Updated July 2023
Breast pumps have come a long way. But most of the advice circulating the internet on how to choose a breast pump is so 2008. Read our guide so you can understand what to look for in a breast pump in 2023.
Portable breast pump or hospital grade?
Friends, in 2023, 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 If you're reading old content (or new content plagiarized from old content) then it's easy to pick up outdated information.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 like the Genie Advanced 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, yet. 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 2x 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 about 0.5 lbs), whereas SuperGenie is 1.2 kg (or about 2.6 lbs). 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.
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 pumpers 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 330 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 pumperss.
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 through the Pumpables app, so you can run your pump from your phone. You caneven store favorite programs, run programs with one touch, and even share and import programs from other pumperss. You can also track metrics and insights, 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 pumperss 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 mold 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 2023, all breast pumps should really be closed. Mold 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 people find figuring out shield size confusing, so feel free to visit our free Virtual Fitting Room to get a hand.
How to get insurance to cover your breast pump
Which breast pump options are available to you through your insurance is really variable depending on your policy and level of coverage.
You can now find Pumpable pumps through select DME suppliers. Find a full list of participating DMEs here: www.pumpables.co/insurance-coverage. These DME suppliers work with insurance providers to help you get the breast pump you need.
If you're considering using your insurance to cover the cost of your breast pump, we recommend reaching out to these DME suppliers to check if they are in-network with your insurance provider. They can guide you through the process and provide the necessary documentation for reimbursement. Remember, insurance coverage may vary, so it's always best to confirm the details with the DME supplier and your insurance provider.
You can also contact your insurance provider directly to inquire about reimbursement. If approved, we can provide an invoice for payment submission.
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 pumpers also trying to figure out which breast pump is best for them, please feel free to share.
Get in touch if we can help 💗.
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