Posted on October 19 2021
If you’re committed to breastfeeding and expressing milk, choose a breast pump that works well for you and suits your everyday lifestyle.
Pumping and breastfeeding go hand in hand and if you’ve committed to breastfeeding for the long haul, it’s important to suss out the best breast pump that works well for you. Expressing milk helps to increase your milk supply, especially in the early days. It also helps to prevent engorgement and keep up your milk supply when you’re away from your little bub, whether it’s because you’re at work or engaging the help of a loved one as you get some much needed snooze. We chatted with four mama influencers on their breastfeeding journey and how they decided on which was the best breast pump for them.
“Before I gave birth, I read up and spoke to as many mummy-friends as possible about breastfeeding. I tried to keep a realistic expectation of what my experience would be like, understanding that this breastfeeding journey is different and unique for everyone. Ever since Ollie was born, I did a combination of pump and latch as I knew I had to get him used to the bottle as early as possible as I would soon be returning to work!” says Rachel Lim (@msrach), CEO and Co-Founder of Love, Bonito.
Rachel, pictured here with her son, Oliver.
Jamie QianQian (QQ) Wu (@jamieqqwu), well-known fashion influencer in Shanghai and Singapore, says that her breastfeeding journey was of “sweat, tears and sleep deprivation, but one of [her] most rewarding experience” and being “able to bond with [her] first born, nurture him and watch him grow gives [her] endless joy.”
Jamie, pictured here with her son Archie, who was around two months old then.
Said Journalist/Presenter (@saraannk1) and mama of two boys, Sara Ann K, “My breastfeeding journey was different with both boys. With the first, it was definitely more challenging, though it lasted 8 and a half months. It was tough for me because he drank a lot, so I was exhausted and tired all the time.”
Sara, pictured here with her son Milo, when he was six months old.
Samantha Whang, a full time working mum in a corporate banking job and social media influencer (@princesssamantha), says “I didn't have many ups and downs because I had zero expectations. I took on this mother cow 'job' (and personal challenge) excitedly with the mindset of ‘if I have milk, great. if there isn't, that's fine', just go with the flow.”
Samantha, pictured here with her son Emmett.
What are the types of breast pumps?
In general, there are four main types of breast pumps – double-electric, single-electric, battery-operated, and manual.
- Double-electric breast pumps:This is the most powerful and produces the greatest output as it lets you pump both breasts at the same time.
- Single-electric breast pumps:This takes a longer time to pump, but the cost of a single-electric is less than a double and might be good option if you do not plan to express milk as frequently.
- Battery-operated breast pumps: These pumps run on batteries and are handy to bring around especially if you do not have access to an electrical outlet.
- Manual breast pumps: These are highly portable and affordable, but you’d have to do the pumping on your own so you may not be able to yield as much milk.
The Philips Avent Easy Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump is convenient and comes with four stimulation modes and four pumping settings.
What is a closed-system and open-system pump?
It’s also useful to know these two terms when you’re shopping for breast pumps.
- Closed-system pump or hospital-grade breast pump: A closed-system pump is one that is sealed off from the milk by a barrier. While this is the most hygienic, it makes cleaning and sterilising tougher so may not be suitable if you’re pressed for time and looking for something fuss-free.
- Open-system pump: These do not have a barrier between the milk and the pump mechanism, so milk flows through tubes and other small pieces into the bottle. Although less hygienic, but these pumps are easy to use and you can wash and sterilise effectively.
What should you consider before buying a breast pump?
As you start shopping for the right breast pump, you'll want to find a one that meets your specific needs — what works for one mum might not be the right choice for you. Below are some key considerations:
- Pumping frequency:Think about how often you’ll be pumping. If you plan to pump frequently, then it’s probably worth investing in a double-electric pump.
- Your lifestyle: Some newer models allow you to pump completely hands-free and without any obvious tubing or wires. Some of them can even be worn under your blouse! Fantastic!
Says Sara, “Usually I have various pumps for different purposes. But when mums want to purchase, I usually ask them what their lifestyle is like, whether they are working in the office or if they’re always on the go, and also if they’re even planning on breastfeeding! Some mums eventually gravitate to direct latching and don’t express at all. Some mums pump exclusively. There is no right or wrong, but for me, I always did a combination of both.”
- Noise level: Let’s face it, some pumps are way louder than the others so if you’re pumping in public often, you might want to consider one that will not disturb others and is relatively quiet.
For Jamie, “Power and efficiency, simplicity in assembling, and quietness” are what she looks for in a breast pump. Her pump of choice is the Elvie breast pump. She comments, “Firstly, it’s mobile - which is liberating and crucial because that means I can pump anywhere and not having to rush home every three hours. Secondly it’s quiet (nearly silent) which means privacy and flexibility that makes pumping in public possible and will not disturb. Thirdly, it’s small enough to wear inside the bra.”
The Elvie electric breast pump is silent, wearable and designed to fit inside your bra!
- Weight: If you’ll be heading to the office or travelling often, it is super useful to have a lightweight, portable pump.
“Lightweight, portable, small, and can even fit into my pocket or handbag”, says Samantha, whose breast pump of choice is Pigeon, when asked about the key features a breast pump should have. Hegen is Sara’s breast pump of choice and she remarks that it is super light and slips right into most of her handbags. “I like that you could use it as both a double or single pump, plus it is a complete storage system as well! So you can pump right into the bottles and store, without wasting a single, precious drop of your liquid gold. And I appreciate that there were 12 levels of suction, with three “petals” of expression - slow, medium and fast, and that each cycle started with a gentle massage mode to stimulate let down!”
The Pigeon electric GoMini breast milk pump has a small and light motor pump unit, making it super compact, easy to store and light to carry around in your bag all day.
- Where you'll be pumping: Will you have access to an electrical outlet? If not, get a double-electric model that comes with a battery pack or opt for a battery-operated pump if you are not pumping as frequently.
“Most of my breast pumping journey would be done at work and around the house, so I needed one that is lightweight and handy. The Philips Avent breast pump was great as it was intuitive and handy,” Rachel adds. For Sara, she says that the Hegen was her perfect in between as it was a portable hospital grade pump that could travel with her anywhere!
- Cost: If you’re going to be pumping frequently, you might considering getting a second pump for the office or invest in a slightly more expensive option to get more mileage out of the it.
- Replacement parts: Parts like tubing and duck valves need to be replaced every so often. Pick a brand where you can easily get these replacement parts. If you have multiple pumps, it’s a better option to get all of the same brand so that all parts (like bottles and flanges) are compatible.
When Sara was asked what she loved most about her Hegen breast pump, she said, “The Hegen was a good balance of good suction, without feeling like my nipples were being ripped off, while being able to completely clear my breasts at the same time! I really appreciated that it was so easy to clean as well. The flange and pump head were just one solid piece and the funnel for the flange was large and easy to clean.”
The Hegen PCTO™ Double Electric Breast Pump is the world's first relaxation breast pump designed for comfort and efficiency, so that can easily express, store, and feed.
What are some tips for first-time mums when purchasing a breast pump?
According to Rachel, she says that you should choose the one that suits your lifestyle the most. “I knew from the get-go that I needed one that I could carry around with me everywhere I went as I had to go back to work after a month.” Jamie adds, “Invest in a good breast pump. It’s as important as choosing a comfortable pair of sneakers for when you decide to run a marathon.” For Sara, she says that it’s important to ask around for recommendations. “If you have mummy friends, ask around to see what they use and why, and if you could borrow to try. During the first month, figure out what works for you and your lifestyle.” Samantha advises to always have a goal in mind. She says, “Know your needs well! For example, if your top concern is pumping on the go, you’ll definitely need a light [pump]. If your concern is good suction, then find a powerful one.”
As these mums have shared, everyone’s breastfeeding and pumping journey is different. When choosing a breast pump, have the above considerations in mind and choose one that you’re comfortable with and suits your lifestyle. When asked to describe their pumping journey, these mums all responded differently. Rachel says it’s “tiring but fulfilling”. For Jamie, it’s “rewarding”. Sara adds that it’s like “freedom” and for Samantha, “sane”. Whatever your journey is like, most importantly, always enjoy the process and treasure this time of bonding with your little one.