Choosing the best breast pump is one of the most pivotal decisions you will make as a working breastfeeding mother. In the coming months, you will spend a significant amount of time attached to your pump both at work and at home (and sometimes in between). Picking the right pump will ensure that your pumping journey is a smooth one. Breast pumps come in all shapes and sizes with various different functions and features. Deciding which pump will work best for you can be extremely daunting but don’t worry, we are here to help! We have pumped for, literally, thousands of hours combined. Read on for our picks for the best breast pumps for working moms (spoiler: it’s the Spectra S1 and the Medela Pump In Style, with a bonus new-kid-on-the-block pump thrown in as one to watch!).
Check With Your Insurance
Before we get to our picks for the best breast pump for working moms, make sure to check with your insurance company before purchasing a breast pump. The Affordable Care Act made it mandatory for all insurance plans to provide a free breast pump and breastfeeding supplies to new mothers for each pregnancy.
Since we know what a hassle it can be to deal with insurance companies, we prefer to go through Aeroflow Breastpumps to obtain our free breast pumps. Several of our moms have used Aeroflow for multiple pregnancies, and have had nothing but great experiences.
Aeroflow is a durable medical equipment (DME) company (think wheelchairs, hospital beds, blood sugar monitors, etc.) that focuses exclusively on breast pumps. That means they do the work of contacting your insurance company, on your behalf, to see what breast pumps you are eligible for at absolutely no cost to you (DME suppliers are paid by insurance companies). After you choose what breast pump you want, Aeroflow will take care of all of the paperwork and will send you your chosen breast pump. All for free. Some insurance plans will also cover breastfeeding supplies. Aeroflow can see if your insurance plan provides that additional coverage.
If your insurance plan does not offer one of our picks for the best breast pumps for working moms, ask if they will provide reimbursement if you purchase a breast pump on your own. Alternatively, some of the moms on our team have chosen a breast pump provided by their insurance company, and have then purchased one of the pumps listed below with their own money (or FSA/HSA accounts). Having two pumps allows them to leave one at work and one at home. Some moms, especially those who exclusively pump, find this option the most convenient for them.
How We Chose the Best Breast Pump for Working Moms
Like most technology, breast pumps are improving each and every year. The amount of choices can lead to analysis paralysis, but we prefer the abundance of choice to the single option moms had back in the early 20th century:
Thankfully we have more sophisticated ways to express milk these days. As we mentioned, there are many different types of breast pumps ranging from manual pumps to smart pumps to single side pumps to hospital grade pumps, and just about everything in between. For the working breastfeeding mom life, we are focusing exclusively on double electric pumps.
Related article: The Complete Guide on How to Pump at Work Successfully
Double electric pumps are the best breast pumps for working moms because working moms need a breast pump that will empty milk in the quickest amount of time possible. This rules out manual and single side pumps which can take more time and effort. The main things we considered when choosing the best breast pump for working moms were:
- Suction strength–How quickly you are able to express breast milk is correlated with the suction strength of the breast pump. Since working moms are typically pumping during a break, the quicker we can express milk, the better. Having a high (yet comfortable) suction strength is essential for expressing breast milk efficiently and comfortably.
- Size–Since most moms are lugging their breast pump back and forth to work, size and weight are important factors. Hospital grade breast pumps have stronger suction than regular electric pumps, but most (not all) hospital pumps clock in at over 6 pounds. Thankfully we do have a hospital grade pump on our list that won’t break your back.
- Cost–All health insurance plans must cover the cost of a breast pump. However, it depends on your specific insurance plan as to what breast pumps are covered. Some insurance companies only cover one or two less than stellar breast pumps, whereas other plans have a large list of breast pumps to choose from. Since many moms choose to pay out of pocket for a better breast pump than they can get through their insurance company, we kept price in mind.
Best Breast Pump for Working Moms: The Winner
- Weighs 4 pounds
- Power options: rechargeable battery, AC Adaptor
- Power: 100V-240V 50/60Hz 600mA
- Warranty: 2 years for the pump, 90 days on accessories
- Closed system
- Dimensions: 7.9” x 7.9” x 6.7”
If you hang out in any breast pumping Facebook groups, you know that moms completely rave about the Spectra S1. It is hands down the best breast pump for working moms. This breast pump is a hospital grade pump that comes with an internal rechargeable battery, which means you are not tethered to one place while pumping. This comes in handy if you need to run after your toddler while pumping, you drive a lot during your workday, or you simply want the freedom of being able to move around while pumping instead of being constrained by a power cord. The Spectra S1 Plus battery life lasts for 3 hours. That is more than enough time to pump 3-4 times during a work day.
Many working moms also report pumping more milk with the Spectra, compared to other pumps, in a shorter amount of time. This alone makes this pump the best breast pump for working moms. As working moms know, time is—literally–money! Moms also say that the Spectra has gentler suction settings (or I guess we should say, ‘suckle settings’ since Spectra’s motto is ‘our pumps don’t suck, they suckle’—ha!), and a quieter motor compared to the competition.
- Multiple suction strength settings that can be customized to you
- Quiet motor
- Portable due to an internal rechargeable battery
- Single or double pump capability
- More milk in a quicker amount of time
- Fancy LCD screen with a built-in night light
- Extra parts are expensive and primarily only available online
- Bottles unscrew easily
- Confusing to figure out initially due to various modes and settings
What our moms say…
“I exclusively pumped for a year and used a Spectra S1. Loved it!! And loved how it was rechargeable so I could pump wherever I needed to.” – Caitlin D.
“I highly recommend the Spectra S1 or the Spectra S2. I used the S1 with my first baby and am now using it with my second. It’s quiet, gentle on the nipples, and has great features. I received a different pump through my insurance, but it was horrible. I ended up just buying the S1. Best decision!” – Julie M.
“The Spectra S1 saved my breastfeeding journey! I started with a different pump on a suggestion by a coworker, but it wasn’t working out for me. I switched to the Spectra on a suggestion by a lactation consultant and my output more than doubled. I’ll definitely use a Spectra with future babies, too!” –Danielle C.
Best Breast Pump for Working Moms: BONUS
If you are interested in the Spectra S1 but want a less expensive version, check out the Spectra S2. The Spectra S2 has almost all of the same features as the Spectra S1 except that it does not have a rechargeable battery. If having portability and being able to move around while pumping is not a problem you foresee having, save yourself a few bucks and purchase the pink Spectra S2 instead. You will get all of the rest of the features, functionality, and specs as the S1–save the battery–in a slightly smaller pump.
Spectra S1 vs. Spectra S2
As you just read, the only difference between the blue Spectra S1 and the pink Spectra S2 (aside from the colors) is that the S1 comes with a rechargeable battery and the S2 does not. If your insurance company offers the Spectra S2 but you would prefer the Spectra S1, ask if they have an upgrade option. Some insurance companies may provide the Spectra S2 as a free option, but will allow you to upgrade to the Spectra S1 for a fee. You may decide that paying this fee out of pocket is worth it for the portability of a cord-free breast pump. We think it is.
Mom hack: if you are only able to get the Spectra S2 or can’t shill out the extra cash for a Spectra S1, you can purchase a battery pack that will convert your Spectra S2 into a portable breast pump. You will have to carry around the pump and the battery pack, and you will need quite a few AA batteries, but this is an option if portability is a must for you.
Best Breast Pump for Working Moms: The Popular Pump
- Weighs 4.5 pounds
- Power options: AC Adaptor, battery pack
- Power: 120 VAC, 60 Hz
- Warranty: 1 year limited on the motor, 90 days limited on accessories
- Open system
- Dimensions: 9.25” x 7.5” x 8.5”
The Medela Pump In Style is our most popular pick for the best breast pump for working moms. We call it our our most popular pick because it is the most commonly supplied breast pump by insurance plans. It has also been around for more than two decades! On top of that, it truly is a great breast pump. In fact, it is the pump we have collectively used the most here at Work Breastfeed Mom.
It has a simple design with 2-Phase Expression Technology which makes it intuitive and easy to use–even if you have never seen a breast pump before in your life! Medela also has a reputation for outstanding customer service. We know of a few moms who started to experience issues with their pump (which sometimes happens, especially to moms who exclusively pump and are using their pumps constantly) who have reached out to Medela for help in troubleshooting the issue. If Medela was not able to help them fix their pump over the phone, they sent a new pump overnight to the mom at no cost. AND they paid for the mom to ship their old pump back to them. Talk about service!
- Easy to use
- Tried and tested by millions of moms
- Automatic let-down
- Single or double pump capability
- Parts and accessories are readily available in stores and online
- Older, established breast pump company with a great reputation and stellar customer service
- Loud motor
- Moisture can build up in tubing
- No separate speed and suction controls
What our moms say…
“I have two pumps–and I like them both–but I think my Medela Pump In Style is a little easier on my nipples. It seems to get milk out faster, and it’s smaller than my other pump which makes it easier to pack. My Medela is also compatible with a lot more attachments. Those attachments come apart easier for me, too, which makes it easier to clean.” – Ashley H.
“I am a diehard Medela fan. I’ve used a Medela Pump in Style for over a decade with three kids. I’ve pumped at work with all three kids and never had an issue. It’s dependable, efficient, and comfortable!”—Kelsey W.
“I love my Medela Pump In Style, love it. It’s so convenient to be able to walk into Target, Buy Buy Baby, etc. and get extra supplies. I also have to give a huge shout out to Medela’s customer service. My pump started making a noise during the letdown phase and not completing a full suction. Their customer service went above and beyond what I expected, and immediately said they would ship out a new pump to me right away. Amazing! The customer service rep even made sure I would have a backup pump if I needed it! I’m blown away by their care and efficiency!”—Megan P.
Best Breast Pump for Working Moms: The Game Changer
- Weighs ~2 pounds (each pump is ~1 lb.)
- Power options: rechargeable battery (only one pump can be charged at a time)
- Warranty: 1 year
- Open system
The Willow breast pump is a new entrant to the breast pump field, debuting in 2018. It brings a much needed innovative approach to breast pumps by being the first cord free wearable breast pump. Accordingly, it looks completely different than traditional offerings. Instead of pumping into horn shaped flanges that empty breast milk into bottles, the Willow breast pump has two pumps that fit directly into your bra (each pump looks like a computer mouse) and rest against your breast. Breast milk is pumped through round flanges and goes directly into bags that are tucked away inside each pump.
Another pioneering feature of the Willow pump is the accompanying app that tracks the amount of milk you pumped, how long you pumped, and troubleshooting tips. Say goodbye to manually entering in the amount you pumped into a notepad or a pump tracking app. The Willow breast pump is also quieter than traditional pumps which is a major bonus for moms who spend a large part of their work days on the phone.
As with any new product, the Willow is not without its kinks. Our moms who have used the Willow state that there is a pretty big learning curve when it comes to figuring out how to use the pump. Adjusting the suction levels requires that you reach into your shirt and adjust accordingly—you can’t adjust the level from the app. The suction level is also quite strong with the Willow which was somewhat of an adjustment. Additionally, each milk storage bag only holds 4 ounces. If you have an oversupply and pump more than 8 ounces in one session, the Willow may not work for you. And finally, cost. As it stands, most insurance plans will not cover the Willow breast pump. But, you may be able to receive partial reimbursement, or you can purchase the Willow with FSA/HSA funds.
Is the Willow pump worth it? Some of our moms rave about the Willow and the freedom it has given them. While it is noticeable underneath clothes, being able to freely move around without being tethered to an outlet and having the ability to join conference calls without worrying about the whirring of a traditional breast pump makes it a resounding yes for some busy moms. We expect this pump to get even better as time goes on, and for it to inspire a new generation of breast pumps for working moms.
- Wearable and cord free allows for free movement
- Quiet motor
- Seven suction levels
- Rechargeable battery lasts for 5 sessions
- Only two parts that need to be washed
- Expensive—both the pump itself and the required bags
- Suction level is too strong for some moms
- Bags only hold 4 ounces each
What our moms say…
“I’ve been very pleased with the Willow breast pump so far. I get the same amount of milk that I did with my other traditional pump. I was a low producer with my first, so I was concerned about my output. However, I think it pumps as good as any other pump. The convenience of the Willow makes this pump by far the best investment ever! I would highly recommend it to anyone who is willing to make the investment.” – Stephanie Z.
“I work in an office in a school district and I can just pump at my desk in front of my computer. I’m planning to go back in the classroom next year and will use it in the classroom. I’ve used it when family was visiting, I used it at the pool, and at a work conference. I have heard you can pump laying down, but haven’t tried it. I even know some people do yoga while wearing it! I think the convenience it provides totally justifies the price.” – Amy G.
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