How We Tested Breast Pumps

By:
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

Last Updated:
Thursday
August 10, 2017

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Criteria For Evaluation


Breast pumps are not a one-size-fits-all commodity. There are many differences from product to product that may or may not suit your unique needs. As the result of BabyGearLab's thorough research and product selection, we narrowed down the myriad of pumping products on the market today, to just 10. We then put each of the chosen pumps into daily use, being careful to consider their individual performance compared to the other pumps in our line-up. By testing these pumps side-by-side, we were able to get a clear and concise understanding of the differences between the pumps, as well as the pros and cons we found that we hope will help you in your search for the perfect breast pump. While testing these products, we found several key factors that we felt were the most important attributes to a breast pump. These categories included: Efficiency, Comfort, Ease of Use, Portability, Hygiene and Acoustics. Read on to find out more about or testing process.

Efficiency


Efficiency is the bottom line for a breast pump. How much milk does it render and how fast? We were able to test each pump multiple times to determine which pumps were really efficient. Although each mom will produce a varying amount of milk, there were some pumps that were more consistent with the amount of milk rendered time after time. Some also rendered the milk faster than others, which is important as most moms are busy and don't have time to spend pumping any more than they have to!
Lanisoh Breastmilk Storage Bags
Lanisoh Breastmilk Storage Bags

Comfort


Comfort was our second most important attribute when comparing pumps. Let's face it, breastfeeding can be rather uncomfortable (especially at first) and pumping isn't exactly pleasant either. We were looking to see which breast pumps were tolerable for multiple pumping sessions, over a long period of time. This was very easy to see when comparing the pumps side by side and we hope our observations will lead you to a pain free experience!

Ease of Use


How easy is it to use each pump? By assembling, using, cleaning and transporting each breast pump we were able to determine how easy they were to actually incorporate into daily life. For a busy mom, we believe "the simpler, the better." We found several pumps that fit the bill, but a few others definitely fell short.

Portability


Portability was next on the docket and is extremely important for the working and traveling mom. Our testers were working and traveling both on the ground and in the air. Using the pumps in all these different locations made it very clear as to which pumps were truly portable and which were a little more work, including shoving or puzzle piecing them into a tote bag or having to carry extra bags, none of which are ideal. Our top scorers here were easy to tote around with all the components necessary for a complete pumping session.
The super-portable Medela Pump In Style Advanced.  This was mainly due to its built-in motor  but it also had ample space for accessories  a nice cooler bag and more.
The super-portable Medela Pump In Style Advanced. This was mainly due to its built-in motor, but it also had ample space for accessories, a nice cooler bag and more.

Hygiene


Hygienic back-flow protectors that aid in preventing mold and mildew from building up in the tubes.
Hygienic back-flow protectors that aid in preventing mold and mildew from building up in the tubes.
Hygiene is very important as it determines how clean the milk you pump will be for your baby. We found some pumps floundered in this department. We found the difference often lay in the "closed vs. open system." When the pump has an open system, it can lead to some milk build up and/or condensation in the tubing connected to the pump. The pumps we tested with closed systems (these pumps are designed with a part that prevents any back flow to enter the tubing) the tubing stayed clean as a whistle. We also took into account how easy the parts were to take apart and clean after each use.

Acoustics


How loud is the pump? Naturally, we found that due to the lack of a motor, the manual pumps we tested were the quietest. This was not so with the electric pumps. It turns out that some of them have very loud motors so it was great to hear them side-by-side and determine which were actually the quietest overall. In some cases we didn't mind the extra noise as people were careful not to interrupt pumping sessions at work because they could hear the tell-tale sound all the way down the hall. However, when pumping bedside with your partner and/or baby sleeping next to you, the noisiness could be a problem.

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