Breast pumps - what types are there?

Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, you may need to use a breast pump to express breast milk. Here are the main types of breast pumps you’ll find

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  • Manual breast pump

    A manual breast pump is one that requires you to pump a handle in order to create suction and express breast milk. A manual pump features the same set-up of breast shell and milk collection bottle as an electric option, but also has the handle.

    A manual pump is often lighter and more compact than an electric one, though it does mean your hand can get a tired if you need to pump often or for a long time.

    Some manual pumps have the option of being upgraded to an electric, so you have the flexibility to choose what works best as your needs change.

  • Electric breast pump

    An electric breast pump is one that has its suction powered by mains or batteries. It looks very similar to a manual, with its breast shell and milk collection bottle, but there’s no handle because you don’t need to pump with your hand. Many let you control the suction strength and speed.

    Electric breast pumps that can be battery powered are more portable than ones that are solely mains powered.

    Electric breast pumps can help you express in less time than with a manual pump. They can sometimes make a noise, though there are quieter options around.

    Electric pumps can be hospital grade or for personal use. Hospital-grade pumps are ultra fast and designed for multiple users but cost several hundreds of pounds (about £700-£1,000), so are usually hired.

  • Dual breast pump

    A dual breast pump – or double breast pump - is one that allows you to express from both breasts at the same time. That means there are two breast shells and two milk collection bottles – basically, a standard electric breast pump that’s doubled.

    A dual breast pump can cut down the time you spend expressing, because you’re pumping both breasts in the time it takes you to do one. However, they do tend to be bigger than single pumps so less portable, and some mums mention they feel a like they’re in a dairy!

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