Best Breast Pump
We’ve Finally Found the Best Breast Pump You Can Buy!
Not too long ago, the Mom’s Panel at MyBaby.org, along with many of our readers, got into a pretty heated debate about breast pumps. I know, not something you’ll see anywhere other than a site for moms! However, we were pretty serious about coming up with the definitive, absolute best breast pump.
We got a lot of suggestions from our moms and were able to narrow it down to three models; all of which are extremely popular, but choosing just one that we could call “The Best Breast Pump You Can Buy” was a little more involved.
Before everybody started disagreeing about which breast pump was the best ever, we did agree on what made a breast pump great. We agreed that:
- It had to be really portable, not just theoretically portable.
- It had to work really well, really fast.
- It had to be discrete.
- It had to be comfortable.
- It had to be affordable.
Out of the three frontrunners, one brand and model came up more than any other. I wasn’t especially surprised, as it’s a well-known and much respected brand, but I wasn’t familiar with it firsthand. So, rather than taking the word of many other Moms who both owned and loved this breast pump, I decided to take a test drive myself. Now, mind you, my youngest children are four-year old twins, so I didn’t actually have any way to test it out myself……at least, not without feeling really stupid.
So why was I taking the thing for a two-week test drive?
Well, first of all, because I’m a control freak and I really wanted to see for myself if this really was “The Best Breast Pump You Can Buy”. Secondly, I was about to visit my sister Dani in New York City and she not only had a newborn (Michael, absolutely adorable!) but she was also getting ready to go back to work after her maternity leave.
I was going to my sister’s to see Michael for the first time and also to help the family as Dani went back to work. Since she didn’t have a breast pump yet when I decided to do the test drive, I begged her to hold off and help me test this one. It would be fun, I promised her. I also told her it would help pay me back for the time she got marker all over my prom dress, two days before the prom.
So off I went to New York City, with a rented breast pump and not an infant in sight. Oddly enough, I found something to really like about this breast pump before I even got to New York.
Loved it Before We Even Tried It
You see, the breast pump in question was the new Medela Pump in Style backpack model. And I liked it before I even left the airport in Atlanta because it scored really big on the portability factor and the discretion factor, right off the bat. Take a look at this picture:
All of that, packed into one lightweight backpack!
I spent half an hour dashing around the airport in Atlanta, a total of three hours in flight and an hour in the DC airport (a connection in DC saved me $90 on my tickets) lugging my carry-on, my laptop case and the breast pump and I have to tell you, the laptop case was more of a pain.
A Truly Portable and Lightweight Breast Pump
With everything that’s in the Medela Pump in Style, especially the breast pump itself, you would think it would be heavy, but it isn’t. I’ve lugged diaper bags for the twins that weighed more. Not only is it lighter than you would expect, but the extra wide shoulder straps on the backpack make it extremely comfortable to carry, with the weight evenly distributed in the center of your back, rather than on your shoulders.
The real portability test came later, as my sister took the Medela Pump in Style all over Manhattan, but I was already impressed.
I got to New York two days before Dani was going back to work, so after a good deal of hugging and cuddling my new nephew, we got right to work testing the Medela Pump in Style. Dani wanted to have a few bottles ready for her first day back at work, as I would need them for little Michael.
Easy to Set Up and Comfortable to Use
We were both really surprised at how quickly we were able to get the Medela Pump in Style set up. It’s very easy to attach the tubing to the pump and the cups to the tubing. What took us the longest was finding the right speed and suction strength, but even that only took about five minutes.
The Medela Pump in Style has an extremely cool feature called the “Automatic Letdown”, which is two minutes of short, quick pumps that mimic a baby’s suckling to help your milk let down more easily. If you let down very readily, you can turn it off or bypass it. Dani needed it the first couple of times, since she was essentially pumping at an irregular time.
Completely Customizable Pumping
Once the letdown phase is completed or turned off, you can select the vacuum strength of the pump with a knob, which lets you choose precisely the speed that is most comfortable for you. This is the one Dani had to play with a little, to find the speed and strength that was most comfortable for her. Moms with a little more breastfeeding time behind them will probably find it easy to just put it on the strongest setting and go, but Dani was a bit sore. Even so, she found the Medela Pump in Style very comfortable for her at about ¾ power.
Fast and Thorough Pumping
Even at less than the maximum power, Dani was able to empty both breasts in a little over twenty minutes the first day and fifteen the second day and onward.
So, between setting up, pumping, storing the milk in the insulated case and cleaning the tubing and cups, it ended up averaging her about thirty minutes to pump both breasts. We thought that was pretty darn good.
Removable Pump for More Portability
Dani took the Medela Pump in Style to work with her the following Monday and that’s when the test drive really took off. The first two days, she carried the backpack home with her every night with the actual pump and everything. Then she figured out that she could actually remove the pump from its little section of the backpack and leave it in the closet in her office, instead of taking it home every day. She loved that option and I thought it was a really neat feature, too. Medela’s older version of the Pump in Style didn’t give you the option of removing the pump itself from the case.
However, even with the pump in the backpack, Dani said it was extremely light and very easy to take to work. She lives on the Upper West Side and works just off of Wall Street, so she has to take two subways to get to work, plus walk three blocks to her office from the subway station. She said it wasn’t a problem at all and she felt very comfortable that no one actually knew she was carrying a breast pump rather than a regular backpack.
Very Discrete to Carry and Discrete to Use
In fact, Dani told me that on the second day, the receptionist had asked her if her laptop wouldn’t fit in the backpack and save her from having to carry a laptop case. She was extremely surprised to find out that the backpack was actually a breast pump! I know that really made Dani feel better, because she’s a pretty modest girl.
Dani came home the first night completely jazzed about how well the breast pump worked. She said that she hadn’t realized how quiet it was until she was pumping in her office, with the door locked. She hadn’t really thought about whether it would be noisy and was extremely relieved that the pump was very quiet. While I was there, she was on a schedule of pumping once at lunchtime and once in the late afternoon, and it was quick, quiet and painless.
Insulated Bag Keeps Everything Cold
Dani also loved the insulated bag that is used to store the milk until you get home. The thing she liked most was that the ice pack actually curves around the milk bottles, helping it to distribute the cold more evenly than the traditional flat ice pack would. Her milk was always cold when she got home.
Thorough, But Painless
One of the things that really impressed both of us was that Dani never got sore (she was tender, but never sore) from using the Medela Pump in Style. We both remembered my experience when my twins were born by emergency C-section and had to stay in the NICU for three weeks. The hospital gave me a breast pump to use at night and it was downright painful. The cups had a tendency to pinch and the suction was not adjustable at all.
Dani reported that the cups on the Medela Pump in Style were very soft and flexible and never pinched her or hurt in any way. We’ve already covered the adjustable speed and suction, but Dani did go up to full power after the first week, and said it wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable and cut her pumping time down to about fifteen minutes.
Affordable, Even for Moms on a Budget
We both agreed very easily that the Medela Pump in Style was very affordable. Dani had been looking at the Ameda Purely Yours breast pump, which was the second-place breast pump according to our MyBaby.org tally and which runs about $20 cheaper than the Medela Pump in Style Advanced. However, she fell completely in love with the Medela and ordered one from Amazon three days before I left! Dani informed me in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t going to let me take “The Best Breast Pump You Can Buy” until she had her own!
We’ve seen it as low as $267 on Amazon, including free shipping, which makes it a great deal. The Ameda Purely Yours is $20 or so less, but isn’t nearly as adjustable and some moms told us it didn’t always empty their breasts, either. If you see the Medela Pump in Style Advanced offered with free shipping on Amazon, grab it because they tend to run out fairly quickly.
All in all, I have to admit that babysitting my tiny nephew for two weeks and having Dani test drive the Medela Pump in Style Advanced made me wish I needed a breast pump again.
Maybe just one more baby……