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Frustrating, isn't it?
You've been pumping for half an hour.
Hoping to get a handful amount of milk to feed your hungry baby.
But the reality tells a different story...
Your milk does not even wet the base of your bottle.
You are angry.
You are devastated.
You wish you could be that Instagram mom, who was able to get 2 full bottles of milk in just 15 minutes.
Could it be the breast pump?
You start imagining getting a new breast pump.And magically your milk starts flowing faster and faster.
And your bottle gets full in no time.
And you'll have more time with your baby rather than the pump.
How wonderful the world would be...
As you rock and rock your baby to sleep, you start googling on breast pump recommendation.
And you stumble on your dream breast pump.
And you're asking yourself: will this breast pump change my life?
It may be exaggerating.
But that's how breast pumps are perceived by you and other breastfeeding moms nowadays.
You place such a huge expectation onto a breast pump.
Because breast pumps play such an important role in the life of a breastfeeding mom.
Especially if you can't feed your baby directly, be it due to
You want to reach your breastfeeding goal, and you need a trusted friend.
Your breast pump.
No doubt, every time I received questions about how to buy a breast pump, I could sense how desperate the mom in the other end.
And I came to realize, there are a lot more moms out there who need helps in buying their first, or perhaps, the second, or next breast pump.
So I thought, would it be nice if I summarize all of the questions, and turn it into a breast pump buying guide so that others can benefit from it?
And that's how this post was born!
Today, I would like to share with you 7 things you need to know before buying your breast pump.
I truly hope these tips will give you a better idea of things to look for when buying your breast pump.
(this post contains affiliate links)
1. Evaluate your need
Let me tell you this.
Not all moms need the most expensive breast pump.
Not all moms need a hospital-grade breast pump.
There are various breast pump models out there because there's a need.
A manual breast pump is designed to meet the need of breastfeeding mom who just
Though I should also say that some manual pumps are powerful enough to drain breast thoroughly, like this little pump here.
A single electric pump is designed for breastfeeding moms who need to leave the baby occasionally, say for running errands outside
A double electric pump is aimed towards moms who are in constant separation with their babies, such as those working outside
And the hospital-grade pump is for those needing to establish and build their milk supply. In some cases, the baby has difficulty to latch (due to very young age, e.g. born
So, If you are latching your baby most of the time, and need a breast pump to give yourself a little self for a ladies night out or a weekend getaway with your spouse, you won't need to spend a fortune to buy Medela Freestyle.
In contrary, if you are working full time outside
No, I'm not saying that Freestyle is only designed for working moms, and if you work at home (hey, all moms work at home, right), you are not entitled to buy a Freestyle.
It's just... don't buy it just because other moms buy it while you are on limited budget.
Justify your need, evaluate your budget, and decide.
2. Not all breast pump created equals
Not all breast pumps are created equal.
The features are different.
The way they work also differs.
Let me just give you a simple example, let-down mode or massage mode.
Or in essence, how the breast pump behaves in a certain mode to help you initiating let-downs, by just pushing a single button.
Does all breast pumps have this?
Most of Medela and Spectra breast pumps have let-down mode (Spectra calls it massage mode), and their let-down function can be adjusted as well (so if you need a tad higher or lower suction, you are covered).
Ameda and Hygiea, on the other hand, do not have this feature. Instead, they rely on their ability to adjust speed cycle and suction strength separately, so you can initiate let-down by turning to high-speed low-suction.
That's by theory, though.
In reality, it falls back to individual preferences.
I personally thought Ameda would be powerful due to its separate speed-suction setting, but after trying, the maximum speed is just too slow for me.
Unfortunately, not all moms agree with me.
I had a mom having better luck with Medela PISA rather than Spectra.
Really, personal preferences can differ a lot here.
3. Check your insurance
In some countries, a personal-grade breast pump is covered by insurance.
In the US, for example, the Affordable Care Act requires the insurers to cover preventive health services, specifically breastfeeding supports.
So before you decided to buy a breast pump, check if your insurance covers it.
Learn more about how to get your breast pump through insurance here.
A few points here.
Sometimes, a doctor prescription is helpful to get your insurer convinced that you are entitled to a free breast pump.
Secondly, some insurance covers limited model of breast
Say, some only cover manual or single electric breast pump.
If this is the case, go back to evaluate your need first.
Do you think manual or single electric good enough for you? (which may be the case if you are not leaving your baby regularly).
Or, do you need a more powerful breast pump (a double electric, because you need to leave your baby while you are at work)?
If you do, then it may be the time to buy a good-quality breast pump.
Yeah..., you may feel like, you need to spend $100-$200 to buy a good breast pump and you are missing out the opportunity of getting a free breast pump, but trust me, it will be worth it.
You may feel the pinch at first, but as you navigate through your pumping journey, you will be grateful because you are choosing a good quality breast pump.
Let me just ask you, how many moms do you know going through 2, 3, or even more breast pumps with one baby, only to find one that suits her the most.
I have a friend who has at least 4 breast pumps before finally settling down with Spectra S1 (her most favorite).
The point here is, don't fall into the trap of getting a poor quality breast pump (because you may end up with more breast pumps because you are not satisfied with its performance).
4. Check the accessories
If you are going to pump regularly, most likely you will need some accessories to make pumping easier and less stressful.
So before you buy your breast pump, make sure they have accessories that you may need and you can find them easily.
Is the breast pump offering a handful sizes of breast shields or limited ones?
Does it have a built-in battery such that you won't need power outlet while pumping?
Are you going to pump in the car and need a car adapter?
What about the bottles?
Is it compatible with many brands (so you have a lot of choices)?
In general, Medela and Ameda breast pumps have the abundance of accessories and are easily found in retail stores.
On the other hand, other brands, such as Spectra, does not have a lot of accessories of their own.
However, Maymom, a brand producing breast pump accessories, have come up with a lot of breast pump accessories.
For example, it has an adaptor that allows Spectra breast pump to be connected to Medela breast shield.
It also sells a universal car adapter that can be used for several breast pumps (while the original brand does not have it).
That makes this originally limited breast pumps become pretty versatile.
5. Is it safe to buy used breast pump?
Should you buy a second-hand breast pump?
There are a few factors you want to consider.
First, hygiene and possible contamination.
Is the breast pump a closed-system or an open-system?
An open-system breast pump (such as Medela PISA or Swing) may have milk flowing up to the tubings and back to the motor, and that may possibly lead to mold build up inside (note: I'm not saying all PISA or Swing have mold, but, there's a possibility), and I recommend you to stay away from buying a second-hand open-system breast pump like this.
And then, even if you buy a
Secondly, what about the performance?
The seller may say its condition is 9 out of 10 or 7 out of 10, but do you know how true is that, and whether you still get the remaining warranty?
Is the suction still strong enough?
Is the motor still working well?
Are you willing to risk your milk supply (especially if you rely on the pump to drain your breast every day)?
My recommendation is: if you have the budget to spend, then please, buy a new breast pump.
You'll have a more peaceful mind, knowing that your pump is in its best condition. And if you really face problems with the breast pump, you can return it or send it for servicing because you still have the warranty up front.
6. It may take a while to master a breast pump
Pumping needs practice, we all know that.
And even though you've been pumping with a particular breast pump before, when you switch to a new breast pump, you need to re-learn again.
Their setting may be different.
Yeah, perhaps both have let-down and expression modes.
But which level you should use may not be the same.
Your comfort level may also be different.
This is something to take note, especially if you are not satisfied with your current breast pump and wants to buy a new one.
When you switch to a new breast pump, don't expect it to give you miracles in just one pumping session.
Don't judge its performance in just the first day.
You may find totally different setting / or totally different feeling when using a new breast pump. And that's why, take your time to re-learn the new settings, adjust it to your preference to give you maximum results.
I would suggest, give it at least two weeks of consistent use before deciding whether your new breast pump meets your need.
7. Lastly, your breast pump will not boost your milk supply by itself
As I said, don't expect miracle right away.
I've been getting questions like, "did your pumped milk increase right away with this breast pump?" and so on.
Let me tell you a story.
When I first used an electric breast pump, I thought by just turning on the pump and let it run for a good number of minutes, I am done and I will be set for success.
Turns out to be wrong.
First point: are you already draining your breast frequent enough?
How's your current feeding frequency (talk about direct latches here), does your baby already getting enough milk (here's the sign to observe).
It would be a different story if you are starting from adequate milk supply and wanting to pump some extra for building
In the first case, just one or two pumping per day is all you need to do, while in the second case you may need to diligently squeeze in pumping session every few hours or right after feeding, and pump beyond the last milk drop.
BUT, having a good quality breast pump is not enough.
Thirdly, you need to know how to use your breast pump properly (that's
I am a huge believer that your breast pump and you are partners.
You can not rely on your pump alone to guarantee your breast is drained properly.
So you need to 'help' each other to protect your milk supply, your pump doing the automatic sucking, and your hand doing the hands-on pumping.
Only then, you will be able to maintain a healthy milk supply despite being away from your baby.
You and your breast pump, your trusted friend.
I hope this post answers your burning question of how to buy a breast pump, what to look for, and adjust your expectation for your pump.
Do I miss out anything?
Do you agree with my last three statements?
Give me a shout in the comment.