Buying a Breast Pump

A breast pump allows busy parents to provide their baby with the health and nutrition benefits of breast milk while managing the demands of work life and home life.

Breast Pumps 101: How to buy a breast pump

A breast pump is a convenient tool specifically designed to make life easier for mom. It can be used any time and virtually any place to extract milk for storage and later use. The key benefit is that nutritional breast milk is always at-the-ready even when breastfeeding is inconvenient. Working moms, moms just returning to work, stay-at-home moms and moms-on-the-go can all benefit.  A breast pump may also be used for medical reasons, helping to increase milk supply when needed. A manual pump is a great choice for occasional users, while daily users might prefer the efficiency of an electric breast pump.

Types of Breast Pumps


Manual Breast Pump

Manual breast pumps have a built-in handle, lever or piston that needs to be worked by hand. This allows you to control the suck-and-release cycle time manually for better comfort. Manual pumps are quiet, simple, portable and inexpensive, which makes them great for moms on a budget. However, compared to electric breast pumps, they are slower, only work one breast at a time, and can be tiring to use. They are designed for occasional use and great for traveling with baby to places without electricity.

Small Electric or Battery-Powered Breast Pump

Small electric breast pumps are designed for occasional use. Lightweight, compact, and portable, they can be stored easily in a purse or bag while traveling. Reasonably quiet, these pumps can be used discreetly in many places. However, small electric breast pumps are significantly slower than other breast pumps, which can cause soreness in the nipples from prolonged use sustained usage and the unrelieved sucking action. Frequent users may want to invest in a high-quality electric breast pump instead.

Electric Breast Pump

Designed to express milk daily, electric pumps have fast, adjustable cycling times for quick and comfortable milk expression. They can keep pace with baby’s natural sucking rhythm (40-60 cycles per minute), allowing mom to maintain her milk supply over time. Slightly heavier than the manual variety, electric pumps usually come with a carrying case and a range of accessories for added convenience. These pumps are a great choice for moms returning back to work.

Hospital-grade Electric Breast Pump

Designed for frequent daily use, a hospital-grade electric breast pump has the fastest cycling time of any breast pump types on the market. It facilitates the accumulation of milk supply and is an essential for moms with preemies and twins, or moms with low lactation production. These types of breast pumps are used in hospitals but can be rented through some pharmacies. 

Safety Tips for Mom

  • Don’t share breast pumps as breast milk can carry bacteria and viruses
  • Cool down breast milk as soon as possible if not being immediately consumed
  • You can safely refrigerate breast milk for up to 24 hours and freeze for three to six months
  • Gently heat breast milk in warm water as boiling or microwaving can destroy its nutritional benefits

Breast Pump Features

Breast shields +

The breast shield is the part of the pump that’s placed directly on the nipple during pumping. Important for comfort, breast shields can be made with durable hard plastic or a soft, flexible material. Breast shields come in many different sizes to fit a wide variety of nipple sizes. For maximum comfort, pay attention to the size, material and shape of the breast shield before buying a pump, or purchase separate breast shields for a personal fit.

Collection bottle or storage bags +

Collection bottles and/or storage bags are often included with a breast pump kit. The collection bottle or bag attaches to the pump and collects the breast milk. Once mom is done breastfeeding or the bottle is full, the bottle can be capped and stored in the refrigerator.

Cycling time +

The cycling time of a breast pump is also known as its suck-and-release cycle. A healthy baby suckles around 40 to 60 cycles per minute. Pumps with similar cycling times yield the most milk and maintain the milk supply. A breast pump with less than 25 cycles per minute is usually too slow. Automatic sucking settings can be programmed to mimic baby’s natural sucking rhythm: short and rapid at the beginning, then long and slow towards the end.

Double pumping +

Double pumping lets you pump both breasts at once. You can find this feature on higher-grade electric breast pumps and hospital-grade pumps. Ideal for frequent pumpers, this device can save you plenty of time and effort over the course of a day.

Hands-free pumping +

Some breast pumps come with a hands-free kit. This usually involves a regular nursing bra and attachment system. Great for busy moms, hands-free pumping lets you express milk while checking your email, holding your baby or performing other tasks while seated.

Shop Breast Pump Accessories & Related Products

Maintenance Tips for Mom

  • Breast pumps need to be cleaned before and after every use
  • Disassemble the breast pump and wash each part in mild soap and warm water
  • Some breast pumps have dishwasher-safe parts for convenient cleanup
  • Check the pump tubes for milk residue, thoroughly clean inside, and dry the tubes completely before re-attaching to the breast pump

Did you know?

More than 80% of mothers use a breast pump. Going back to work is the main reason, but whether the choice is lifestyle or health-related, a breast pump is a valuable tool for new mothers.
The amount of milk that can be expressed in one pumping session varies widely. Some women can get 10 ounces in 10 minutes; others may only get half that amount in 20 minutes.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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