Portable breast pump or hospital grade?
Friends, in 2022, the terms 'portable' and 'hospital grade' mean different things when it comes to breast pumps to what they did 10 years ago. If you're reading old content (or new content plagiarized from old content) then it's easy to pick up outdated information.
In the past, only big, bulky breast pumps were suitable for multiple users. These days, modern breast pumps should all be 'closed system' which means they have a barrier between milk and pump motor that ensures hygiene. More on this later.
The key difference between portable and hospital grade is really motor capacity. A hospital grade pump like SuperGenie has a big motor capable of pumping both fast AND at high vacuum, whereas portable pumps have smaller motors and will slow down as you turn the vacuum up.
Think of it like a phone versus a laptop - phones are AMAZING, but they have less options to get your work done efficiently.
Portable breast pumps
Portable breast pumps like Genie Advanced have a smaller motor. They're designed for pumping on the go, or for pumpers who just need to pump now and then.
Genie Advanced does have a belt clip and lanyard, so in a pinch you can make Genie Advanced 'wearable', but you will need a handsfree pumping bra, or to pair Genie with handsfree cups that fit into your bra.
Hospital grade breast pumps
Hospital grade pumps like SuperGenie have big motors capable of building and supporting milk supply. They're bigger and heavier, but they're better at removing milk more efficiently. SuperGenie has more program options, so you have a better chance of finding that sweet spot that your body responds to.
We don't sell wearable pumps (though we think they're awesome!). Wearable pumps fit into the portable pump category - they have smaller motors and have less program options and power. Whenever we talk about portable pumps in this article, you can include wearable pumps - but of course they have the additional awesome advantages of super discreet integrated shields and milk collection. Motor wise, they're portable pumps.
What do you need your breast pump to do?
- How often you'll be pumping
- Where you'll be pumping
- Do you need to carry your pump around
- Your budget!
How often will you use your breast pump?
Portable pumps should be used max 2 x a day
Portable pumps like Genie Advanced will remove milk, but will do so less efficiently than your baby (assuming no issues like tongue tie, prematurity etc) or a hospital grade pump.
Hospital grade pumps will support milk supply better
If you're exclusively pumping, or have issues you're working on around initiating milk supply or boosting low supply, then a hospital grade pump like SuperGenie will do a better job supporting you.
Where will you use your breast pump?
If you're just pumping at home, you may not care about portability too much and may be fine with a larger pump that works more efficiently.
A portable pump like Genie Advanced weighs in at 250 grams or so, whereas SuperGenie is 1.2 kg. SuperGenie is amazingly light and compact for a hospital grade pump... but it's definitely more to carry around. Again, think of it like carrying around a phone versus a laptop.
How much do you want to spend buying a breast pump?
Cost is definitely a factor too. Hospital grade pumps cost more, so if you're on a budget and don't need to pump too often (or you have another hospital grade pump as your main pump already) then you may just want to get a portable pump and save some money (which you could spend on a UV Sterilizing Bag ;).
It isn't all about how 'strong' the pump is / mmHg
Suction strength / vaccum capacity of a breast pump is measured in mmHg. So of course, we're used to mamas asking us 'what's the mmHg of your breast pumps'.
So this is important, but we just want to make sure you know this is just one measure of a breast pump and is meaningless without also knowing the breast pump's cycle speed capabilities.
To demonstrate, both Genie Advanced and SuperGenie can pump at 300 mmHg. SuperGenie could do way more, but we actually limit it's suction strength around 350 mmHg. There's no point being stronger than a baby, and it could cause tissue damage.
Only a pump with a big motor like SuperGenie can also have lots of cycle speed options as well. It's all those individual program options and ability to set cycle speed and vacuum level independently that really make the pump work better for more mamas.
Do you want a smart or connected breast pump?
Again, breast pumps have moved on, and they're increasingly getting smarter and smarter.
SuperGenie is a connected breast pump, that can connect to your phone via bluetooth so you can run your pump from your phone, and even store favorite programs, run programs with one touch, and even share and import programs from other mamas. Metrics and insights will be soon be coming, so your pump can work with you to work out what's best for you.
Genie Advanced doesn't have bluetooth, but it does alllow you to save a favorite program to be stored in the pump's internal memory so you can use your pump handsfree.
Most mamas really love at minimum being able to run a program on their pump instead of having to constantly adjust settings, so give some thought to this.
What is a closed system breast pump?
Okay so if you're new to breast pumps, this may be confusing.
'Open system' breast pumps have no barrier between milk and pump motor. Milk can (and often does) go down the tubing into the pump motor, which will lead to mould growth over time.
Closed system breast pumps have a physical barrier in the accessories (usually called the backflow protector, or diaphragm) and this totally stops milk getting anywhere near your pump.
In 2021, all breast pumps should really be closed. Mould is gross, and breastmilk hygiene is important.
All Pumpables pumps are ofc closed system.
Single or double breast pump
In the past, some breast pumps were only capable of pumping one breast at a time, usually because they have a motor that isn't very powerful. In fact, a breast pump that is marketed primarily as a single pump should raise a red flag - it's probably using really old technology.
These days, any decent breast pump will be capable of single or double pumping. This means that you can either pump one breast at a time, or double pump. Double pumping will halve your pumping time and is usually better at supporting milk supply.
All Pumpables breast pumps are double pumps, but if you prefer to single pump (or want to breastfeed baby on the other side while you pump) you can easily switch to single pumping.
Working out your shield size
It's really important to have a good shield fit when pumping, so your nipple is supported and you can pump comfortably and effectively. Note - your shield size is what fits your nipple - it's not related to your cup size at all.
You can work out your shield size by using our breastshield measuring tool. Your size is whatever fits the base of your nipple best - no areola.
Most women find figuring out shield size confusing, so feel free to visit our Fitting Room to get a hand.
How to get insurance to cover your breast pump
Which breast pumps options are available to you through your insurance is really variable depending on your policy and level of coverage.
We don't offer direct purchase via insurance yet, but we're working on it. For now, contact your insurance provider and ask them if they'll reimburse a purchase. If approved, we'll provide you with an invoice so you can claim back from your provider.
Did we miss anything?
Do you feel like you now know how to choose your breast pump?. Let us know if we missed anything We'll be happy to update this article.
On the other hand, if you feel like this article could help other mamas also trying to figure out which breast pump is best for her, please feel free to share.
Get in touch if we can help, mama 💗.
Ready to learn more?
Hey Anh and Sarah! Pumpables will be offered through DMEs start of 2023. Right now, the best thing to do is request reimbursement after purchasing – we’ll send you an invoice to make that easy. Thanks for your question!
Hi, do you work with any DME suppliers or know of any that sell your pump?
Will there be a chance companies like thebreastfeedingshop or 1naturalway will be carrying this soon? I would love to get this through one of those sites and be covered by my insurance.