Best Breast Pumps (Electric, Manual & Hospital)

Sarah Schulze, RN, NP, CBC
Reviewed by Sarah Schulze, RN, NP, CLCWritten by Neve Spicer Updated on April 19th, 2023

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Hey, mama. I’m guessing you probably fall into one of two camps:

  1. You’re not sure whether you need a breast pump (perhaps they’re another over-hyped and unnecessary mom accessory?)
  2. For you, life dictates that you have to pump. You just need to know which is the best breast pump for you.

We’ll keep things simple and quickly answer your questions, then round up the best breast pumps of 2019.

Let’s do this!

Do you need a breast pump?

Not necessarily. Many moms don’t use breast pumps. It depends on your situation and what you want. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you may be able to comfortably get by without one. For many moms, however, they are absolutely essential.

We recommend you buy a breast pump if you are breastfeeding and…

  1. Are going back to full or part-time work and need to provide milk for your child’s carers;
  2. Your partner and/or family members would like to feed the baby sometimes (this can be a life-saver for you and gives your baby bonding time with other important adults in her life);
  3. Want to stimulate your milk supply. It is certainly something to try;
  4. Have to stop breastfeeding for a while (eg, to take medication). With a pump you can store a supply of milk to get you through this time;
  5. Have a premature baby who finds it difficult to latch; or
  6. Want the occasional night away from your baby.

If this is you, then a breast pump may be essential. Though at times it may feel like a hassle, trust me, you’ll soon be making your baby food and this precious breastfeeding window will be over.

Related: Spectra S2 Vs Medela Pump In Style (2021 Comparison)

A word about sharing feeding duties

Editor’s Tip: Expressing milk for your partner or other family members to feed to your baby is a great way to give a tired mama a break, as well as provide a wonderful bonding opportunity for others to enjoy with the baby.

However, make sure that, if you are skipping a feeding at the breast you still remember to pump, so that your body knows to keep making milk.

Regular bottle feedings, especially at night, can greatly impact your supply if you don’t give your body the signal to keep making milk at that time.

While it may be tempting to let Dad feed the baby during the night so you can sleep through, this will decrease your milk supply in the long run and is not advisable on a regular basis.

Types of breast pumps

There are several types, so which is the best breast pump for you?

Electric – Whether by direct connection to an electrical socket and/or by using batteries, these pumps do all the work for you. The downside is that they can sometimes be noisy and are bulkier; not always ideal if using outside the home.

Hospital-grade – These are typically top-of-the-range pumps that are both powerful and extract milk quickly. Often, they are for new moms who have trouble breastfeeding. Being both heavy-duty and expensive they are often hired or lent to moms by hospitals. So, when it comes to manufacturers, this is more of a marketing term. If you aren’t experiencing any problems with breastfeeding, then buy a more affordable pump that will be more suitable for your needs. That said, if budget isn’t an issue, then this type of pump is still a great choice. They’re generally more effective, faster, and durable and will make your pumping easier while standing the test of time.

Manual – These are quick and easy to use. The benefits are that no batteries or electricity are needed for you to power the pump and they can often be much quieter than electric pumps. The downside is that you’ll need to pump using your own hand power, and it is (virtually) impossible to pump from both breasts simultaneously. They can take longer and get tiring if the suction is not good.

Travel/Work – Designed to be more discrete and easier to fold up/store when not in use. They come in both manual and electric varieties.

Double/Single – Double pumps allow you to pump from both breasts at once. This can be a huge timesaver. If, however, you are pumping on the go, then it may be easier to take a single.

Related: Ameda Purely Yours vs Medela Pump In Style (2021 Guide)

Our picks of the best breast pumps

Best electric breast pump

Our opinion

The BelleMa Effective Pro Double allows for independent control and suction adjustment when using both pumps simultaneously. The BelleMa has nine different suction settings and uses a hospital-grade anti-backflow system for enhanced hygiene. Its silicon cushions are designed for the enhanced comfort of your nipples while all parts of the pump are BPA-free and FDA approved.

Although powerful, the BelleMa Effective Pro Double allows for convenient and comfortable large-volume pumping using a compact design that will fit easily into your purse or bag.

The pump has a control unit, two pumps, two four-ounce bottles (with caps), two nipple sets, and two bottle stands. It also comes with two bottle collar adaptors to use with a wide variety of collection bottles.

Best with dual options

Our opinion

A truly complete breast pump set, the Nibble’s built-in technology carefully mimics your little one’s feeding patterns, beginning with shorter, more rapid stimulation before transitioning into deeper, slower suction.

The Nibble Breast Pump includes 10 different suction levels for dialing in exactly the right intensity of suction, helping you avoid nipple discomfort. The double breast design allows for rapid pumping of large volumes of milk, while the anti-backflow design ensures hospital standards of hygiene.

The Nibble system is designed for comfort and ease in clean-up. It comes complete with two electric pumps, two bottles (with caps), two bottle stands, a control mechanism, and four cleaning tools.

Best manual

Our opinion

For easy use with all Philips Avent products, this manual, compact breast pump is designed for simple positioning and operation. It comes with a textured massage cushion to help stimulate milk production and flow and is entirely BPA-free.

Unlike some pumps that only operate using gravity, the Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump is uniquely designed to let you relax as milk flows through the angled neck into the collecting bottle.

The flange of the pump has five textured petals that mimic the natural suckling motions of your baby and help stimulate milk flow. It can safely be washed in a dishwasher, hand-washed, or soaked in boiling water.

Best for occasional use

Our opinion

One of the top manual breast pumps on the market, the Medela Harmony features a complete system to allow for sustained daily use.

The pump functions using the company’s patented two-phase expression technology that more accurately simulates your infant’s feeding motions while the swivel handle and ergonomic grip make manual pumping easier and more comfortable.

The Medela pump is BPA-free and includes two five-ounce bottles (with lids), a bottle stand, a cap, a nipple with a built-in collar, and two membranes (bags). The breast shield/flange is a standard 24-mm (medium) size and is whisper-quiet when in use.

Best budget buy

Our opinion

NUK Expressive Manual Breastpump is a simple pump that’s also very affordable. Weighing just 5.5 ounces when empty, you can easily fit this pump into your purse or bag. It comes with a super soft shield and an ergonomic handle that makes one-handed pumping both pleasant and far less tiring.

The NUK pump is assembled in the United States, is BPA free and can be cleaned in a dishwasher. The pump includes two silicone valves, one silicone nipple, and a 5-ounce milk collecting bottle.

Our 6th choice

Our opinion

Despite being a very powerful breast pump, the Spectra Baby USA S2 has a remarkably quiet operation. This pump features a fully closed anti-backflow design for enhanced hygiene and comes with a night light and timer for comfortable nighttime operation.

The Spectra Baby is fully programmable to set the rhythm and suction power of the machine, including a massage mode (less suction, more rapidity, to simulate the beginning of the feed cycle), and an expression mode (deeper, but slower, cycles of suction) to mimic natural milk letdown processes.

Best of all, the machine can be instantly adjusted on the fly for your expression needs, yet remains practically whisper-quiet, even while both pumps are in operation.

Our 7th choice

Our opinion

From one of the top names in breast pump technology, the Medela Symphony enables you to safely and easily pump from one or both breasts simultaneously. The pump can be used anywhere and is extremely convenient and comfortable to use.

This breast pump is very affordable and well worth a try. It is made without BPA, DEHP, and with natural rubber latex.

Our 8th choice

Our opinion

Designed to be powered by any computer or mobile device with a USB port, the KidsTime Pump is a BPA-free, affordable, double breast pump that’s compact enough to easily fit into your purse or travel bag.

The pump includes a power adapter and recharging base, though its nifty USB function allows you to plug it into your phone or computer, giving it the juice required to finish the job. A great space-saver for moms on the go.

It has two expression settings, a secretion mode that starts off with minimal suction while gradually increasing, and a massage mode to initiate your natural letdown response. It has 18 different modes, easily adjustable for comfortable and productive pumping.

The KidsTime USB Double comes with one pump, two bottles, a USB power cord, and everything you need to begin pumping.

Our 9th choice

Our opinion

Using an anti-backflow closed design for enhanced hygiene, the BelleMa Mango Plus is a versatile machine with a very compact design. The LCD screen on the display includes a real-time status update, countdown timer, and memory features for saving your preferred pump settings.

It comes with one bottle, a bottle adapter (for use with other brands of bottles), one nipple set, a power adapter, and one bottle stand. The BelleMa Mango Plus can also be powered by four AA batteries (not included). All parts are BPA-free and FDA approved.

Our 10th choice

Our opinion

This electric, single breast pump is so compact that you can store it just about anywhere. Shipped fully assembled, the Evenflo Single Breast Pump is made from durable ABS BPA-free plastic and has an innovative valve design for more consistent suction.

Designed to be powered from a standard wall socket or by three AA batteries (not included), the Evenflo can quickly and efficiently pump up to four ounces of milk.

Pumping top tips

Every woman is different, so there are no universal truths about which is the ‘right’ breast pump for you. First, decide how you are going to use it; then pick the right type (eg, electric, hospital-grade, manual, travel).

With this main decision out the way, there are a few more things to consider. Every breast pump sold on the market today comes with “flanges”. This is the curved piece of (usually) plastic or silicon that cups onto your breast.

Because the size of every woman’s breast differs, these shields, or flanges, come in different sizes. It’s important that you either know the ideal size for your breasts or that the breast pump you choose has a shield/flange the right size for your needs.

Many breast pump manufacturers offer additional sizes in shields/flanges that you can order.

Editor’s Note: The right size flange should have your nipple just inside of it but not rubbing against the sides of the flange. When the pump is on, your nipple should move freely, but little, so that no areola is sucked into the flange.

If you aren’t sure if your flanges are fitting correctly, a lactation consultant can help you! Ask the hospital where you are delivering or your OB or midwife to help you find a lactation consultant near you.

No matter which breast pump you choose, be aware that it will take a while to master it. Give yourself time to become familiar with the sensation of the breast pump and how it operates in order to reliably and comfortably pump milk on a regular basis.

A little nipple soreness is normal and shouldn’t last too long. If you experience this, check out our guide to natural and effective nipple creams. If struggling with producing milk using a breast pump, it may be advisable to contact a lactation counselor.

Related: How to Reheat Breast Milk Safely

First-time pumper? Here’s what else you’ll need:

Storage bottles or bags: Pump manufacturers normally supply storage bags and bottles. You’ll need these to store your pumped milk. It’s worth investigating in order to create an organized system from the get-go.

Portable cooler: For those of you pumping at work, you’ll need somewhere cool to store your milk until you get home.

Bottlebrush and soap: Old milk smells and it’s unhygienic. Make sure you’re equipped with a decent bottle brush and baby-friendly soap.

Related: How long can breast milk sit out?

Wrapping up

Whether you need a dependable, heavy-duty breast pump system for everyday use or a lightweight and compact travel breast pump for occasional pumping, there will be one on the market perfectly suited to your needs.

Ranging from powerful electric double pumps that can be adjusted on the fly to mimic your baby’s suckling patterns, to ergonomic manual pumps designed for a relaxing, quiet pumping experience, there is a breast pump out there for you.

Sarah Schulze, RN, NP, CBC
Reviewed by Sarah Schulze, RN, NP, CLCWritten by Neve Spicer Updated on April 19th, 2023

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Best Breast Pumps