Breast pumps serve as vital companions for new mothers, enabling them to express milk and maintain their breastfeeding bond with their baby while affording some much-needed personal and work flexibility.
Choosing a breast pump that meets your unique needs and lifestyle can be an arduous task, given the variety of options in the market.
This guide is designed to help you navigate through the process and identify the factors you need to consider when purchasing a breast pump.
But first, here are our picks for the best breast pumps currently on the market in Australia:
Best Personal Grade: Spectra Dual Compact
The Spectra Dual Compact, priced at AUD $299 at the time of writing, is a high-quality pump designed for personal use.
Its standout feature is the dual motors, allowing for independent settings and enhancing efficiency for mothers who prefer to express milk from both breasts simultaneously. This design is a significant advantage compared to models like the Medela Swing Maxi and even the Spectra S2+, which only have a single motor.
Weighing only 0.67kg, this lightweight pump is ideal for on-the-go mothers, offering a compact design that’s portable and convenient. Its vacuum strength of 270 mmHg per side provides adequate power for regular, exclusive pumping.
The Spectra Dual Compact is equipped with an inbuilt rechargeable battery, a boon for mothers who frequently travel or need to pump away from a power source. In contrast, the popular Spectra S2+ operates only on mains power.
The pump also boasts a ‘letdown mode’ and a generous motor life of 1,500 hours, which aligns it with the Spectra S2+ in terms of durability.
Editor’s note: The Spectra Dual Compact comes with a size 24mm breast shield only. We recommend you order replacement shields in your correct size when you purchase your pump.
Best Hospital Grade: Spectra S2+
Also currently priced at AUD $299, the Spectra S2+ stands out as a hospital-grade pump.
It’s a robust choice for mothers who require stronger suction power, delivering a vacuum strength of 320 mmHg. This pump may suit mothers who need to stimulate their milk supply more effectively.
The Spectra S2+ is heavier than its Dual Compact counterpart, weighing in at 2kg. While not as portable, this model compensates with its robust build and power, making it a reliable home-based solution.
One drawback is that the S2+ operates solely on mains power, lacking the flexibility of the Dual Compact or the Medela models that feature rechargeable batteries. Despite this, it still offers a ‘letdown mode’ and, similar to the Dual Compact, has a motor life of 1,500 hours.
The S2+ provides adjustable program settings, catering to individual user preferences. It’s as quiet as the Dual Compact, making it suitable for nighttime use or in settings where noise is a concern.
Medela Freestyle Flex
Priced higher at AUD $549 at the time of writing, the Medela Freestyle Flex offers personal-use capabilities with premium features.
Despite the higher price tag, it’s worth considering for its portability and extra features, particularly if budget isn’t a primary concern.
This pump is extremely lightweight at just 0.3kg, making it even more portable than the Spectra models. It also features a double motor design like the Spectra Dual Compact, providing efficient simultaneous pumping.
The Freestyle Flex’s vacuum strength ranges from 45 to 270 mmHg, making it as potent as the Spectra Dual Compact.
Unlike the Spectra models, it does not allow for adjustable programs, which could be a potential downside for mothers seeking a highly customisable pumping experience.
Medela Swing Maxi
The Medela Swing Maxi is another personal-use pump priced at AUD $419.95 at the time of writing. It strikes a balance between the Spectra and Freestyle Flex models in terms of price..
This pump is lightweight, lending itself well to mothers who value portability. It does lack a double motor design, but it comes with an inbuilt rechargeable battery, offering flexibility for mothers on the move.
Like the Freestyle Flex, its vacuum strength ranges from 45 to 270 mmHg. It also has a ‘letdown mode’ and allows for adjustable programs, unlike the Freestyle Flex, which doesn’t include this feature.
Youha Embody Wearable Breast Pump
The Youha Embody Wearable Breast Pump is unique in this lineup. It’s a streamlined all-in-one wearable pump, designed to be worn with a maternity bra, offering hands-free convenience.
The weight per motor is just 0.134kg, making it the lightest option on this list. It features double motors and an adjustable vacuum strength of 15–255 mmHg per motor.
This Youha breast pump has adjustable programs (10 massage, 10 express, Mixed mode), adding to its user-friendly design. It is also one of the quietest models, producing just 43dB per motor, and can be controlled using an app, adding a level of modern convenience not found in the other models.
However, it only carries a one-year warranty, shorter than the two-year warranty offered by the other models. Despite this, its unique design and hands-free operation make it a strong contender, especially for mothers seeking a wearable and discreet solution.
Types of Breast Pumps
Breast pumps come in a variety of types, designed to cater to different needs. From heavy-duty pumps for those exclusively breastfeeding or pumping, to more portable ones suitable for occasional use or travel, here’s a rundown of the different types you’ll encounter.
If you’re planning on pumping exclusively from the beginning, a hospital-grade pump might be your go-to device. These multi-user pumps, designed with robust suction power, are typically available for rent from a hospital or medical supply company.
While most market-available pumps would suffice for most new parents, certain circumstances warrant the need for a hospital-grade pump.
Double Electric or Battery-Powered Pumps
These pumps, designed for regular use, work on both breasts simultaneously, ensuring maximum efficiency. They mimic a baby’s feeding pattern, and are a practical choice if you’re pumping multiple times a day or spend significant time away from home.
While they can be bulky, many come with carrying cases for easier transport. They either plug directly into a wall outlet or operate on battery power.
Wearable or Hands-Free Breast Pumps
If you’re seeking flexibility regarding when and where you can pump, wearable breast pumps are a prime choice.
These battery-powered, lightweight devices are ideal for travel or occasional days away from home. They are often quieter than their traditional counterparts, adding to their appeal.
Manual Breast Pumps
Manual, or hand-operated pumps, require no power except your own effort. They are excellent for travel, reducing engorgement, or serving as backup pumps. However, they may not be ideal for regular use.
They come in two main types: active manual pumps (with a lever to stimulate milk flow) and passive breast pumps (attach to one breast to passively collect milk letdown during pumping or feeding on the other side).
When it comes to purchasing a breast pump, power – often referred to as suction – and the pump’s features are key factors to consider.
Power is usually measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), with a recommended suction power level of about 250 to 300 mmHg for regular, exclusive pumping.
Many pumps also offer different suckling modes to mimic a baby’s feeding pattern. These pumps usually feature a “massage” or “stimulation” mode and an “expression” mode, and switch between these phases either automatically or manually.
Ensuring a Proper Fit
The fit of a breast pump is critical, as the flanges or breast shields need to fit over the areola snugly. A poor fit can result in pain, clogged ducts, and a decreased milk supply.
You may need to try different sizes before finding one that suits you. Consider seeking assistance from a lactation consultant to ensure your breast pump fits well.
The noise level produced by a breast pump is another factor to consider. Some models might produce sounds that are bothersome to some people, whereas others might be relatively quieter.
Breast Pump Cleaning and Safety
Like any device that comes into contact with the body, breast pumps need regular cleaning to prevent bacterial growth.
It’s advised to wash the pump parts that come into contact with the breast milk after each use with warm, soapy water, followed by air drying. You can read more here.
It’s crucial to ensure the pump’s maintenance, which is why purchasing used pumps or borrowing from a friend isn’t recommended.
In conclusion, when choosing a breast pump, several factors need careful consideration, including your lifestyle, frequency of pumping, the device’s power and fit, noise level, and the availability of different suckling modes.
With these factors in mind, you will be well-equipped to make an informed decision about the right breast pump for you and your baby.