Before I launch into my guide comparing the many breast pumps I’ve tried, I want to preface this by saying: I hate pumping. It makes me feel like a cow. It’s time-consuming. And it doesn’t feel great. Also, there are all those breast pump parts to clean every.single.time. I hate doing dishes, so cleaning pumping parts and all the bottle parts KILLS me. But as I am still breastfeeding Charlotte (read about my breastfeeding journey here) and recently returned to the office full-time after maternity leave, pumping is a daily part of my life. And as I’ve learned, buying the right breast pump is critical.
After having James, I just chose the breast pump with the best reviews out of the two options that my insurance offered. I was already supplementing by the time I returned to work and I didn’t realize that the right breast pump could make a huge difference. Actually, until recently, I was under the impression that all breast pumps were basically the same — a necessary torture device without much difference. But when I was pregnant with Charlotte, I had new insurance and was able to get a different type of breast pump and did a lot more research.
I decided to order a portable breast pump via my insurance this time to give me more flexibility, like if I wanted to pump on the train while commuting (which I have yet to do — mom friends who commute, how do you do without exposing your boobs to all your neighbors?), while in an Uber back to the office from a meeting downtown (yep, done that and didn’t hurt my rating), if I needed to pump in a bathroom on a break from giving a deposition (actually did that), and while getting my hair highlighted (definitely did that one — highlights take FOREVER!). I was also lucky enough to get another type of pump from a mom friend who was done with hers and loved it and then I was gifted one of the latest hands free, wear in your bra pumps. So basically, this time, I have been able to test out four different types of pumps, and compare all four breast pumps — and I have a lot of feedback to share.
When I was trying to figure out which breast pump to get, I really wanted feedback on pumps from other working moms who would be using it in the same capacity as I, and whose choices might also be limited by what their insurance offers (rather than a parenting site reviewing items for SEO stories). So I hope you find this breast pump comparison guide helpful. But please keep in mind, this is my personal experience and it might be worth it to ask around to your other mom friends (who knows? they may have one you can borrow like mine did). Also, these breast pumps might not be offered by every insurance company, and I would definitely try getting one from your insurance company before buying a pricey one on your own. There’s so much equipment and other things to buy, that it’s nice if you can save on this one item. With that said, if you’re going to be pumping a lot, it’s something that, in retrospect, I would have invested in my first time around. The right pump can truly change your experience, save you lots of time, and help you to breastfeed your child longer (if that’s important to you).
Also, I found that having multiple pumps was useful if you’re working. With James, I brought my pump to work and home every day, which was a total pain. Now, I have one at home, one I leave at work, and a portable one I throw in my bag, which I’ve found super helpful, though definitely not necessary. But if you can swing it or get one for free from another mom, it’s a good way to make your life easier and not lug a pump around with you. I can definitely work on a post with more pumping tips and my pumping schedule for work if that would be helpful. But in the meantime, here’s my breast pump comparison and review.
This was the breast pump that I got for free from my insurance when I had James, and frankly, all I knew until recently. It’s decent. It gets the job done. It’s not enormous or too heavy, which was nice when I had James because I only had one pump and would carry it back and forth in my work bag every day. Now that I have several pumps, I actually leave this one at work and use it there. It has a bunch of parts, but no more so than any other part, and it’s easy to Amazon Prime replacement parts if, say, your dog eats them for fun. But it certainly didn’t make me love pumping, and it’s not even close to medical grade in terms of its ability to get milk out fast. In fact, it’s the slowest of any pump I’ve tried. Bottom line: For a free pump, it’s totally fine and I use it multiple times a day, but I probably wouldn’t buy this one if I was doing it again.
I got the Spectra S1 pump from another mom friend, and I wish I had had it when James was born, and I was struggling to breastfeed. It’s not light and it’s not a small as the Medela, but I find it to be more comfortable, slightly quieter, and it does a better job suctioning out milk faster. The overall experience is much better. It has a couple more parts than the Medela, and the replacement parts are slightly harder to source, but I was still been able to Prime one that James broke after some digging. It’s marketed as hospital strength, and I’ve never used a hospital grade pump, but maybe that’s why this one is much better at getting your milk out faster. It just works better in my experience. (Side note: I know some moms who rent hospital grade pumps and have had great experiences with them so that’s also something to consider if you’re going to be pumping a lot or are struggling with the pump you have.)
This little guy has been a godsend for times I’ve been in a pinch or traveling. I’ve pumped in a cab, in a bathroom stall, and on an airplane thanks to this pump. It’s light and small, so it’s easy to throw in my purse (although you also need the parts with it). It’s a great compliment to the larger Spectra if you want one for travel or commuting and one to leave at home or the office. I would probably use it while driving if I drove myself to work. It’s not quite as strong in the suctioning department as the big Spectra, but it probably works just as well as the Medela. It’s not silent, but it’s fairly quiet. I got this for free from my insurance this time, but I would probably buy it if I traveled a lot for work or was pumping on the go all the time.
Full disclosure: I was sent this to try. I was so excited because the idea of being able to move around while pumping is life-changing. My biggest gripe with pumping is that if you have 15 minutes free from holding a baby or child, you don’t want to be tied down by a pump. You fit these into a bra and can walk around while they do the work, which any pumping mom will agree is a game-charger. Personally, I found this pump hard to set up. It has a lot of parts and they’re not at all like a typical pump. I’m also shit at following directions, but it felt a little like trying to put together Ikea furniture, and I actually had to ask my nanny to help. But the time it takes to figure out and set up is worth the freedom you get from hands-free, portable pumping. And it holds a charge decently long. However, the idea that you’ll be going to a meeting or walking your dog while pumping doesn’t exactly hold up. The pump is bulky and you can definitely tell you have something on your boobs when wearing it because they’re not small and not exactly lightweight. With that said, I don’t think I’d be able to go to a meeting while pumping anyway — I’d just feel too weird. So I loved that I was able to clean up James’ toys, throw in a load of laundry and do some vacuuming while wearing it. I didn’t try, but you might even be able to ride your Peleton lol. Ok, don’t quote me on that and it’s probably not recommended. The pump is really expensive, so I probably wouldn’t have invested in it unless I was planning to pump more. I have friends who mostly or exclusively pumped, and then I’d say it might be worth the money to you because it really does offer so much more freedom, making pumping a lot less burdensome.
Any others I should try or you’d recommend? Let me know if you have any questions about any of these pumps too. Happy to fill you in more!