The PSP Shopping List: Best Breast Pumps

Wondering which pump will be b(r)east for you? Check out real-life reviews from PSP parents who have put pumps to the test!

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Baby Buddha



Ameda Mya

Other gadgets to consider

Factors to consider

Insurance info

Useful resources


One parent asked the Working Moms group…

“I'm getting ready (or maybe I'm behind getting ready) on prepping for baby #2 due in mid-April.

With my first, who is 5, I used the Medela pump in style. I still have that pump and plan to use it, but I'm wondering what other pumps people are feeling now.

I know there's been a lot of talk about willow + elvie before (and I'd like to know if you still like those!) and I'm also wondering about the babybuddha. Lucie's list seems to recommend it highly, but I got burned by their pump recos in the past and I'd love to have any real world advice.

Other ones you suggest? Is the Spectra still good? Worth it?

Do the hands free willow + Elvie or freemie really make a difference? If you have one of those and a more standard pump, how often do you find yourself reaching for one over the other?”


And the reviews rolled in!


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“I have used the Spectra S1 for both my babies. I'm currently exclusively pumping with the S1. I highly recommend it. It has a battery so it allows you to be mobile, although not exactly hands-free. My insurance covered most of it. It was a $75 surplus charge for the S1 whereas the plugged in S2 would have been free. More than worth it to me to have a battery and be able to be on the go.”

“I used the spectra s1plus (the blue one) when I was pumping at home and liked it a lot. Easy, quiet and portable.”

“With my first I had a Medela PIS and was happy enough with it but I ended up getting a Spectra S2 through insurance with my second and really liked it. I found the Medela pump parts much more comfortable though, so I got an adapter and used Medela parts and bottles with the S2 pump, tubing and valves.”

“I had just a regular Spectra S2 with my first and it was great but for my second I splurged for the new hospital strength Spectra Synergy Gold and it's a game changer. It pumps me completely in under 10 min...if I want 1.5x milk output I just let it go 20 min if I have time. I also have S9 for mobility but rarely use it as I pump once a day now.”

“I had the Spectra S2 with my first (through insurance) and with my second the S9 (from a friend). Love the S9! It’s small, rechargeable, and I produce pretty much the same amount with it as I do the larger pump. I bring it to the office once a week and pump 4x, and use it once or twice a day at home for my daughter while she’s with her nanny.”

“For me, the ‘portability’ of the S1 and S9 were basically irrelevant because they still required a bottle + flange + pumping bra setup, which is obtrusive and clunky and just made me feel really really unhappy on many levels.”

“Pros: I had this to start and thought it would be my only pump. It's strong but not aggressive, the settings allow you to customize to your needs. 

Cons: It's big and you're essentially attached to an outlet. If you're pumping regularly, it makes it nearly impossible to get anything done besides pumping/bottle feeding. I wanted to be able to pump and wash bottles/cook dinner/etc.”



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“For work, I used the Willow. It was nice, portable and discreet, however, the error messages, the expensive milk bags and the parts were a hassle. Even the reusable milk containers took forever to dry.  I did like the app and the battery seemed to last a while.”

“I was doing field work when I went back to work and loved the Willow for its portable nature, I put that thing on in the subway and once you’re used to it it’s not so bad, but there is a learning curve! the bags are expensive but if you’re freezing milk it’s actually handy enough, I didn’t have access to a fridge so I just put the bags in a lunchbox with some ice and it did the trick to keep them cool on warm days. That said, they stick out A LOT and are really heavy, so walking with them in your bra is annoying.”

“I absolutely love the Willow and have found it indispensable for being able to continue pumping for as long as I have (almost 10 months). I got the Willow (Gen 3) two or three weeks after my son was born and for most of the time, I used it during the day and the Spectra S2 that I got from insurance for a late-night pump when I was sitting down anyway. I also had an S1 and an S9 that I got from this list (thank you to the wonderful moms who passed those down to me!). For me, the ‘portability’ of the S1 and S9 were basically irrelevant because they still required a bottle + flange + pumping bra setup, which is obtrusive and clunky and just made me feel really really unhappy on many levels. The Willow, on the other hand, allowed me to wear a regular nursing bra, and I could just tuck the pumps in and do whatever! I won't pretend I was like doing yoga or anything--more like moving about my house, playing with the baby, etc.--but god, that freedom meant everything to me. I used the milk containers more than the bags, because they are more economical and more environmentally friendly, but having the option of the bags for train and plane travel especially is incredible. No mess, no fuss, no uncapping anything or pouring anything... no tubes... I don't know if it's because I started with it so early but I didn't have any issues with getting less milk from the Willow than from the Spectra, though at the peak of my production I did sometimes fill up the Willows and have to pour out the milk and reattach the pumps (they only hold a little over 4 oz). I had one pump that quit charging about five months in, but they replaced it for free; I also cracked one of my milk containers (completely my fault) and called and told them this and they sent me a new one for free. For these issues, as well as when I was unsure about flange sizing in the beginning and when I had other questions, their customer service was incredible. The price is high, there's no doubt about that, and I balked at it myself, but I honestly believe that this was the best $500 investment I could have made in my own quality of life as a new mother, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!”

“Do not buy. It's huge and hardly fits under a bra/shirt. In addition to this, it's so finicky. I constantly got an error message and customer support wasn't very helpful in helping me fix it. I found myself in tears on so many occasions because I was out of the house relying on the Willow to work, but would get the error message. My breasts would become sore and I would need to hand express to relieve the pressure until I could get myself to an outlet to use the Spectra S2. After the Willow left me stranded a few times and customer service's advice didn't help, I turned to the Elvie.”



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“I had my baby girl 10 months ago and got the Elvie. I’ve been using it exclusively since the day she was born. I chose it over the willow because it has less parts to clean (who has the time, right?). And it doesn’t need special milk bags if that’s what you want to use. Which are also expensive. 

I’ve been pumping with it at the park, on flights, while walking/cooking etc.. there is a learning curve with both of them but you’ll get it in no time. I also needed some new parts and Elvie’s customer service was great and fast to ship them to me. 

Also my insurance covers $150 of it, so check with yours.”

“There’s a new elvie model available through insurance. I was able to get one for a small upgrade fee but I've honestly only tried it once and decided it was too complicated for my sleep deprived brain. I am keeping it in case I need to travel with a pump or even to use at home, when it would be convenient to not be tied to a big pump.”

“I got the Elvie with my second child who will be one next month. It was great for the portability, on flights, driving to work and back. There was definitely a learning curve for me to get my nipple in the best position. There was a lot of times I had to reposition it a couple of times. Sometimes I thought I did put it in correctly and then once I took the pump out I didn't pump any milk. … Also the release button on the Elvies is very easy to break when you try to get it out to clean it. There are instruction videos on their website to help you properly take it out to clean it. Unfortunately they do not sell them separately. I found their customer service to be really responsive, just have your receipt saved. My insurance did pay for part of it, but it was considered an upgrade.”

“I also wanted to be able to pump on the go because my work schedule meant I often didn’t have the time to sit down and pump properly, so I tried the Elvie and hated it. (I have fairly large nipples and it was not a good fit. I got nothing when I pumped with it and it just gave me constant error messages.)”

“I had the Elvie with my first too and it didn't work with my low milk production/bigger boobs and elastic nipples so if you're in that camp I'd say get the baby Buddha or spectra S9 to be portable.”

“Same for the Elvie, it was mostly a disaster for me, I could never use it without milk leaking from at least one side. Their advice was to sit very upright and stay still, which completely defied the purpose, especially given that the output was definitely much less for me than with the spectra. That said it did save me on a long plane ride, when I otherwise wouldn't have been able to pump at all.”

“I have been relying on the Elvie for errands/days when I do go in the office. The Elvie hasn't been perfect for me... but I love the freedom that it can allow.

agreed with previous posters - It's best used when sitting up mostly straight - but I have been able to walk around with it on and even run errands/pick up kiddo from daycare etc. Which *has* felt like a game changer. 

I have had issues with it just not working and have had the shields replaced (great customer service) once so far - and I do find it works better if I charge it after every single use. Which isn't the biggest deal, but can be slightly annoying. I also went with this over the Willow to cut down on the bag situation and what seemed like excess parts to wash/buy/etc. 

I would recommend the Elvie with the caveat of: 1. it's expensive even if health insurance covers some of it 2. you are using it for portability - not as a primary pump (get a used plug in from PSP to rely on more heavily)”

“Pros: Great for on the go. Anytime I left the apartment, the Elvie was charged and in my bra ready to go. I would just turn it on when I felt my breasts become full and continue my stroller walk. It was the only tool that allowed me to go outside for longer than an hour and still pump what I needed for the next feeding. 

Cons: It's not the strongest pump and I wasn't able to capture as much milk with the Elvie as the other pumps. If I used the Elvie for every pump session, I would have seen a dip in supply. In addition, you do need to keep yourself upright to avoid leaking. Staying upright was something I was able to live with in return for freedom.”


Baby Buddha

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“I am a huge fan of the baby Buddha.  I had the spectra & baby Buddha for my first, and then tried the willow for my second.  but as a low milk producer, the willow did not work for me, I went back to the Baby Buddha. The baby Buddha was so strong, I was able to produce more milk with it. If I was out & about, would “hack” my baby Buddha with freemie cups, and wear a scarf to hide it.  (If the willow or Elvie had worked for me, I do think it would have been a game changer!)

I know different things work for different people! Just my two cents and what worked for me!”

“I have two jobs and sometimes have to go from one to the other so portability was key. The Baby Buddha is only the size of a large remote control and it’s pretty strong. It takes some getting used to, but it’s definitely a great option for away from home.”

“Once I switched [from the Willow] to the baby Buddha with the freemie cups I was much happier, they were way less bulky and the suction is better.”



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“With my first I had a Medela PIS and was happy enough with it but I ended up getting a Spectra S2 through insurance with my second and really liked it. I found the Medela pump parts much more comfortable though, so I got an adapter and used Medela parts and bottles with the S2 pump, tubing and valves.”

“I loved the Medela Sonata because it connects to an app that tracks pumping times and then you can enter in the amounts. I love having all that data, ha! I was able to fill out a form and have insurance cover part of it too. It has a battery so it doesn't need to stay plugged in, and I liked the light on the display during late night pumping. I used it for pumping with both kids.”



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“I tried the Freemie instead and loved it. It does have a bit of tubing that you hide under your clothes but that didn’t bother me at all once I’d gotten used to it and I could pump just about as much as with my Spectra. Also I really could pump on the go. I’d pump on the train to and from work, so I didn’t need to take the time before leaving or when I got where I was going. The pump was strong and held a charge well enough to pump a few times. It’s not as pretty as the Willow or Elvie but it works and it’s way more affordable.”

“I was tired of being attached to the wall with the Spectra2 and then not getting enough milk with the Elvie when at home, so I turned to the Freemie. I loved this and wished I got it sooner.  It was powerful, the battery lasted. I never figured out the flanges that came with the freemie and instead used the Spectra flanges. I found myself free to walk around the apartment while pumping and still getting the ounces that I got with the Spectra2.  I actually packed away my Spectra2 after getting the Freemie.”


Ameda Mya

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“With my first I was all Medela -- Pump in Style at work and a Freestyle at home for flexibility, but when I had number two, the Lactation Consultant at the hospital was talking up the Ameda Mya, saying it was hospital-grade but it was as small as the Freestyle.  That's what I got (only needed one as I wasn't working in an office anymore) and it was decidedly "meh."  It might have been a general supply issue, but I never felt like I was pumping as much as I did with the Medela pumps. Take that for what it's worth in case you are considering it!”


Other gadgets to consider

Non-electric pumps. “I also really loved my Haakaa for catching drips while nursing and my Lansinoh manual pump for pumping one side while baby nursed on the other first thing in the morning. (I was a big morning producer and one usually filled him.) I also produced a lot more milk with my second and it came in right away, which mostly made things easier but also made it a bit harder to keep from getting messy while nursing.”

Adaptors. “These adaptors are super cheap and allow you to use Medela pump parts with the Spectra. I asked for a few extra pump kits from the hospital  which allowed me to build up a stash of pump kits so that I only have to wash the pieces once a day. My son was in the NICU for a while, which made it easier to ask for more, but I still think if you ask for at least 2-3 when you are giving birth they'd say yes. Both times I have given birth the nurses have been like "what do you want/need/ take it all". Most hospitals also have pumping rooms where they stock tons of Medela storage bottles, FYI.”

Milk thermos. “This time around also bought the Ceres Chill thermos to store all of my milk I had pumped at work cause I didn't have time to separately to it into bags. It is FSA/HSA eligible.”


Factors to consider when choosing your pump

“I think the answer really depends on how you'll use the pump and whether efficiency or portability is more important to you. I pump at work and have my own office, so the spectra works well for me. I don't need to be particularly discrete and I keep it in a desk drawer so the size doesn't bother me. I'm very used to it so my pump sessions are short, which makes it more feasible to fit in the day for me.”

“1. If you're not sure you're going to need to exclusively pump, start with a strong portable pump like the Freemie, Spectra9, or Medela Freestyle. The flanges are clunky and you probably won't use these on the subway, but they will allow you to pump while doing other things in the home.  Even the small luxury of being able to get up, walk to the kitchen, and pour yourself a glass of water while pumping is something to not take for granted!

2. If you find yourself in a position where you need to exclusively pump, add the Elvie into the mix. This will give you the freedom to stay out of the home just a little longer.”


Insurance info

Under part of the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance companies will now cover breast pumps, breastfeeding supplies, and support (such as lactation consultants). By law, health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding.

It's not a 100% assured benefit in all plans. Contact your health insurance provider NOW (don't wait until after the baby comes!). Check the Women's Preventative Services' Required Health Care Coverage Guidelines).

Beware of loopholes. Coverage is limited to pumps and products purchased through a Durable Medical Equipment provider (they carry surgical supplies like crutches).

Lactation consultants. Insurance companies can be sticky about who they cover (in- vs. out-of-network). Find one before you have your baby.


Useful Resources

FDA: Breast Pumps: Don't Be Misled - Get the Facts

CDC: Follow CDC's guidelines about How to Keep Your Breast Pump Clean and their tips for the proper handling and storage of human milk.

National Women's Law Center:

The NWLC has a toolkit that provides information on the coverage of breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling according to the health care laws. It also offers detailed instructions on how to call insurance companies and ways to file an appeal if your plan denies coverage. The toolkit includes draft appeal letters tailored to commonly encountered scenarios. GREAT RESOURCE: Download it here.

One PSP member's breast pump purchasing experience:

"I called my own employer-provided insurance plan and they said you need to get a doctor's prescription and purchase the breast pump at an "in-network" durable medical equipment store. So you can't just buy the pump at any store and submit the receipt expecting to get reimbursed. Best to check with your insurance company and get detailed information.  Be persistent and talk to your doctor too (mine was happy to accommodate my request and asked that I get all the right forms for them to sign to make sure the pump gets paid for properly)."