How To Pick A Breast Pump

With the wide selection of breast pumps on the market today, knowing how to pick a breast pump can seem a bit overwhelming.  Knowing what to look for and what to avoid will help you make the right decision. Keep in mind the reasons for which you will be pumping and the frequency of pumping as you read the descriptions below.

Use these guidelines to help you choose:

Pump Dependent Part Time Pumper Light Use Pumper
Manual Pump X
Battery Powered Pump X X
Small Electric Pump X X X
Rental Grade Pump X X
Rental Grade Pump with double pumping X X

You are Pump Dependent if you answer YES to any of the following questions:

Are you working full time?
Is your baby premature or hospitalized?
Does your baby have a cleft lip or palate?
Is your baby neurologically impaired?
Are you trying to relactate?
Are you trying to dramatically increase your milk production?
Do you need to pump at least 50% of your baby’s breast milk feedings?

You are a Part-Time Pumper if you answer YES to any of the following questions:

Are you working part-time?
Are you working at least 15 hours/week?
Is your baby recovering from prematurity or other illness?
Are you trying to increase your milk supply?
Do you need to pump for an upcoming trip or absence from baby?
Do you need to pump at least 30% of the baby’s breast milk feedings?

You are a Light Use Pumper if you answer YES to any of the following questions:

Are you at home with a healthy, nursing baby?
Do you want to pump extra milk for an occasional absence?
Do you have less than 5 occasional absences from baby per week?
Do you want to pump milk so that family members can feed the baby?
In order to maintain an optimum milk supply, the breast pump should massage or suckle the breast, much the same way as baby does during nursing. This action causes your body to produce prolactin, the milk-making hormone.

High levels of prolactin plus complete emptying of the breast during feeding or pumping results in a plentiful milk supply. If the pump you are using does not work this way or uses a hard, rigid funnel, try to manually massage your nipple and breast to raise the prolactin response.

How To Pick A Breast Pump

Hospital-grade Breast Pump

The most effective pump is a hospital-grade pump. A hospital-grade breast pump can be rented or purchased. This pump is recommended to build a milk supply for a mother who is not breastfeeding. For example, a premature infant that is not nursing or who is not actively nursing like a term infant would.

Recommended Choices:


Double Electric Personal Pump (consumer grade)

This pump will be the choice for a mother with an established milk supply who needs to pump regularly more than once a day. Some mothers with an established supply but whose baby is not nursing may be able to maintain a milk supply with this pump. However, caution is required to make sure her supply is not decreasing.

The double electric pumps for sale vary widely in quality. A high-quality breast pump will have enough power for double pumping without sacrificing suction or speed. The number of cycles per minute (cpm) a pump provides is the most important consideration.
For Example:

  • A pump with a single speed of 30 to 35 cpm probably will not keep up a milk supply for mothers who need to pump more than once a day. This pump is recommended only for occasional use.
  • A pump that offers a range of 40 to 60 cpm, like the Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pumps will work for moms who need to pump more than once a day or who are working full time.

Pumps that allow for adjustments of both rate and suction strength can more closely mimic a nursing baby. Many moms find this feature beneficial. All Ameda Purely Yours breast pumps, as well as the Ameda Elite breast pump, offer customizable suction strength and cycle speed settings. The infinitely adjustable cycle speed and suction strength of the Ameda Purely Yours breast pump offers an unlimited number of combinations, allowing you to find the pumping method that works best for you.

Recommended Choices:


Semi-automatic Pumps

These are motorized pumps that require the mother to manually regulate each suction and release by covering and uncovering a hole. This pump would probably be inadequate for anything more than occasional pumping.

Can not personally recommend.


Manual Breast Pumps

This can be a good choice for a mother who only pumps occasionally, but it probably will take some practice to become efficient. Hint: Don’t wait until the hour before you need a bottle to try it.

Recommended Choices:

Haakaa Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump Milk PumpCHEAPEST

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump  – HIGHEST QUALITY



Once you have selected the right pump, please review Choosing the Right Size Breast Pumping Flange to ensure a proper fit.


One of the questions I get asked most is “does pumping produce more milk”. I covered that in an article “Breast Pumping Tips For First Time Mothers“.