Whether you’re heading back to work, sharing late-night feeding duties, or are simply planning on leaving your baby with a caregiver at some point before she’s weaned, you’ll need a breast pump for breast milk storage. But with a range of options available—and in a range of prices—figuring out which kind will best meet your needs isn’t always obvious. Here’s how to find the best breast pump for you.
What’s the best breast pump for you?
There are double-electric, single-electric, and manual breast pumps, and the one that’s right for you depends on your lifestyle and budget. To find the best breast pump, you’ll need to consider how much time you’ll be able to devote to pumping (if you work, you may need a pump that works faster), the pump’s weight and versatility, as well as the cost, says Sandra Gerdon, author of Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear. Here’s how the different models stack up.
How to pick the best breast pump
Double-electric breast pumps
Double-electric models pump both breasts at the same time. They work about three times faster than single-electric models, making them the best breast pump if you’ll be going back to work while still breastfeeding your baby, Gerdon says. The downsides? They’re heavier than less powerful pumps (though the workout you’ll get lugging it through town just might help you get your post-baby body back faster), and tend to be more expensive.
Still, “without the right pumping equipment, you’re almost doomed to fail,” says Gerdon. So if the best breast pump for you is a double-electric model, just add one to your list of baby registry essentials and let well-wishers buy it for you. We love Medela’s Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump, which holds up to several pumping sessions a day and can run on batteries. Starting at $299, medelabreastfeedingus.com
Single-electric breast pumps
If you’re staying at home or working outside the home part-time, a single-electric model might be the best breast pump for you. “You’ll only get to pump one breast at a time, but you’ll still get adequate suction and speed,” Gerdon says. Single-electric breast pumps are still workhorses, but they’re not quite as heavy and or expensive. We’re fans of the Medela Swing Breast Pump because you can adjust the speed and vacuum settings to your comfort. $170, medelabreastfeedingus.com
Manual breast pumps
Unsure whether you’ll actually need a pump? Having a lightweight, inexpensive manual model on hand might still be a good idea. “If you find you don’t use it after a month, you can always return it,” Gerdon says. Medela’s easy-to-use Harmony Pump is a good choice ($36, medelabreastfeedingus.com) or consider renting a unit from your local hospital.
Will insurance cover my breast pump?
Yes and no. Under the Affordable Care Act, health care providers are now required to provide new mothers with breastfeeding insurance coverage, including a breast pump. “But the law doesn’t specify what kind of pump must be provided,” says Gerdon. In other words, your insurance company might only offer a manual model, even though that might not be the best breast pump for you. “If your insurer only offers manual pumps and you’re going back to work full-time, save your sanity and buy an electric pump. And get the hang of using it by practicing at home for at least two weeks beforehand,” she says.
This article is sponsored by Medela.