Danie@babyholder.com wrote the following useful guide to breastpumps. See my pump comparison for my take on the Purely Yours vs. the Pump in Style.
Here's a copy of a post I wrote to the childbirth educator's list several months ago.
I thought it might help some people sort out what's what.
Here are the major types of pumps...
1. Hospital-grade. These are typically rented to moms, since they're very expensive to purchase (at least $750, and up to $2000). They're generally the most effective pumps available, invaluable to moms who are pumping for a preemie or sick baby, and are very useful to moms who are pumping to return to work. They're designed for frequent, heavy use. When renting a pump, it's necessary to purchase an attachment kit that consists of things like collection bottles, tubing, and breastshields.
|The Medela Classic: The original workhorse. Strong, sturdy, effective... and heavy! It weighs about 20 pounds. You'll see these a lot in hospitals on stands.|
|The Medela Lactina: There are a couple of models of Lactina, the most popular of which is the Lactina Select, which enables moms to select their own suction levels and speeds. This is a light pump (about 5 pounds) that works as well as the Classic. You can even buy a special bag that holds the Lactina and has an insulated area for chilling milk.|
|The Egnell Lact-E and Elite: We've just begun carrying Ameda-Egnell pumps, so I'm not too experienced with these. The Elite seems to be the more popular of the two. If anyone wants it, I'll dig up some more info.|
2. Professional-grade. Professional grade pumps are nearly as effective as hospital-grade pumps, but they're far more affordable at about $250. They're intended for single-patient use only, as they don't have the filtering systems that the hospital grade pumps do. As with the hospital-grade pumps, moms can single- or double-pump. The attachment kits for each brand (Medela, Ameda-Egnell) are the same as for the hospital-grade, making it convenient for moms to buy one after having rented a pump. These pumps are made for daily use, and typically last for at least two years. The only two pumps I'd put in this category are:
|The Medela Pump In Style. It's been out for about two years now, and has an excellent reputation. It comes in an attractive shoulder bag that looks a lot like an attaché that has room for all the bitty parts and includes a separate insulated compartment for milk. Moms can adjust suction levels.|
|The Purely Yours, a brand-new pump from Ameda-Egnell. It's lighter than the Pump In Style and enables mom to adjust both speed and suction. The pump is able to be removed from the bag, which is a sportier bag than the Pump In Style's. Reports from a group of moms in a test group I assembled are not as positive as for the Pump In Style. This pump is a bit less expensive than the Pump In Style and certainly is adequate, but even though I sell both pumps, I still recommend the Pump In Style because of more even reviews. (DANIE'S NOTE, OCT 2: For some reason, the Purely Yours is unavailable from the manufacturer right now. No word on why, or how long it'll be.)|
3. Small electric pumps. These are pretty much designed for occasional use for short-term separations. Some are:
|The Nurture III. This is kind of a hybrid pump, a cross between a small electric and a professional-grade. It's been around for a long time and moms who have it like it. It enables double-pumping, but the reason I place it in this category is that it doesn't autocycle. A mom using this pump has to place her fingers at the top of each collection bottle and repeatedly lift them to release suction. For moms who want to double-pump but are price-conscious, it's a neat little pump at around $100.|
|The Medela Mini Electric. This is a handheld pump that runs by A/C or by batteries. Actually, it can also be used as a manual pump. It's very effective for occasional use. It's loud, tho -- sounds like an electric shaver. :) It does autocycle. It retails for around $90.|
|There are other small electric pumps available by Gerber and Evenflo. These pumps are terrible! There are a few moms who can use them, but by and large, they're uncomfortable and inefficient, and in extreme cases can cause plugged ducts.|
4. Manual pumps. These vary greatly in price and quality. There are about a million of them out there, and the only thing they have in common is that they operate on mom's power and that they're generally meant for occasional use. :) Some good ones are:
|The Avent Isis. This is a new pump (about a year old) that has gotten rave reviews from almost everyone I've come in contact with. It works in two ways: suction and areolar massage. What makes this pump unique are its ease of use (mom needs to squeeze gently and release) and the design of its breastshield. It features "petals" that massage the sinuses, much like a baby does. I've heard some moms report getting as much milk using the Isis as with an electric pump. If anyone complains, it's usually about the many parts to put together. You can get the Isis with either a reusable bottle or a holder for disposable bottle bags. It sells for under $50.|
|The Egnell One-Hand Breastpump. Lots of hospitals give this away to new moms. It's operated by a squeezing motion, and it's a little difficult at first. It includes a soft silicone insert for the breastshield, making it very comfortable. It sells for about $35.|
|The Medela SpringExpress. This is operated by using the large muscles of the arm to pump a plunger. Definitely effective, if not easy to use! It sells for about $30|
As I mentioned, there are a ton of manual pumps out there; these are the ones I'm most familiar with.
If you'd like to see pictures of some of these pumps, they're all on my site at http://www.mothersnature.com.