How to choose the right breast pump

by BabyYumYum
Reading Time: 4 minutes

There are so many different breast pumps on the market that it can be difficult to choose the one that is right for you. That is why we have done all the hard work for you by putting together the ultimate breast pump buying guide.

Why do you need a breast pump?

Even moms who are exclusively breastfeeding can have use for a breast pump. Reasons you may choose to express your milk include:

  • Your baby is in the NICU and you are not able to breastfeed.
  • To build up a store of milk for when you return to work or are not with your baby.
  • To relieve engorged breasts.
  • To boost milk production.
  • To give your partner the opportunity to get involved with feeding.
  • You are having difficulty getting baby to latch correctly.
  • You are unable to, or choose not to, breastfeed and instead opt to express and bottle feed your baby.

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Should you buy a manual or electric breast pump?

This is one of the most important questions pregnant or breastfeeding moms ask. The answer is that it depends on what you will be using the pump for.

If you are mostly staying home with your baby and the breast pump is just to relieve engorged breasts and occasionally to express for a feed, then a manual breast pump might be the best choice for you.

If you are likely to spend time separated from your baby, either due to returning to work, them being in the NICU or for other reasons, and need to express for more than one feed a day, then an electric breast pump may be better suited to your needs.

Regardless of whether you choose an electric or manual breast pump, they work in the same basic way: creating a suction on the breast that extracts the milk and deposits it into a storage container.Should you buy a manual or electric breast pump

Things to consider before buying a breast pump

Size and comfort

Do the breast shields (the funnel-shaped ‘cups’ that fit over your nipples) come in various sizes to suit different size breasts and nipples?


Establish how easy it will be to wash and sterilise the breast pump.

Your milk supply

If you have sufficient milk supply, a manual pump should be fine, but you may want to opt for a stronger electric pump if you are a mom of multiples or if you need to stimulate supply.

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Pros of a manual breast pump


Manual pumps tend to be more affordable than electric alternatives.


They’re usually compact, light and are easy to transport. Electric pumps are bulkier.


Electric pumps have more parts, so manual pumps are generally quicker and easier to clean.

Power supply

There is no need for a power supply, which is handy during loadshedding or when you are on the go. But as you are required to pump by hand, manual pumps do involve more work for moms than electric versions.


They are far quieter than electric pumps.

Pros of a manual breast pumpPros of an electric breast pump


Electric pumps can significantly cut down the mount of time it takes to collect milk as they allow for more pumps per minute.

Ease of use

With an electric pump, once the nipple shields and collection bottles are in place, the pump does all the work for you – no manual pumping necessary.

Single or double

Electric breast pumps offer you the choice of a single pump, which works on one breast at a time, or a double pump that collects milk from both breasts at the same time. You may want to consider getting a pumping bra, which holds the nipple shields in place, so you can express hands-free.


Electric pumps are stronger than manual versions, and most allow you to choose between various strength levels, so you can select the vacuum level that is most comfortable for you.

One or two phase

Some electric breast pumps have two phases – an initial phase for stimulation and another for expressing. In this way, they closely mimic a baby’s natural way of suckling.

Power source

Although they do need to be connected to a power source, many electric pumps can also run on batteries.

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Tips for using your breast pump

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when assembling the pump.
  • Sterilise your breast pump and all its parts before each use – it is particularly important that the milk storage containers are sterile.
  • If you are using an electric pump, start on the lowest pumping strength while you ensure the pump is in the correct position and comfortable.
  • Make sure that your nipple is positioned correctly within the shield – you should be able to see the nipple being pulled forwards and back slightly by the vacuum. If your nipple is rubbing against the side of the nipple shield, you may need to try another shield size.
  • If you do not see any milk dripping into the collection containers, check that there is a proper seal between your breasts and the nipple shields.
  • If you are having difficulty expressing milk, try using your hand to gently massage your breast from your armpits to your nipple to encourage milk flow.
  • Always express from both breasts and continue until they are drained.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be taken as medical advice.

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