Choosing a breast pump: Find the pump that's right for you

I am expecting a baby and need help selecting a breast pump. There is such a range of prices and kinds that I'm totally confused. Can you help me select the right pump?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Wondering which breast pump is right for you? You're not alone! There sure are a lot of breast pumps to choose from. One particular type of breast pump is not right for every circumstance.

Find the Pump That's Right for You

Are You a Stay-at-Home Mom?
Every nursing mother does not need a breast pump. If you are a stay-at-home mom, a breast pump may not be necessary at all, especially if you learn to hand-express your milk.
Find out which pump is right for you.

Will You Be Returning to Work?
Mothers who will be working outside the home full-time usually are looking for a breast pump that is quick (able to double-pump) and efficient.
Find out which pump is right for you.

Will You Be Pumping Occasionally?
Women who need to use a pump every now and then usually want a method that is effective, but also relatively inexpensive.
Find out which pump is right for you.

Do You Have Concerns about Your Milk Supply?

When you are at all worried about your milk supply, it's important to use an effective pump.
Find out which pump is right for you.

Are You Experiencing Breastfeeding Difficulties, Such As Sore Nipples or Breasts, Engorgement or Difficult Latch-On?
If you are having problems with breastfeeding it's important to have an efficient breast pump to help preserve your milk supply while getting professional help.
Find out which pump is right for you.

Do You Offer Your Baby Only Your Expressed Milk?
When solely expressing, it's important to choose a very effective breast pump so that your milk supply will not be compromised.
Find out which pump is right for you.


If you are a stay-at-home mom or only have the need to pump occasionally, hand-expression can be very easy and effective -- and it's free! And, best of all, once you learn to hand-express you never need to worry about being caught without your pump in tow. Learn more about hand-expressing your milk.

If you do decide to purchase a pump for occasional use, choose from a manual pump, a battery-operated pump or a mini-electric pump.

  • Manual pumps come in three styles: rubber bulb or bicycle horn pumps (neither is recommended!), cylinder pumps (Medela's Manualectric) or SpringExpress) and squeeze-handle pumps (Ameda's One-Hand). In general, these pumps are easy-to-use, quiet and inexpensive (around $30.) Since they are not battery-operated, they are not subject to poor operation due to low battery power.
  • Battery-operated pumps are another option for the occasional pump user. A major drawback of battery-operated pumps is that the batteries need to be changed very frequently. This can be costly.
  • Small motorized pumps, such as the Medela mini-electric are medium priced and lightweight (usually under one pound.) They can be quite noisy, depending on the model you choose. These pumps are intended as alternatives to manual pumps.

Don't forget to work with a Board Certified Lactation Consultant if you are having breastfeeding problems -- and stay in touch with your health-care provider.


Working moms usually need to express their milk during breaks and lunch, and they don't want to spend all their free time pumping. Cost may not be as much of a factor as convenience.

For full-time working moms who have a good milk supply, I would recommend rental of a hospital-grade electric breast pump, such as the Medela Lactina or the Ameda Elite, two mid-size models. These are comfortable, easy to use, quiet and lightweight (around six pounds), and for most moms are quite effective in maintaining their milk supply. Rental is usually around $30 a month.

Another good option for working moms is a semi-automatic or automatic electric diaphragm pump, such as the Nurture III or the Medela Pump-in-Style. These range in price from about $150 to $200.

Don't forget to work with a Board Certified Lactation Consultant if you are having breastfeeding problems -- and stay in touch with your health-care provider.
If you are at all concerned about your milk supply, have breast or nipple problems or have a baby who is having difficulty latching on, the full-size hospital-grade electric breast pumps are the best choice.

Frequent pumping with the full-size hospital-grade electric breast pumps can help to protect your milk supply by removing milk efficiently from your breasts -- the key to good milk production.

Consider the Medela Lactina or Classic or the Ameda SMB, Lact-E or Elite. They are very comfortable and easy to use. One drawback is their weight. They are heavy, weighing between 11 and 22 pounds, depending on the model you choose. Rental is approximately $30 a month.

Don't forget to work with a Board Certified Lactation Consultant if you are having breastfeeding problems -- and stay in touch with your health-care provider.
It's wonderful that you are continuing to provide your baby with your milk.

If you are pumping exlcusively, the full-size hospital-grade electric breast pumps are the best choice. Consider the Medela Lactina or Classic (some moms feel the classic is more effective in removing milk efficiently) or the Ameda SMB, Lact-E or Elite. They are very comfortable and easy to use. One drawback is their weight. They are heavy, weighing between 11 and 22 pounds, depending on the model you choose. Rental is approximately $30 a month.

Don't forget to work with a Board Certified Lactation Consultant if you are having breastfeeding problems -- and stay in touch with your health-care provider.

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