5 Best Breast Pumps of 2021
- August 20, 2021
- by Melissa Lawrence
Hi there, mamas and papas! If you’ve been following me on the Web for a while, then you probably know what an enthusiast I am for breastfeeding. Read here for other breastfeeding essentials. I personally prefer it over bottle feeding. It’s hard to beat the bonding experience of nursing your baby, and it’s the form of feeding that comes most naturally to them.
But, of course, the 21st century is a busy world. Back when I was leading a busy corporate career, and raising five kids to boot, free time was as abundant in my schedule as water in the Kalahari. Often we moms have to step away from our little ones, whether that’s to work, or to split the parenting duties with our partner, or something else.
That’s where breast pumps come in handy. I’ve been using some pump or another for two decades, so I’ve got here all you need to know on the best breast pumps you can buy.
Types of Breast Pumps
Before you get down to shopping, you need to know the kinds of breast pumps that are available. There are four types, in order of motor power:
- Hospital-grade breast pumps are the pumps with the most powerful motors that one can buy. They’re very quick at sucking out milk, and in spite of the motor’s power they’re also rather quiet. But they’re bulky and expensive. People typically rent hospital-grade pumps instead of buying them, as they cost thousands to buy.
- Electric breast pumps are much more portable than hospital-grade pumps. They’re a nice middle ground between portability and power, making them the most popular option. All of them run on electricity, but some also can function on rechargeable batteries for better portability. Most models are double pumps, since they’re more efficient than a single pump.
- Wearable electric breast pumps are a newer innovation. They’re just like electric pumps, except that the pumps are made up of cups that fit over each breast, making them wearable. This is convenient if you’re trying to pump discreetly.
- Manual breast pumps are pumps without a motor. You use your hand to create suction and pump your own milk. Clearly, these can get tiring pretty quickly, so they’re not typically a mom’s go-to pump. That being said, since they’re so small, they’re useful to have for travel, or if you’re not doing a lot of pumping.
What Are the Best Breast Pumps?
1. Spectra S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump
- Type: Electric, single or double
- Efficacy: Powerful and adjustable suction
- Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Spectra is a bestselling breast pump, and if you’re just looking for a solid electric pump that will get the job done well, it’s very hard to go wrong with this fellow. As I mentioned before, it’s good to have the option of rechargeable batteries, as this pump does, so that you’re not tethered to an outlet. Digital controls give you full control over the speed and suction. It can be used as a single or a double pump, and its small size makes it good for travel.
Moms are very happy with this pump, finding it to be very effective at pumping out milk, comfortable, and lightweight. I also like the little add-ons like the nightlight, since often the night is the only time I have free for pumping. It’s an investment, to be sure, but one that will be worthwhile.
2. Medela Harmony Breast Pump
- Type: Manual pump
- Efficacy: Very effective for a hand pump, very portable
- Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Medela breast pumps are a household name, and anybody who’s used one knows why. If you’re looking for a manual pump, the Medela Harmony is just the best in class. A small, lightweight, and portable design makes transport easy and discreet for convenient pumping at home, at work, or while traveling. They recently updated them with new breast shields to make for a more comfortable fit and better suction.
I think this is the perfect pump for travel or for occasional pumping. It’s very effective at expressing your milk, easy to clean and assemble, and the shields fit well, avoiding leakage of your precious milk.
3. Medela Symphony Breast Pump
- Type: Hospital-grade electric pump
- Efficacy: Powerful suction, very good for moms with supply problems
- Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Another winner from Medela: the Medela Symphony breast pump. Now, I hope you read my breakdown of pump types above, or else the price tag of this one might have just made you faint! Assuming you’re still reading, remember that this is a hospital-grade pump and that people usually rent them rather than buy them. It’s a fantastic hospital-grade pump, too.
The Symphony comes with the same well-loved breast shields as the Harmony. It comes with a couple of bottles, too. Moms widely attest to its reliability and to how well it expresses milk. This pump is especially good for moms with supply problems—for example, if you’ve had any surgery on your breasts. And it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to operate this thing, either. Go watch my demonstration of the Symphony pump.
4. Bellababy Double Electric Breast Pump
- Type: Double electric pump
- Efficacy: Good suction, motor a little noisy, but dependable
- Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Bellababy is a good pump if you’re looking for an affordable electric breast pump. This one knocks all the competitors out of the park for price, but without sacrificing quality in what counts. This pump doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but it does have a rechargeable battery and is lightweight. Its motor is a little noisy, but moms find that it lasts.
I especially like how long-lasting the battery is, delivering about six or seven uses out of a charge, depending on how long your sessions are. The suction is about as good as any other electric pump. So, really, I don’t think you can find anything better in this price range.
5. Elvie Double Electric Wearable Smart Breast Pump
- Type: Wearable double electric pump
- Efficacy: Good suction, motor a little variable, but highly portable
- Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Elvie pump is an example of these newer wearable electric breast pumps. It’s so small, light, and quiet, that you can use it anywhere. Since it’s wearable, its pumps are cups that can be worn inside a nursing bra, making it hands-free. You can use this at home, at work, or on the go, while taking care of other tasks. I love that it’s a smart device, so you can control it from your phone with the Elvie app, as well as monitor milk volume in real time.
Moms have mixed opinions on the Elvie pump. Many moms love the unbeatable portability and find it easy to assemble and wash. Its battery life is middle of the road, offering about 80 minutes of use per charge. But its app is a little buggy, and the motor can be finicky, sometimes varying in suction power. So if you need something super portable, then this is great to have, but the Elvie might not totally supplant a traditional electric pump like the Spectra or Bellababy.