The Nightlight Team is highly committed to reviewing top rated products worthy of your investment. Given the complexity of breastfeeding and pumping, as well as the high ticket price of breast pumps, we highly recommend working with your hospital’s lactation consultant (or nurse) in order to determine the best breast pump and pumping practices for your unique situation.
Because this article was written in February 2015, we’ve had to remove Melanie’s choice of the Limerick PJ’s Bliss Standard due to the item being discontinued. We’ve kept Melanie’s original article for the Best Breast Pump in full (including her references to the PJ Bliss) because it is filled with invaluable information, personal insight, a wealth of experience, and extensive quality research.
In order to update this information, we recruited a breastfeeding mom in a breastfeeding support group to test three new models for us. We have included our recommendations for “Our Updated 2017 Pick” and “Honorable Mention” in the categories below.
This article is up to date and reflects accurate information as of October 2017.
Small Business Spotlight - May 2018
Every month we feature a new small business trying to make a difference for parents. This month's small business spotlight is:
The founders of Wee Giggles were inspired by their granddaughter to make safe, high-quality, neutral-color play mats that parents feel good about using for their little one. With the importance of tummy time and having a dedicated play space, these mats are the perfect addition to any growing household. Wee Giggles play mats are tested after production to ensure compliance with all CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) guidelines, and are free of BPA, Latex, Formamide, Lead and Phthalates.
Wee Giggles has both large and small play mats available to fit any size room in your home. They also come in an assortment of colors, including a neutral color scheme to complement your existing decor. If you’re looking for a padded surface to prevent the bumps and bruises during any stage, from tummy time to crawling to baby’s first steps, these comfortable mats were designed specifically with parents like you in mind!Read more from the founders.
Having a reliable and effective breast pump makes pumping less miserable and helps maintain a mother’s milk supply, if she needs to be separated from her baby or if the baby has difficulty latching or sucking properly.
After 33 hours of researching 55 models of breast pumps and testing 14 of those models (nine electric; five manual) for a total of 18 hours over the course of seven months (including one 800-mile move for this family of five and my very first bout of mastitis!), as well as interviewing two International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and several representatives of breast pump manufacturers, we found that the Limerick PJ’s Bliss Standard (product discontinued) sucks–in the absolutely best possible way.
Who Should buy this?
Expectant moms who anticipate they will regularly need to be away from their baby within the first year of life. For many moms, hand expression of milk is a viable (and free!) alternative if they would only need very occasional access to a pump. (Here’s an excellent but NSFW video showing an effective technique for hand expressing milk.) However, there’s no question that having a reliable pump on hand can ease a new mom’s anxiety about the potential need to be away from her baby. Having a manual or electric pump available means she is able to pump milk in advance of her absence (especially if baby is still feeding every 2-3 hours) or to relieve engorgement upon her return if baby is asleep. Additionally, some parents may feel it’s helpful for mom to pump a bottle so that her partner may participate in a feeding.
Then there are the times when a mom has sore nipples. Pumping and bottle-feeding is an interim solution while nipple pain gets resolved or baby’s latch improves with the help of a lactation consultant. In short, there are plenty of times when a pump may be useful, even if a new mom isn’t planning to return to full-time employment or leave her baby on a regular basis.
There are plenty of times when a pump may be useful, even if a new mom isn’t planning to return to full-time employment or leave her baby on a regular basis.
For moms who are struggling with low milk supply, those with premature babies, or other situations where baby is not yet an effective feeder, Kate Sharp, an NYC-based IBCLC, would recommend renting a heavier-duty hospital-grade pump. The good news is that breast pumps are now covered by insurance under the Affordable Care Act, so moms should expect and demand that this pump be covered. However, despite the new healthcare law, insurance companies have interpreted their obligation to nursing mothers in a wide variety of ways. You can check out how well your insurance company has served nursing moms by referring to the National Breastfeeding Center’s Breastfeeding Policy Scorecard. The CDC has also released a Breastfeeding Report Card in 2016. Moms can also reach out to breast pump manufacturers for help dealing with their insurance companies.
Note: for reliable information on preparing to breastfeed or pump as well as troubleshooting for moms in the thick of it, here are a few good starting points:
- KellyMom.com (evidence-based information on breastfeeding, written by an IBCLC)
- La Leche League International (an international nonprofit breastfeeding advocacy group that also offers local hands-on support for breastfeeding mothers)
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (a classic bestselling guide to breastfeeding from La Leche League)
- The Nursing Mother’s Companion (another classic breastfeeding handbook, written by a registered nurse and IBCLC)
- BestforBabes.org (a non-profit dedicated to supporting breastfeeding moms and changing the cultural perception of breastfeeding)
- WorkandPump.com target=”_blank” (a site specifically for breastfeeding mothers returning to work)
the basics of breastfeeding
Before moving into the details of breast pumps and our testing, it may be helpful to have a bit more background on breastfeeding and milk production. It seems pretty miraculous: the idea that not only can a woman’s body grow a baby inside of it, but once that baby is born, a mother’s body can continue to sustain its life solely through breastmilk. Being a mammal is pretty cool.
Pregnant moms may notice some leakage from their breasts as early as halfway through their pregnancy. Don’t worry if you’re not leaking; that’s no reflection on whether your breasts are preparing for your baby’s eventual arrival! At this point in time, milk production is driven by hormones and not the supply-and-demand we often hear about when discussing breastfeeding. Your breasts are producing a thick yellow-ish fluid full of antibodies and immunoglobulins called colostrum. Available in small quantity in the breasts until a mother’s mature milk comes in (usually 2-3 days after birth), colostrum is important as a baby’s first food. It is extremely nutritious (often referred to as “liquid gold” because of its golden color and value to the baby) and easy to digest. It also has a laxative effect for newborns, helping them to pass their tarry first stools known as meconium and thus expel bilirubin. All of which helps to prevent jaundice.
At birth, the delivery of the placenta causes a sudden drop in progesterone/estrogen/HPL (human placental lactogen) levels. Progesterone levels drop when prolactin levels are high, so this cues a mother’s body to begin full milk production. This may lead to a feeling of engorgement when a mom’s mature milk initially comes in. Shortly thereafter, control over milk supply shifts to supply-and-demand. That feeling of engorgement should subside as baby nurses frequently (8 to 12 times per 24-hour period) and empties the breast.
The letdown reflex is an involuntary reaction when baby suckles at the breast, sending a message to a mother’s brain to release the hormones prolactin and oxytocin.
Once nursing is well-established, milk supply is typically greatest in the morning which makes it a good time to pump, should a mom need to start building a supply of frozen milk in preparation for a return to work. During a typical nursing or pumping session, a mom may feel a tingling or burning sensation during letdown (also known as milk ejection). The letdown reflex is an involuntary reaction when baby suckles at the breast, sending a message to a mother’s brain to release the hormones prolactin (responsible for milk production) and oxytocin (responsible for the release of milk from milk ducts). During letdown, a mom may see milk dripping or spraying from the breast not in use. Some moms find it particularly effective to pump on that side while baby nurses on the other in order to take advantage of baby’s help to release the milk. If you don’t feel this practice is necessary, many moms choose to wear a breast pad on the side not in use so as to collect any leaking milk. You can switch to your other breast should baby still be hungry after nursing at the first. While the initial letdown at the start of a nursing session might be the most noticeable physical sensation for the mom, many moms have multiple letdowns during a single nursing or pumping session.
What makes a good breast pump?
At the most basic level, a good breast pump is one that effectively and painlessly removes milk from a mother’s breast, allowing her to maintain her milk supply even if her baby is not nearby. Ideally, it should be efficient (pumping sessions should usually run no more than 20 minutes), easy to use, quiet, affordable, and physically comfortable for the user. Some companies offer a range of flange diameters to accommodate various nipple sizes. While most pumps are adjustable to some degree, we found that pumps that offer individual controls for both vacuum strength and cycle speed, as opposed to a single option to pump with greater suction strength, made a big difference in how much milk was collected.
We found that pumps that offer individual controls for both vacuum strength and cycle speed made a big difference in how much milk was collected.
Some moms may need a more portable pump than others, especially those who spend workdays out and about without reliable access to a wall outlet or private space in which to pump. For those moms, a travel adapter for use in their car or a battery pack would be more of a necessity. Before springing for a more expensive pump or loading up your cart with travel accessories which may not be covered by insurance, it’s worth considering just how frequently you might be pumping away from a wall outlet.
Many breast pump manufacturers make a tiered system of pumps, ranging from fairly basic to top of the line. This is where the bells and whistles (e.g., cooler packs and bags, extra bottles and flanges, pump transport bags, etc.) become the “nice-to-haves”. Usually, the pump motor remained the same throughout the product line until we reached the heavier-duty hospital-grade rental pumps.
For this guide, once we narrowed down the brands of pumps we wished to test and a selection of specific models (explained in further detail below), we reached out to those manufacturers to ask which pumps were most reliably covered by mothers’ health insurance.
In our research, we found that the baseline cost-of-entry to get a breast pump was about $200. Anything less didn’t provide a strong enough motor or ability to tailor one’s pumping session via separate controls for cycle speed and vacuum strength.
While many of us are the lucky beneficiaries of hand-me-down baby gear and clothes, the FDA urges caution when it comes to used breast pumps. While it’s true that hospitals and breastfeeding supply stores can rent out hospital-grade pumps over and over, breast pumps available for purchase may not be meant for multiple users.
Hospital-grade rental pumps are designed as a “closed system,” meaning that milk never comes into contact with parts that might be shared by other mothers. Renters are required to purchase (or acquire via insurance, should there be a documented need for a hospital-grade rental) their own accessory kits, which are meant for individual use.
Why the concern? Breast milk is a bodily fluid through which viruses may pass. While your baby has already been exposed in utero to any viruses you may carry, exposure to a virus via the milk of another mother has the potential to make your baby seriously ill.
How we tested
We carefully considered 55 models of breast pumps by reading through countless user-submitted reviews on sites like Amazon, BreastPumpsDirect.com, and BreastPumpComparisons.com, replies to Facebook queries, email responses to a questionnaire sent to TheNightlight.com mailing list subscribers, as well as interviews conducted with two IBCLCs and several spokespeople for breast pump manufacturers.
We finally narrowed down our options for testing to nine double electric pumps and five manual pumps.
As the tester and author of this guide, I’m a mom of three currently nursing a toddler. I have spent just over four years of my life nursing one baby or another. While I am at home with my nearly two-year-old, I nurse her primarily because I don’t need to pump at this point in time.
I have pumped regularly in the past, primarily with a Medela Pump In Style Advanced purchased before the birth of my first baby in 2007. I have also donated pumped milk to other babies in need (via local Facebook groups for Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies).
While some of the breast pumps tested are designed to be used by multiple moms (each with her own set of accessories like bottles, flanges, etc.), keep in mind that not all are. Closed System pumps are the only ones that ensure milk never comes in contact with tubing or the motor.
In the interest of a side-by-side comparison and to control the sample-size, I was the sole tester of each breast pump (much to the dismay of my nipples). There is certainly downsides of this: I only have one set of breasts and their corresponding nipple sizes. I recognize there is a wide range of nipple and breast sizes in this world, which is one of the difficulties of finding the right breast pump to buy.
Other than renting a hospital-grade rental pump and giving it a trial run before a long-term purchase, it is nearly impossible to test out a pump. Many moms acquire a pump before the arrival of their baby, but please be cautioned against using a breast pump during pregnancy as doing so may stimulate uterine contractions and potentially bring on premature labor.
I tested each pump for 10 minutes at a time, for five individual sessions, for a total of 50 minutes per pump. This is in addition to pumping-related tasks like the initial set-up, regular washing, and re-assembly of the pumps. When using a double pump, I wore a Simple Wishes hands-free pumping bra that I already owned to make the process as painless and uncumbersome as possible. While we did track how much milk was produced in a session, that was not the primary measurement we used. Given that a mom’s body may need several days, or even weeks, to adjust to an individual pump to maximize her milk output, our testing focused more on how well each pump performed. This included:
- Effectiveness in removing milk (some barely did)
- Pain or Discomfort
- User-friendly set up and use
- Easy to clean parts and re-assembly
- How well it worked compared to the other pumps in our test
Our PREVIOUS 2015 Pick: Limerick PJ'S Bliss
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Material: silicone cups
- System: closed
- Suction: adjustable between 15-250 mmHg
- Cycles: adjustable between 36-250 cycles/min
- Warranty: 1 year
- Product was discontinued by the manufacturer.
PLEASE NOTE: This breast pump is no longer available. As a team, we have decided to leave this review intact. We still invite you to read Melanie’s thorough experience as she injected alot of knowledge (and humor) into her writing. You can still access her breakdown of the three major brands below.
At the conclusion of our testing, I’m confident to report that Limerick PJ’s Bliss (product discontinued) is the breast pump to buy, because of its efficiency, comfort, quiet and ability to adjust both the vacuum strength and cycle speed.
One of the main reasons we found the PJ’s Bliss to be such an effective pump is that it has soft silicone cups instead of the hard plastic flanges used in most pumps. Not only was the silicone much gentler on the breast (no angry red marks like those left by the edges of some other breast pump flanges), and without the push-pull motion used in many other pumps that often led to nipples like Stretch Armstrong, the silicone allowed for compression and vacuum, which felt much more akin to a baby’s suckling. (You can check out the difference in this video from Limerick.) As far as our research extended, Limerick PJ’s pumps were the only ones with soft cups.
It extracts milk efficiently and painlessly, which is absolutely critical in a breast pump (plenty of them fail to extract milk that well or do it without causing the user some pain). When I had to travel away for a weekend without my daughter after testing was completed, although I had 14 pumps to choose from, I didn’t hesitate to pack the PJ’s Bliss. It’s that good.
The PJ’s Bliss is priced at the higher end of breast pumps available for purchase (as opposed to rental), but we think it’s worth it (and hopefully your insurance company should cover the cost). It is a closed system preventing any contamination of the milk, comes with a built-in timer to track nursing sessions (not necessary, but certainly handy) and a one-year warranty on pump parts and labor. Telephone and Skype support are both available. The pump has a one-micron filter between the kit and the pump, which prohibits bacteria, viruses and milk from entering the pump and is safe for multiple users. Separate controls regulate vacuum strength (15-250 mmHG) and cycle speed (36-250 cycles/min). It has an exhaust filter, heat sensor, vacuum sensor and warning lights, which indicate vacuum build-up, filter occlusion, overheating or tube kinking. (Note: during testing, none of these warning lights came on, so I have no personal experience with them.)
The PJ’s Sof-Touch™ kit comes with a pair of silicone cups (again, one size fits all), tubing with that one-micron filter, a spare filter, two spare gaskets, two bottles, a cleaning brush, bottle cap (for storing milk) and a clamp (used to block air flow on one side to allow for single pumping). Optional accessories include a storage cooler, 12-volt car adapter (lighter plug), rechargeable battery pack, and more. Limerick is a family-owned and -operated company, run by Patricia Kelly and Joan Ortiz (mother and daughter), the former of whom is a registered dietician and the latter of whom is a registered nurse.
It is a closed system preventing any contamination of the milk, and it comes with a built-in timer to track nursing sessions.
Beyond the pump working as well as it does, it is also incredibly easy to clean up after a pumping session, as there are only three parts to clean: the silicone cups, the gaskets, and the bottles (assuming milk is being transferred to storage bags).
A few minor complaints about the PJ’s Bliss pump: it requires a little advance planning to have spare parts on hand, as replacements and spares are primarily available online (there is a just handful of retailers across the country), so it’s not like a quick trip to one’s local Target would solve the problem of a part gone missing. Additionally, at the end of a pumping session, it’s crucial to put the bottles in the holders attached to the side of the pump or risk them toppling over because the breast shields make them top-heavy. (I learned this the hard way when I spilled a bottle of milk all over my lap–and yes, there absolutely was crying over spilled milk that day.)
Finally, I wish the travel bag were a bit better quality; this one feels and looks rather cheap. That being said, virtually no breast pump manufacturer offers anything near a “stylish” travel bag, so I’d recommend just using a bag of the mom’s choosing.
Our UPDATED 2017 best breast pump Pick: Spectra S1
- Weight: 3.3 pounds
- Material: Plastic Flanges
- System: Closed
- Suction: adjustable between 15-300 mmHg
- Cycles: Expression mode 38-54; Massage mode 70
In order to update our review and replace our previous top pick, we reached out to a few moms in a nursing support group. Five out of ten made the transition from the Medela PISA to Spectra and couldn’t be happier with the leap. We asked one of those moms, Jacqueline, to help us with the review below.
I used the Medela Pump in Style Advance with my first two children. It was the most effective pump at the time, but I still struggled with milk production and my nipples ached constantly. The other options available to us were either ineffective for the price point or not covered by our insurance. I ultimately went with the PISA because we planned on having multiple children within five years and this pump has proven to last over time.
With baby #3, I was having severe issues with my milk production. I worked tirelessly with a lactation consultant but we couldn’t find a pump or a technique that worked. I decided to join a mommy support group to gain more personal insights and recommendations before giving up on breastfeeding my babe entirely. Several of the moms had made the transition to Spectra and said they would never go back to Medela.
Because this is a hospital strength closed system pump, I bought the additional accessories from the Spectra website and borrowed the pump for the week. My milk supply tripled within 7 days. I couldn’t believe it!
What I love the most is you can adjust the vacuum and the cycle speed separate from each other. When using the expression phase, the highest vacuum level is 12 and the highest cycle is 54. The letdown mode was a pleasant surprise and really mimicked my baby’s natural feeding motions. Because of the customization, as well as the motion of the suckling, my nipples never became tender and recovery time was zero. Breastfeeding became easier as my milk supply became stronger. I quickly went from having a frustrated newborn to a healthy (and pleasantly plump) infant.
I also have to mention how ridiculously quiet this pump is. It is so discreet, I can successfully pump late at night in the nursery and not wake my baby. It also has an automatic shutoff after 30 minutes just in case you fall asleep (which I certainly have). Despite its size, I’ve started to haul this to work. It is such a joy to not cause unwanted attention when I have to pump at my desk. The rechargeable battery meant I didn’t have to be tethered to a wall or struggle to find an open outlet. This thing combined with the Haakaa Silicone hand pump (review below as our Honorable Mention) was truly a game changer.
who else likes it
One of our personal favorite bloggers, Rina of Living With Low Milk Supply, is an incredible resource for breastfeeding moms. Not only does she offer a well-organized review of the Spectra S1, but she includes several other reviews specific to the Spectra line (such as a Beginner’s Guide, a list and breakdown of accessories, and which Diaper Bags fit the Spectra). All in all, she is an incredible resource and we highly recommend her blog.
If you’re searching for a video comparison of the sucking (or suckling) motions of both the Medela and the Spectra (the model used is the S2) I recommend this one on Youtube as it’s the best demonstration I have been able to find.
BabyCenter.com rounded up its readers’ favorite pumps, but only the S2 made it to their list of recommendations. BabyGearLab.com actually tested several pumps side by side, and we see Spectra S1 sitting at the top with a significantly higher score than all of the others they tested.
OUR PICK: best SIngle electric breast pump
Given how much our second tester, Jacqueline, loved the S1, we'd be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge how good this the Spectra S2 really is. Smart functionality (again, separate controls for cycle speed and vacuum strength, as well as a timer function, and a closed system), a very reasonable price, and even a built-in nightlight for moms who need to pump during the night. The difference between the S2 and S1 models is essentially the built-in rechargeable battery on the S1. Jacqueline's one complaint: the backflow protectors seemed to pop off easily, which could be rather annoying. If you decide to go with the Spectra S2, though, we can assure you that you’ll be happy with it. It’s just as great as the S1.
Our Pick: best Manual breast pump
Lansinoh Manual Pump
Although I have long been a fan of Lansinoh’s milk storage bags and Lanolin nipple ointment, in addition to their SignaturePro, I was happy to discover that they also make a great one-hand manual breast pump, the Lansinoh Manual Pump. Surprisingly for a manual pump, it offers two modes for letdown stimulation (a shorter, shallower pumping) and expression (kind of fuller, deeper pumping) and comes with both a standard and a large flange. It felt comfortable to hold and ergonomically designed, and the soft edges on the flanges felt gentler on breast tissue than other pumps.
Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump
The reason I include this as the Nightlight Honorable Mention is because of the positive waves this is making in breastfeeding mommy communities.
I was reluctant when I first received this item. It's a single, silicone bulb fixed to a flange (similar to other breast pumps). I didn't have very high hopes for milk collection, but I followed the advice of breastfeeding moms and used this on my other breast during letdown. I never knew how much milk I was actually wasting until using this!
This isn't designed to fully replace your breast pump, but it is intended to supplement your current milk supply and storage. The suction design is meant to be used as milk collection when you are simultaneously pumping from or breastfeeding with your other breast. I'm collecting an additional 6oz a day with this thing.
I am including a link to the larger size Haakka (even though it has less reviews) because it has a suction base to protect you from knocking over your milk and comes with a flower stopper as shown above. Every breastfeeding mama knows every single drop of liquid gold matters and the number one complaint of the smaller model is that it can be easily tipped. I still find it at an affordable pricepoint compared to every other pumping system. I encourage all mamas to give this a try if you can. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at home much more milk you are able to yield.
the big brands
When I accepted this assignment, I initially assumed that my research and testing would lead me to confirmation that a pump from one of the big three brands, Medela, Ameda, and Hygeia, would be the standout best breast pump. They’re the names moms see in published articles and parenting message boards over and over again. How could a pump I’d never heard of possibly compare to brands with such name recognition and user loyalty? It feels necessary to address these three brands separately from the rest of the competition.
As a first-time mom back in 2007, most new moms I knew had either a Medela or Ameda pump. I purchased a Medela Pump in Style Advanced way back then and until researching and testing for this piece, that same pump was still what I used when I needed to pump–which certainly says something about its longevity. Medela is still very much a trusted and well-respected brand–and the fact that their pumps are ubiquitous can undoubtedly be a bonus if one is looking to replace a missing or broken piece on short notice. However, the single control for both cycle speed and vacuum strength (beyond the initial faster cycling that encourages letdown but switches off after about two minutes) isn’t necessarily the most effective means of expressing milk. In order to go faster, the pump automatically sucks harder, which has left me with bruised nipples on occasion. Ouch. Unfortunately, the Medela Harmony, the company’s manual single breast pump, didn’t work that well for me either. While it was comfortable to hold and use (as opposed to some others which felt poorly designed from an ergonomic standpoint), it just wasn’t very effective at extracting milk.
Moving onto Ameda, sadly, the Ameda Purely Yours just doesn’t compare with many of the other pumps. Although it has separate knobs to control cycle speed and vacuum strength, even at the highest speed, its cycling didn’t get nearly as fast as its competitors and failed to stimulate a really good letdown. The Ameda Manual Breast Pump also fell short in testing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pump comes with a roomy cooler bag, which feels particularly generous for a manual pump. But when I boiled the pump parts to sterilize them as directed in the manual, one part in particular came out feeling rather brittle. I double-checked and then triple-checked to make sure that I hadn’t inadvertently boiled something I shouldn’t have, but the manual directs users to boil all pump parts. Regardless, after the boiling, the pump gave a little squeak with each squeeze, which was mildly annoying. I had also had trouble with milk leaking from the flange down my shirt, despite trying a number of different angles to hold it while I was pumping.
I was probably the most stoked about trying Hygeia’s pumps, after reading numerous positive reviews online and knowing that Hygeia is the only brand of breast pump endorsed by La Leche League International. I tested the Hygeia EnJoye and the Hygeia EnHande one-hand manual breast pump. Overall, I liked the Hygeia EnJoye fairly well—it was successful at extracting a fair bit of milk and has separate controls for cycle speed and vacuum strength. However, even the lowest setting for vacuum strength felt pretty powerful—as in actually painful sometimes (and with a teething, nursing toddler, it’s not as though my pain threshold is nil). The Hygeia EnJoye can be used by multiple pumpers, provided they each have their own accessory set. It also has the ability to capture and playback audio, so mom could record her baby’s cries at home and then play them back to help trigger letdowns while she’s away pumping. The main downside of this feature was that I couldn’t find a volume control, and it seemed to play back fairly loudly–which in an office setting might feel rather awkward. The Hygeia EnHande, however, was a close second to the Lansinoh manual pump. It’s also available with a medium (27 mm) or large (29 mm) flange. It was effective for a manual pump and comfortable to hold and use. While the product photo shows a silicone insert, the pump I tested did not have one included.
The rest of the Competition
We considered these alternatives from manufacturers, but they did not make the cut for our best breast pump top picks.
- Freemie Freedom Deluxe — I was really, really excited to try the Freemie pump. The idea behind it is that you can pump while not being half-naked (yay for feeling a tiny bit less awkward while pumping at work!). The “freedom” in the name indicated to me a sense of not being tied down to pumping, but in reality, this isn’t a pump that’s portable during a session–you’re still attached to the pump, which is connected to a wall outlet. The pump itself didn’t impress me (users can only control the suction, not the cycle speed, which remains static), but I still like the idea of the collection system (a pair of cups tucked into the user’s bra in lieu of the usual horns and bottles), which can be paired with other pumps (specifics available on the Freemie site), so if a mom already has a pump she loves, she may find the Freemie collection system to be worthwhile. That being said, if a mom is used to massaging her breasts to help empty them during a pumping session or even just visually checking in to see how much milk she has collected, the Freemie collection system might not be a great buy for her.
- Bailey Nurture III — While the suction on this pump is fully adjustable, it relies on the user’s thumb to manually cycle–meaning that even when using it with a hands free bra, the pump will never be fully hands free, as a finger must cover and uncover a small vent many times per minute during a pumping session. For someone who is really attuned to her body’s rhythm of letdown and can spare a finger, it’s an option, but most women we know would rather let the pump do the work while they use their hands for something else.
- Philips Avent Double Electric Comfort — The least effective pump for me personally. The flanges felt too shallow for women with substantial breasts and although I like the idea of the silicone inserts for the flanges, which are supposed to help massage milk out of the breasts, they didn’t seem to do that and instead popped off at inconvenient times (like when trying to get them through the holes in my hands-free bra). Finally, the silicone valves that sit inside the pump and through which milk passes into the bottles are situated so high up that it’s hard to release the milk that gets left in there at the end of a pumping session.
- Philips Avent Manual Comfort — As with its double electric counterpart, the flange felt especially shallow. It was difficult to get good suction going, like with the double electric pump, it was dismaying to see that milk was getting left behind in the silicone valves.
Care, Use, Maintenance, and Repair
Until you’re actually lactating, chances are you haven’t been in close contact with a breast pump—and that’s fine! (Really, they might look scary, but there’s no reason to panic.) Here are a few best practices for keeping the Spectra S1 clean and in good working order:
- Read through the product manual thoroughly. Pay close attention to the accessory kit sanitizing instructions. Because all parts do not come into contact with milk (like Medela does), not all pieces need to be cleaned and sterilized. A Cleaning & Care Quick Reference Chart is provided and is a great resource for identifying which parts need to be cleaned.
- Assemble the bottles and breast shields and familiarize yourself with the controls (especially how to set up the pump for very gentle pumping in the beginning)
- In this case, due to being a closed system pump, never wash or sterilize the tubing.
- Model Policy, National Breastfeeding Center
- Interview with Vicki Twomey, Social Media Manager for Ameda, April 16, 2014
- Interview with Dan Garbez, Co-Founder of Freemie, April 22, 2014
- Interview with Irene Zoppi, IBCLC and Clinical Education Specialist with Medela, May 14, 2014
- Interview with Tandra McGhie, Bailey Medical Engineering, April 14, 2014
- Interview with Joan Ortiz, Limerick PJ’s, April 11, 2014
- Interview with Kristin Burns, IBCLC, March 6, 2014
- Interview with Brett Nakfoor, President of Hygeia, May 20, 2014
- Catherine D’Ignazio, The Media Lab “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” Hackathon, Medium.com, Last updated May 29, 2014
- Interview with Kate Sharp, IBCLC, April 8, 2014
- How Do I Choose a Breast Pump?, La Leche League International
- Katie Stuhler, Your Ultimate Pumping Guide, Parents.com, accessed January 16, 2014
- Jessica Hartshorn, Best Breast Pumps, Parents.com, accessed January 16, 2014
- 2017 Moms’ Picks: Best Breast Pumps, BabyCenter.com, accessed September 27, 2017
- How to Buy a Breast Pump, BabyCenter.com, accessed January 27, 2014
- Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE, Top 9 Electric Breast Pumps, About.com, accessed January 23, 2014
- Courtney E. Martin and John Cary, Shouldn’t the Breast Pump Be as Elegant as an iPhone and as Quiet as a Prius by Now?, Motherlode on NYTimes.com, pub March 16, 2014
- How to Choose a Breast Pump, BreastPumpComparisons.com, accessed February 4, 2014
- How We Tested Breast Pumps, BabyGearLab.com, accessed December 11, 2014
- Robyn Roche-Paull, RN, BSN, IBCLC, Choosing a Breast Pump, BreastfeedinginCombatBoots.com, accessed April 8, 2014
- Breastfeeding Policy Scorecard, National Breastfeeding Center, Updated January 2017
- Selecting a Breast Pump, LactationTraining.com, accessed April 8, 2014
- Breast-feeding: Choosing a Breast Pump, MayoClinic.org, pub April 7, 2012
- Choosing a Breast Pump, FDA.gov, pub September 4, 2013
- Your Guide to Breastfeeding, WomensHealth.gov, pub January 20, 2011
- Dianne Weissinger, About Pumps, LaLecheLeague.org.nz, pub 2001
- Becky Flora, Breast Pumps 101, MotherandChildHealth.com, revised December 15, 2004
- Kathleen Huggins, The Nursing Mother’s Companion, Harvard Common Press, 6th ed, 2007
- Nancy Mohrbacher and Julie Stock, The Breastfeeding Answer Book, La Leche League International, 3rd ed., 2003
- How Does Milk Production Work?, KellyMom.com, accessed January 19, 2015
- When Will My Milk Come In?, KellyMom.com, accessed January 19, 2015
- All About the Let-Down Reflex, About.com, accessed January 19, 2015
- What Is Colostrum? How Does It Benefit My Baby?, LLLI.org, accessed January 20, 2015
- Buying and Renting a Breast Pump, FDA.gov, accessed January 22, 2015
- Winners Announced! Make the Breast Pump Not Suck: A Research Project at the MIT Media Lab, MIT.edu, accessed January 22, 2015
- Kanarinka Bot, The "Make the Breast Pump Not Suck" Hackathon, Flickr, September 19, 2014
- Spectra User Manual, Spectra Baby Australia, September 2017
- Spectra Pump Comparison Chart, October 2017
- moppet65535, Beth & Laurel (mid-feed), Flickr, April 3, 2009