Choosing A Pump

With so many pumps available on the market each with numerous features, including a range of cycle and suction settings, sizes, power sources, and prices, it can be confusing to choose the best one.   Please call us at 647 995 5757 if you have any specific questions.
Comparison Chart:
Type of pump Suction/ cycles Advantage Disadvantage Cost

 

Manual pump (Medela Harmony)

 

Variable small portable, quiet, inexpensive

Labor intensive

May not be achieve proper cycling or suction

Not for maintaining supply

+

 

Occasional Use electric pump (Medela Swing)

 

Variable

small and quiet 

Double or single pumping

Semi-automatic cycling

Difficult to achieve adequate cycling and suction

Not for maintaining supply

++

 

Personal Use electric pump(Medela Pump in Style)

 

40-60 cycles per min

50-220 mmHg suction

Double or single pumping

Automatic cycling

Maintains Supply

Requires Electricity or car adapter +++

 

Hospital Grade electric pump(Medela Symphony, Ameda Platinum)

 

40-60 cycles per min

50-220 mmHg suction

Double or single pumping

Automatic cycling

Highly efficient

Mimics baby's suction pressure and cycling rate

Increases and maintains supply

 

Large

Needs Electricity

+++

Features to Consider

Cycles and Suction Settings – Breast pumps are designed to empty the breast by mimicking both the suction pressure and frequency of a baby’s suckling.

A pump that cycles automatically between 40-60 times a minute will be the most effective at removing milk, keeping your prolactin levels high and your milk production up. Suction pressure affects your comfort, the efficiency of milk expression, and the production of milk.

Suction levels that are less than 150 mmHg are ineffective at emptying the breast, and those that are more than 220mmHg can cause nipple pain. Most quality pumps will have either adjustable levels of suction and cycles (within the above specified ranges) that allow you to alter it to suit your needs, or pre-set controls that automatically create and release the suction.  

Double vs Single Pumping – A good pump will allow you to pump both breasts simultaneously, which is faster and increases the amount of prolactin released, leading to higher milk production. Once you become proficient at pumping, using a double pump can take as little as 10 minutes. Single pumping shouldn’t take longer than about 15-20 minutes.  Single pumping long-term can lead to lowered milk production.

Open vs Closed System – Breast pumps are based on either an Open or Closed system.  In an Open system the pump motor is exposed to your milk as there is no barrier between the collection kit and motor.  This can lead to the unintentional ‘drawing-in’ of your milk into the motor and the eventual growth of mold (the inside of a breast pump is warm, dark and damp…ideal conditions for mold growth), or the harboring of bacteria and viruses which can then be passed back into your milk at a later date There is no way to completely clean and disinfect this type of pump.  The FDA recommends that Open system pumps only be used by a single-user due to the ability of infectious particles remaining in the pump to potentially cause disease  In a Closed system the collection kit and pump motor are completely separated via a barrier (filters or membranes) so that your milk cannot reach the motor.  This decreases the possibility of mold growth and infectious particles contamination.  

  • Open – All pumps except hospital-grade 
  • Closed – Ameda (Platinum) Medela(Symphony)

*Single User vs Multiple User – Single user pumps have motors that are warrantied for up to one year, while multiple user pumps can stand up to repeated uses for years upon years due to the industrial strength motor.  

Adapters and Batteries – What kind of power will you have available?  Some pumps require access to electricity, while others come with car adapters. Some can run on battery power, while others are hand-operated only. 

Carrying Case – Is the pump portable and easy to transport? Does it come with a carry bag and have a compartment to keep your milk cool (especially important if you won’t have access to a refrigerator)?  Many of the better pumps come with gel/ice packs that fit the compartment, and some have removable cooling compartments that allow you to leave unneeded sections at work.  Some pumps are very large, bulky, and heavy, while others are small enough to fit in the pocket.

Other Features – There are a number of other features available on breast pumps that you may want to consider. One of the most important is whether the flanges or shields are interchangeable. You want flanges that fit you correctly, as this can impact your milk supply. Some pumps have a “let-down” feature that automatically sets the cycles fast and suction light to mimic the quick sucking your baby does to help the milk flow.  Some pumps offer LCD displays that show the speed and suction, as well as time and length of your last pumping session.  

Breast Pumps: 4 Major Types- Advantages & Disadvantages

Hand-Operated – Handle squeeze pumps create and release suction when the handle is squeezed and released.  These pumps are very portable, as they are lightweight, small, and quiet.  Hand pumps are best suited for women who need to pump to relieve fullness.  Very few women can maintain a full milk supply using a hand pump full-time due to the inability to cycle it at the speed a baby sucks.  It can be useful to keep a spare hand-pump with you in case you are without your regular pump.  Examples include Medela Harmony.

 

Occasional-Use – Occasional-use pumps, whether single or double, are generally “semi-automatic,” meaning they require that you manually cycle the pump.  Even if the pump is labeled as a double pump, most cycle too slowly to effectively drain the breast or provide the proper stimulation to increase your prolactin levels enough to maintain a milk supply.  These pumps can be battery operated or use an electrical adapter. However, the cost of batteries adds to the overall expense of the pump (and they go through batteries quickly). The pump may need to be replaced if used frequently over a long time period because the motor is small and not meant for heavy-duty use. They are lightweight, small and often noisy pumps. These pumps are meant for occasional use only, no more than a few times a week and are best suited for those women who will not have access to electricity and need a portable, double breast pump.  Some examples of the better pumps in this category include the Medela Freestyle®, Medela Swing®,

 

 

 

Personal-Use –   All of these pumps double-pump (and can convert to single pumping if need be) and cycle 40-60 times a minute automatically. These pumps have dual-control mechanisms, allowing you to regulate the speed and suction to suit your comfort.  Most come in an attractive briefcase or backpack, with chill packs and a compartment for storing milk. They can be used with multiple power sources: electricity, AC adapters for use in a car/12v, and batteries or a battery pack. Personal-use pumps are single-user only, and may or may not be closed system . These pumps are best suited for use by those moms with a regular pumping schedule. The most popular choices in this category include  Medela Pump In Style®, Ameda Purely Yours®. For mom's returning to work, these lightweight, portable, highly effective, and fully automatic pumps are a good choice.

 

Rental – These are the most efficient, effective, and comfortable pumps available. ‘Hospital-grade’ rental pumps automatically cycle 40-60 times a minute with a very smooth action, can double or single-pump, and are the most effective at mimicking a baby’s sucking pattern. They can be used to maintain milk supply and also increase milk supply.  Like personal-use pumps, these pumps have dual controls for setting the speed and suction to your preference. They are large and heavy, due to the industrial-size motor, run on electricity, and are not very portable. They are closed system, multi-user pumps, so you must supply your own collection kit, which must match the pump brand and is not interchangeable.  Hospital-grade pumps are very expensive to purchase (upwards of $3000 or more) and are normally rented on a weekly or monthly basis .  Examples include the Ameda Platinum or Medela Symphony®  

 

Used Breast Pumps: Not Recommended

Many mothers consider sharing a pump or buying a used pump as a means to save money.  This is not a good idea for a variety of reasons.   Breast pumps of this type cannot be properly sterilized between users due to the way they are built (open versus closed systems). And even with new tubing and flanges, airborne pathogens in milk particles may have entered the motor from the previous user, and then are blown towards the bottles where they can possibly be passed onto you, the next user. 

Another consideration is that many personal-use pumps are only made to last about a year with full-time use (about 15-20 pumping sessions per week) and most warranties are often only for a year.  Buying a used pump runs the risk that the motor may not function correctly or at peak performance, causing a loss of suction, which can negatively affect your milk supply. You can change all the membranes, tubings and valves you want, but if the suction seems to be decreasing…it probably is, because the motor is dying.  Warranties are also voided when pumps are shared or used by more than one user.