Breastfeeding offers the best in nutrition to your baby. It gives them all that nature intended and many mothers enjoy the process. But there comes a time that you will want to leave your baby alone with another person (and for more then the two or three hours between feedings). It may be that you want to go out on a date with your significant other or that you have to go back to work. For whatever reason, a breast pump can be a life saver. It gives you the option of pumping your milk and saving it for later use. Other people can then have the opportunity to feed your baby while you are away. However, there are a wide range of pumps for a wide range of prices and choosing the one that meets your needs isn't always easy.

Manual pump.
This is literally what it sounds like. This is the cheapest breast pump option. They come in a wide range of prices and some offer more features then others, but it is a manual breast pump. All the work to get the milk out is done by you (either with your hand or in a few cases with your foot). This pump can be useful, but only for some people. This should be your pump of choice if:
  • You only need to pump occasionally when you go out.
  • You won't be using it regularly and you have the time to pump for a long period of time to get the milk you need.
  • You don't have a lot of money to spend on a pump, but you still want to have one. Prices in the store range from $30-60 though I found one on Amazon for $25 and purchased one on eBay for $8.

Many moms also like how small they are and how easy it is to carry them around. They are also easier to use while your baby is on the other breast because they are quiet and less likely to disturb the baby. On the other hand, they don't usually empty your breasts all the way so if you are depending on their use a lot they can lower your milk supply. Some moms use this option as one to carry with them while they are out even though they have a larger one at home or at the office.

Single Electric Pump (mid-range electric or battery operated).
The next option to choose from is an electric pump that offers a little less work for mom. This option offers a little more use then the hand pump or the Manuel pump, but it costs more. It should be your pump of choice if:
  • You only need to pump occasionally for when you go out.
  • You don't want the work of the manual pump.
  • You are willing to spend a little more. These pumps usually cost $50-150.

These pumps are still fairly slow and it is likely to take awhile to empty the breast. Most are single breast models and those that do have the ability to do both breasts at one time are either weaker, more likely to burn the motor out of, or both. Still, if you aren't going to pump a whole lot then this is definitely a good way to go and is easier then the manual pump. In fact, it might be a good idea to choose this one if you aren't sure how much you will use it. The manual pump can get very tiring and if you end up using it more often then this is the way to go to meet your needs without spending a lot, or worse buying two types of pumps.

Double Electric Pump (top end personal use electric pump).
These pumps are the most expensive option before hospital grade. They are more likely to be recommended for moms who will be leaving their baby for significant periods of time. Often moms who will be going back to work are told that they should purchase either this option or find a hospital grade pump to use. This is the pump for you if:
  • If you need to use the pump often and or regularly this is a good option for you.
  • You need to be able to pump quickly and efficiently.
  • You are able to spend $200-350 for a pump.

These pumps are the fast. They often have two pumps that work together to get the job done quickly. Many also come with great options for moms who need to be on the go such as cigarette lighter adapters for power, hands free options, and a great storage case. This is really the pump to get if you think you might go back to work full time. It has a lot more to offer a mom who is in a hurry to get the job done and who has to do it at work or on the go.

Hospital Grade Electric Pump.
The hospital grade pump is by far the priciest but it is also the fastest and the easiest to use. It is also the only pump that should ever be used by more then one person. (Personal use pumps are impossible to sterilize and likely to carry bacteria from one person's breast milk to another). These should only be purchased if you will be using it all the time or at least most of them. Usually they are recommended for people who want their babies to have breast milk, but for some reason their baby is unable to breast feed. They can be purchased for $1000-1500 or you can rent them from a hospital, lactation consultant, or sometimes the health department for $1-3 a day. While some moms are tempted to go this way to meet their work needs this isn't necessary and should only be done if you get a good deal on it or have a way of renting one for less money.

Choosing a breast pump that meets your names is often easy to do. It should be noted that you should never share with another mom because of contamination issues. Instead buy your breast pump new. However, you can shop around to get the best deal. EBay can be a great place to look, but also look at online stores and even your local Walmart and Target. You can also choose a pump that comes with extras that you need such as milk storage containers, bottles, and other feeding accessories. Now all you have to do is figure out how often you want to pump and how much you want to spend!