breast Pumps of 2020
Since double-electric pumps are by far the most popular, and what will be necessary for mothers who work away from their babies, that's what we'll focus on here. But we did include our top pick for a manual pump as well, because it's great to have one of those on hand, too!
Best All-Around Breast Pumps
The following two are tried and true pumps that have been used and trusted by many moms. These are two top choice for moms who want to pump 1-2 extra times per day to build an extra supply for their babies or who need to pump once going back to work. These pumps can even handle the need of most exclusively pumping moms. Having a breast pump that works
The Spectra S1 is not technically a "hospital-grade" pump, but it is touted as having similar quality. Also like hospital-grade pumps, it has a closed system. This means you don't have to worry about cleaning any of the narrow tubing! Which is honestly such a great feature. Here's what else you can expect from the Spectra S1:
- closed system
- rechargeable battery
- customizable settings so a mom can set them to her own body's response
- 2-phase cycling
- USA owned company that's run by registered nurses, Board Certified Lactation consultants, and moms!
What moms love about the Spectra S1: That it's great for full-time working moms! They say it pumps a significant amount more milk in half the time as other inferior pumps.
Medela has been helping moms in their breastfeeding journey since 1961. Through research and innovation, they strive to create the best products to help mothers and babies. You will see there name come up time and time again for good reason. These are products you can trust. The Medela Pump In Style is one of the most popular options you can get. Here's what you can expect from this breast pump:
- 2-Phase Expression technology - this research-based functionality mimics how a baby feeds from a breast and is shown to get more milk when double pumping
- One-touch letdown button
- powerful enough to be used by moms who need to pump several times per day
- Tote or backpack comes with the pump
- included battery pack means you can pump anywhere without being tied down by a cord
What you should know: Unlike the Spectra S1, this is a single-user pump because it has an "open" system. Tubing and other parts will need to be cleaned after each use.
What moms love: This is a great deal and moms appreciate that everything you need for pumping is included!
Most Discreet Breast Pump
One of the annoying things about pumping is the noise that it makes while also not being the most flattering things with baby bottles sticking straight out from your boobs. This means that most moms must time their pumping sessions just right so they can have privacy. More recently, however, a couple new pumps have come on the market that makes pumping a much more discreet affair. The Willow Wearable is one of those breast pumps.
Unlike other pumps, these use breast-shaped "bottles" that you pump your milk into. They fit right into your bra making discreet, hands-free pumping possible. Because these can be tucked under a shirt with a pump that is super quiet, you can really pump in front of people without them even knowing. Here's what you can expect:
- you can pump anywhere, in any position
- cups are completely spill-proof
- a complete system for moms on the go
- has the ability to sense let down and tracks milk output through the connected app
- only two parts to clean
What you should know: Though this has a higher price than most other pumps, it can be completely worth the convenience factor!
What moms love: I think it's pretty obvious why moms choose this type of pump! Being able to work, continue caring for your baby, or even driving while pumping all make this pump a desirable product. Moms are all about multitasking, am I right?!
Looking for more convenience? Moms on the go need portable options and that includes a bottle warmer. The Baby's Brew, the only battery-powered bottle warmer, is perfect for warming your baby's milk anywhere, anytime. It uses slow-heat technology to safely warm breast milk to 98.6 degrees in 5-10 minutes. It's an on-the-go must-have!
Best Budget-Friendly Breast Pump Option
Double-electric breast pumps can get pricey. And even though insurance is required to cover a pump, it may not be one that works well enough for your needs. If you do find that you need to pay for one on your own, there are quality options with a lower price tag. This is a lower-cost option we recommend:
The Smartpump from Lansinoh has a unique Bluetooth feature. It allows moms to automatically track pumping sessions and more with the Lansinoh Baby app. Even with the lower price, this one has many excellent reviews! Here are some other notable features:
- ComfortFit flanges are soft and flexible, allowing for the perfect fit
- has customizable settings with adjustable suction strength and 3 pumping styles
- 2 mode technology allows for the maximum amount of milk expression
- closed design means easier cleaning
- can be plugged in or used portably with batteries
What you should know: Like anything, not everyone found this pump to be as effective as others. But they do have a 90-day limited warranty and great customer service if you need any help.
What moms love: The fact that the pump is lightweight and fits in one hand is helpful while the fact that it tracks everything gives moms great peace of mind.
Best Manual Breast Pump
Manual breast pumps certainly have their place, and the Medela Harmony is a great go-to. This was designed especially for moms who would have occasional time away from their baby. Here are some things to know about it:
- bestselling manual breast pump
- utilizes 2-Phase Expression Technology which means it has both a stimulation phase and an expression phase - which is modeled after how a real baby sucks on a breast
What you should know: This pump comes with one size of breast shield - 24mm. If you require a different size, those can be purchased separately.
What moms love: Moms love this as a back-up option to a bigger, more cumbersome double-electric pump, too. They say it's easy to throw in a bag for when you need a quick pump to reduce engorgement.
Best Hospital-Grade Breast Pump
Most moms won't have a need for a hospital-grade pump. But there are situations when renting, or even purchasing, one of these powerful and efficient breast pumps will be worth the higher price tag. This is a popular one you'll likely be able to find that works well when other breastfeeding pumps may not.
It may seem weird to rent a breast pump that someone else has previously used, but these were actually made for that purpose. You will have your own personal kit that attaches to the pump and the Medela Symphony and other hospital-grade pumps have a closed system. This means that the pump itself is protected from any milk overflow. Some reasons that moms might choose to use this pump over a standard double-electric include:
- uses initiation technology that can significantly increase breast milk production soon after birth
- has 2-phase expression technology
- has two seperate, independent membrane units that allow for single or double pumping. This means you could feed your baby on one breast while pumping the other.
- Special "let-down" button allows moms to return to stimulation
What you should know: We would strongly recommend that you try this pump out by either renting one or using it at the hospital first (if the less expensive options won’t work for you). For some moms, it won't work better than some of the other great double-electric pumps on our list even though the cost is significantly higher.
What moms love: From reviews, it sounds like this is an excellent pump for meeting the demands of having twins, specifically!