Which Pump to Pick
When it comes to pumping, the first step is picking which pump you're going to pump with. With so many pumps out there, it's hard to know which one will be the best one for you. Let's break it down
Plan on Pumping a Lot
Staying at Home
I tend to go by amazon reviews when I buy things. I figure one thousand people can't really all be wrong, right? So lets go over the top 3 contenders for larger sized breast pumps that I'd want to leave at home, but would be a work-horse when it comes to pumping.
The two most highly rated pumps on amazon are both made by the same company.
- Spectra S1 Plus Premier Pump - Users recommend for price (as compared to pricier Medela models), comfort, massage option, quietness, memory for previous settings, timer, suction and speed options and night light.
- Spectra S2 Plus Premier Pump - Users recommend for price (as compared to pricier Medela models), comfort, speed of emptying, quietness, back-flow prevention, suction and speed options and night light.
- Medela Sonata - This Medela model is a close runner up to the Spectra models, but it has about 20% 1 star reviews. It is recommended for price, comfort, quietness, and portability. Users commented that it was comparable to the Medela Symphony that can be found in hospitals (3 star rating on amazon - possibly due to the thousand dollar price tag).
On the Go
Who wants to lug around a ginormous pump when they go to work? Not me, thank you! I'd rather be a little discreet. So let's look at our top portable picks!
This group was a little harder to stratify. There are more with 4+ star ratings, but they are also based on fewer reviews. Statistics-wise, not quite as sure of a bet as the thousands of reviews for the Spectras. So here we go with the smaller, more portable pumps with ratings over 4.0 (which happen to be less expensive as well).
- Ounuo - Weird name, I know, but users seem to like it and it's super small - looks about the size of a short Avent bottle. Users like it's portability, strength of suction, automatic shut-off, suction strength options, back-flow prevention and that it's light weight. THIS ONE IS A SINGLE PUMP
- Baobe - I guess when you're in certain markets, the names run out fast? Users love that it fits in your back pocket, has settings memory, a massage mode, suction strength options, is portable, has back-flow prevention, and runs for 2 hours on battery life.
- PiAEK - WOW! I thought the other names were bad. How do you even pronounce that?! Happens to be a user favorite with a 5 star rating. Users like that it is portable, has great battery life, suction strength options, can be used as single or double pump, is light, easy to use, has a "phase technology" that mimics a baby's sucking pattern and it must work because almost every post mentioned an increase in milk expressed over other models.
- Yunbaby - Users liked the soothing music, it's quietness, and it's comfortability. Portability wasn't mentioned, but the manufacturer mentions it's 2-3 hour battery life, so it must be fairly portable.
- MaeMae - Users like that the charging cable is a USB adapter so they can use it just about anywhere, that it's lightweight, and that it's comfortable.
- BabyBuddha - The most expensive one on our list, but they really have their bases covered. Users like that it takes less time to express, they express a lot, freedom and portability (it comes with a lanyard to hold the motor), it's quiet, lightweight, has back-flow prevention, a breastfeeding cover, great suction and options and interchangeable parts with other pumps you may have used in the past.
- MOSFiATA and Healsell both had great reviews, but at less than 10 reviews I'm choosing to not review them here. They might be good options to look into as well.
Want a Pump On-Hand Just in Case
Planning on breastfeeding but want any situation covered? Any of the On the Go pumps would be a great option for an on-hand pump and several of them are very affordable. The following is a selection of hand pumps (and one electric) that are definitely in the affordable category if you just plan to pump once a week for date night.
- Yunbaby - An electric model - users like that it is compact and uber-portable (like take it to Disney Land in your purse to pump portable), has different modes and speeds, is easy to use, easy to clean, quiet, pumps into storage bags that you can then put a nipple on and feed baby with, and you can always buy two like one of the users did and double pump at Disney Land!
- Haakaa - Apparently this hand pump takes a little getting used to, but is extremely effective. Users like that it is super portable, easy to use and clean and most users say it works as well as an electric pump.
- Yihunion - Nearly identical to the electric Yunbaby, this pump offers you almost all the same features with a different color. Pumps into a bottle rather than a storage bag.
- Nature Bond - Same design as the Haakaa. Users enjoyed the portability, effectiveness and that it's easy to use and clean.
- Bumblebee - Same thing as Nature Bond and Haakaa. Users liked that it was very effective without all the hassle of setting up and electric pump, easy to use and clean, it comes with a stopper, and that it is amazingly portable.
How to Pump Like a Pro
Now that we've gone over some different kinds of pumps, lets talk about HOW to pump. Pumping should be uncomfortable, but not painful. I know, fine line; but it has to tug on your breast hard enough to express the milk without ripping off your nipple, right?
The basics are easy. Make sure you're choosing a "horn" that fits all the way over your areola (the dark area of your breast that includes your nipple) and that your nipple is centered in the horn so that it can be pulled into the neck section of the horn. Then turn on your pump and follow the directions for your specific model. I would recommend reading through the directions before you get all set up to pump though.
Pumping is such a great option for moms or babies who struggle with breastfeeding or can't breastfeed because of work or any other reason. However, it can also make you feel like you're stuck and useless. It can occupy both your hands and tie you to a machine that is not portable. OR, you could go with one of the On the Go options and buy one of these babies! It will free you up to move around and use your hands - and it's SO STYLISH!
I like that this version (you can find it HERE on amazon) zips up the front making it easier to get on and off than the sports bra versions. Keeps your hands free for dealing with other kids, cooking dinner, playing candy crush and writing blog posts.
Keeping Your Pump Kit Clean
After all that pumping, you'll want to clean your pump (whatever kind you've purchased). Cleaning your pump ensures that your milk is always safe for baby. The CDC has a great web page on how to clean your pump HERE. I'll summarize for you.
- Before use: wash your hands and inspect pump parts for cleanliness
- Don't use things that are moldy (should be a DUH, right?)
- After use: take pump kit apart and inspect pieces - wipe down motor unit if needed
- Put all parts that have come in contact with breast milk in a clean basin
- Use hot water and dish soap to cleanse breast pump parts
- Rinse thoroughly with hot clean water
- Allow to air dry completely - do not use a towel as it may transfer germs
- If your pump manual says you can wash parts in the dishwasher, place on the top rack - heat drying may kill more germs
- If you have hand-washed, make sure any washing tools are free of particles, rinsed and allowed to fully dry - can't clean something with a dirty tool
- Once dry (if you're not about to use it again), place in a container set aside for your pumping kit to avoid any contamination
Again, you've got some choices here, so pick what works for you. Make sure any choice you pick is BPA-free and you're good to go.
These Avent cups worked well for me with my previous kids
If I was doing it again now, I think I'd go with a system like this:
Or use these:
I like the compactness of the bags and that they can be stored in these different containers, plus heating up a thin bag of breast milk takes a lot less time to warm up than a thick cup of breast milk. For reference, a bottle of breast milk from the fridge will take almost 10 minutes to warm up in the Medela bottle warmer.
- Label your container with the date you pumped the milk
- If you might not use it within 4 days, put it in the freezer right away
- Freezing in small amounts (4 oz or less) could save you wasted breast milk
- Leave an inch at the top of your container because breast milk expands when frozen (been there, exploded that)
- Don't store it in the door of the refrigerator - the fluctuations in temp could sour your milk
- Sending the milk to daycare with your baby? Make sure your baby's name is written clearly on the container - don't want that confused!
- Travelling? Put the milk in a well-insulated cooler with frozen ice packs (up to 24 hrs). When you arrive, use right away, place in the fridge or freeze it
Shelf life info adapted from the CDC:
Thawing Breast Milk
Once you've got your stock all saved and frozen for future use, what's the best way to go about thawing and using it? Good news, the CDC has all you need to know about that topic HERE. Here's the break-down of Dos and Don'ts.
- First, always start with your oldest breast milk (hopefully you tagged it with the date when you pumped it). That way you're sure to use your breast milk before it goes bad.
- If you know well in advance that you're going to use it, move it to the fridge to slowly thaw over 12-24 hrs.
- If you need it sooner, set your packaged breast milk in a container of warm water or under running lukewarm water
- Never EVER put breast milk in the microwave. I know it's tempting, but microwaves can destroy the nutrients in your milk - goodbye benefits - and can also create hot spots in your milk that could burn baby's mouth
- DON'T use thawed milk from the refrigerator after the 24 hr mark - start your 24hr timer after the milk is completely thawed, not right after you moved it to the fridge
- Once your breast milk has come to room temp or has been warmed up for baby to eat, DON'T use it after 2 hours
- NEVER refreeze breast milk once you've thawed it
Your breast milk doesn't have to be warm for baby to drink it. It is perfectly safe for baby to drink cooled breast milk. If you want to warm up milk that has been in the fridge or freezer before baby drinks it, here are some handy - and maybe obvious - tips:
- Keep your breast milk in the container you stored it in and keep it sealed while you warm it
- Submerge your breast milk container in a separate container of warm (not hot) water - if you're warming frozen milk, you may need to replace the warm water as it cools - or
- Place your breast milk under running warm water - or
- If your breast milk is in a bottle or can be switched to a bottle, heat the bottle in a bottle warmer
- Check the temperature by placing a drop or two on your wrist - breast milk is the right temp if you don't notice the milk as being warm or cold when placed on your wrist
- Once your milk is heated and ready, swirl it around to mix the milk fat back into the rest of the milk
- Use reheated milk within 2 hours of heating it
What are your favorite pumping tools? Do you have advice for first-time pumping moms? Comment below!