Mom bottle-feeding her baby.

7 Questions to Ask Yourself When Picking the Best Breast Pump

As a new or expecting mom, you’ve likely come close to decision fatigue more than once during your journey. You need to find the perfect crib, the right stroller, the best car seat, the cutest little outfits. The list goes on and on. Although it can get a bit overwhelming, you should keep up the research when trying to find the right breast pump. However, with hundreds of different makes and models available, all with different features, this process can seem like an impossible task. To help, here are seven questions to ask yourself when picking the best breast pump.


1. How often will I be using the pump?

The first thing you want to ask yourself is how often you’ll be using your breast pump. While many new moms nurse exclusively during the first few weeks of their newborn’s life, eventually you’ll need a break. If your job is a full-time mom, you might not need to pump as often. However, if you plan to go back to work, you’ll need to pump enough to build a freezer stash. Generally speaking, if you’re going to pump more than once per day, you’ll want a device that’s convenient and efficient. 


2. Do I prefer a manual or electric breast pump?

There are two different options for breast pumps: manual and electric. A manual breast pump is self-powered, where you pump using a handle or lever. The manual movement creates suction, which helps to extract milk from the breast. Manual breast pumps are typically smaller and more portable than (some) electric pumps, making them ideal for mothers who are on-the-go or mothers who only need to pump occasionally. They are also usually less expensive than electric pumps.

However, with the increase in technology, many electric breast pumps are now just as portable and even more discreet. Plus, electric pumps are often more efficient and can offer a degree of convenience, since the pump does the work for you. There are two distinct types of electric breast pumps: personal use and hospital-grade. Hospital-grade breast pumps tend to be designed for mothers who need to pump frequently, or those who are having difficulty producing enough milk.

There are also different styles of electric breast pumps, including open system pumps and closed system pumps. A closed system pump has a barrier that separates the milk from the motor and tubing, which helps to keep the device clean. An open system pump doesn’t have this barrier, which means that milk can come into contact with the tubing and motor, making it more difficult to clean.

Choosing between a manual and electric breast pump is a personal decision, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it doesn’t need to be one that’s determined solely by cost. Most providers offer insurance covered electric breast pumps to make your journey into motherhood easier.


3. Do I want a single or double pump?

You can also choose between a single or double electric breast pump. A single breast pump is designed to express milk from one breast at a time, while a double electric breast pump allows both breasts to be pumped at the same time. Double electric breast pumps can make breast pumping sessions faster and more efficient, but you can also use a single pump to express one breast after another. The best way to determine which one is right for you is to consider your pumping schedule and needs. Consider one of the insurance covered Spectra breast pumps for a double pump.


4. Will I be pumping at home or on the go?

Moms who will only be pumping at home may not need many features. However, if you plan to be pumping on the go, or at work, you may want something that’s more portable and discreet. Medela breast pumps through insurance offer several benefits for moms on the go, as they are lightweight, quiet, and are extremely portable. Freemie breast pumps, Elvie breast pumps, and Ameda breast pumps also have several great options.


5. What is my budget for a breast pump?

This is often one of the most important questions that new moms ask themselves when looking at breast pumps. However, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, new and expecting mothers are eligible to receive a free, insurance covered breast pump. This includes breast pumps through several major providers, such as Medicaid, Oscar Insurance, Anthem Insurance, Cigna, Aetna, Centene, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, and more.

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6. What type of suction and speed control do I need?

Breast pumps typically have adjustable suction and speed control, which allows you to customize your pumping experience to suit your needs. The different types of suction and speed control on breast pumps include:


  • Suction Control: This refers to the strength of the suction used to express milk from the breast. Most breast pumps have adjustable suction control, which allows you to find a comfortable level of suction that works best for your needs.


  • Speed Control: This refers to the rate at which the pump extracts milk. Not all pumps have adjustable speed controls on them.


  • Cycle Control: This refers to the rhythm of the pumping action and is often controlled by adjusting the speed. Some pumps have a pre-programmed cycle control that imitates a baby's natural nursing pattern.


  • Letdown Mode: Some pumps have a letdown mode, which is a faster speed and stronger suction used at the beginning of pumping to mimic a baby's natural letdown reflex.


  • Massage Mode: Some pumps have a massage mode, which is a slower, gentler speed used at the beginning of pumping to stimulate milk flow.


It's important to note that not all pumps have all of these types of suction and speed control. Some pumps may only have basic features, while others may have more advanced ones. When choosing a breast pump, consider your individual needs and preferences, and look for a pump that offers the options that work best for you.


7. Do I want a pump that can be powered by battery or wall outlet?

Finally, consider whether or not you’ll want a pump that can be powered by batteries or if you’re fine using a wall outlet. If you don’t plan to be walking around while pumping, an outlet is sufficient. However, many new designs allow for optimal multitasking, making battery-powered pumps increasingly appealing. Try to imagine what you’ll do during your pumping session to determine which option is best for you.


The Importance of Getting Your Own Breast Pump

Some women may also consider getting a used breast pump. However, breast pumps should not be shared for several reasons. For one, sharing pumps can spread infections, viruses, and bacteria from one person to another. This is particularly concerning for new mothers who have an increased risk of developing mastitis, which is a breast infection that can occur as a result of bacteria entering the milk ducts. Breast pumps can also compromise personal hygiene and the health of your baby. Luckily, you can receive an insurance covered breast pump, which means that ordering a new one requires no financial obligation from you.

Regardless of how old your pump is, it's crucial to clean immediately after use. Most pumps can be washed in the dishwasher or by hand, but check the manufacturer's instructions first to be sure. Start by cleaning the pumping area and disassembling the device. Afterward, thoroughly rinse each part to remove any milk residue and prepare for sanitizing. If hand washing, use a designated basin to prevent cross-contamination and allow each part to air dry. If using a dishwasher, opt for a heated drying cycle or a sanitizing setting to eliminate germs. It's also recommended to sanitize your pump daily using boiling water or steaming. For more information, refer to the CDC's quick fact sheet on cleaning breast pumps.

Byram Healthcare makes it easy for new and expecting mothers to order an insurance-covered breast pump. We also provided educational materials, support, and supplies to help new mothers excel in their pregnancy and journey into parenthood. With a variety of breast pumps to choose from, you can feel confident in your order. If you have any questions or concerns about your insurance coverage, reach out to Byram Healthcare's team for assistance.