Recent statistics show that most mothers are returning to work or school much sooner than in the past because of the increasing pressure to provide for families. Most working moms now need breast pumps to help maintain a good breastfeeding relationship with their newborns as they get back to their daily errands.
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In that vein, I decided to research on the bestselling breast pumps on the market today and prepared a detailed buyers guide on how to find the right pump for your needs.
I also settled down on comparing two of the most popular double-electric pumps the Ameda Purely Yours and Medela Pump In Style.
- Both include AC adapter
- Both have a 1-year warranty
- The Ameda weighs 5.9 pounds while Medela weighs 7 Pounds
- The Ameda comes with 6AA batteries while the Medal features 8AA batteries
- Both pumps are double electric
- Both pumps have dial settings
- Both pumps have no display
- Their car adapters are sold separately
- Both have coolers
Review: Ameda Purely Yours
The Ameda Purely Yours double-electric breast pump is a closed system pump. This means it features a membrane that inhibits condensation in the tubes that connect the breast pump motor to the breast flanges.
This eliminates the risk of contamination and you won’t have to worry about mold buildup within the tubes and around the motor. The 2-phase is not a feature you’ll find in the Ameda Purely Yours.
The Ameda allows you to change the vacuum and speed settings through its set of 32 different options that could make the pump comfortable and efficient for your needs. You can adjust speed and suction independently using this pump at any time.
The Ameda simply gives you a customizable experience while for the Medela you’ll have all the basic settings ready for you.
Speaking about ease of cleaning the Ameda is pretty straightforward and a low maintenance pump because it uses a closed system with no cases of mold build-up and condensation. This means you won’t have to clean the tube regularly.
For the Ameda Purely Yours, you have the pump itself, batteries or the wall adapter, the tubing and tube adapter, the flanges, adapter caps, valve and the diaphragm. The parts you put together and take apart the most are the diaphragm, valve, flange and adapter cap because these are the parts you’ll need to clean mostly.
The Ameda bag, on the other side, is somewhat small but comfortable. It offers extra room for foreign accessories making convenient.
If you’re going to get your breast pump, then you should understand that all pumps are loud and you should never think of finding a silent one. You should only be looking for one with the lowest noise level.
From our findings, the Ameda is a little louder than the Medela, though I consider both pumps to be modest when compared to other.
The only annoying thing about the Ameda pump is the beeping sound after every suction cycle.
Review: Medela Pump in Style
The Medela Pump In Style is an open system pump, meaning the tubing and other connective systems are exposed to breast milk and eventually the motor too.
Away from being susceptible to condensation, the open system provides a better suction.
This is perhaps one of Medela’s main drawback as you will have to clean and replace the tube regularly to ensure the breast milk isn’t contaminated. It’s advised that you run the pump with the bottles detached from the tube for about a minute to clear up the condensation.
The Medela Pump In Style uses a two-phase expression, meaning that it mimics (simulates) a baby’s natural nursing pattern. This gives the pump a 2-minute letdown phase to address the condensation issues and automatically switches to regular pumping.
With the Medela you basically have a single option that defines how much suction you get. This pump is automatically set to a faster let-down cycle and a slower cycles that either starts on its own or you press the let-down button – pre-set cycles.
For Medela you’ll have to clean the tubes regularly because it operates on an open circuit system which is highly condensation and mold issues. Regular cleaning of the tubes is important to avoid contaminating the milk. If cleaning the tubes is such a hard task, you can opt for replacement tubes which are widely available and affordable.
With the Medela Pump In Style, you’ll either have the flanges as a single piece with the membranes, tubing, and valves, or you get the tubing, breast shield, valves, membranes, or personal fit connectors.
The Medela breast pump is sold with larger carry bag, and though it can carry everything the pump comes with, it has no room for other foreign accessories such as keys and clothes.
The Medela Pump In Style and the Ameda Purely Yours doesn’t differ greatly in the manner they operate unless you go checking on whether they are using a closed or open system. In the end, they both did a great job.
But in terms of functionality and efficiency, I think the Ameda was elegant as it scored better with the closed system, ease of cleaning, portability, and cycle and suction functions.
However, you can never rule out on Medela’s ease of assembly and the 2-phase expression, which makes it a good pump. I would, therefore, choose the Ameda Purely Yours as my favorite breast pump because of the closed system.
Choosing A Breast Pump – Features To Consider
If you’re a working mom, choosing a breast pump is a vital decision to make. A wrong choice would result in your newborn missing the benefits of breast milk. Besides, for stay-at-home moms, adjustability is key because you never know when you may get busy and need to express some breast milk for your newborn.
But with several options available on the market today and numerous features such as cycle and suction setting, pump grade, power sources, size and cost, you need to have a perfect guide to help you settle on the right pump.
Here are some of the most important factors to take into consideration when choosing a breast pump.
Range Of Cycles And Suction Settings
The pumps cycles and suction settings are used to measure its effectiveness since it is defined by the how much milk it yields in the least amount of time. This is often based on speed, frequency and suction strength of the pump.
To understand the cyclic rate and suction strength, a breast pump cyclic rate may also mean suction speed. This describes a single complete suction and release (discharge) action from the pump.
Breast pumps are engineered to mimic a baby’s sucking in terms of suction frequency and pressure. Since a healthy baby will hit an average of 1.28 sucks per second, an effective pump is estimated to have a cyclic rate (suction speed) of about 60 per minute – highly effective. Most pumps have a cyclic rate of 40-60 sucks per minute.
In terms of suction strength (suction pressure) this amounts to about 150-220 mmHg. Suction levels below 150mmHg may affect the mother’s comfort, milk production and the efficiency of milk expression. While that above 220mmHg can cause pain in the nipples.
A good pump should have its suction strength in this range and have an adjustable cycle and suction strength settings manually.
You should also understand that cycle rate depends a lot on the pumps grade with hospital grade pumps having the highest rate.
The pumps power option defines its convenience, depending on the power options you have around you. Some pumps run on electric power and you’ll need access to electricity, while others run on battery power.
For those working in special environments, you may acquire hand-operated or others that come with car adapters that would help you take advantage of the little time you get from your busy schedule.
The battery-powered option can be used on the go, making them convenient and portable.
Double Vs. Single System
A double pumping system is recommended for working moms and many consider it necessary since it is convenient and such a time saver. Therefore, if you plan on expressing milk daily, I would recommend the double pump.
Although most duel milk suction systems are a little more expensive, you’ll appreciate its value. Single pumps are not that effective, but I would recommend them if you’re on a tight budget or when you consider using one breast. A good option for stay-at-home moms, but not a great option.
Electric Vs. Manual Pumping System
Electric pumps are a good option for moms who spend much time separated from their newborns, when the mother’s milk production (supply) is low and when she wants the pumping to be fast and easy.
On the other hand, manual pumps are sufficient for stay-at-home moms, if the mother’s milk production is stable and well-established, she’s ready to pump manually, to relieve the mother from engorged breasts, and when the mom goes out occasionally and just needs the breast pump when something comes up so she can make sure the baby gets the right dose of breast milk.
Electric pumps have a defined cyclic rate (40-60 per minute), while the cyclic rate for manual pumps depends on the mother’s ability to pump.
A pumps grade factors in all the aforementioned factors, hence the highest quality grades are the most efficient. The pumps come in 3 different grades: manual, personal-use pump and hospital grade.
The grade of the pump you need depends on the how frequent you may need to express milk. Manual pumps are affordable (fairly expensive), personal-use pumps are mid-range, and the hospital-grade are very expensive.
Here is a guide on how to choose the right pump grade depending on how frequent you express milk – don’t choose a pump based on price.
Once or twice a week – manual pumps or a small battery powered pumps
Once a day – mid-range single-electric pumps
Up to four times a day – mid-range double-electric pumps
5 times or exclusive pumping – double hospital-grade pump
A good pump is useful to mothers with breastfeeding problems. These pumps can accurately mimic the baby’s sucking and hence improve the mother’s milk flow significantly.
Open And Closed System
A typical breast pump is based on either a closed or open system. In open pumping systems, the pump motor is exposed to the milk since there is no barrier between the motor and the collection kit.
In such situations systems, there are numerous cases of accidental drawing-in’ of milk into the motor and the subsequent growth of mold, and harboring of bacteria and other pathogens that can be passed into the milk in future.
Since there is no technique to fully clean and disinfect these pumps, FDA recommends open system pumps for single-user only.
In closed pumping systems, the pump motor and collection kit are completely separated and you can never have cases of milk reaching the motor.
Apart from the above-mentioned factors, you also need to pay attention to SUCTION MODES – where I would recommend pumps with a two-phase expression (stimulation phase and expression), FLANGE SIZES, ADJUSTABLE SUCTION, ASSEMBLY, DESIGN, PORTABILITY, COMFORT, DURABILITY, CARRYING CASE, SPARE PARTS, NOISE LEVEL SIZE & WEIGHT, COST, and HEALTH INSURANCE.
Taking these factors into consideration, we managed to research on some of the industry’s top breast pumps, scrutinized several consumer reports, and took our reader’s preferences into consideration, to settle on these popular pumps – the Ameda Purely Yours and Medela Pump In Style.
Photo by Ameda, Modified by Author.