Guide to Choosing a Breast Pump

Guide to Choosing a Breast Pump

The benefits of breastfeeding are widely discussed and acknowledged by both mothers and the international medical community. The World Health Organisation currently recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. It is also recommended that this be continued with solid foods for up to two years of age and beyond.

Using a breast pump allows mothers to provide valuable breastmilk to their child if for some reason they are unable to breastfeed. Some of these reasons can include returning to work, attachment difficulties, illness, premature birth or weaning. There are so many different breast pumps that no matter what the reason is that you are expressing, there is a pump to suit your lifestyle and needs. However, sometimes knowing exactly what you need is a bit confusing, especially if you are new to pumping.

Below is a guide to the different types of breast pumps available today. You can also visit our online store for more detailed information regarding different pumps.

Manual Breast Pumps

Manual breast pumps are hand operated and can only be used for one breast at a time. The pump is placed over the breast and the other hand is used to ‘pump’ the lever in order to create suction. These pumps are often less expensive than the electric ones and are usually quite light and compact, making them a good choice for those on a budget or with limited space.

A silicone breast pump is a special type of manual breast pump that is usually used to collect small amounts of breastmilk while breastfeeding your baby on the opposite breast. You can read further information on how our Silicone Breast Pumps work here.

Manual pumps are best for mums who only want to pump occasionally and are not using expressed breastmilk as a primary source of nutrition for their baby. This is because the manual pump can be quite time consuming and tiring on your wrists. However, these are a fantastic choice if you want to have a well-deserved sleep or need to be away from your baby and still want them to have the benefits of breastmilk. If you have a slow let-down reflex or limited milk supply, then you may find a manual breast pump does not provide the necessary stimulation for a large supply of expressed milk. The Haakaa Pump does make collecting small amounts of breastmilk easy and is our most loved Breast Pump here at Milkbar.

Best suited for: Occasional Pumping, Mums who are primarily breastfeeding, Simple & portable options

View our range of manual breast pumps.

Electric Breast Pumps

Electric breast pumps are operated either through a power outlet or battery. They come in models that allow for single or double breast expressing. The cup is placed over the breast and the suction is created for you, freeing one hand for other tasks – or just a good excuse to relax.

The electric pump is the ideal choice for women who express regularly as it is faster than the manual pump, allowing you to express and store more breastmilk in a shorter space of time. This is also ideal for mothers who need to express in the workplace and may only have limited time. Electric pumps have stronger suction so they can be a better choice if you struggle to trigger the let-down reflex.

When purchasing an electric pump it is important to consider:

- Is the breast pump an open or closed system?

- Do you have access to an AC powerpoint?

- Is the breast shield a standard size? Are other size options available?

- What features are important to you? e.g. let down mode, customisable strength/speed settings?

Best suited for: Working Mums, to support breastmilk supply, to allow the equivalent of full feeds to be expressed in a single session.

View our range of electric breast pumps

Hospital Grade Breast Pumps

A ‘hospital grade’ Breast Pump provides a stronger suction and has a more durable pump motor than a regular electric breast pump. These pumps have closed systems and can accommodate multiple users. Each mother has her own sterile ‘pump pack’ so there is no chance of cross contamination. Hospital Grade isn't a regulated term so its important to understand what each brands means when they refer to themselves as hospital grade and only go with trusted brands. 

These top of the range pumps are best for mothers who need to regularly express large volumes of breastmilk as the stronger pump can help to stimulate breastmilk production. They operate at a higher level of speed and efficiency than regular electric pumps, making them the best choice for working mums and mums who are exclusively expressing. They are also the optimum choice for mothers of twins or premature babies who are unable to initially breastfeed and those looking to establish or increase their supply.

Best suited for: Exclusive Pumping Mums, if you need to stimulate breastmilk supply, Mums with twins, premature babies or babies who are unable to initially breastfeed

Visit our shop to view our range of hospital grade breast pumps


Whatever your breastfeeding and expressing needs, there are many products that can ensure you are able to safely and effectively provide your baby with the many benefits of breastmilk as they grow and develop.

If you need help selecting the best breast pump contact our team on 1300 781 275 send us an email.

This page is for general information only and is not intended to substitute or replace the advice of your healthcare professional. Please see your healthcare professional for specific advice about your unique circumstances and needs.