Quite a few moms need to use an electric breast pump to produce and store milk for their babies. For these moms, breastfeeding may not be practical, and using powdered milk won’t provide enough nutrition for their babies.
There are two types of breast pumps a new mother can use- manual or electric. Both pumps have their advantages and disadvantages. Electric pumps are more expensive and are heavier to carry, but they provide more milking power and personalized settings than manual pumps.
This expert guide will provide information on electric pumps in general, and reviews of several top pump models.
Pumping Breast Milk: Is it Necessary?
It is not always necessary for a new mother to pump breast milk. Breastfeeding is the preferred method for feeding babies, but unless you’re a stay-at-home mom, you may have to pump breast milk for use later.
You may want to feed your baby breast milk but can’t breastfeed because you’re at work or traveling most of the day. If so, using an electric pump (and possibly a manual pump for backup) will give you a good supply of milk to refrigerate for feeding any time.
If you have trouble producing enough milk when you breastfeed, are engorged, or have mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue), pumping will relieve the pressure and pain.
Another situation is if your baby is unable to latch on to your nipple, pumping helps you deliver breast milk to feed your baby instead of having to resort to less-healthy powdered milk or formula.
On a side note: if you have breast milk to spare, you may want to donate to a milk exchange program or a milk bank. These programs help babies stay healthy when they can’t receive breast milk from their own mothers.
How to Use an Electric Breast Pump
An electric breast pump is a “hands-off” pump that works faster than manual models. Most women prefer electric pumps over manual ones. Here’s how to use one. (Your model may work differently, so always read the instructions to familiarize yourself with the machine.)
Wash your hands and clean the pump. Even if it’s new out of the box, you should wash any plastic parts that will touch the baby or your breasts in boiling water or a sterilizer for five minutes.
Find a secluded, quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Think about your infant for a few minutes to release the hormones that will make milk production easier. Hold the breast shields, but not the bottles, against your breasts so you can arrange them comfortably. Center the shields directly over the nipples to avoid pain or damage.
When you turn the pump on, milk should flow in a minute or two. Some brands adjust by themselves, while others require the user to change settings. Make sure you adjust the speed, so it becomes inconsistent like an infant’s natural sucking pattern.
Continue thinking about your baby, turn on music, or do something else to distract yourself. Concentrating too hard on the bottle filling may stop you from producing milk.
Turn off the machine and take off your breast shields when you feel the milk flow slowing down or stopping. Unscrew the bottles and cap them.
Wash any pump parts that touched your body or the baby. Air-dry the pieces.
You can refrigerate the milk for up to five days or keep it in a freezer for six to 12 months. It will be fine for four to six hours at room temperature.
What to Look for in an Electric Breast Pump
If you are considering an electric pump, think about the following features before deciding on the right model for you. Don’t buy on budget alone – choose the pump with the features that best suit your lifestyle.
Electric breast pumps are bigger and harder to transport than manual pumps, but some electric models are more lightweight than others. There are plastic models with easy-carry handles that weigh three pounds, and bulky, hospital-grade models.
If you need to use your pump at work, choose a lightweight model. You’ll still need a tote bag to carry it – even the smallest electric pump won’t fit easily into a regular-sized purse like some manual pumps.
One or Two Breasts
You may want to pump from both breasts at the same time to produce more milk during a session. Electric pumps with double-pumping action are a bit more expensive, but you’ll get more milk with less effort.
Some electric pumps let you adjust the number of sucks per minute or imitate your infant’s sucking pattern. Other machines let you choose from pre-set suction levels.
Outlet or Battery Powered
If you normally pump at home, or somewhere else with easy access to electrical outlets, any standard electric breast pump will suit your needs, Moms who travel a lot or work may benefit from a battery-operated pump. (Some models even have an eclectic car adapter so you can use the pump on your road trips.)
Always bring an extra pair of batteries with you when you’re away from home (even if you just changed the batteries in your pump) to avoid getting stuck with an inoperative pump when you need it the most.
Electric breast pumps may be ten times more expensive than the cheapest manual pump, but they will pay for themselves in the long run by providing excellent nutrition for your baby. You will also avoid the hand fatigue that comes with powering a manual pump on your own.
Why Choose an Electric Breast Pump over a Manual Breast Pump
Electric breast pumps are the favorite of most mothers, and here are a few reasons they may work for you.
Ease of Use
An electric pump does all the work for you. A manual pump requires the user to pump the milk out of the breasts by pressing on a handle attached to the device. This process can cause hand fatigue.
You may cut your pumping time short because you’re tired and produce less milk. With an electric pump, however, all those worries go out the window. Turn it on, and the machine does all the work for you.
Electric breast pumps are more powerful than manual ones. They begin coaxing milk out of your breasts almost immediately and will give you more milk in less time. (How much more milk will be produced varies from woman to woman.)
You can use an electric pump daily to produce and store breast milk. There are no physical repercussions to doing this like the hand fatigue you sometimes get from a manual pump.
Whether you work or stay at home, an electric pump helps you produce more milk for your baby. Be aware before bringing an electric pump to work that these pumps usually make a lot of noise.
Most Popular Electric Breast Pump Brands
In choosing the top five electric best pump brands, I looked at and narrowed down a list of categories, including the following. A selected pump had to meet all, or most, of these standards to be included on our list.
Since most Moms need to move around a lot during the day, even if they work at home, a lightweight electric pump is preferable to heavy, hard to carry models. Luckily, most electric pump brands offer models that weigh five pounds or less.
Double Pumping Option
A double pumping option allows you to produce milk from both breasts at the same time. Faster machines received more consideration.
Most electric pumps offer special features, from patented, exclusive phase technologies to specially-designed, comfortable breast shields. I looked for pumps that provide moms with something extra that average models lacked.
Machines offering more setting options for moms scored high enough to be included in popular electric breast pump brands. Sucking speed adjustment, vacuum controls allowing for setting choice, and other manual or pre-set options were counted as advantages.
A closed system features a “block” between the milk collecting device and the pump. This barrier stops mold, bacteria, and germs from sticking to the machine. Additionally, closed system pumps are easier to clean.
Although there is no scientific evidence that a pump without a barrier, or an open system, is more germ-laden or harmful, the extra measure of protection offered by a closed system is a plus for concerned moms.
Some electric pump kits include several storage bottles, carrying cases or tote bags, a sterilizer and/or other supplies. An electric pump package that has these extra items saves you time and money shopping for additional items that may or may not be a fit with your pump model.
Best Electric Breast Pumps
Spectra Baby USA – S1 Hospital Grade Double/Single Electric Breast Pump Set
- Includes: Spectra S1 Hospital Grade Double/Single breast pump, 12 volt AC power adapter, detachable power cord prongs,...
- Closed system: No need to clean the narrow tubing because Spectra S1 has a closed pumping system that keeps tubing dry...
- Rechargeable battery: Spectra S1 has a convenient, inbuilt rechargeable battery
- Built-in rechargeable battery
- Customizable suction settings
- Two-phase Modes
- Touch button controls
- Tote bag included
- rechargeable battery
- closed system for better hygiene
- Somewhat heavy
Spectra Baby USA S1 Breast Pump Review
The Spectra S1 is a hospital-grade pump with all the usability and convenience of a compact personal model. It has a touch button control that allows you to control the rhythm and suction in expression and let-down modes.
You don’t need to clean the tubing of the S1 because it has a closed system that stops airflow between the milk and the tubing. This protects breast milk from mold and viruses during the pumping process.
The Spectra Baby USA S1 Breast Pump comes with a wide neck bottle, 12 Volt AC adapter, detachable power cord prongs, and a Spectra Backflow Protector. It also comes with a set of bottles, two sets of Spectra tubing, four flanges and two Spectra duckbill valves with a black tote bag.
Other Top Electric Breast Pumps
Here are reviews and other information about the other highly-recommended electric breast pumps available in the market:
Medela Symphony Breast Pump
- HOSPITAL GRADE: Helps initiate and maintain milk supply with Medela’s patented, research-based 2-Phase Expression...
- INNOVATIVE DESIGN FEATURING OVERFLOW PROTECTION: The Symphony Breast Pump’s kit (sold separately) is independent from...
- EFFICIENT, COMFORTABLE, WHISPER-QUIET: Clinically proven to achieve faster milk ejection and flow when pumping at...
- Two-Phase Expression Technology
- Symphony 2.0 Program Card
- Membrane units
The Medela Symphony Breast Pump is an electric, hospital-grade pump suitable for daily use. It is one of the first electric pumps with Two-Phase Expression Technology to release milk shortly after you begin to use and make milk flow faster. This product brings out both inverted and flat nipples.
The Symphony package contains a breast pump, container stand, cards, and cord protector. You can also see a quick start instruction card and a Symphony 2.0 Program card/chip in the box. However, you must buy bottles and a pump kit separately.
The power required to run this pump is as follows: 100-240 volts or 50/60 HZ 0.5A. Also 12 volts DC power/ 25 watts.
- Two-Phase Expression Technology
- Symphony 2.0 program card/chip
- Efficient but gentle
- Quiet operation
- Used in hospitals
- Quite expensive
- Kit with membranes sold separately
- Poor customer service
- No battery capability
Medela Symphony Breast Pump Review
Efficient but gentle, the Medela Symphony helps moms produce milk at home with all the power of a pump used in hospitals. The Symphony offers both single and double pumping, but you’ll need to buy a separate kit if you want to double pump.
Designed to mimic a baby’s sucking rhythm, the Symphony may look noisy, but it’s quiet enough to use when everyone else in the house is asleep. The main unit has a let-down button you can press to return to stimulation when milk has waned.
This unit operates by electricity only (dual voltage) and does not use batteries. You’ll need to bring adapters with you to use overseas.
If you’re not with your baby all the time, you can use this pump to keep your breast milk supply steady. A typical pumping session takes 15 to 30 minutes, and you’ll have enough milk to store for a while. Some women report producing 50 ounces or more a day maximum.
There are a few negative aspects to this machine (besides the expense). Most notably, the bulky carrying case is awkward, and the digital bars that indicate pumping levels are quite difficult to see in the middle of the night.
Spectra Baby USA – S2 Hospital Grade Double/Single Electric Breast Pump
- Natural Nursing Technology: Our Spectra S2 electric breast pump features technology that allows comfortable suction...
- Personalized Settings: Adjust the breast pump settings to fit your preference with adjustable suction levels and two...
- Single or Double Pumping: Can be used as a single electric breast pump or a double electric breast pump and for best...
- Use without an adapter
- Two-phase features
- Adaptable suction settings
This Spectra Baby USA-S2 electric pump offers a top suction strength of 250mmHg, and you can use it as a single or double pump.
The Spectra Baby, USA S2 kit, includes a double/single, hospital-grade electric breast pump, Spectra tubing, four flanges (2-24mm and two 28mm), two duckbill valves, two backflow collectors, two wide neck bottles, a 12 Volt AC power adaptor, and a detachable power cord prong.
The Spectra Baby USA Company is run by lactation consultants, mothers and registered nurses who know about the best components to use in a breast pump because they have first-hand knowledge of using the equipment.
- BPA and DEHP-free
- Has a night light and timer
- Has warranty on Spectra
- Two-phase features
- May randomly power off or die
- Hard to get spare parts
Spectra Baby USA S2 Breast Pump Review
A hospital-grade pump with customizable settings, the Spectra Baby USA-S2 has a closed system to keep tubing dry. The closed design helps prevent mold or bacteria from gathering on any part of your baby or breast milk.
As an added safety feature, all Spectra Baby pump parts that come in contact with breast milk are BPA free and contain no DEHP(a phthalate commonly used as a plasticizer).
The sucking pattern is more like a real baby than most pumps. You can adapt the settings to your own responses and rhythms. Suction can be adjusted to a compatible speed, and there is a two-phase expression and let-down mode featured.
This Spectra pump also has a night light and timer, so you can keep track of how long you’re taking to produce milk, even in the middle of the night. The Spectra is whisper-quiet as well, so you won’t need to worry about bringing attention to yourself when using it.
You don’t need an adapter to turn the unit into a double pump. Remove the clear plastic top from the hole under the machine. There are two spots where you can plug the tubes on the front of the device.
Make sure to put the clear top back on when you want to use one pump.
Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote
- Two-phase expression
- Cooler bag and ice pack included
- Microfiber bag
This Medela breast pump is double electric and recommended for daily use. It is intended for Moms who need to pump milk for storage a few times a day. It is quiet compared to many other models of the same size and power level.
Use the Medela Pump-in-Style anywhere by using the battery pack. It requires eight Double AA batteries (not included). The batteries will make the unit heavier, so try to use an electrical outlet.
You can use this pump hands-free with a pumping bra.
The bag that’s included makes the pump and supplies easy to take to and from work.
- Comes with a tote bag
- Has a double pumping kit
- plusCooler bag and ice pack
- Two-phase expression technology
- Hard to clean
- Bottles may get bent out of shape
- Two-phase expression technology
Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump Review
The Medela electric Pump-in-Style features 2-Phase Expression technology, like other Medela pumps. Use the let-down button, and with one touch, you’ll express milk in a fraction of the time when you pump with the Maximum Comfort Vacuum during the expression phase.
Using this pump can get your milk production back up, even if you’ve had a decline for some time. The suction is quite strong with this pump. You can even use it at half-speed and receive suitable suction to increase expression.
The Pump-in-Style includes the pump, an ice pack and cooler bag, a nine-volt AC adapter, a microfiber bag for transport and storage, a double pumping kit that includes 24mm breast shields, a battery pack and 150ml/5oz breast milk bottles with lids.
The microfiber bag holds everything you need for pumping on the road. It also has a built-in pump. The settings on the main device feature a single knob for vacuum and speed adjustments.
Store the cooler bag with a contoured ice pack to hold four bottles of milk. Even though it holds fewer bottles, the ice pack keeps milk cold longer than some other pump brand packs,
All parts that touch breastmilk or skin are BPA-free.
Best Portable Electric Breast Pump
Philips Avent Double Electric SCF334/22 Breast Pump, White
- Quiet Efficient Pump with a comfortable pumping position due to unique no lean forward design
- Choose from 3 expression settings (low, medium, high) after starting in the gentle stimulation mode
- Soft, warm stimulation massage cushion now has a soft, warm texture intended to help stimulate breast milk flow
- Three expression settings
- Stimulation massage cushion
- No lean forward design
The Avent Double Electric Breast Pump is made for use outside the home and inside in equal measures. It comes with a bag for all the affiliated items, including bottles, a breast shield, and a cooler pack. It only weighs three pounds, so unless you stock up the tote bag with extra items, it won’t be difficult for you to carry.
This pump is easy to set up and clean. Once you’ve cleaned the pump, it stays clean, and there’s little chance of buildup.
The operating buttons are in plain sight, so you can change settings without searching for the controls.
- Three suction settings
- Includes stimulating massage cushion
- The bottle has breast-shaped nipple
- Lightweight and easy to assemble
- Pump fits too tightly
- May lose power and suction
- Cords may cross during use
Philips Avent Double Electric Breast Pump Review
This Avent model has a more efficient pumping due to the “no lean forward design”. The pump features an angled neck that allows milk to flow from your breast to the bottle while you sit upright.
The massage cushion is configured to stimulate milk flow, and the pump includes a bottle with a natural, breast-shaped nipple. The power cushion helps you stay comfortable and express more milk when you need more suction.
A 25mm cushion is included in the box, and you can purchase a 19mm separately.
Reduce expressing time with this double pump so that you can return to your work, errands, or other activities quickly. The suction and power are consistent, and you can use one of three settings (low, medium or high) after starting the process in the “gentle stimulation” mode.
This Avent pump has a few, easy to clean parts and a closed system design to prevent mold and bacteria from developing on the apparatus. Breast milk enters the container straight from the breast, with no backflow.
The double electric pump from Avent is made for discreet use at the office or at night, to keep pumping private and avoid waking up your baby or partner.
The Avent Double electric breast pump usually comes with a two-year warranty.
Medela Freestyle Breast Pump
- DESIGNED FOR MOMS ON THE GO: All in one mobile and portable pumping solution, small enough to take with you anywhere....
- DOUBLE ELECTRIC BREAST PUMP: Designed for daily use for moms who pump several times a day, thanks to its patented,...
- RELIABLE CLOSED SYSTEM: Closed system design with Overflow Protection at the kit prevents your breast milk from entering...
- Freestyle for double pumping
- Powers with battery or outlet
- Digital display and memory button
The Freestyle breast pump has a lightweight motor and you can carry it in a tote bag to work or elsewhere. However, at five pounds, it’s not the lightest electric pump out there, so don’t plan on carrying it by hand for an extended period of time. The bag will keep everything in place during long car trips, and you can buy an optional 12-volt car lighter adapter.
Like all Medela pumps, the Freestyle has Two-Phase Expression technology for more milk production and easier let-down.
You can use the Freestyle Pump hands-free with Medela nursing bras and camisoles (sold separately).
- Includes tote bag
- Two-phase technology
- Double pumping capabilities
- Designed for daily use
- Removable cooler bag
- Hands-free system is hard to use
- Lower suction rate than similar units
- Too expensive for the features
Medela Freestyle Breast Pump Review
The Freestyle provides features to make pumping easier anywhere at any time of day. There’s a backlit digital display so you can see the pump settings at night, a timer to help you keep track of sessions and a memory button to store settings for later use.
You have a choice when it comes to powering your pump. Plug it in or use the rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. You can also use the AC adaptor or charger as needed.
Like other electric pumps, the Medela Freestyle competes with manual pumps when it comes to ease of transport and ability to use at work or on the road. The cooler bag is removable, and it has a contoured ice pack to keep the milk chilled outside the home.
You can keep four breast milk bottles and lids in the cooler pack until you feed your baby or get home to store the bottles in the fridge.
The package contains a freestyle pump, AC charger/adapter, Lithium-ion rechargeable battery, membranes, back caps, one set of tubing, a carry bag, one 24mm, and one 27mm PersonalFit breast shield, cooler bag, cooling element, 150mL/50-ounce breastmilk bottles with lids, instructions, and carry bag.
Most Affordable Electric Breast Pump
BelleMa Effective Pro Double Electric Breast Pump
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- Independent Dual Control (IDC)
- Comfortable, soft silicone cushions
- Vacuum power adjusts to 250mmHg
The BelleMa Effective Pro Double Pump offers pumping on both breasts without any reduction in power for both working and stay-at-home Moms. It is a closed system breast pump that leads to more hygienic, higher efficiency pumping. There are independent controls for the left and right breasts for better expression.
If you want more suction on one side than the other, you can change the settings to accomplish that. The suction on this unit is quite powerful, so this product should be quite helpful if you need extra assistance when it comes to getting stimulated for milk production.
- Available at an excellent budget
- One-year limited warranty
- Breast-massaging silicone cushions
- Independent Dual Controls
- Anti-backflow closed system
- Doesn’t fit most bottles
- The unit gets hot after prolonged use
- Suction settings are too powerful
BelleMa Double Electric Breast Pump Review
This device has two-phase pumping for stimulation and expression, along with nine vacuum power settings that go up to 250mmHg for superior suction. The anti-backflow, hygienic closed system construction ensures a cleaner, bacteria-free experience, and mold-free plastic parts.
One of the best and most original features is the unit’s Independent Dual Control (IDC). You can select left breast, right breast, or dual pumping and adjust levels for both breasts to your specifications.
The unit is pretty quiet, so you can use it at night or when other people are around without bothering anyone or frustrating yourself from too much noise.
The pump comes with comfortable silicone cushions to gently massage breasts. You can choose a single or double mode, depending on how much you want to pump.
The current BelleMa Effective Pro Double model is easier to assemble and clean than previous models. It doesn’t come with a carrier, and you’ll need to buy a USB cable for power separately.
The box includes a breast pump, two storage bottles, two breast suction kits with tubing, two bottle adapters, two nipple sets, two bottle bases, a power adaptor, a warranty card, and a user manual.
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Ameda Purely Yours Ultra Breast Pump
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- Proven Airlock Protection
- Dual Hygienikit Milk Collection
- Includes lots of accessories
- Lightweight and portable
- Well-built-lasts a long time
- Comes with 6 storage bottles and bags
- You can control speed and suction
- No let-down button
- The motor may be loud
Ameda Purely Yours Ultra Breast Pump Review
The closed system features Proven Airlock Protection to guard against mold, viruses, and bacteria. There are separate controls for speed and suction. Get as much milk flow as you need by adjusting the machine to your specifications.
The pump comes with an AC plug/adapter, and you can use it on any two or three-pronged outlet. You can also use the device with an adapter for your car.
Along with the adapters, the pump comes with about a dozen other parts and accessories. They are a Dual Hygienikit Milk Collection System, Cool and Carry Tote, Ultra Tote, two extra valves, CustomFit Flanges, three ice packs, six milk storage bottles, accessory bag for parts, sample pack of Store ‘N’ Pour Milk Storage Bags, and a sample pack of NoShow Premium Disposable Nursing Pads and written/DVD instructions.
When compared with most other pumps, the Purely Yours has more extras and a better-looking carrying tote.
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The Benefits of Pumping Breast Milk
- Pumping takes less time than breastfeeding. You can get back to bed faster, and you won’t spend as much time away from work when you use a pump.
- You can control the suction and speed of most pumps. This is convenient to suit your comfort and needs.
- Using bottles with pumped milk helps you determine how much your baby consumes at each feeding.
- When you pump and have stored milk, you can have family members or babysitters feed the baby when you’re at work or away from home.
Tips on choosing the right breast Pump
Consider the following tips if you’re still confused about which electric pump brand to buy
- Choose a pump that’s designed for daily use if you need to pump a lot because you’re working full-time (or travel for work). Hospital-grade models are usually better for this purpose.
- Moving from place to place during the day (home, work, errands, and relatives’ homes) means you’ll need a lightweight pump with a sturdy tote to carry supplies.
- A battery-powered option is also helpful for working women or Moms who travel often.
- Opt for a double electric pump if you need to produce a large milk supply, Most pumps aren’t dedicated double pumps; they usually let you alternate between single and double pumping options.
- If you pump a lot at night or around other people, choose a quieter model.
- Some pumps have digital displays and built-in memory. These pumps are excellent if you need to keep track of how much you pump and when.
- A closed system pump has a barrier that makes sure contaminants don’t get in your milk or any of the tubing or parts that come in contact with milk. Most electric pumps, except for certain Medela models, have closed systems.
Check out these additional tips for the breast pump that’s right for you.
Other Products to Buy with an Electric Breast Pump
Bottle sterilizers keep your bottles sanitized and free from germs. Hand washing bottles in hot soapy water for five minutes (or using a dishwasher) will also protect bottles or pump parts from germs. A bottle sterilizer will give you the peace of mind you need if you are a germaphobe or just want to be certain everything is 100% clean.
Breast Pump Bags
Most breast pumps come with tote bags or carrying cases, so you can bring them to work or on vacation. If the bag that comes with your pump isn’t fashionable enough or large enough for your tastes, you can always buy another one online.
A breast pump bra lets you have more freedom when pumping. It helps hold bottles in place, so you won’t need to use your hands. If you want to do other things while pumping, this hands-free option is a no-brainer. Some pumping bras look like sports bras, while others resemble bustiers.
Breast Pump/Milk Storage
All breast pumps provide at least one or two storage bottles, but some manufacturers include up to six. Order more bottles from the pump manufacturer if you need them. (Always make sure bottles are compatible with your model pump if you prefer to buy them from another company instead of the one that made your pump.)
Bags are also available for milk storage. They are lighter than bottles but may not be as sanitary.
Today’s electric breast pumps have many features to make pumping milk fast and easy. Compare size, efficiency, hygiene, ease of transport and, of course, budget before purchasing a pump. The information included in this overview/review has been designed to help you make an educated decision.