Ah, breast pumps.

Working mums who breastfeed are familiar with these contraptions. We know them well, rely on them and yet loathe them at the same time (or at least, I do). But undeniably, these horn-shaped, loud and definitely unsexy machinery are absolutely necessary for mums who work and still desire to feed breast milk to their babies.

(You would think that some design genius would have turned it into something that looks a little better than this but NOOOOOO.)

manual-breast-pump-glass-barrel-with-rubber-bulb

Of course, pumping isn’t all that bad. I mean, just look at the entertainment that pumping can bring:
Coco_breast_pump

Anyway, between Yi Lin, Selene and myself, we have used quite a few sets of breast pumps. We all know that a breast pump is usually on the top of the shopping list of expectant women. And yet it can be a scary purchase, simply because of the variety of pumps available at different price points and the sheer cost.

So we have decided to do the work for you by putting together our collective experiences.

Presenting to you…The Great Breast Pump Review.

(Oh, and it also comes with a giveaway at the end!)

Medela Freestyle
Freestyle
Pros:

  • Extremely small and portable, can operate on battery
  • Comes in a full package of tote bag, parts, bottles and cooler bag
  • Ability to adjust the suction power and speed separately
  • Large LCD screen shows information like time elapsed and the light is quite useful in the dark
  • Has stimulation and expression phases, mimicking the actual breastfeeding phases of a baby
  • Pretty silent
  • Comes with handsfree kit, which means you can sip a cup of tea as you pump (or sit at your desk and work at your computer, in my case)

Cons:

  • Belt clip is virtually useless – the Freestyle almost fell off once when I was doing the chores and pumping at the same time
  • The suction can be very harsh on your nipples – ouch factor is quite high
  • Battery charging is a little strange – removing the battery from the pump means that your next charge has to be a full 24 hours
  • Really pricey at the recommended retail price of $699, although you can get US imported sets for under S$500
  • Not a closed system
  • Yield isn’t that great despite the pain

In a nutshell: For those who have to pump on the go.

Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced
PISA
Pros:

  • It’s everything in a backpack – breast pump, bottles, cooler bag! The compact, lightweight, discreet set up is perfect for working mums
  • The quiet double pump is easy to hook up both at home and in the office, and runs on AA batteries too.
  • Similar to the Freestyle, the 2-phase expression technology mimics the natural way that your baby breastfeeds

Cons:

  • Retailing at about $799 (purchased on offer at $599), the PISA is probably the priciest pump out there. That said, it’s a good investment that has lasted for years and every mother knows how important it is to have a reliable pump!

In a nutshell: Quality and convenience makes it worth the price.

Unimom Forte Double Breast Pump
unimom
Pros:

  • Hospital grade electric double pump that is rather quiet
  • Suction power is strong so it was always set at the lowest speed
  • May be a bit overwhelming to set up at first but not difficult once you get the hang of it
  • Switch kit converts the electric pump into a single manual pump that is sold as a separate accessory, which gives is flexibility. As I became more apt at this breastfeeding business, I found myself sticking to the manual pump as I found that it gave a higher milk output in a shorter amount of time
  • At about $200, the price is a good draw

Cons:

  • Only has one dial to control speed
  • No option for batteries
  • Some parts of the pump is a little hard to reach (tight narrow bits) so it is a challenge to clean

In a nutshell: Generic, affordable, hospital grade pump for mothers who are on a budget

Spectra S1
Spectra S1
Pros:

  • Hospital grade double electric pump
  • “Massage” mode is gentle on the nipples without losing efficiency. I found it a lot more comfortable to use than the Medela Freestyle
  • Extremely silent – able to pump at night without waking sleeping baby next to me and I can pump in my office cubicle without anyone noticing
  • Very few parts to wash and sterilise: just the flange, valve and bottle
  • Runs on both mains and inbuilt battery, very flexible and can pump on the go in theory
  • Closed system, so it’s very hygienic (and can be safely passed to someone else or sold)
  • The backlight is useful when pumping at night
  • Digital display helps me to keep track of how much time has elapsed
  • Easy to switch to single pump mode
  • Affordable for a hospital grade pump at less than $350

Cons:

  • Bulky – friends have nicknamed it the “rice cooker”
  • Battery does not last – I can usually pump two or three session before the power runs out
  • Does not come with tote or cooler bags so there are additional costs involved
  • The bottles are flimsy and measurements are not accurate

In a nutshell: Affordable and efficient pump for those who don’t have to lug it everywhere they go

Ardo Calypso
calypsodouble-3
Pros:

  • Small and portable, easy to store
  • Closed system so very hygienic and can be sold or loaned
  • Has 64 combinations of suction power and speed so can be easily customised to your own needs
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Comes with breastshell and massage inserts – useful for those whose boobs prefer a gentler fit
  • The clip-on bottle holder ensures that bottles are kept upright without spillage

Cons:

  • I didn’t use it for long (sold it to get a handsfree Freestyle when I went back to work) but the set apparently did not last long under the use of my friend who pumped more often than I did

In a nutshell: For occasional pumpers

Pigeon Electric Breast Pump Portable
IMG_4844
Pros:

  • Launched in August 2014 so the technology is pretty new
  • It’s a quiet single electric pump – I use this pump under a full nursing cover while seated at my open office cubicle
  • The set comes with 2 silicon cushion (to be attached to the flange) in Regular (23mm) and Large (27mm) sizes so that you can use the one that best fits (these cushion sizes is the result of a research on Asian mothers done with KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital so it’s based on local fit)
  • Pretty straight forward to set up and has six adjustable levels of suction pressure
  • Uses a 2 phase technology where stage 1 is ‘stimulation’ mode to initiate milk flow where the rhythm is spaced out and slow, and stage 2 is ‘expression’ where the speed quickens and goes into actual pumping mode
  • Works both on electricity and batteries so can be used on the go
  • Compact and easy to carry around due to its weight (267gm without batteries)
  • Highly affordable at $159

Cons:

  • Single pump which means that you need to spend double the time expressing
  • Including 2 silicon cushions is a good idea but this also means that there will always be one cushion that is not used

In a nutshell: For busy mothers on the go with no access to powerpoints or a private nursing room. Beats using a manual hand pump!

GIVEAWAY!
Pigeon Singapore has kindly sponsored a set of the Electric Breast Pump Portable worth $159 to give to one lucky reader. Simply complete the following steps by 9 Jan, 2015, 1159pm:

1. Like bubsicles on Facebook
2. Like Pigeon Singapore on Facebook, and
3. Comment on and share this Facebook post – tell us why pumping is important to you

Good luck!

This giveaway ends on 9 Jan, 11:59pm and is open only to Singapore residents. Winners will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this draw and will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

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