How to choose a breast pump

Welcoming your baby earth-side means you now need to navigate feeding. If you decide you’d like to breastfeed, you may want to invest in a breast pump. We admit it can be totally overwhelming trying to work out the best one for you and so much choice isn’t always a good thing. That’s why we’re here to give it to you straight with 5 tips to help you choose the right breast pump for you. Because everyone is different and what works for your friend won’t necessarily be best for you. Read on for our no-nonsense guide to help you choose a breast pump.

What is a breast pump?

First things first, a breast pump is a manual or electrical device that lactating women can use to express milk. Expressing milk in advance can be a lifesaver to help share the load with a partner for late night feeds, or for when you’re heading back to work. If your baby is having trouble latching, using a breast pump can also be helpful to ensure a sufficient milk supply. 

When to buy a breast pump? 

There’s lots of different reasons women decide to use a breast pump. These might include:

  • Sore nipples or mastitis from breastfeeding and wanting to take a break
  • Returning to work and wanting to continue feeding with breast milk
  • Sharing feeding duties with your partner or co-carer 
  • Your baby has trouble latching onto your breast

How to use a breast pump?

Depending on if you choose a manual or electric pump the instructions will vary slightly. However, both are easy to use (even if you need to work harder with a manual pump). To use a breast pump, you should pump at a low speed and suction for 7 minutes. You can then take a small break for a minute or so and give your breast a massage before continuing for another 7 minutes or so. Even if your milk stops flowing, it’s important to pump for at least 15 minutes. 

Choosing your breast pump: Manual vs Electrical

1. How often do you want to express? 

Begin by considering how often you actually want (or need) to pump. Babies need to feed about 8 times a day, or every three hours. If your baby is latching well and you’re at home with them most of the time, perhaps you just want to use the pump occasionally or for nighttime feeds. In this instance a manual pump will do the trick. However, if you’re going back to work or having difficulty getting your baby to latch, you may want to pump most of the time. We recommend opting for an electric pump to help speed things up if this is you. 

2. Budget 

We get it. Having a baby is expensive and so is all the gear that comes with them! If budget is a big factor in helping you determine the right pump for you, then manual is the way to go. Manual pumps are a lot more affordable than electrical ones. Why not try the Haakaa Breast Pump for $27.9? 

3. Portable 

If you’re on-the-go or heading back to work but want to keep breastfeeding, then portability is an important factor to consider. You want something that will easily slip into your handbag and allow you to discreetly pump wherever you are. We recommend the slightly larger size Haakaa Breast Pump (150ml). It allows for hands-free pumping and is ultra portable. It includes a cap too so you can keep it securely in the fridge at work too! If you’re time poor (who are we kidding, when are we not time poor?!) we love that you can even use this in the shower!

4. Noise

Are you concerned with the amount of noise the machine will make? Perhaps you want something ultra discreet that won’t make a sound? In this case, a manual pump is the best option to choose. If noise isn’t the biggest factor for you, then you can easily get away with the Medela electric pump. Whilst it’s not silent, it is relatively quiet so it shouldn’t cause too much discomfort. 

5. Speed

How much time are you willing to spend pumping? If you’re not going to be relying on pre-expressed milk to feed your baby, and only pumping once a day or so, then you can totally get away with a manual pump. The Haakaa pump isn’t designed for full-time pumping and it’s definitely not as quick as an electric one, but it’s ideal for those who want to use a pump to complement breastfeeding. For mums who want to exclusively pump or at least rely heavily on expressing milk, then go all out with an electric pump to make your life easier!  We recommend the Medela Breast Pump. 

Manual vs Electric Breast Pump

Let’s recap on the two different options you can choose from and the pros & cons of each. At the end of the day it depends on your lifestyle and what’s most important to you personally when choosing your pump. 

Manual Breast Pump Advantages:

  • Complements full time breastfeeding
  • Affordable
  • Portable 
  • Silent 

Manual Breast Pump Cons:

  • Takes longer to pump than an electric pump
  • Not ideal for women looking to rely on pumped milk 
Electric Breast Pump Advantages:
  • Pumps quickly 
  • Ideal for women looking to rely on pumped milk 
  • Portable depending on the pump 
  • Easy to use
Electric Breast Pump Disadvantages:
  • Makes noise 
  • More expensive than a manual pump

Whatever pump you decide to choose, make sure it’s the right one for you personally. If you’re having trouble with your milk supply, you should speak to your obstetrician or hospital for support. If you’d like to find out some tips right now on how to increase your milk supply, read our blog article with advice from a midwife.