If you work outside the home and want to breastfeed, a breast pump will be a necessity. My goal was to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, so my first question when I looked into breast pumps was, what is the best breast pump for working moms?
As a new mother, I was confused and a little intimidated by the breast pump options out there, and I wanted to make the right choice because breast pumps are expensive. I had heard of Medela and Ameda, but a quick search revealed other brands like Philips Avent and Spectra that also looked good.
I’ll say right off the bat that any working mom should invest in a good quality double electric pump – you can pump much faster this way! Plus, double electric breast pumps are available for great low prices on Amazon. But, I think I’m getting ahead of myself here – let’s start by quickly looking at what breast pumps are and how they work.
What is a breast pump and how does it work?
In brief, a breast pump is a device that extracts milk from a lactating woman’s breasts. The pumps use suction, either electric or manual, to stimulate let down (the milk ejection reflex) and express breastmilk. There are three broad categories of breast pump:
Double electric breast pump: a pump with a motor that expresses milk from both breasts simultaneously (can be battery powered in addition to AC power)
Single electric breast pump: a pump with a motor that expresses milk from one breast at a time (can be battery powered in addition to AC power)
Manual breast pump: a pump that is operated by hand to express milk from one breast at a time (no batteries or power cords)
As I mentioned above, I highly recommend the investment in a double electric pump for any mom who will pump regularly.
That said, I have 4 pumps that I use relatively frequently.My double electric is the most important in ensuring I can pump enough milk for my son each day at work. I also have two different manual pumps and a single electric – I use these when I’m pumping on the go or at home, since my double electric pump lives in the office.
When you are researching your breast pump purchase, some key factors to consider are:
What did I look for in a breast pump?
I knew that I would be able to pump in a private room so sound wasn’t an issue. However, I walked to and from work daily and didn’t want to carry too much. I realized that I could leave the pump base (with the motor) in the office, and just carry the bottles and parts back and forth for cleaning. So, this left me prioritizing ease of cleaning, comfort, and features.
Let’s dive into an overview of the best double electric pumps on the market for working moms. Of all the double electric pumps, following are my top four picks with a brief summary of each. (Click the pump name for the detailed review.)
The Top 4 Best Breast Pumps for Working Moms:
Spectra, a Korean brand, is a new kid on the block in the US market. The pump has a few extra features that differentiate it from others – these aren’t necessities but they are nice to have – like the night light. Before my son was born it never even crossed my mind that I might pump at night, but I did pump at night, at times with him sleeping next to me, and if I’d had the Spectra at that point the nightlight would have been invaluable!
Pros: closed system, separate let down and expression modes, separate speed and suction control, very quiet, has a digital display
Cons: can run on batteries but not car charger, on the heavier side (about 4 pounds), fewer flange sizes available vs. other brands,
Conclusion: I love this pump, and although isn’t a household name like Medela, I do think it is a better pump overall in terms of functionality (being able to adjust speed and suction separately allows you to pump more milk, faster), hygiene appearance, sound, and comfort. Read my detailed review here or learn more on Amazon.
This was my first pump and I used it intensively at work without experiencing any drop in performance. Before I tried many other pumps, I was happy with the Ameda and I still rate it highly because you can adjust speed and suction separately.
Pros: closed system, can adjust speed and suction separately, not to big (easy to carry), many flange sizes available, can pump directly into milk storage bags using their simple “Store n’ Pour” system.
Cons: no let down function (although you can create a letdown function yourself by adjusting speed and suction appropriately)
Conclusion: Often a less expensive option but the lower price does not mean lower quality. Very easy to carry around and the built in bottle holders on the pump motor make it much less likely that you’ll spill any milk. Read my full review here or learn more on Amazon.
Most likely the best known pump, the Medela PISA has a lot to offer. I don’t love it because it is not a closed system, which means you will often have to clean the tubing and it is less hygienic than closed system pumps.
Pros: Compatible with medela calma bottles for feeding, flanges available for any size nipples/breasts, separate let down and expression modes, various carrying cases available for easy transportation, can pump on batteries or using a car charger
Cons: Not a closed system, can only adjust speed and suction together, not as quiet as Spectra or Ameda, need to replace membranes occasionally, heavy to carry, no digital display
Conclusion: A sturdy pump that won’t disappoint. Superficially, it isn’t the most attractive pump and it is heavy to tote around, but customer service is excellent and suction is known to remain strong for years if pump is well maintained. Not my first choice because you cannot adjust speed and suction strength separately. Read my full review here or learn more on Amazon.
Philips AVENT is a trusted name in baby care products. Their pump is one of my favorites for comfort – the flanges that rest on your breast are silicon – so soft and comfortable compared to the hard plastic of most other pumps, including Medela, Spectra, and Ameda.
Pros: comfortable, closed system, can buy kit to convert it to a manual pump,
Cons: cannot adjust speed and suction separately, a bit louder than Medela, cannot run on batteries or car charger
Conclusion: Wins for comfort, but it is a bit loud and bulky. Also missing nice-to-have features like night light, battery operation. Finally, not being able to adjust speed and suction separately can make pumping sessions longer. See my detailed review here or learn more on Amazon.
Which pump is the winner here?
Overall, my top choices are Spectra S1 and Ameda Purely Yours. Spectra would be my preference but it is a lot pricier than the Ameda and you can get the same results with both. You’ll just need to put a little more effort into the Ameda with the manual dials you turn to adjust suction speed and vacuum strength. I would not suggest investing in the Medela Pump in Style Advanced because of the size and the fact it is not a closed system – this pump is only best if your top priority is excellent customer service and easiest access to replacement parts.
Of course, there are other pumps to consider beyond these top 4. You can read about other effective double electric pumps here. These other pumps include Medela Freestyle, Hygeia EnJoye, Rumble Tuff Serene Express, and Spectra Dew 350. I have spent time using each of these pumps and while none of them are my favorite, they are all viable options for anyone who will need to express milk frequently.