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.
Through a series of interviews and surveying 35 mommies, we narrowed down to two hospital grade breast pumps we think would be useful for you.
Description of 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. 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, 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 rental using their insurance.
What Research Did We Do?
For this review, we surveyed 35 mommies, and spoke to Allison Banfield, the founder of Proud Happy Mama – 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
Apart from that, we checked in on 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, it also prevented engorgement problems.
According to WHO, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure a child’s health and survival. 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.
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 infection and stomach bugs.
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.
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
What to Look Out For When Buying a Breast Pump?
Families these days have more choices when it comes to buying breast pumps. Under the Affordable Care Act in the United States, 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, customisability, 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. 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 work well for an occasional pumping session or a backup pump.
Pros and Cons of Each of Them
IBCLC Chrisie Rosenthal from The Lactation Network said that most families do great with a high-quality double electric pump. A hospital grade breast pump is a high-quality double electric pump. Usually, hospital grade breast pumps are rental pumps, recommended for mommies who are pumping for a baby in NICU, multiples, increasing milk supply or healing damaged nipples.
Other high-quality double electric pumps include Hegen’s Dual Electric Breast Pump that can be as portable as wearable breast pumps.
- Effective removal of Milk
- Speedy removal of milk
- Not as portable
- Can be used anywhere
- May not drain your breasts as well
Advantages of Double Electric Breast Pump
Effective Removal of Milk
According to Lactation Counsellor, Amanda from Exclusive Pumping, hospital grade breast pumps tend to be more powerful than wearable pumps. They are also highly customisable where you can adjust the cycle speed and vacuum strength to better mimic your baby’s sucking patterns. As a result, it leads to 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.
Speedy Removal of Milk
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.
Lasts more than 3 years
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.
Disadvantage of Double Electric Breast Pumps
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.
Advantage of Wearable Breast Pumps
Depending on your needs, a wearable breast pump might be more suitable for you.
Light & Portable
A wearable breast pump is less bulky, lighter and more portable. It is more suited for mommies who are frequently on the move, or have to return to work soon after giving birth. Furthermore, a wearable breast pump usually comes with a rechargeable battery, and that means you can pump anywhere you’d like!
What Do We Recommend?
Through our series of interviews and surveys, we compared between Pumpables Super Genie and Spectra S1/S1+. We concluded that these are the two best hospital grade breast pumps that would be useful for you.
Pumpables Super Genie
PUMPABLES SUPER GENIE BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
- 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
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 it and save it as your own.
Unlike other breast pumps, Pumpables Super Genie comes with a unique set of 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.
- 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
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.
Medela Symphony Breast Pump is a reliable, multi-user breast pump for hospitals and home rental. It is ideal for long-term and exclusive pumping. It is also an expensive hospital grade breast pump, typically used for rental. However, we are not recommending it because the aforementioned brands are much more affordable.
Thoughts on hospital grade breast pumps
Pumpables Super Genie is more suitable for adventurous mommies looking for:
- Sleeker hospital grade breast pump
- Unique flange sizes
- Soft silicone inserts to protect sore nipples
- Technology with app aimed at making pumping simpler
Spectra S1/S1+ is more suitable for mommies looking for:
- A well-known brand
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 for you to buy another more portable or wearable breast pump for going out and about, and leaving 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.
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:
Frequently Asked Questions
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 familiarise 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.
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.