What to Look for in a Breast Pump

What to Look for in a Breast Pump
Looking for a breast pump but not sure which one to choose? There are many different things to consider when it's time to buy a breast pump. Here's what to look for in a breast pump.

Is it a closed system breast pump?

It's important to make sure you get a closed system electric breast pump. This is because open system breast pumps don't have a physical barrier between the milk and the pump motor. This is not hygienic, and open system breast pumps are prone to mould growth! Closed system pumps have a barrier between the milk and the pump motor, making them more hygienic and suitable for extended use. Here's what to look for in a breast pump to verify it's closed system: Does the breast pump have a backflow protector or backflow filter? On Spectra breast pumps and breastshields (except for the DEW 350), this is the UFO-shaped piece that sits on top of the breastshield and that the tubing connects to. The Spectra DEW 350 uses a backflow filter instead of the backflow protector, and some breast pump brands have different shaped backflow protector systems. What's important to verify is that there is some sort of barrier between the parts of the breastshield that come in contact with your breastmilk, and the tubing that connects to the pump motor. An open system breast pump will have nothing to stop milk and moisture from getting sucked into the motor.

Does the breast pump have massage mode?

Many pumping mamas rely on massage mode on their breast pump. Massage mode is quick, fast suction program designed to copy a baby starts milkflow. It can be more difficult to respond to a breast pump as time goes on, so a lot of pumping mamas will rely on massage mode as their babies get older. If you're wondering whether or not you should buy a breast pump with massage mode, consider your baby's age: If you have an 8 month old baby and you're just starting pumping, you may respond better to a breast pump with massage mode. If you've just given birth and you're working on regulating your milk supply, a breast pump without massage mode, like the Spectra DEW 350, may be suitable for you. The Spectra S1, S2, M1 and S9 plus each have massage mode.

Is it a double breast pump?

When you're considering buying a breast pump, you should look to see if it can be used as a double breast pump. Pumping both breasts at the same time saves times, and better supports milk supply. All Spectra breast pumps are double electric breast pumps and come with everything you need to double pump (including necessary adaptors with the Spectra M1).

Is it a manual or electric breast pump?

Manual breast pumps are operated by your hands, while electric breast pumps use a power source to do most of the work. Many pumping mamas buy manual breast pumps to have as a backup just in case, or to put in their purse for a night out. You can also use a manual breast pump to pump one breast while baby breastfeeds on the other. If you'll be pumping regularly you should consider investing in an electric breast pump.

How is it powered?

One thing to consider when buying a breast pump is whether or not it has a rechargeable battery. Some breast pumps can only be powered when plugged into mains, like the Spectra DEW 350 and Spectra S2. Other breast pumps have a rechargeable battery, like the Spectra S1, M1, and S9 plus. Consider where you will be pumping and whether you'll have easy access to mains. If you have a dedicated space at work for breast pumping, check to see if the power outlet is easily accessible. Some mamas find they need to crawl under a desk or table to access power! You might appreciate a rechargeable battery if you have a long commute or are on-the-go a lot. Some mamas pump whilst on the train or in the car, and although you can purchase car power adaptors to plug your breast pump into, you may find it more convenient to have a breast pump with a rechargeable battery.

How portable is the pump?

If you'll be bringing your breast pump with you to and from work every day, or you plan on travelling a lot with your breast pump, you might consider buying a portable electric breast pump. The Spectra S1, S2 and DEW 350 are all very large breast pumps. We've put handles on these breast pumps to keep them as portable as possible, but do consider that you'll need a large tote or backpack to carry these in (and, many mamas do carry these back and forth to work quite successfully). If you're looking for something you can more easily slip into your bag or that isn't very heavy, consider the Spectra S9 Plus or M1. These breast pumps are smaller and lighter than our hospital grade breast pumps, and the S9 is small enough to fit into your pocket or the palm of your hand. You can also get a Spectra manual switch kit if you just want something to toss into your bag occasionally when you're not using your regular breast pump.


If you'll be pumping in a quiet office or in close proximity to a sleeping baby, it might be important to you to have a quiet breast pump. At Spectra, we've endeavoured to bring you the quietest breast pumps, and all of our pumps are very quiet in comparison to most of the other major breast pump brands. The DEW 350 is a very quiet breast pump, and the Spectra S9 Plus is also quite quiet. The S1 and S2 can be a little bit louder than the DEW 350, especially if you use higher vacuum settings, but keep in mind that these are still very quiet pumps. They don't have the "frog" noise that you might associate with other breast pump brands.

Suction strength - but it's complicated..

Suction strength is one thing to consider when buying a breast pump - but only because it's a good indication of motor capacity. Suction strength is measured in mmHg. Most electric breast pumps on the market will have somewhere in the range of 220mmHg to 350mmHg. Breast pumps designed to be used as single pumps only will have less powerful motors and less suction strength, but since it won't be divided between two tubes you're less likely to notice a difference in strength. The Spectra DEW 350 has the most powerful motor (as described in its name) of 350mmHg. The Spectra S1 and S2 each have 320mmHg, while the S9 Plus and M1 each have 300mmHg. People often latch onto the stronger suction strength of the Dew 350 to think it will work best, but that's not the case. The S2 and S2 have the capacity to switch between lots of different speeds, which is a more important factor in whether or not a pump will work for you than just brute power / suction strength. Generally speaking, you won't notice the difference in suction strength between a 300mmHg breast pump and a 350mmHg breast pump unless you normally pump at the highest settings - even so, it's not going to make a huge difference. Spectra breast pumps all have quality motors designed to last, which is why we offer a 2 year warranty on our pumps. Hopefully these explanations will help you decide which breast pump to buy. At Spectra, we have a breast pump for everyone. You can browse our inventory to learn more or compare Spectra breast pumps side by side. If you're still not sure, our customer support team can help you select the right breast pump for you. :)

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