Best Rated Breast Pump – What You Should Know Before Buying

Best-Rated-Breast-Pump

What is the best rated breast pump on the market today? This is a question many moms ask all across the internet. With so many brands and pumps to choose from, how do you know you have made the best choice?

One piece of advice I always give moms when they ask me this questions is to be sure they are buying the RIGHT pump, not necessarily the BEST pump. That might sound confusing but trust me, it will save you a lot of frustration.

In this article, I will discuss how to choose the best breast pump for you and your situation.

If you would like to read my review of top-rated pumps, click here to see my Breast Pump Review page

Types of Pumps to Choose From:

It is important to know the various types of breast pumps that you can choose from. How often and where you plan on using your pump will make a difference in the type of pump you should consider.

Here are the types of pumps you will commonly see on the market:


Double Electric Pumps (My Recommendation)

medela-pump-in-style-review

Double Electric: Medela Pump in Style

A double electric pump is exactly what it sounds like – it is an electric pump that allows you to pump both breasts at the same time (double). Most can be used as a single pump as well which is helpful in cases where you only need to pump one side.

This pump is best for moms who will be pumping often (working, exclusively pumping, etc). It is a quick and easy way to pump and by far the most efficient.


 Single Electric Pumps

medela-swing

Single Electric: Medela Swing

A Single Electric pump is a pump that only pumps one breast at a time. These tend to be cheaper than a double electric pump for obvious reasons.

A single pump is good for moms who want to pump occasionally and need a slightly cheaper pump but still want an electric pump.

I do not recommend a single electric pump for moms who will be pumping both breasts multiple times per day. It will take forever.


Manual Pumps

Medela-harmony

Manual Pump: Medela Harmony

A Manual Pump is a pump that has a lever that you manually squeeze to create suction to express milk. It is 100% powered by you, hence the name.

Manual Pumps are good for moms who will be pumping rarely or as a backup to have on hand in case something happens to your electric pump. They are extremely cheap and easy to use. I would not recommend a manual pump to any moms who plan to pump more than a few times a week.

While a manual pump has some positives (cheap, allows you to have 100% control of the speed and suction strength), it is not the most efficient way to pump and can get tiring. An electric pump is by far a better choice for any mom who wants to pump.


Choosing the Right Breast Pump for You

Now that you are familiar with the types of breast pumps, you need to decide a few things before picking a pump:

  1. How often will you be pumping?
  2. Where will you be pumping? Do you need a portable pump?
  3. Are you suffering from low milk supply or need to pump exclusively?
  4. What is your budget?

The answers to these question will help you narrow down your options. Not all double electric pumps are made equal so even if you plan to get one of those, you will want to ask yourself these questions.

Here are a few examples to show you how I would pick for each scenario:


Example 1:

spectra-s1-vs-spectra-s2

Spectra S2

  1. How often will you be pumping? A: Occasionally.
  2. Where will you be pumping? Do you need a portable pump? A: At home. No portable pump needed.
  3. Are you suffering from low milk supply or need to pump exclusively? A: Low milk Supply and need quality pump.
  4. What is your budget? A: On a Budget. Can’t afford the most expensive pump.

For this mom, I would recommend: Spectra S2 Breast Pump

The Spectra S2 is a Hospital Grade, double electric pump. The best for low supply. It does not have a battery pack so it is not portable. It is extremely affordable. Perfect for a mom on a budget who doesn’t want to sacrifice quality! This pump is one of the best on the market.


Example 2:

spectra-s1-vs-spectra-s2

Spectra S1

  1. How often will you be pumping?A: Daily.
  2. Where will you be pumping? Do you need a portable pump? A: Work, need portable pump
  3. Are you suffering from low milk supply or need to pump exclusively? A: No low supply.
  4. What is your budget? A: Modest budget.

For this mom, I would recommend:Spectra S1 or Medela Pump in Style

Both the S1 and Pump in Style are strong pumps, perfect for a mom who needs to keep her supply up when working. They are both portable and have battery power as an option. They are not the most expensive pumps but not the cheapest either.


In each of the above examples, the moms could have chosen from a number of electric pumps. For a mom who has a low milk supply or will be pumping a lot, not all electric pumps will work for her. 

For example, the Ameda Purely Yours is a solid pump by most standards but I would not recommend it for a mom with low supply or who pumps a lot. The reason? The suction is lower than other top-rated pumps. There are stronger pumps on the market like the Spectra pumps. 

No matter what pump you decide on, make sure it fits your situation and needs. You don’t want to be in a situation where you spend money on a pump you need to replace later. Trust me, I come across moms in that situation daily and it’s a costly mistake.

Remember, buying a breast pump is not the time to go cheap just because you think you will get by. Getting the wrong pump can greatly impact your milk supply and cause an enormous amount of stress. So choose wisely!

Click here to read my reviews on various breast pumps and find out which is my favorite!

Need a pump suggestion? Confused on what fits your situation best? Leave me a comment or question below and let me help you choose!

Happy Pumping!


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Ardo Calypso Review

Ardo Calypso Review

medela-freestyle-breast-pump

Medela Freestyle Review

20 comments

  1. Deanna says:

    Hi there! I am a FTM trying to navigate the world of breastfeeding. I am due in July, following which I will take a 6 month maternity leave. Then, I will return to work full time and will need a pump that is efficient and portable. My insurance covers the Ameda Finesse in full, or I can chose a pump of my preference, and be reimbursed up to $200. I am more than willing to spend more for a better pump that suits my needs. I am also interested in using the Kiinde Twist system with my pump, or possibly Lifefactory glass bottles. Any pump that is a must have, and worth the splurge beyond the Ameda Finesse? I appreciate your help!

    • Heather Grace says:

      Hi Deanna!
      Congratulation on your upcoming arrival! The Ameda Finesse is a great pump in its own right. It is lightweight and very portable. It is a strong enough pump to maintain a healthy supply. You would likely do great with it.

      If you were looking for a stronger pump with more features (digital controls, ability to program your pump settings, etc), then an upgrade would definitely be a pump like the Spectra S1. It is portable with a rechargeable battery but is bigger than the Finesse. It retails for close to that $200 mark too so you may be able to get it fully covered.

      Now, if you wanted it all (portability, features, strong pump) a splurge would be the Medela Freestyle. By far one of my favorites! It will literally fit in your purse and has it all. This pump was made for a working mom but is more than $200 so you would be out of pocket for it.

      I think it comes down to budget (Freestyle being the most expensive), how portable you need the pump (where you will be pumping and if you need to carry it around), and finally, how strong you need the pump. Since this is your first, you have not experienced any issues as of yet with low milk supply but the Spectra is an amazing pump for moms who struggle to pump enough because of how strong it is, yet comfortable to use.

      All three of these are compatible with the Kiinde System which is a great choice!

      You have some great options but I would look at those three more and see if you can narrow it down to fit your situation. I hope this helps!

      • Brianna says:

        Hello,
        I am a FTM and having trouble deciding between the pumps that are covered by my insurance at 100%.
        I will be pumping on the go the majority of the time. My work is 90% travel so I will be pumping from my company car most of the time. Sometimes the cities that I am in don’t have pumping friendly locations. I’m planning on plugging the pump into my power inverter so battery operated is not necessarily a must have.
        The pump options that my insurance covers are:
        Madela pump in style
        Spectra S2
        Evenflo Deluxe
        Freemie hands free Deluxe
        Lansinoh smartpump
        Ameda Finesse

        Please let me know what you suggest. Thank you!

        • Heather Grace says:

          Hi Brianna!
          Of the pumps you listed, my favorites are the Medela Pump in Style, Spectra S2, and Ameda Finesse. I personally have not had as much luck with the other listed in term of milk yield. I pull down more milk with the other 3.

          Now with that said, between the 3 I prefer, the Medela Pump in Style and Ameda Finesse both run off disposable batteries which might come in very handy in your situation just in case you need it. The Spectra S2 does not have any type of battery. It can only be used plugged in. I have found an external power cell that works with the S2 but you need to purchase that and rechargeable batteries separately.

          In terms of suction, the Spectra S2 is the stronger pump followed by the Pump in Style and then the Finesse. Both the S2 and the Finesse are a little more comfortable to use physically (if nipple pain while pumping is a concern). Though pumping should never hurt, the S2 and Finesse feel more like a baby would nurse vs the Pump in Style which is more like a tug.

          If you absolutely do not care if the pump can run off a battery, I would go with the Spectra S2. It is the stronger pump and will yield you more milk. If you want a more compact pump, then the Finesse is by far the smallest and lightest. The Pump in Style typically comes built into a pump bag already (a tote or backpack) so that makes it convenient to carry around.

          The S2 is my pick, overall. Then between the Pump in Style and Finesse, I would say it comes down to which is easier. I like the backpack Pump in Style for your situation and that might win me over.

          Also, something else to consider to make your life easier on the go is using a pump and store system like the Kiinde Twist. It is compatible with all three of those pumps. So you can pump directly into the storage bags and store them (even freeze), then thaw and give to baby directly from the bag! It is amazing and may help save you time and having to lug milk collection bottles or pour milk from bottle to bag while out and about. Anyway, let me know if you have any other questions I can answer for you! I hope this helps! Thank you for your question!

        • Bethany says:

          I’m pregnant with my second baby and the first time around I had a very low milk supply. Was using the Medela Pump in Style last time and would get 1oz total after 45 minutes. I plan on exclusively pumping this time around and want to make sure I get a quality breast pump. I work from home so I don’t need portability necessarily. My insurance plan will cover spectra S2, Medela Pump in style, Ameda Finesse, and ARDO Calypso at 100%. Then premium pumps are listed for a copay less than $50 for most of them. (Spectra S1, Medela sonata, Medela freestyle, Medela Pump in style and advanced, and ARDO Calypso-to-go), I’m willing to spend extra money if need be because I’ll be using it a lot! Thanks in advance!

          • Heather Grace says:

            Hi Bethany,

            Gosh, I wish I had your insurance! They have so many amazing options! Okay, so this is a super easy one for me… The Medela Sonata. Hands-down.

            I have not finished writing my full review of this pump yet so it is not published but I am seriously in love with it. (I will update this comment for anyone reading this in the future with the link to the full review once it is published). This is by far the best pump on your list. Medela spent years designing this pump. It is modeled after their hospital grade monster, the Symphony. But compacted into an amazing personal-use pump. It comes with amazing technology, is whisper quiet (I had to put my ear to it to hear it), links to their amazing app to track your pumping sessions and more, and comes with amazing accessories. If you can get this pump for a mere $50, you should jump at the chance! Especially since you mentioned that you had difficulty pumping in the past, the Sonata is hospital grade strength (though Medela will not use that term – they save those for their actual hospital pumps). I can’t say enough great things about this pump. That would def be my pick!!

          • Becca R says:

            I am a first time mommy, who is really confused about pumps. I will be on maternity leave for 6 weeks, then back to work as a teacher. I will hopefully pump everyday, and while at work. My insurance covers both the Medela, and the Spectra S1/2, so that is not a problem. I obviously have never had to breastfeed before, so I don’t have preferences, because I don’t know what I need. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

            • Heather Grace says:

              Hi Becca,
              I think you have come to the right place! You will find a ton of information here on The Pumping Mommy about working and pumping.

              So let’s start with the pump. The Medela pump offered by insurance companies is a stripped down version of the Medela Pump in Style (some offer accessories like a tote bag and cooler and extra parts, some don’t). The Pump in Style is a really good pump. I used it for 2 years while pumping for my first baby and working 60+ hours a week. Never had an issue.

              Now, the Spectra S1 and S2 are the same pump. The difference? The S1 has a rechargeable battery making it portable. The S2 must be used while plugged in.

              So really, I would be choosing between the Spectra S1 and the Medela pump. Both are great pumps. Both are portable. I wrote an article comparing these two pumps, you can read all the differences and similarities in that article, here. In the end, I prefer the Spectra S1. You really have some good pumps to choose from, lucky you!

              Since you are returning to work very early (sorry you only get 6 weeks!), establishing good breastfeeding habits for your baby like a good latch, good supply, ect will be important early on. Take full advantage of the Lactation Consultant in the hospital (assuming you haven’t had your baby yet)! Don’t assume one will come to you, request to see one! You can bring your pump to the hospital (if you have it by then) and they can show you how to operate it. They usually have follow-up clinics so if you are having any trouble while at home, going back to the clinic is the best thing you can do. If you have already had your baby, going back and seeing an LC with your pump might be a good idea. They can also fit the breastshield to make sure it is the right size.

              Your milk supply will be all over the place after birth once your milk comes in. It takes several weeks (ideally 12 weeks) to establish a good supply and habits so be diligent with putting your baby to the breast as often as they want and with your pumping while away from your baby which I am sure is easier said than done especially being a teacher. You may need to add pump sessions at home to keep up with your baby if you do not get enough time at work.

              Here are some good pages to read to get you started:
              1 – Working and Pumping Home Page
              2 – Tips for Pumping at Work
              3 – Pumping Basics
              4 – How to build a Freezer Stash
              5 – Sample Pumping Schedule

              I hope this helps! Also, if you haven’t already, sign up to get my free eBook about increasing your milk supply. There are 10 pages of helpful info on how supply and demand works and the basics of breastfeeding. I am offering it for free right now. I hope this helps you!! Let me know if you have any questions! Take care and congrats on your baby!

            • Shalah says:

              HELP!! I’m stuck between getting a Medela PISA or a Spectra S1. My insurance covers both so that isn’t a problem. I loved my Medela PISA with my first baby. I ended up exclusively pumping since I went back to school early after he was born, I never had a problem with the suction being to hard or getting milk in my tubing. However, I’ve been researching the S1 and saw that many prefer it over the PISA. I love what I’ve read about both and am stuck on which to get.

              • Heather Grace says:

                Hi! So, you are getting to choose between two very good pumps. The Spectra is a slightly stronger pump, it is closed system, and I find it is overall a more comfortable pump to use. But the Medela will have parts that are easier to get a hold of (Spectra is online) and is a great pump, as you know. If it were me, I would look at a few things:

                1) do you have pump parts from your first baby left over? This will cut down on cost since you will already have extra sets vs having to buy some for the Spectra.

                2) How do you feel about having to shop online for the Spectra Parts?

                They are both great pumps and you really can’t go wrong here so I think you just need to look at some of those small details. If you have a ton of parts for the Medela PISA, I would probably stay with that. If you are starting over, you might want to consider trying out the Spectra S1. Great, great pump and one of my favorites! I put the Medela PISA head to head with the Spectra S1 in this article, so jump over and give it a read to see all the differences. I hope this helps!

              • Shannon says:

                Hi Shalah, I’m guessing you’ve already decided, but just in case you haven’t, wanted to let you know about the Maymom adapter. It lets you use the S1/S2 with Medela personalfit connectors (or all-in-ones with flanges) and Medela bottles, which are a lot nicer than Spectra bottles. You can then connect Pumpin Pals to the personalfit connectors (instead of the Medela flanges), which I’d recommend.
                Just wanted to let you know about this, as it’s an easy way to use Medela parts, while having the closed system of the S1, which is rated for more hours than the PISA.

                • Heather Grace says:

                  Thank you for pointing that out, Shannon. Yes, the Spectra pumps are able to be used with the Medela attachments if you have the adapters. Those are not official parts by Spectra. I have the correct adapters listed on the Spectra parts page for anyone who is interested- You can find them under “Additional Accessories.” There are two different adapters- one for the Medela breast shields to connect to the Spectra tubing and one for the Medela collection bottles to attach to the Spectra breast shields. So you have the option to use the entire Medela collection kit (bottle, breast shields) or just the collection bottles. Hope that helps!

                • Katie says:

                  Hi there,

                  3rd time mom who has used the Medela Pump in Style for babies 1 and 2. I’m looking for a new pump this time and my insurance covers several including the pump in style and Ameda Finesse, Freemie Freedom and a few others. I’ll return to work about 5 months after this baby is born and will pump regularly there, but also 1-2 times/day while on leave. What would you recommend?

                  • Heather Grace says:

                    Hi Katie,
                    Congratulations on your third baby! Fellow mom-of-three here and it is a crazy mix of chaos and bliss!

                    Of the three pumps you listed, the Pump in Style is still my favorite. I have had the most success with it vs the other two. The Ameda Finesse is a great pump and I really like it. I found I pumped more with my Pump in Style, however. It’s not a significant difference but it is a difference. If you are sensitive to pumping (the Pump in Style can be rough), the Ameda Finesse is much more comfortable in my opinion. Both pumps will get the job done but like I said, I typically pump more with my Pump in Style and when you are trying to maintain a supply while working, those extra ounces count for a lot.

                    You can read my full review of the Pump in Style, here.
                    And the Ameda Finesse, here.

                    I have not written a full review n the Freemie Freedom, but I never had luck with the Freemie pumps. They just didn’t work for me. I know plenty of moms who love them but they are not pumps I typically recommend based on my experience.

                    I hope this helps!! Let me know if you have any other questions!

                  • Suselis says:

                    Hi there! I am not sure which pump is the best for me and I could really use your advice/expertise. With my 2 sons I never could pump/breastfeed past 3 months, I had very little milk supply and it just vanished at the 3month mark or was next to mom exsistent. I have always had the medela pump in style provided through insurance and I have never liked it so I am wanting to get something different this time. To answer your questions…

                    How often will you be pumping? – daily
                    Where will you be pumping? Do you need a portable pump? – always at home or in a home
                    Are you suffering from low milk supply or need to pump exclusively? I have a low milk supply and have a very hard time breastfeeding because of how large my breast are so I pump more often than breastfeed
                    What is your budget? We are covered through insurance so I should be able to get any electric breastpump with the exception of the medela type hospital pumps.

                    • Heather Grace says:

                      Hi, Suselis! The Medela Pump in Style is a great pump. If you had some supply issues using even that pump, I would suggest you get a Hospital Grade pump this go around. You can rent one (Medela Symphony for example) or you buy one. My personal favorite (and the most affordable option) is the Spectra pumps. The Spectra S2 would work for you since you don’t seem to need to built in battery option. The S2 only works off an AC adapter. You can read about the Spectra S2, here.

                      Your insurance may not offer the Spectra pumps as an option, however, since they are not widely used in the States. Another option would be to see if your insurance company will cover the cost of renting a Hospital Grade pump. Some do. You did mention the hospital types is an exception so I am not sure if that means they won’t cover a rental cost either. It sounds like you could use the extra power of hospital grade.

                      As for helping your supply, there many things you can do. I am not sure of your situation but if you have to leave your baby within the first few months, then pumping would be inevitable. But if you have the ability to be home with your baby, I recommend that you focus the first few months on only breastfeeding. Establish a good latch and a good supply before trying to pump. This article may help you with some ideas for boosting your supply if needed: Not Pumping Enough Breast milk

                      A Lactation Consultant early on is a must. I am sure since you have been through this before, you have tried a lot of things. Hang in there! Not everyone’s breastfeeding journey is the same. I wish you the best!

                    • Samantha says:

                      Hi, I am debating between getting the Spectra S1 and the Medela Freestyle. I will be returning to work after the baby is born. So, I will be pumping multiple times per day. With my DD, I used the PISA. It was overall an ok pump, however, I did have issues producing at the pump. So, I am wanting to find something a little better for people with production issues. Thank you so much for the help!

                      • Heather Grace says:

                        Hi, Samantha! Both the Spectra S1 and the Freestyle are both great pumps. You will find pros and cons with both. The main difference will be the size. The Freestyle is much smaller and therefore slightly more portable. Though the S1 isn’t massive and I carried it around just fine but the Freestyle could literally be popped into your purse which I loved.

                        The pump strength is going to be very similar. I do feel the S1 runs better and longer without being plugged into the wall if you will be away from a power source when you pump. Overall, you would have good success pumping the max amount of milk with either. One thing to consider is that the S1 is more comfortable to use than the Freestyle. It is very gentle. That can make a difference in output for some moms. So if you struggle with pumping, the S1 might be something to consider.

                        I think you have narrowed it down to two great pumps. If you haven’t already read them, here are my full reviews for both pumps so you can see the specs. Click here for the S1 review. Click here for the Freestyle review.

                        If you have any specific questions about either pump, please let me know. Congrats on your baby and I hope you come back and let me know which you chose!

                      • netp says:

                        Hi there, I find the medela swing one is really effective — I just can’t get on with the manual ones, they seem to take so long and the effectiveness of the electric sort is so much quicker, although the feeling of being a bit like a milking cow is a bit weird. I actually had a double one at one point, but I ended up creating too much milk – my supply went way up and it was coming out too fast when I was doing it naturally 🙁

                        • Heather Grace says:

                          Over pumping will definitely create an over supply. You really only need to pump to replace feedings. Anything beyond that can cause an over supply. If you need to increase your supply or need to build a freezer stash, for example, then pumping while nursing can be a great benefit!

                          I never loved manual pumps either. Great in emergency situations but not my go to. Finding what pump works for you and will best fit your siutation is key!

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