Medical Devices

Choosing a Breast Pump

Woman sitting at a desk working on a laptop computer, with a baby wrapped up against her.Manual or electric, single or double pump, buy or rent? With the number of options available, choosing the most suitable breast pump for your pumping needs can be tricky.

Keep in mind that the multitude of pump types reflects the many individual needs of lactating women, and what worked well for your mother or a friend may not work well for you. Choosing your ideal breast pump is a decision best made after considering your needs and weighing all of the options.

There are several factors that can help determine your ideal breast pump. If you are having difficulty choosing a pump, a qualified health professional, such as your doctor or a certified lactation consultant can help guide your decision. The following are some points to consider when choosing a pump.

1) How do you plan to use the pump?

    • Are you using a pump in addition to breastfeeding?
    • Do you plan to pump and store several containers of milk? 
    • Are you returning to work? 
    • Will you be away from your baby for several days?

2) How much time will it take you to pump?

The amount of time it takes to pump varies, but certain types of breast pumps may be easier to use and extract milk faster.

If you plan to pump at work or do not have a lot of time to pump, you may want to consider a battery or electrically powered breast pump. A double pump (which extracts milk from both breasts at the same time) may also decrease the amount of time it takes to pump because both breasts can be emptied simultaneously.

3) Are the pump's instructions easy for you to understand?

If possible, review the instructions included with several different pumps and choose a pump that is easy for you to assemble, use and clean. If you are shopping for a pump in a store, ask a salesperson if the store has display breast pumps so you can practice assembling and taking apart several different pumps before you buy one.

Keep in mind that for health reasons, most stores will not allow you to return a breast pump.

4) Where will you be using a pump?

Manual and battery-powered pumps can be easy to transport and use in small spaces, while an electric pump will require an outlet to power the pump and are larger and heavier and some women may find them more difficult to transport.

Keep in mind that powered breast pumps require advanced planning for emergency situations when electricity or extra batteries may not be available. If breastfeeding is not an option, extra supplies and or a manual back-up pump may help a woman maintain her breast pumping schedule during an emergency.

FDA offers information on using medical devices in an emergency, including useful tips which may apply to breast pumps.

5) Do you need a pump that is easy to transport?

If you travel frequently, or plan to pump at work, consider buying a lightweight pump that transports easily in a carrying case that holds the pump and pumping supplies.

If you plan to pump in the same place every time, you may not need to worry about how easy it is to transport.

6) Do the breast-shields fit you?

Make sure that the breast-shield opening is the correct size for you. You should be able comfortably center your nipple inside the breast-shield.

Many pumps are sold with one size of breast-shield. Before buying a pump, check the manufacturer’s website to see if you can replace the breast-shields with a different size or texture that is comfortable for you and will work with your pump in case the breast-shields sold with the pump are uncomfortable.

Page Last Updated: 09/04/2013
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