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What Pump Should I Get?

By April 21, 2022Uncategorized

So you’re planning on breastfeeding and trying to decide which is the best breast pump to get.  How do you even begin choosing??

The good news is that your breast pump should be covered by your health insurance, but different insurance plans cover different pumps.  So looking into what your plan covers is a good place to start.  A couple of ways to find out what breast pump your insurance plan covers:

  • Check your insurance company’s website
  • Call your insurance company.  (Of course, it might take you a while to reach a real human!)
  • Use a third party website like Aeroflow, where you input in your insurance information and they let you know what breast pumps and other accessories (like pumping bras) are covered by your plan.

There are a lot of breast pumps out there so I want to remind you:  the MOST important factor in establishing and maintaining a good milk supply is frequent milk removal by nursing or pumping.  So whichever pump is most effective at removing breast milk (and is most comfortable!) is the best breast pump for you in the end.  

Some questions to ask yourself when buying a breast pump:

  • What breast pump does my insurance cover?
  • How often do I anticipate pumping?
  • How portable do I need my pump to be?

If you have never pumped before, then you probably don’t know your preferences for customization abilities and suction strength and patterns!  Within brands there are even different pumps (for example, there is the Spectra S1 Plus, the Spectra S2 Plus, the 9 Plus, and the Synergy Gold.. so many choices!) So asking other moms, reading reviews, and meeting with a lactation consultant to chat about the different features of breast pumps can be extremely helpful when making your decision.

There are many different types of breast pumps, so I thought I would break them down by category:

Hospital Grade

A hospital-grade pump has a powerful motor and a strong suction strength.  If you need to pump frequently in the early days and weeks after delivery (because baby isn’t latching well or because you’ve decided to try exclusive pumping) a hospital grade pump will usually do a great job at removing breast milk and helping you establish your milk supply.   

Most often, you would be renting this pump.  Your insurance will often cover the rental under special circumstances (for example if baby is in the NICU or has other medical conditions that prevent them from nursing directly at the breast). You can also rent out of pocket if you’d like.  The Medela Symphony is the most common hospital grade pump, and if you need to pump in the hospital after delivery, this is the one that you will most likely see.  In the hospital, these pumps (the machine/motor, not the flanges and bottles) are shared between families.  When one mom is done with the pump, it is cleaned and ready for another mom to use.

Double Electric Breast Pumps

This is probably the category that people are most familiar with.  Some breast pump brands you might come across are Medela, Spectra, Ameda, Motif, and Lansinoh.  You can check to see which double electric pump is offered by your insurance company, or you can purchase one on your own.  

Double electric pumps are intended to be single-user, meaning, for one person only. They all have adjustable suction (though the amount you can adjust it varies from pump to pump) and most have at least 2 modes (one to trigger a letdown and one for sustained sucking). Some of these pumps need to be connected to a power source at all times and some are chargeable. Some are even very lightweight and portable, like the Baby Buddha and the BellaBaby double electric, which help you pump on-the-go while still using traditional flanges and tubing.  You will definitely want to do some reading to compare brands based on your preferences and needs, or meet with a lactation consultant  to get a personalized recommendation!

Double electric pumps, when used correctly with the correct flange size, can be extremely effective.  If you will be returning to work or will be separated from baby and need to express milk frequently or for long periods of time, a double electric pump is a very reliable choice and is what I usually recommend that you use your insurance benefits to cover.

Wearable Breast Pumps

Wearable pumps have been increasing in popularity over the last couple of years. The cool thing is that they allow you to pump on the go and completely hands-free The two most common wearable pumps that you will hear about are the Willow pump and the Elvie pump, and a couple of others are Momcozy and Imani.  With a wearable breast pump, the motor and the flange is all one unit that fits into your nursing bra or pumping bra.

The biggest advantage of these pumps is how portable they are!  They allow for true hands-free pumping. You can care for your baby, get things done around the house, or even work while pumping! The biggest downsides I have seen with my clients are that sometimes it is hard to get a good flange fit and that the suction power is not as strong as it is in other electric pumps.  

If you will be pumping several times a day and are interested in a wearable breast pump, I usually recommend getting the wearable pump as a secondary pump, in addition to a standard double electric pump, to make sure that some pump sessions are done with the traditional flanges and a strong motor in order to empty your breasts effectively.  Of course, every situation is individual, and some moms respond really well to the wearable pumps and/or do not have the ability sit down with a regular electric pump and flange setup at work (for example, a doctor that may need to answer a page at any moment might need to use a wearable pump) and for these moms, a wearable pump is a great choice.


Manual Breast Pumps

The last category of pumps is the most underrated, in my opinion!  Manual breast pumps do not have a motor, and you use your hand to move a lever to remove the milk.  But they are extremely simple and can be very effective! (I do not count the haakaa in the category, to me, that is a category of its own and should be compared to other silicone milk collectors).

Manual breast pumps are lightweight and easy to use and perfect for quick pumping on the go.  They can also be helpful if you need to pump for just a short amount of time  if you have some engorgement, or during the weaning process, when milk production is slowing but you need to pump a little bit to be comfortable.  They are the perfect size for throwing in your purse if you need to get in a pump session on a road trip or during date night if you don’t want to drag your electric pump along.  The Medela Harmony and the Lansinoh manual breast pump are two examples of these pumps.  

A manual breast pump would be something you would purchase to have in addition to an electric breast pump- you most likely would not be using your insurance benefits for these. You can pick one up at Target or order them on Amazon when you are stocking up milk storage bags, baby bottles, and replacement pump parts! I think everyone should get a manual pump to have available!


As you can see, there are so many factors to consider when choosing a breast pump and so many pumps on the market.  If you need some help navigating the process or want to get a professional opinion on some of the most popular pumps, our team of IBCLCs would love to help you.  Click here to set up a consultation.


Happy pumping!