Why you'll love it: The Medela Pump in Style Advanced offers a hard-to-beat combination of efficiency and ease of use, making the tiresome chore of pumping quicker and less frustrating.
A longtime favorite of moms who have to pump frequently, the Medela Pump in Style Advanced simply outclasses most other double electric breast pumps on the market. One of its signature features is portability.
The pump, while not the lightest at more than six pounds, is built into an inconspicuous black tote bag (or backpack, if you prefer) that holds everything you need — tubing, bottles, breast shields. There’s even a removable cooler bag with an ice pack to keep milk at a safe temperature during a long commute. When you’re ready to pump, you simply unzip a little panel in the tote, which reveals all of the controls and tube hookups.
As convenient as the Pump in Style Advanced is, it’s also ultra-efficient. With this pump “you can empty both breasts in a short amount of time with great comfort,” says Baby Bargains. Part of that is thanks to Medela’s two-phase expression technology, which mimics how a baby first stimulates milk flow at the breast, then settles into a slower sucking pattern. Suction is easily controlled with a dial.
It’s also worth noting that Medela parts and accessories are widely available at big-box stores, and Medela makes five sizes of breast shields that help make sure you can find a comfortable fit. Also, if you’re away from an outlet, you can use eight AAs in a pinch.
The main con of the Pump in Style Advanced is that it’s an open system. That means there’s no barrier between the pump itself and the parts used to collect milk, so there’s a higher risk of mold or bacteria growth, particularly in the tubing. Baby Gear Lab testers noted condensation building up in the tubing after six pumping sessions, and while they say suction was as strong as ever, “we were concerned with the risk of mildew building up.” Testers there also ding the Pump in Style for being a bit noisy, a concern echoed by many Amazon reviewers.
Overall, it's still your best bet for pumping quickly and easily on the go.
Pros: Very fast and efficient, two-phase letdown, adjustable suction, comes with several accessories, pump is integrated into an easy-to-carry pump or backpack, parts are widely available
Cons: Expensive, heavy, open system means tubes are at greater risk for mold and mildew growth
Why you'll love it: The Spectra Baby USA S1 uses a hygienic closed system that is quiet, easy to use, and simple to keep clean.
The double electric Spectra S1 may be less well known than our top pick, but it has been giving the Medela a run for its money ever since it was released. It’s lighter than our top pick at only four pounds, and while it doesn’t have the included tote, it does feature a rechargeable battery. There's no need to worry about having a zillion AAs on hand if you’re away from an outlet. And as a closed system, the tubes are less likely to collect moisture that can become a breeding ground for mold.
Like the Medela, the Spectra has a special mode to stimulate let down before switching to a slower suction once milk is flowing, and testers with Baby Gear Lab even give it a slight edge over that pump for comfort and efficiency. They also say it’s nice and quiet, with an unobtrusive “shhhhh” sound. Many Amazon reviewers who’ve used both pumps agree that the Spectra is better on both accounts, and they love that it also has a gentle nightlight and a timer with an automatic shutoff for drowsy nighttime pumping.
What’s not to like? Spectra isn’t the household name that Medela is, so as Baby Bargains notes, parts are pricier and not as readily available. There are less breast shield sizes available, too, which could potentially be a deal-breaker for larger- or smaller-chested women.
Many Amazon reviewers complain that everything except for the pump is cheap and flimsy. Frequent complaints include bottles that don’t secure well to the flanges and tubes that don’t stay connected to the pump. It’s also worth noting that Baby Gear Lab’s Spectra pump simply quit working after six months of use.
Why you'll love it: The Freemie Freedom makes it possible to pump completely hands-free — even in front of other people — without the need for a special hands-free bra.
As its name suggests, the Freemie Freedom double electric aims to liberate moms who have to scuttle to some dark corner of the office in order to pump. The system features eight-ounce concealable cups with integrated breast shields that go under your top and actually sit inside your bra while they collect milk. That means the shields and bottles aren’t hanging off your chest like usual, making it easier to pump without complete privacy or move more than a few inches without leaks and spills. The Freedom is also a closed system, so there are fewer worries about perfect pump hygiene.
But does it work? Yes, says Exclusive Pumping. The reviewer says you’ll be able to “type on a laptop or bottle-feed a baby” while pumping away. Another big boon is that the pump isn’t as loud as others. Pregnancy and Newborn says that the motor has a “consistent quiet sound” that doesn’t strain and get louder when you turn up the pump’s power.
While anyone who’s around will still realize what you’re doing, it’s miles more discreet than other options, most Amazon reviewers say. Lucie’s List loves that all of Freemie’s “bits and pieces are much easier to clean than with the traditional setup,” though notes that the cups aren’t dishwasher-safe.
There are a few downsides, of course. Baby Bargains says you may be sacrificing pumping power in order to keep things less conspicuous. For a lot of moms, that’s a big consideration — after all, most just want to get pumping over with as fast as possible — and some Amazon reviewers say it makes more sense to get the Freemie cups separately and a more powerful pump from another compatible brand. You’ll also be adding the extra step of pouring milk from the collection cups into bottles or freezer bags. There is no battery option, either, so you can’t go cord-free.
Regardless, it's a decent option for moms who want to have a bit more freedom of movement while pumping.
Pros: Can pump with bra and shirt on, quiet, adjustable suction, collection cups can be used with several other popular pumps, closed system is more hygienic
Cons: Not powerful enough for some, must pour milk into bottles or bags after pumping, no battery option, cups aren’t dishwasher-safe
Why you'll love it: The Yunbaby Portable Breast Pump is compact and doesn't require an outlet, so it's ready to go anywhere and be used any time.
If making extra room in a suitcase to bring along a breast pump during travel isn't your idea of a good time, then consider the Yunbaby Portable Breast Pump, a system that will take up only as much space as a single tennis shoe yet that can help you keep your milk supply up and your baby's bottles filled when you're on the go.
Whereas many breast pumps have separate hardware for the motor and bottles and use tubes to connect the pieces, this is a single piece, self-contained system where the motor sits right atop the collection bottle itself. It is a compact design that can tuck away in any suitcase or even right in a handbag or briefcase. And as a rechargeable battery powers it, you can use it anywhere.
The Yunbaby Portable Breast Pump operates in three different modes — massage, stimulation, and expression — and at nine different levels of suction power, so you can custom create a comfortable and effective pumping plan. It's a closed system, so leaks and mold issues are minimized, and all of the components that touch milk are dishwasher safe, so sterilization is easy.
When fully charged, the pump can manage a full day's worth of pumping sessions, and it can be charged using a wall adapter or via USB cable connected to a power bank or laptop, another convenience for when you're on the go.
With dozens of reviews posted on Amazon, the Yunbaby Portable Breast Pump has a solid 4.3-star overall rating. One mom loved that "there are no tubes and the whole thing is so compact," while another called it an "amazing little thing" that was "efficient and budget friendly." Just note that because of the weight of the unit, it can't be used hands-free. — Steven John
Pros: Compact design, uses rechargeable battery, multiple suction modes, good price point
There comes a point in every pumping mom’s life when she begins to feel like a prize dairy cow. Electric pumps magnify that feeling, from the sight of milk rushing through the tubes to the whirrrrrr of the motor and the constant headache that comes with remembering all the parts, then cleaning them later on. The Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump spares women those indignities, with the bonus of increased comfort and efficiency over many other manual pumps.
The experts at Baby Bargains say there’s a lot to love about the Philips Avent, including an ergonomic handle to reduce hand strain, a soft-to-the-touch rubber cushion that wards off uncomfortable rubbing, and easy assembly and cleanup, because all parts are dishwasher-safe.
Amazon reviewers particularly love the comfortable rubber cushion, which is designed to massage the breast and stimulate letdown. Some say the cushion also prevents leaks and makes it easier to pump in a more natural position, even while sitting back and relaxing. The pump connects seamlessly to Avent’s popular bottles, and it’s great for using on the go since it weighs less than a pound, makes little noise, and takes up very little space in a suitcase.
The biggest drawbacks for the Philips Avent is that you can only pump one breast at a time, and many women say they just can’t get quite as much milk as their electric pumps. Avent says it takes about eight minutes to empty a breast, which is reasonable, but that might be a long eight minutes for anyone with limited hand strength.
Also, Baby Gear Lab notes that the rubber inlay that keeps the flange comfortable can also cause milk to build up, and for some moms might mean a small decrease in pumping efficiency. The pump may also get a little squeaky over time, Amazon reviewers warn. Overall, it's still a great option for a manual pump.
Pros: Inexpensive, comfortable, quiet, ergonomic handle, compatible with Avent bottles, leak-resistant, lightweight, compact, requires no power, dishwasher-safe
Cons: Not as efficient as a double electric, can tire hands, rubber inlay can be uncomfortable for some or cause milk build up, pump may begin to squeak