Choosing a breast pump can be overwhelming at first with all of the different options out there. There are a few factors that come into play when you are making a selection, so hopefully this guide will help you in your decision.
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First, check with your insurance company to see what they cover. If you are in the US, your insurance is required to cover a breast pump under the affordable care act. I went into detail on how to get a breast pump through insurance HERE. Most of the time, your insurance will give you a list of pumps that are covered completely, and in some cases a second option of pumps that would be covered in partial. If you go through a third party company like Aeroflow, you will be able to see exactly what your out of pocket cost would be based on the pump you select. This is a great start as there are so many awesome pumps out there, so this is an easy way to narrow the selection down to a few.
If your insurance does not cover a pump purchase (they could only cover a rental) or if the pumps they offer do not appeal to you, the next step is determining your budget. Electric pumps typically cost more than manual models.
Different types of pumps:
Manual breast pumps require you to hold the pump up to your breast with one hand while you manually pump with the other. This type of pump is usually one of the least expensive options, but it requires the most amount of work and time. A manual pump works great as a backup, for travel, or if you will not have to pump often. Pumps start at just $14 dollars on Amazon for something basic like the Q-Jing, or you could opt for a better known brand like the Medela Harmony or the Lansinoh Manual Pump.
Electric breast pumps plug in and automatically pump the milk for you. These pumps come in both single and double electric options, meaning they can either pump one or two breasts at a time. Some of the top contenders in 2019 for electric pumps include the Spectra S1 or S2 (They are the same except the S1 comes with a battery pack options), and the Medela Pump In Style. Don’t worry if your insurance doesn’t cover either of these though, there are so many great options out there!
Wearable (or hands-free) pumps fit inside your bra so you can remain hands free. These pumps usually cost significantly more because they are quiet and discreet. One of the best brands on the market currently is the Willow wearable breast pump. However, not all insurances will cover the cost at this time. You can also opt in for wearable flanges that will attach to your regular pump such as the Freemie cups (check out my full review HERE).
Hospital Grade Pumps
Hospital-grade breast pumps are the most powerful options out there and are designed to be safely used by multiple different people. A hospital grade pump excels in establishing your milk supply, but a standard electric pump works just fine at maintaining supply. There are many different types of hospital grade pumps on the market, ranging from $150 to thousands of dollars. Most hospitals will allow you to rent a hospital grade pump and many insurances will even help cover the cost of the rental.
We were able to use and rent the Ameda Platinum pump in the hospital and for the first few days at home while I was waiting for my milk to come in. It was a great pump, but very heavy and hard to transport so it would not have made a good personal pump. My local hospital rents them for $20 a week to give you an idea of what the pre-insurance price is, but it’s best to check with your specific hospital to find out what the cost would be.
A silicon pump/collector is just a flexible silicone cup that attaches to one breast while nursing on the other. It is used to catch letdown and pull a little bit of extra milk out while you are breastfeeding. You can also use it as a basic manual pump if needed, but I have found it harder to collect milk without the letdown. One of the most common brands are the Haakaa pumps, but there are so many great options online. Check out my full review of the different types of Haakaa pumps, along with a couple of alternate brand recommendations HERE.
Things to consider when choosing a breast pump:
Some of the following items will matter to some people rather than others. If you are a stay at home mom and will only be pumping in your living room, you may not care if the pump is loud or even necessarily need a double electric. However, if you will be taking your pump to work and have to limit your time, you might prefer a quieter double electric pump to keep the noise down and limit the amount of time you spend pumping.
1. Is the suction adjustable?
What’s comfortable for one woman might be uncomfortable for another. If you opt for an electric pump, you might want to choose one that allows you to control the degree of suction and cycling speed. Some pumps let you control these using one dial, while others will let you control the suction and speed independently from each other.
2. How do the breast shields fit?
Breast shields are the cone-shaped flanges that fit over your breasts and nipples. If you think that the standard size breast shield that comes with the pump will be too small, check with the pump manufacturers about other sizes. Larger, smaller, or replacement shields are sometimes available for purchase. If you want to pump both breasts at once, make sure the pump comes with two shields.
3. How noisy is the pump?
I personally sit at my desk in the open while I pump, so a quiet pump was a necessity for me. The pump I keep at home was much louder, but it did the trick and I didn’t mind having a louder pump while I was in the comfort of my own home. Determine how and where you will be pumping to see if the noise level of your pump matters to you.
4. Does it need electricity?
Some pumps will be battery operated, plug in, or have an option for both. Does your pumping room have an accessible outlet? Will you be traveling frequently and need to pump in the car or on a plane? These are all questions you should ask yourself before you decide if your pump will fit your needs. However, just because a pump doesn’t have a battery backup, doesn’t necessarily mean it is out. There are a lot of converters you can use for the car or plugs in an airport to make it work – again, it just matters what you think is important.
If you’re not sure which type of breast pump would work best for your needs, ask for help. A lactation consultant (also known as IBCLC’s) can help you make the best choice and offer support through your breastfeeding and pumping journey. If you haven’t worked with a lactation consultant before, ask for recommendations from a friend, your child’s pediatrician, or your OBGYN/ Midwife. You can also show up to any LaLetche League meetings or check your local hospital’s for breastfeeding support groups.
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