Learn about the factors to consider before deciding if an electric breast pump is right choice for you and your lifestyle.

Medela Best Breast Pump
Credit: Courtesy of Medela

When it comes to breastfeeding, moms have a lot of choices. They can choose to breastfeed exclusively, or use a manual pump, an electric pump, or a combination of all of the above.

According to the Department of Labor, about 57 percent of mothers with infants younger than a year old work outside the home. Denise Altman, a registered nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in Columbia, South Carolina, says moms who return to work often choose a double electric pump, because it's quick and convenient and helps keep up their milk supply when away from the baby.

Altman says that the decision to buy an electric pump, which can cost up to $350, is one that mothers should make after the baby is born. "Even if a mom believes she is going back to work, things change," Altman says.

Because every mom is different, she says it's important for women to familiarize themselves with their own breastfeeding style before deciding on the pump that's right for them. "For a lot of [them], there's no clear answer. I know that's frustrating for moms," Altman says. "But until you're in that situation and you see how your body works, where your supply is, how your milk ejection reflex is, and what you're going to truly need it for, it really is hard to say which one you're going to need."

Altman said the following moms are strong candidates for electric pumps:

High-risk moms. High-risk moms who know they're going to deliver early should buy an electric pump in advance, or plan on renting a hospital-grade pump. "She may need something with a little more 'oomph' is a baby isn't nursing well," Altman says.

Working moms. Working moms should research double electric breast pumps, which allow for speed, convenience, and portability while on the job. "Most supervisors aren't going to give you a lengthy time to pump, and the smaller pumps, for most moms but not all moms, don't work as effectively at getting maximum milk production going during the work day or maintaining maximum production during the work day as well as stimulating milk release," Altman explains.

Moms with twins. Altman says that twins tend to arrive early and may present some feeding challenges. Pumping can help give them the sustenance they need.

Many women prefer an electric pump, but there are a number of others who will benefit from alternative methods. Altman says they include the following:

Women without strict time constraints. Stay-at-home moms, or self-employed moms with a more flexible schedule can focus solely on nursing and avoid the electric pump entirely.

Moms with strong milk ejection. Every mom nurses differently, and those with strong milk ejection may not need the higher speed and stronger suction of an expensive double electric pump. "They may find that if they start with a lower-end pump, that's adequate for them to maintain their supply," Altman says.

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