What you really need in a breast pump

The function of the breast pump is as simple as it’s name right? It helps nursing mum pump breast milk into a storage bottle. Well…maybe.

Especially if you’ve figured out if you want a manual or electric, double or single.

Sounds like a lot of work right? We thought so too, that’s why we decided to help you with the basic differences so you can decide.


All breast pumps consist of a few basic parts:

A breast pump, indicating the breast shield, the pump, and the milk collection container

a. Breast Shield: a cone-shaped cup that fits over the nipple and the circular area surrounding the nipple (the areola).

b. Pump: creates the gentle vacuum that expresses milk. The pump may be attached to the breast-shield or have plastic tubing to connect the pump to the breast-shield.

c. Milk Container/Storage Bag: a detachable container that fits below the breast-shield and collects milk as it is pumped. The container is typically a reusable bottle or disposable bag that can be used to store the milk or be attached to a nipple and used for feeding a baby.


Most nursing mothers resolve to pumping majorly when they’re about to return to work and other times when they need to leave the baby in care of someone briefly.

Pumping is necessary to provide and maintain adequate milk supply for the baby when the mother is away. It also helps to relieve engorgement.


There are several types of breast pumps available,

There are three basic types of breast pumps. Although how each breast pump works is pretty similar.

  • Manual pumps
  • Battery-powered pumps
  • Electric pumps



If you’re just planning on pumping a bottle for baby once in a while (or want a backup pump), all you need is a manual pump.

These pumps are more portable (most weigh less than 2 pounds) and more affordable than the electric models. Some women like their simplicity and convenient size. Many say that some manual pumps feel more natural because they more closely mimic a baby’s sucking than electric models, and they also like being able to control the suction by hand.

Manual pumps require you to pump a piston or squeeze a lever to create suction. These pumps typically empty one breast at a time and may require both hands to operate, although a few are designed for single-handed use, and double manual pumps are available for moms who prefer that option.


Manual pumps generally take longer to use and require more effort. Some moms find these pumps maddeningly slow and tiring; some have trouble getting milk at all; and others say they don’t completely empty their breasts, which can lead to a reduced milk supply.




These types of breast pumps make us of batteries. For this reason, emergency alternatives have to be put in place for cases when the batteries run down and there’s no emergency.



These types usually have a cord plugged into an electrical outlet to power a small motorized pump that creates suction to extract milk from the breasts. It may have one or more long tubes connecting the breast-shield to the electric pump. The pump has a control panel with a dial or switch to control the degree of suction.

Some powered breast pumps can be adjusted to create different patterns of suction. Some manufacturers claim the adjustable suction allows the user to find a setting that closely mimics her nursing baby, including features with phases such as let-down. Let-down is the natural reflex which starts the release of milk when the nipple area is stimulated, such as by breastfeeding or breast pumping.

The electric-pump is the most efficient, and convenient option for the working class mums.

Important safety notes

  • Don’t get a used pump. Although it may be tempting to share or borrow a friend’s breast pump, or buy one used, the Food and Drug Administration and breastfeeding experts generally caution against it. Breast milk can carry bacteria and viruses – including HIVand cytomegalovirus – that can contaminate these pumps and pass an infection to you and your baby. And since droplets of milk can get into the internal parts, using your own collection kit doesn’t necessarily make them safe to use. Also, hand-me-down pumps may not be as effective because motors lose their strength and the seals deteriorate over time, problems that may lead to a loss of suction.Pumps designed for multiple users, like rental pumps and hospital pumps, are designed to prevent breast milk from getting inside the pump. As long as you use one with your own collection kit, they’re safe—but check the packaging or call the manufacturer. If a pump is designated as “single-user,” only one person should use it.
  • When using only one side of a double pump, seal the other side. Not doing so reduces the pump’s suction and makes it less efficient.
  • Choose the right-size breast shields (a.k.a. “flanges”). The shields that come with the pump may not be the right size for you. Watch your nipple while pumping .  Is your nipple turning white or red? Rubbing painfully against the sides of the tube? Is an excessive amount of your areola getting sucked in? Do you feel like your breasts are still full after pumping? If so, you may need a different shield; women commonly need to go up a size over what’s provided with the pump. A too-small shield can contribute to sore or damaged nipples.
  • Clean pump parts after each use. You don’t have to sterilise them—just wash with dish soap and warm water. Then rinse with hot water for 10 to 15 seconds and allow to air dry on a clean paper towel. (Check your pump’s manual for specific instructions.)
  • Don’t clean the tubing unless breast milk gets into it. You may see small water drops in the tubing after you pump. If that happens, just turn the pump back on for a few minutes to dry the tubes out. If you see milk in the tubing, check the manual for cleaning instructions and let it air dry before reattaching to your breast pump.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. CT says:

    Good post mumspring! For some mommies (myself included), pumping can be such a HUGE part of our lives during the early stages. Like anything with these little ones knowledge is power so thanks for sharing this. My ultimate fave pump is the Medela Freestyle pump with the handsfree bra!


    1. mumspring says:

      Yes! The Medela Freestyle is definitely top-notch when it comes to pumps. A cheaper alternative is the Ameda Pump. The suction is not quite as effective as the Freestyle (in our experience) but it’s half the price and a lot of moms love it! The Ameda pump is available here: https://www.mumspring.com/products/ameda-lactaline-double-breast-pump

      And the handsfree bra…that’s a must-have accessory with any pump. Our favourite handsfree bra is the Simple Wishes handsfree pumping bra. You never have to worry about your change in size (which inevitably happens when you’re nursing) because it’s totally adjustable so you’ll only need to get one size throughout your nursing journey! Order yours here:https://mumspring.com/products/simple-wishes-pumping-bra


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s