If you're returning to work and want to keep feeding your munchkin breastmilk, then you're probably in the market for a breast pump. The device allows others to feed Baby from a bottle, but it also has several other uses; for example, it can ease engorgement in the early days, increase milk supply, clear a clogged milk duct, and more. Since double-electric pumps are pricey (though still much less expensive than buying formula), many women register for a pump, so family and friends can pool together to gift it to them. Breast pumps are also part of Affordable Care Act, which means that some health insurance plans will cover the full or partial cost. Check with your policy provider to understand any stipulations.
Before buying a breast pump, it's vital to understand the different kinds on the market. If you're going to pump every day, you should invest in a double electric pump, which can cost up to $350. There are two choices for double electric pumps: the "single user pumps," which you buy in the store, and the "multi-user pumps," which you rent and are often referred to as "hospital-grade." Multi-user pumps are generally more durable and take 10 to 15 minutes. On the other hand, single-user pumps tend to be more portable and take 15 to 20 minutes; they cost anywhere from $50 to $150.
If you're going to use a pump only occasionally, consider getting a manual breast pump ($40 to $50) instead. Denise Altman, a registered nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in Columbia, South Carolina, says a manual pump usually takes about twice as much time as a double electric single user. If you're not returning to work, or you work from home and have more flexibility in your schedule, a manual option may be best the best breast pump for your lifestyle and budget.
No matter what type of pump you choose, consider its lifespan before buying. Altman says that even a good electric pump will last through "one and a half babies." Some of her patients, she says, have purchased a motor, rather than an entirely new pump, to extend the lifespan. If you're planning to use the pump for a long time, find out if the manufacturer will sell replacement motors. That way, you won't have to purchase another breast pump as your family grows.
If you're looking for the best best pump for your needs, check out eight options that ranked high on our list.
Medela's Pump in Style Advanced has a durable motor, a battery pack for times you can't find an outlet, "letdown" mode that helps get the milk flowing, and adjustable settings. This double electric pump is pretty much a working mom's best friend. ($299.99-359.99)
Learn everything you need to know about pumping breast milk! Watch this video to see the best breast pump for you, when and how long you should pump, and how to store the breast milk.
The compact design of Philips AVENT's Double Electric Breast Pump is ideal for transporting it to work every day. You can customize the suction with three different settings, and a petal design on the cups helps stimulate letdown. ($199.99)
With the help of lactation consultants, Dr. Brown designed a manual option to let you pump "comfortably, discreetly and conveniently." And you can't beat the price! ($29.99)
Many hospitals rent out Ameda pumps, but if you want your own, consider Ameda Purely Yours Ultra Double Electric Breast Pump. Airlock Protection™ keeps milk safe, while CustomControl™ lets moms change the suction and speed. It also comes with a easy-to-clean tote bag! ($250)
Moms who only occasionally pump, and rely on breastfeeding often, should look into the Evenflo Dual Electric Breast Pump. This bargain option may not come with many frills, but it does have an adjustable vacuum and an AC adapter. ($59)
A single manual pump comes in handy for relieving engorgement or providing the occasional bottle for baby. It's good for travel, too, since there's no battery or electricity needed. ($34.41)