How to choose the right breast pump

To pump or not to pump? That is the question many new mums ask themselves.

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Let’s start at the beginning. Why would you need a breast pump? Well, there are loads of reasons women choose to use a pump. Sometimes it’s to share the load of feeding with their partner, or maybe they are going back to work and need to keep up their supply while away from the baby. Some women want a breast pump to use long-term, others might just need it for a few days here and there. You may be introducing solids and want to mix in breast milk.

But the world of breast pumps can be daunting—and the breastfeeding journey can be confusing enough as it is. So we’ve broken it down to make it easier to decide which breast pump is best for you and your needs.

And of course, if you have any questions about your breastfeeding journey and breast pumps, chat to your midwife or lactation consultant.

How to choose a breast pump

Hospital grade breast pump

Hospital grade pump
Medela Pump In Style Double Breast Pump

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

The beast-mode of breast pumps, hospital grade pumps are for mums who need to express several times a day. This might be because you’re returning to work and need to keep a supply of milk for your baby while they’re in the care of others, or perhaps your baby is struggling to latch onto your nipple, and expressed breast milk in a bottle has been recommended to you by your midwife, lactation consultant or healthcare professional.

The Pump In Style Double Breast Pump offers the best of both worlds—hospital performance technology packed into a compact pump. It comes with everything you need to both pump and store your breast milk.

pro Powerful
pro Best for long term frequent use
pro High quality
con Expensive
con Bulky
con Needs charging

Personal electric breast pump

Personal electronic pump
Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

A personal electric breast pump is ideal if you need to pump frequently, but don’t need the power of a hospital-grade pump. They’re still suitable even if you’re planning to exclusively express, and usually have a lower price tag than their hospital grade cousins. If you’re looking for long-term, frequent use of a pump, then electric is where it’s at.

The Medela Solo Single Electric Breast Pump is a great on-the-go option for those who want to pump semi-regularly. It's got an easy-to-use four-button interface with nine pre-programmed settings, and when fully charged can handle six pumping sessions.

pro Can be used for long-term, frequent use
pro Suitable for exclusive expressing
pro Compact size
con Can be expensive
con Needs charging

Manual breast pump

Manual pump
Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Manual breast pumps are as they suggest—the milk is pumped manually by you, rather than an electric machine. Planning to pump infrequently? Manual might be a good option, as this type tends to be cheaper than electric breast pumps. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the battery going flat, so they make good travel options, too. They’re quiet, discreet, and straightforward to use. And if you need to express to help relieve engorgement, they’re safe to use in the shower.

Simple and discreet, the Tommee Tippee Silicone Manual Breast Pump has a clever 3-in-1 design offering relief when feeling engorged, catching the letdown while you're feeding your baby, or use as a manual pump to express milk. It's easy to take on the go, making it a great travel pump too.

pro Affordable
pro No need to charge
pro Great for travelling
pro Can be used in shower
con Labour intensive if using regularly
con Not as powerful as electric

Wearable breast pump

Look ma, no hands! Wearable breast pumps attach snugly between your skin and clothes (often with a special nursing bra) so that you can pump milk while also having both hands free. If you need to be on the move while pumping, then a wearable could be the answer. However, the Australian Breastfeeding Association warns that wearable pumps are not always as strong as other electric pumps, which could affect your milk supply, and recommends using wearable breast pumps in tandem with either breastfeeding your baby or using another pump as your regular pump, and a wearable pump on occasion.

pro Keeps your hands free
con Not as strong as other pumps

Single vs double breast pump

You might also see that there are single and double pumps on the market. If you’re planning to express every now and then, or plan to breastfeed your baby and use a pump to catch any overflow, then a single breast pump will suffice. 

If, however, you’re pumping several times a day and/or exclusively expressing, a double pump is going to get the job done much quicker.

Breast pump FAQ

It does! The plastic part of the pump that covers your nipple is called the flange, and they come in different sizes to optimise not only optimal milk flow, but also your comfort.

It’s best to wait until after bub is born before you buy a breast pump, as you’ll have a better understanding of your breastfeeding journey and your baby’s needs which will make it easier to know which breast pump you might need.

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Kate Reynolds
Written by
Kate Reynolds is a writer who's at her happiest when there's haloumi on the brunch menu and a dog to give pats to. She's worked as a travel writer, journalist, theatre reviewer, broadcaster and radio creative, and spends her weekends with as much of the aforementioned haloumi and dogs as possible. She writes on Cammeraygal and Wangal land.

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