Going back to work after having a baby can be a stressful time for moms. America is the only developed country that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave. Sometimes, you can’t have more than 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
To be able to continue breastfeeding when you return to work, you will likely need to use a breast pump to make up for the time you’ll spend away from your nursing baby.
I know how confusing it can be to search for a suitable breast pump. The best breast pump for working moms has to check lots of boxes.
For one, it must pump the highest amount of milk in the shortest time possible so as not to interfere with your work. And that excellent performance must be carried out as quietly as possible to avoid embarrassing situations. If these problems sound familiar, you’re in the right place! We’ve summed up the best breast pumps for working moms.
Breast Pump Types: Which One Suits Working Moms?
Breast pumps have come a long way in recent years. A brief look at the market will reveal that you have a lot of options, and which all have operation. Which one would suit a busy workday? Let’s find out.
Short on Time? Choose an Electric Pump
Thanks to their powerful motors, electric pumps are well-known for their ability to encourage let down and speed up milk expression. Plus, most models now offer adjustable suction levels, which makes them more comfortable to use.
Typically, electric breast pumps won’t run unless you plug them into the wall. However, some models incorporate batteries to allow for pumping on the go, which should be ideal if you want to pump during the daily commute to physically-demanding work.
Double vs. Single Electric Pumps
Design-wise, eclectic pumps can have one or two flanges. Double pumps will be perfect if you’re short on time since they pump both breasts simultaneously. Single pumps are slower, but they’re relatively more affordable than their double counterparts.
If you’re working in a busy office, getting an electric pump will be a must — no other type can offer the same discretion and ease of use.
Want Exceptional Speed? Consider Hospital-Grade Pumps
Hospital-grade pumps are the advanced versions of double eclectic pumps. Not only do they have stronger suction, but they also enable moms to fine-tune the programming to suit special medical conditions.
Hospital-grade pumps can be bulkier and pricer than average, but they can offer exactly what you need. A breast pump such as the Spectra S1 or S2 offers a hospital-grade that is both sleek and portable.
Not Enough Budget? Opt for Manual Pumps
Manual pumps are surely the least efficient type. Without a motor, you’ll need to control the suction level yourself. However, because they often cost less than $20, they suit moms who have a limited budget and they are readily available.
That said, a manual breast pump is a great backup even if you already purchased an electric one. This way, you can leave the electric pump at work and use the manual alternative for any urgent pumping sessions at home.
Open-System vs. Closed-System Breast Pump
There are two types of electric breast pump, closed system and and open system.
Closed-system pumps have a barrier separating between the motor and the milk container. In other words, your milk will go straight to the bottle without passing through the tubing.
Open-system pumps don’t have such a barrier. Their design won’t necessarily push your milk into the tubing, but it won’t block it either. With that system, you’ll have to be extra meticulous while cleaning the pump, or else you’ll risk contaminating the milk with dirt and bacteria.
What Makes a Breast Pump Suitable for Working Moms?
After picking a suitable type, you’ll need to number of other factors to determine whether a pump will suit your lifestyle or not.
Weight and Versatility
Lightweight breast pumps are extremely beneficial for working moms, especially long-distance commuters. And of course, the pump you pick should come with enough accessories to fit all breast shapes and sizes.
By default, all electric pumps generate an audible noise once the motor starts. However, some brands incorporate special design elements that mask this noise to a great extent. Naturally, if you need discretion, opting for a quiet model will be a better option for you.
Unfortunately, most brands try to oversell their products by claiming that they have the quietest model on the market. You’ll have to check as many reviews as possible to discard marketing gimmicks and find a worthy pick.
Power Supply and Warranty
For a working mom, it’ll be more difficult if the pump is exclusively electrical. An ideal pump will have both power options: a cord and batteries. Also, don’t forget to check for a warranty certificate because breast pumps are non-returnable products.
If possible, try to search for a special deal that offers lots of different accessories. Things like a pump-to-feed system, a pump bag, a cooler, and extra pumping parts will make the overall experience much easier.
Top 5 Best Breast Pumps for Working Moms
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we can start analyzing each product to find what’s good and what may need improvement.
Spectra Baby USA S1Plus: Best Electric Breast Pump
The Spectra S1 is among the best hospital-grade breast pumps out there. It has lots of cool features, such as a massage mode that mimics a baby’s stimulation to encourage letdown, and a timer that tracks how long you’ve been pumping.
Although it looks a bit bulky, this pump weighs only 3 lbs, making it a great pick for working mums who commute. And thanks to the night light feature, you’ll be able to use this pump at any time day or night.
The thing I like the most about this pump is that it features a backflow protector. This ingenious piece keeps the tubing dry at all times, which means that the tubing stays dry and doesn’t need to be cleaned after each use.
The S1Plus version features a rechargeable battery, which is one of the reasons why it’s priced a bit higher than other pumps. If you want something a bit more affordable, you can opt for the Spectra S2, which doesn’t have a battery and needs to be plugged in to work.
- Doesn’t make too much noise
- Plenty of accessories to purchase
- Takes a long time to recharge
Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump: Best Portable Breast Pump
The Medela Pump in Style is one of the most affordable electric pumps on the market. It comes with two suction modules that connect to a small central unit. I absolutely love that this unit is discretely mounted inside a tote bag — that’s what makes the pump excellent for busy workplaces.
On the downside, Medela chose to build this pump with an open system that doesn’t block the milk from going into the tubing. As a result, you’ll have to pay special attention while cleaning the pump after each use. And of course, you may have to replace the tubes from time to time to account for the inevitable wear and tear.
- Comes with a bag, which makes it highly portable
- Readily available accessories and replacement parts
- Works with batteries in addition to the cord
- Difficult to clean because of all the different parts
- A bit loud
Medela Harmony Breast Pump: Best Manual Breast Pump
The Medela Harmony should be your friend in no-electricity situations. It’s silent, cordless, and pretty subtle. Best of all, it comes with a stand to ensure no precious milk is spilled.
This pump has an ergonomic swivel handle that can easily adjust the suction. Since this will make you more comfortable, you’ll be more likely to express higher volumes of milk.
Unlike most manual pumps, this one features a handle that provides two suction levels. To start, press the short end of the handle to simulate the baby’s suckling. Once your milk starts flowing, switch to the other end to enhance milk expression.
Unfortunately, this pump loses suction over time because the rubber O-rings, the parts that enhance milk suction, might get ragged. But don’t worry; you can easily find spare parts at an affordable cost.
- Portable and easy-to-carry
- Adjustable lever for smooth pumping sessions
- No cords, no loud noises
- You might need to replace the O-rings every once in a while
Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump: Best Silicone Breast Pump
If you won’t be away from your baby for a long time, it won’t be practical to pack hefty pumping equipment. In that case, you should consider Haakaa’s silicone breast pump. It doesn’t have wires or batteries; there’s nothing but a simple silicone bottle.
To use the pump, squeeze it, then flip its flange backward, and place your breast inside before flipping the lip back to its original position.
By the nature of the beast, such a simple design won’t generate the same satisfying suction of electric models. However, this can actually be beneficial if you remain engorged after lengthy pumping sessions: This pump will be extremely tender on your body while letting down acceptable milk volume.
- Soft and comfortable to use
- Easy to use and clean
- Comes in one size only
Willow Wearable Breast Pump: Best Wearable Breast Pump
The Willow breast pump is one of the most innovative products on the market. It’s a hands-free option for those busy superhero moms. You can carry it around and express milk for your little one wherever you are. It’s perfect for offices since no one would notice it at all.
This Willow pump has a corresponding app to enable you to track how much milk you’ve pumped in each session. Also, it has an interesting feature that stimulates your breasts before automatically shifting to another mode that focuses on milk expression.
On the downside, the product is quite expensive, and the milk pack is rather small.
- You can track your activity on your smartphone
- The mobile app offers lots of educational content
- Quiet operation
- Some moms might find it too bulky
Bonus: General Tips for a Better Pumping Experience at Work
If this is your first baby, I can only imagine how overwhelming things feel. That’s why I decided to share some additional tips and tricks that should alleviate your stress in no time.
Set a Schedule
Most new moms underestimate the importance of creating a schedule, arguing that they can pump whenever they feel engorged. This strategy isn’t ideal because it increases the likelihood of leaking, which is the last thing you want in a busy workplace!
Ideally, you should breastfeed your baby before heading off to work. Then, you should pump three or four times while at work. The actual rate should be determined by your baby’s routine on off days.
Think About Your Baby
Let’s be honest, pumping in a stressful workplace lacks enough stimulation. Even if you manage to sit in a private room, thinking about the time you have and how much you should pump is bound to disrupt the process.
Solution? Think about that cute little mouth that’s waiting for your heavenly treat! Take one of your baby’s blankets with you, and keep it close to your nose — believe me, that smell will empty your breasts down to the last drop!
Don’t Neglect Your Health
Balancing between your work and your baby isn’t easy. But whatever happens, never prioritize work over your well-being.
Keep a large water bottle on your desk at all times. You’ll need a whopping supply of fluids to produce new milk.
Similarly, you’ll need to devour enough healthy snacks to have enough energy for work. Fruits, granola bars, nuts, yogurt, cheese, and cereals should be your best friends. However, don’t exceed 500 calories per day to avoid sudden weight gain.
After my elaborate research, I can say that the Spectra S1 Plus is the best breast pump for working moms. Its quiet motor will make for an incognito breast pumping session inside the busiest workplace.
If you have a limited budget, the Haakaa pump should be your best bet. Not only is it extremely affordable, but it’s also remarkably convenient.
Whether you choose a manual, electric, portable, or wearable pump, I sure hope it to be a perfect fit for you and your precious bundle of joy!