How to choose the right breast pump for you

Updated: a day ago

by Alissa Pemberton – Midwife, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant & Holistic Sleep Coach

With so many brands and types of pumps on the market, it becomes yet another overwhelming decision to make before your baby arrives. Of course, cost, will also play a part in your decision.

Keep reading for all you need to know about how different types of breast pumps work, which might be most effective for you and the best budget friendly options. Keep in mind your breastfeeding situation might change, and if you're having significant difficulties with low supply it's worth seeking support from an IBCLC or breastfeeding supporter, and also considering hiring a hospital grade pump if this is recommended to you.

Manual Breast Pumps

How to choose a breast pump

Most brands will have in their range a manual breast pump. These models are usually fairly cheap, they are light and easily portable and can be used for occasional expressing if you are away from your baby. Manual pumps don't have the same strength of suction as electric pumps, so for mums with a large milk supply and a quick letdown they may find a manual pump works well. Some mothers find however that manual pumps just don't have strong enough suction to remove much milk, and it can become tiring as you have to constantly use your hand to compress the pump throughout the time you're expressing.

Pros: Lightweight, easily portable, doesn't require batteries or mains power, cheap. Cons: Suction isn't strong enough to be used to increase milk supply in case of low supply, can become tiresome and is slow to use if expressing multiple times per day.

Best for: Mums will well established supply who want an easy portable pump for occasional expressing.

Silicone Breast Pumps (also called milk collectors)

A fairly new addition to the market is the silicone breast pump. The Haakaa pump was one of the pioneers of this type, and many other brands have now followed. These pumps work on suction, and are all one complete unit made from food grade silicone. They are simple to use (simple compress the bottom half of the pump, place over your breast and let go, the suction will then hold it in place and start drawing milk out). Some will say these are just for collecting milk from one breast, whilst baby is feeding on the other, but they can also be used to express outside of feeding times. These pumps will work well in the first 4-5 months of breastfeeding, whilst your supply is higher, however beyond this point once your supply has dropped and your body is naturally producing just enough milk to replace what your baby is removing it can become tiresome and ineffective to use a silicone pump as the suction is just not strong enough to extract much milk. They are a great option in the early months, particularly if you're travelling as they're super light weight, can be compressed to fit into a suitcase and are very easy to clean. They're also one of the cheapest options.

Pros: Lightweight, very cheap (around £10), doesn't require batteries/mains power, very easy to clean. Completely silent making it easier to pump in more public places if needed. Cons: Suction is unlikely to be strong enough to be effective beyond the first few months of breastfeeding. These are useful for occasional expressing, or collecting milk from one breast whilst baby is feeding on the other, but suction isn't strong enough to use for regular expressing when trying to significantly increase milk supply.

Best for: Mums wishing to express occasionally, or mums who find they leak alot of milk whilst baby is feeding. Mums travelling in the early months and looking for an easy and portable way of expressing.

Electric Breast Pumps

Electric pumps are one of the best options for long term pumping, from day 3-4 when your milk 'comes in' to 12/18/24 months down the line - these pumps will do the job! Electric pumps do all the work for you, making pumping less stress and easier, particularly if you're pumping a lot to increase your milk supply or using the pump over a long period of time. There are many brands of electric pump on the market (see below for info on single pump vs. double pump) and most are