There is a huge number of pumps, as assorted varieties are coming up in the market. How to choose an ideal breast pump, which minimizes wastage, maximizes ease of use, portability and safety? Should one even consider electric pumps or manual pumps?


Our baby was born three days ago and we have planned to breast feed the baby for 2 full years. But the baby takes a lot of time to breast feed (more than 1 hour). This is also painful to the mother's nipples, hence going for the breast pump.

  • 2
    Breastfeeding for more than an hour is impractical. This related question and answer might be interesting to you. Jul 13, 2013 at 19:51
  • 2
    As suggested in the answers to question proposed by Torben, learning how best to breastfeed can be extremely difficult at first. Perhaps some kind of consultant (nurse, midwife, friend) could help you with it. Jul 13, 2013 at 21:24
  • Our 2 cents - electric pumps all the way, and dualies are best (both breasts at the same time, much more efficient)
    – Henry
    Jul 14, 2013 at 1:41

3 Answers 3


We tried both. While the nipple is the most intuitive user interface in the world, it can take some practice and trial and error between mom and baby to get in a good feeding groove. Adjusting the baby's head just a few centimeters can sometimes make a world of difference, so don't give up on it just yet. After a few weeks, my wife (mostly) breast fed, while using the pump to store and freeze milk for use when she wasn't available to breast feed (e.g. while out, working, etc).

We have to be practical here - and getting a pump is a good idea. You're new parents, you're exhausted and the baby needs to eat.

Whatever pump you get needs to operate as quietly as possible. Both manual and electric pumps make quite a bit of noise believe it or not, and you need one that isn't going to wake your baby as your wife is likely going to be using it nearby as the baby sleeps. It's not really a question of brand, but a question of how easy you can muffle the noise. Ask to see any potential choice out of the box and in operation - or the display model. Remember, you can toss a towel or something over the electric variety to muffle the noise of the motors, so I recommend them.

The other thing you want is something easy to clean and sterilize. Test how well you can take the washable parts off the pump and put them back on. Is anything too flimsy? Too difficult to fiddle with? Just look for quality like you would anything else.

Try not to let price stop you from getting something that will work very well - remember that you can pass this on to other family members as their time comes, so definitely go for the best overall quality that you can get. Just don't base that on a brand, don't buy unless you can take it out of the box and give it a good testing first!

  • Definitely the noise and washability! This is why we went for a manual, dishwasher safe one
    – Rory Alsop
    Jul 14, 2013 at 12:53

While I would agree with others that you might want to give breastfeeding another chance (your local hospital probably has a lactation consultant on staff), there are many things to consider when making the choice of a breast pump.

  • Learning to pump successfully can be just as tricky as learning to breastfeed.
  • Pumping is time-consuming. Baby sucks at a rate of 40-60 "pulls" per minute, and the best machines do 30-50. To be faster, you need a machine that will pump both breasts at one time.
  • Hospital grade machines (rentable) do the best job at imitating a baby's sucking which starts fast and then slows during the session. Some will even include pauses, as a baby does. The reason for this is that at the start of a breastfeeding session, your milk is thin and watery, and it gradually increases in fat content so that by the end it is quite creamy. Hospital grade machines are fastest but also the heaviest (5-11 pounds). They will come with a personal kit of tubing and cups to prevent contamination from prior usage.
  • Midweight personal-use automatic breast pumps are usually lighter (up to 8 pounds), and they do almost as good a job as the hospital pump. Typically they cost about $400, they can double-pump, and they imitate baby's sucking pretty well.
  • Note that double-pumping increases the production of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production). Presumably, it makes the body think you need to produce for twins. This is great for sustaining breast milk over a long period of time as you are planning to do.
  • Smaller electric or battery-operated units are only designed for occasional use. While relatively quiet and inexpensive, they are slow and can cause nipple discomfort due to constant vacuum pressure.
  • Manual units are very slow, but inexpensive and compact. These are best used occasionally.
  • Shop for a pump at your local hospital. They have consultants to help you find the choice that is best for you.
  • You must keep the pump parts clean, which takes time.
  • A pump is a personal item - don't borrow from other people. If you must borrow or reuse the pump from one child to the next, definitely replace all of the tubing which can contain bacteria or viruses.

Source: Consumer Reports Breast Pump Buying Guide November 2012

  • +1 excellent answer . is 2 yr breast feeding a wise decision Jul 14, 2013 at 17:13
  • While 2-year breastfeeding is doable, pumping milk for two years would seem quite an undertaking.
    – MJ6
    Jul 14, 2013 at 17:45
  • Sometimes children self-wean before two years, particularly once they are eating enough solids (6 or 7 months) and walking (about a year). Pumping milk for two years would seem to me to be quite an undertaking because it is not convenient - you have to set aside private pumping time plus equipment cleaning time more than once per day to maintain milk supply. You may also have to manage pumping and then storing breast milk while away from home.
    – MJ6
    Jul 14, 2013 at 17:55

Manuals can be good, but they can hurt your hand after awhile and be time consuming. They are much cheaper, though. You can also get milk out by hand over a large bowl to collect the milk. I had trouble with supply and found that often worked better than the pump, but it's quite time consuming and will really tire out your hand after awhile.

I wouldn't recommend bothering with a cheap electric pump. I didn't really find that they worked very well for me at all so it was a waste of money. In the end I got a Medela double pump. I bought a special bra from Amazon that holds the cones in place which was great because I could read or something while the machine was pumping, or often fall asleep :P

However, if you don't mind the baby breastfeeding, another alternative is to get a good baby sling or wrap and just let your baby drink as she pleases. I used to latch my daughter on in a sling and do housework with her like that.

In the beginning especially it can be good to let the baby drink as much as she wants to help build up your supply. In a week or two she will learn to eat more efficiently, you will be producing more milk for her, and the feedings will get shorter. Usually feedings are very long for the first week or two because you are building up your supply and after that they shorten.


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