Breast pumps can be very foreign. There was so much jargon related to breast pumps – hospital grade pump, personal-use pump, hands-free pump, manual pumps, closed-system, open-system.
In this article, we will explore the topic of hospital grade breast pumps, including their pros and cons, differences from electric breast pumps, and what to consider when you are purchasing one. We will also share some of the best options on the market, based on a survey with 35 mommies. Read on!
Why You Should Trust Me
For this article, we surveyed 35 mommies and spoke to Allison Banfield, the founder of Proud Happy Mama. Proud Happy Mama is an incredible support network for new moms, and long-time parents to connect and empower each other.
We also interviewed 6 lactation experts:
- Chrisie Rosenthal, IBCLC from The Lactation Network
- Beth Ann Martin, Trained Birth Doula and Certified Postpartum Doula & Lactation Education Counselor from LaVie Mom
- Maria Regan, Certified Nurse and Lactation Expert from Amy Baby Review
- Krystyn Parks, Pediatric Dietitian and IBCLC from Feeding Made Easy
- Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC
- Janai Marie Meyer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, IBCLC, Licensed Dietitian, Birth Doula and Certified Childbirth Educator
Moreover, I checked in with friends and acquaintances, who shared their pumping stories with me.
2-Years Personal Breastfeeding Experience
I’m a parent of one breastfed baby.
Just like milk bottles, you have to try the breast pumps before you know it. I bought and tried 5 breast pumps in total – Baby Express BE MINE, Baby Express BE FREE, Real Bubee, Spectra S1+, and finally Pumpables Super Genie.
Breastfeeding has been one of the most bittersweet experiences I have ever gone through. I thoroughly enjoyed my breastfeeding journey and I am thankful that my daughter can alternate between latching and bottle feeding.
During the months of exclusively pumping, I am glad to have used these hospital grade breast pumps to express every single drop of breast milk. Not only did it help me to increase my milk supply, but it also prevented engorgement problems.
What Is a Hospital Grade Breast Pump?
‘Hospital grade’ breast pumps can be very confusing to mommies. In the clinical setting, IBCLCs refer to hospital grade breast pumps as multi-user breast pumps.
These pumps are used for families who are exclusively pumping or have a medical need for a more powerful pump. They are often recommended for mommies who are pumping for a baby in NICU, multiples, increasing milk supply or healing damaged nipples.
According to The Lactation Network, these powerful motors are meant for heavy usage and are typically rented out to mommies on a monthly basis. These breast pumps use a ‘closed system’ that prevents milk or other fluids from entering the motor.
In certain countries like the United States (US), mommies may be able to rent a hospital grade breast pump at no cost through their insurance benefits. Through Aeroflow Breastpumps, mommies can check if they qualify for a rental using their insurance.
Hospital Grade Breast Pumps vs Other Types of Breast Pumps
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are 3 main types of breast pumps – electric, battery-operated and manual breast pumps. Hospital grade breast pumps are a type of electric breast pump.
Pros of Using a Hospital Grade Breast Pump
Hospital grade breast pumps may be preferred by many mommies as they’re able to remove milk more effectively and quickly, and are more durable.
More powerful and effective
According to Lactation Counsellor, Amanda from Exclusive Pumping, hospital grade breast pumps tend to be more powerful than wearable pumps. They are also highly customizable where you can adjust the cycle speed and vacuum strength to better mimic your baby’s sucking patterns.
As a result, this leads to the effective and efficient removal of milk. This is especially useful for mommies who are trying to regulate their milk supply in the first few months.
Faster and more efficient
With the high cycle speed and varying suction strength, mommies can spend less time pumping while collecting the most amount of milk. This is especially great for mommies who need to pump frequently (more than 3 – 4 times a day) or quickly or require a huge quantity of milk.
According to Aeroflow Breastpumps, hospital grade breast pumps are built to last because they are typically used by many mommies. Similarly, these pumps are great for mommies who need or want to exclusively pump.
From my low-supply experience, I definitely did better with a hospital grade breast pump because I was pumping 8 – 9 times a day.
Cons of Using a Hospital Grade Breast Pump
Despite their benefits, hospital grade breast pumps also have certain drawbacks. They tend to be bulkier and heavier than other types of pumps, and are also more expensive.
Bulky and heavy
Most of the double electric breast pumps aren’t as portable as the wearable ones. They are bulkier to bring out. Hence, IBCLCs recommend having a wearable breast pump as a backup or used when one is out and about.
While hospital grade breast pumps are more effective and efficient in pumping milk, they often come at a heftier price, whether you’re buying or renting one. Some insurance plans may cover part or all of the rental fees, so you may want to enquire with your insurance provider before making a decision.
Best Hospital Grade Breast Pumps
If you’ve decided to use a hospital grade breast pump, here are the 3 best products for you to choose from – Pumpables Super Genie, Spectra S1/S1+ and Medela Symphony.
Pumpables Super Genie is a hospital grade breast pump, which can be connected to an app, running programs on your pump with just one touch. Using Bluetooth connection, you can access pump programs from others, edit them and save them as your own.
Unlike other breast pumps, Pumpables Super Genie comes with a unique liquid shield kit, which is made of soft liquid silicone and works differently from a traditional flange. Before buying the breast pump, you are encouraged to measure your flange size using their nipple ruler and select the correct flange size for your liquid shield kit.
- Pumpables App with Preset Programming
- Pumpables “Fitting Room”
- Unique Liquid Shield Kit
- Compatible tubings with other third-party accessories
- 256 configurations in the letdown mode
- Sleek design, making it portable
- Not as commonly found
- Parts tend to sell out very quickly
In terms of specifications, both Spectra S1 and S1+ are the same. The only difference is in the nozzle/suction holes. Also, the older version (S1) is heavier, weighing about 1.6kg.
31 out of 35 mommies we surveyed used Spectra S1/S1+, making it the most commonly used hospital grade pump in the market. They loved it for its fast and efficient drainage, compatible tubings that allowed them to be used with maymom flanges, and its battery life.
- Fast and efficient drainage
- Compatible tubings with other third-party accessories
- Common in the market so it’s easy to ask around for help
- Ease of getting spare parts
- Battery life
- Not portable
The Medela Symphony is a reliable, multi-user breast pump for hospitals and home rental. It is ideal for long-term and exclusive pumping, and can be used for single or double pumping. Through its technology, the Medela Symphony allows mothers to effectively initiate, build and maintain an adequate milk supply.
As it is significantly more expensive than other hospital grade breast pumps, it is typically rented rather than bought.
- Fast and efficient drainage
- INITIATE program helps to initiate lactation
- MAINTAIN program helps mothers build and maintain their milk production
- Reduces symptoms of engorgement and helps heal mastitis
- Brings out flat or inverted nipples
- Operates quietly
- Can be rented
- Not portable
What to Consider When Buying a Hospital Grade Breast Pump?
Families these days have more choices when it comes to buying breast pumps. Under the Affordable Care Act in the United States, a family’s medical insurance usually covers breast pumps. You can find out what pumps are covered by your medical insurance on The Lactation Network.
5 out of 6 lactation experts we spoke to recommended checking if your insurance benefits cover your preferred breast pump. After which, mommies can consider the following factors. Through our surveys, some of the top considerations for a good breast pump were suction strength, portability, customizability, and size and weight.
26.67% of mommies were concerned about the suction strength of breast pumps. According to Medela, being able to find a breast pump with maximum comfort vacuum (suction strength) increased milk flow and volume of milk collected.
25.71% of mommies considered how portable a breast pump is before buying. Breastfeeding mommies prefer a portable breast pump when they are returning to work as it is lighter and less bulky.
IBCLC Krystyn Parks from Feeding Made Easy mentioned that many wearable pumps do not work well as a primary pump if the parent intends to exclusively pump. However, these wearable pumps, which tend to be lighter and more portable, work well for an occasional pumping session or a backup pump.
The customizability of a breast pump is an important consideration for 16.2% of mommies. This refers to the ability to customize the mode, suction strength and cycle speed. As different mothers have different pumping needs, being able to customize the pump’s settings according to their preferences is crucial.
Lactation Experts’ Breastfeeding Advice
Breastfeeding is not easy so we sought advice from International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs), and other lactation experts. We hope you find the help you need and also, the inspiration to kickstart your special breastfeeding journey.
Take a prenatal breastfeeding class, followed by a prenatal consultation with a local IBCLC. You’ll learn the basics of breastfeeding, what to expect in the first few weeks, how to navigate common breastfeeding issues, and the truth behind common breastfeeding myths.Chrisie Rosenthal, IBCLC from The Lactation Network
Get off to a good start by latching on correctly. Be patient and stay hydrated. Take care of yourself – reach out for help when needed!Maria Regan, Certified Nurse and Lactation Expert from Amy Baby Review
Babies feed around the clock so setting yourself up with that expectation will make life much easier.Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC
In your 3rd trimester, learn what to expect from your body, newborn feeding cues and signals. Have a committed mindset to breastfeed or pump because it becomes challenging especially when you are sleep deprived.Janai Marie Meyer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, IBCLC, Licensed Dietitian, Birth Doula and Certified Childbirth Educator
Thoughts on Hospital Grade Breast Pumps
Through our interviews with the lactation experts, we learnt that a hospital grade breast pump would work well for mommies who are exclusively pumping, or pumping at least 3 – 4 times a day. Moreover, hospital grade breast pumps are built to last because they are typically used by many mommies.
However, the common drawback would be its weight, making it less portable than regular breast pumps. We would then recommend that you buy another more portable or wearable breast pump for going out and about, and leave this trusty hospital grade breast pump at home.
We hope this article was able to help you make a better decision. Breastfeeding is never easy, but I promise you it will be worthwhile for your little one.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hospital Grade Breast Pumps
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
There are many benefits of breastfeeding, including:
- Best source of nutrition for babies
According to WHO, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure a child’s health and survival. In fact, breast milk is the ideal food for infants – it contains antibodies and provides all the energy and nutrients the infant needs for the first months of life.
WHO and UNICEF recommend that children start breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and be only breastfed for the first 6 months of life. That means no feeding of other foods or liquids, including water.
After 6 months, children should begin eating safe and adequate complementary foods while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond.
- Protect babies against illnesses
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breastfeeding can help protect babies against some short- and long-term illnesses and diseases. Breastfed babies are also less likely to have ear infections and stomach bugs.
- Health benefits for mommies
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding can help return your uterus to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly. Also, breastfeeding can reduce mommies’ risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Do I really need a hospital grade breast pump?
No, it is not necessary to get a hospital grade breast pump. There are many double electric breast pumps out there, which can serve you well too. Some of them are even more portable than these hospital grade breast pumps!
However, if you intend to exclusively pump, I would highly recommend that you get a hospital grade breast pump simply because of the frequency of usage. Hospital grade breast pumps are built to last, and are made for frequent pumping sessions a day. The money spent would be worthwhile if you have to pump 8 times a day.
It is important to note that different mothers have unique and different experiences with the same breast pumps. A brand could work well for a mother, but not for another. It takes several trials and errors to get the perfect breast pump.
When is it a good time to buy a breast pump?
Most lactation experts recommend buying a breast pump in your third trimester, around 37 weeks. This is so you have the time to familiarize yourself with it and use it.
In the US, it is common to order your breast pump through your insurance. Hence, some IBCLCs also recommend purchasing it whenever your insurance company allows for that.
When is a good time to measure your flange size and buy the flanges?
Lactation Education Counselor Beth Ann Martin, from LavieMom, recommends waiting until after you deliver and breastfeeding is well established. The breast tissue will continue to change, and after feedings/pump sessions, there can be edema. It is best to meet with a qualified lactation consultant for the correct flange sizing. If you are pumping in the hospital, they can (and should) do this for you!
Pediatric Dietitian and IBCLC Krystyn Parks, from Feeding Made Easy, mentioned that it is more common for people to use the wrong size than the right size. Many parents need a smaller flange size than the one that comes with the pump.
Thus, IBCLC, Janai Marie Meyer, recommends waiting at least 2 weeks postpartum if you’d need to purchase additional flanges.
To end off this post, I would like to give thanks to the sweetest mummies, who completed the survey amidst their busy schedules to make this review possible:
Disclaimer: Nuevamae is not sponsored by any of the mentioned brands or platforms. This article expresses our honest opinion based on our experience and research. Read more about our mission. This article includes affiliate links so we may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase via the link.