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Best Breast Pumps for Working Moms: Your Ultimate Guide

Woman using silver laptop




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

Deciding which is the best breast pump for work is one part of the complicated journey of returning from maternity leave. Pumping at work, and finding the right equipment, setup and routine are tasks that can seem daunting, but we’re here to help you through it.

This guide is designed to help you navigate the world of breast pumps, taking into account the unique challenges faced by working moms. Time is a rare commodity for you, we know. That's why we've put together a list of the best breast pumps for working moms, analyzing their efficiency, portability, and ease of use.

It's crucial to find a breast pump that fits into your work life seamlessly because being a mom and working full time is hard enough. From understanding how to pump enough milk at work, to figuring out how many times a day you'll need to pump, we’re delving into it all.

Best Breast Pumps for Working Moms

Understanding the Need for Breast Pumps for Working Moms

As a working mom, you're constantly juggling between your professional responsibilities and motherhood. One of the challenges you might face is ensuring your baby gets your breast milk, even when you're away at work. A good breast pump becomes a necessity.

The Challenges of Pumping at Work

Juggling a demanding job full of meetings, deadlines and team support WHILE pumping at regular intervals can be quite a challenge. But, besides the time management aspect, privacy is another key concern for many moms. Not all workplaces offer a private, comfortable space for pumping. I know too many who have found themselves in a storage closet or bathroom stall to get the job done. But I also have a friend that works at a larger tech company with an amazing “mothers lounge” onsite with hospital-grade electric pumps available for use, a sink, and fridge.

And let's not forget about the cleaning and storing of pumped milk which can be quite a task in itself. Remember that your commitment to providing your liquid gold full of nutrition for your little one is commendable, but it's perfectly okay to have formula on hand as backup to give you peace of mind.

Balancing Work and Breastfeeding

Balancing work and breastfeeding requires planning, determination, and the right tools. The best breast pump for working moms can make a huge difference. With a good breast pump, you can express milk during your breaks and store it for later use. A reliable, effective breast pump helps ensure your baby gets the benefits of your breast milk, even when you're not around. And, this not only aids in maintaining your milk supply but also provides you with the flexibility and freedom to return to work with lesser stress.

Types of Breast Pumps: Which One is Right for You?

As a working mom, the race against the clock begins the moment you step out of the house. And, selecting the right breast pump can make a significant difference in your daily routine. So, let's look at some types of breast pumps to help you make an informed decision.

Manual Breast Pumps

Manual breast pumps can be a great choice for moms if you value simplicity and control during the pumping process. They are compact, lightweight, and quiet, making them ideal for occasional use or travel. But, keep in mind, manual pumping requires more physical effort and is not ideal if you need to pump multiple times a day at work. Personally, I don't recommend manual pumps for working moms since this option requires your hands to be actively engaged, instead of being able to work while you pump. If you have a manual breast pump (which I encourage every breastfeeding mom to have on hand) like the Medela Harmony, keep it in your work pumping bag as a backup in case your electric or wearable has an issue.

Electric Breast Pumps

If you're looking for efficiency, electric breast pumps with strong suction are the way to go. These hospital-grade breast pumps are designed to mimic a baby’s natural sucking rhythm, which can be more comfortable and might help you produce more milk. The downside of this kind of pump for work is they tend to be larger, heavier, louder and more cumbersome for your commute. They also don’t provide a ton of privacy, so you may feel uncomfortable in a nursing room with other coworkers. I personally also find the position of the flanges to be a bit awkward for typing on my laptop.

Wearable Breast Pumps

For the multitasking mom who wants a bit of privacy and flexibility to move around, wearable breast pumps are a game-changer. These hands-free options fit right into your bra, allowing you to pump discreetly while going about your day. You could be sitting at your desk, grabbing a coffee, or retreating to a private room, all while pumping. But let's be real… its still obvious you have something in your bra. They might be pricier but the convenience they offer makes it worth considering. The downside to these types of pumps is the output and efficiency aren’t as strong as traditional electric breast pumps. Check out my full review and list of my favorite hands free breasts pumps if this is the option you plan to go with.

Woman working on a laptop while a baby sits on her lap
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva

In-Depth Analysis of Top Electric Breast Pumps

Best Breast Pumps for Working Moms

Electric breast pumps are a hit among many working moms due to their efficiency and ease of use. But not all electric pumps are created equal.

Key Features to Consider

When shopping for an electric breast pump, it's essential to consider features like pumping speed, noise level, portability, and battery life. You'll want a pump that's fast and efficient, yet quiet enough not to disturb your colleagues. And don't forget the importance of portability – you'll need a pump that's easy to carry to and from work. Highly recommend a battery powered breast pump! An essential for work to ensure you don’t need to be uncomfortably placed next to a power outlet.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Electric pumps certainly offer advantages, such as speed and ease of use. But these pumps can be bulkier than their manual or wearable counterparts, and they also require a power source, which if you purchase one without a battery (just don’t do this) could be a disadvantage in workplaces without convenient outlets. The biggest advantage with this choice is its the most reliable when it comes to consistent output. So if you are pumping more than 2x a day I recommend leaning on this option.

Spectra S1

The Spectra S1 is a standout choice among electric breast pumps and can serve as a primary pump for women looking to maximize their pumping sessions at home. Spectra, known for their hospital-grade, closed system pumps, offers a wide line of options to choose from. The Spectra S1 is a battery-powered pump that provides the flexibility to pump wherever and whenever necessary. The pump's adjustable suction levels and letdown mode help mimic a baby’s natural feeding pattern. However, due to its weight, the Spectra S1 may not be ideal for those needing to move around a lot at work.

Medela Pump in Style

On the flip side, the Medela Pump in Style is highly regarded for its portability and user-friendly design. It includes a chic carrying bag that doesn't draw attention as a “breast pump,” ensuring discretion. The Medela features a two-phase expression technology that enhances suction strength and maximizes milk volume in less time. However, some users have mentioned that the pump's noise level could be higher than their preference. When it comes to portable breast pumps for travel, another great option is the Medela Freestyle Flex.

The Lowdown on Best Wearable Breast Pumps

Ever wondered what it would feel like to pump while finishing a report or while on a call with your boss? Yes, it is possible, thanks to wearable breast pumps!

Why Choose a Wearable Pump

Wearable pumps are your perfect work buddy. They are compact, quiet, and discreet, allowing you to pump without putting your life on hold. And the best part? You can simply slip them into your bra and continue with your daily activities. If you are pumping once or twice a day this can be a convenient option, but any more and you’ll want to have experience with consistent output from your setup before making this your choice.

Want a more in-depth look at Wearable Breast Pumps? Read our article about the 7 of the Best Hands-Free Breast Pumps Reviewed for You.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Before you jump onto the wearable pump bandwagon, let’s talk pros and cons. The benefits are numerous: hands-free operation, the ability to multitask, and subtle design for pumping in public. These pumps aren't perfect. Some moms find them less powerful compared to traditional pumps, and the price tag can be a bit hefty.

Willow 3.0

The Willow 3.0 is a game-changer in the wearable pumps market. It’s 100% spill-proof, which means you can pump in any position without worrying about milk leakage. And its app tracks your pumping sessions in real-time. But, some moms find it hard to match Willow's high price tag. I used the original, first-generation Willow with Caden, my first child in 2020, and the Willow Go with my second child, the similarly named Willow.


An Elvie pump is another top pick for the best wearable option. It's silent, lightweight, and easily fits inside your regular nursing bra. So, no need to carry around those noticeable pumping bras anymore. However, some users have reported uneven suction at times.


BabyBuddha may be the last on our list, but it's not to be overlooked. It's lightweight, super quiet, and offers varied suction levels to suit your comfort. But, as with other pumps, it might take some time getting used to the fit.

Thus, when it comes to choosing the best breast pump for a working mom, it's all about what fits your lifestyle, comfort, and budget.

Chart of the Best Hands-Free Breast Pumps for Multi-tasking Moms

How to Choose the Best Breast Pump for Your Needs

Before diving headfirst into the world of breast pumps, you should first understand your own pumping needs and what factors to consider to make the best choice.

Understanding Your Pumping Needs

The ‘best' breast pump for a working mom is not a one-size-fits-all answer, as moms have diverse needs and preferences. Do you need to pump multiple times a day, or will occasional use suffice? Are you planning on exclusively pumping or supplementing with formula? Considering these questions will help you understand your pumping needs, making it easier to choose the most suited breast pump.

Factors to Consider

Now, let's discuss the important factors you should consider when choosing a breast pump. These include pump type (wearable, electric, manual), portability, weight, noise level, and ease of cleaning. Furthermore, you should also consider the cost, insurance coverage, and the availability of replacement parts. 

Making Your Choice

Armed with the knowledge of your needs and considerations, you're now ready to make an informed choice; read reviews, ask for recommendations, and if possible, test out different models. Take your time, and don't rush your decision. What works best for one mom might not work as well for another. So, be patient with yourself, and you'll find the best breast pump for your journey as a working mom.

Maximizing Your Breast Pump Usage

Getting the hang of using a breast pump might indeed seem like a daunting task, especially while juggling the responsibilities of being a working mom. With a few tips and tricks, you'll soon become a pro at maximizing your breast pump usage.

When to Start Pumping

For moms planning to return to work, it's best to start pumping and storing breast milk about two weeks before you return to work. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to practice, and your baby will get used to a bottle. 

How Often to Pump

Efficient milk production is all about supply and demand. In the early weeks, set a timer to pump 8-10 times in 24 hours (every 2-3 hours), even at night. Once your supply is well established (around 6 weeks), you can pump less often. If you're pumping at work, a good rule of thumb is to pump as often as your baby would feed. This typically means pumping every 3-4 hours. You may need to pump more often if you have a low milk supply or pumping output.

Before returning to work, login to your calendar and block off 45 minutes for each pumping session you anticipate needing to ensure no one books back-to-back meetings or to prevent scope creep while working to never miss a pumping session.

Efficient Pumping Techniques

And finally, let's explore some techniques to stimulate milk flow more efficiently. Start with a quick breast massage to enhance stimulation. If possible, try using a double pump to save time. Consider using a hands-free pumping bra for added convenience. Experiment with different pump settings to find the most comfortable and effective expression mode for you. If possible, find a quiet and private place to pump, as comfort is crucial for letdown. Additionally, staying hydrated and having healthy snacks on hand can help maintain your milk supply. If needed, consider using a hospital-grade pump for optimal results.Cleaning and Maintenance of Breast Pumps

Proper Cleaning Procedures

Start by disassembling your breast pump and placing all parts that come into contact with breast milk in soapy, warm water. Use a clean brush dedicated solely for cleaning pump parts, and scrub away gently. Rinse each piece under running water and allow them to air dry. Lastly, store dry parts in a clean, protected area. Don't have a sink? No worries! Add some specially designed pump wipes for your convenience in your breast pump bag.

Maintaining Your Pump

Just like how you give your car regular tune-ups, your breast pump needs some TLC too! Always have spare parts handy – you never know when you might need them. Don't forget to regularly inspect your pump's tubing for any milk or moisture. If found, replace it immediately. Replace your pump's valves every few months for optimum performance.

Safe Storage of Pumped Milk

Storing your liquid gold safely is essential. Pour your pumped milk into clean, sterile containers or bags. Place these into a larger reusable bag with your name on it and be sure to label each with the date before placing it at the back of the fridge or freezer. Alternatively, if you know you’ll be pumping less than 16 ounces of milk during the day, I love the ease and speed of using the Willow Portable Breast Milk Cooler, you just unscrew the lid, pour in the milk, place back in the fridge and you’re out the door.

Woman writing in a notebook in an office
Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Troubleshooting Common Pumping Issues


One common struggle that many breastfeeding mothers face is getting an insufficient amount of milk when pumping. To combat this, it is crucial for mamas to prioritize hydration. Drinking lots of water and maintaining a healthy diet can greatly boost your milk supply. Additionally, it's important to ensure that the suction setting on your pump is not set too high. Adjusting it to a lower setting can actually result in more milk being expressed.

Ill-fitting Parts

Now, let's discuss the issue of a well-functioning pump with an ill-fitting flange. A poor fitting flange can not only cause discomfort while pumping but it can also have a negative impact on milk supply. If you experience any discomfort or notice a decrease in milk output, try experimenting with different sizes or brands of flanges until you find the perfect match for your body.

Power Source

Lastly, what should you do if your pump suddenly becomes silent and stops working? Before panicking, check the power source. It could be as simple as a loose cable or depleted batteries. By ensuring a reliable power connection, you can quickly resolve this issue and continue your pumping session without any interruptions.

Remember, taking care of yourself and your pumping equipment is essential for maintaining a healthy milk supply and a successful breastfeeding journey.

When to Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, despite your best efforts and dedication, you may find yourself in a situation where seeking professional help from a lactation consultant becomes necessary. If you're experiencing consistent pain while pumping, it's important to understand that this can be a common challenge faced by many breastfeeding individuals. In such cases, it's highly recommended to consult a lactation professional who can provide expert guidance and support. By working closely with them, you can not only address the issue of discomfort but also develop a personalized and effective pumping routine that ensures both comfort and successful milk expression. Remember, seeking professional assistance is a proactive step towards a more enjoyable and fulfilling breastfeeding journey.

Additional Accessories to Enhance Your Pumping Experience

So, you've chosen the best breast pump for your needs, created your pumping schedule, and established a comfortable pumping environment. Next up is investing in accessories to further optimize your pumping experience.

Useful Breast Pump Accessories

There are a variety of useful accessories available to make your pumping journey smoother. Some considerations may include extra pump parts, quick clean micro-steam bags for sanitizing, and breast milk storage bags for convenient freezing and thawing. Don't forget about the nipple and breast shield, which can provide additional comfort and support during pumping. A hands-free pumping bra is also a game-changer, allowing you to multitask while pumping. Moreover, a breast pump car adapter can be a lifesaver for moms on-the-go, while soothing gel pads offer much-needed relief after pumping.

Investing in Quality Nursing Bras

And let's talk about nursing bras. Quality nursing bras that allow for hands free pumping are worth the investment. Look for ones with easy access for pumping, good support, and comfort as you will be spending a lot of time in them. I’m the biggest fan of the Bodily Do Anything Bra, but if you’re looking for a little bit more shape under your work clothes, I recommend using the Natori Wireless Nursing Bra paired with this hands free pumping strap.

Finding a Convenient and Comfortable Pumping Bag

Lastly, a functional, stylish pumping bag is another must-have. You'll want a bag that fits your pump, accessories, and personal items, all while looking like a regular tote or backpack. How about an insulated compartment for storing pumped milk? It's a bonus that can cut some stress. Do your research, and invest in what will make your pumping journey more comfortable and convenient.

People in a business meeting
Photo by ThisIsEngineering

Navigating the Emotional Aspects of Pumping at Work

Let's chat about another crucial aspect of the pumping-at-work journey: the emotional roller coaster that it can sometimes be. And yes, it can be a roller coaster, with its ups, downs, and sudden turns. You're not alone on this ride.

Dealing with Guilt and Other Emotions

First, let's tackle guilt. So many working moms feel guilt about needing to take breaks to pump, or about not being able to breastfeed their baby directly. It's important to recognize that you are doing the best you can for you and your little one. Feeling guilt is perfectly normal, but that doesn't mean it's warranted.

And then there's anxiety. The fear of not pumping enough milk can be quite stressful. Stress is counterproductive to milk production. So, don't hesitate to use relaxation techniques like deep breathing or visualization to calm your mind while pumping.

Finding Support and Resources

Finding support is crucial during this period. Connecting with other working moms can provide reassurance, practical tips and a sense of camaraderie. Look for local support groups, online forums, or even social media groups focused on breastfeeding or pumping at work.

In terms of resources, there are plenty of helpful apps, books, and websites that offer advice and tips for pumping at work. Every pumping journey is unique, so it's about finding what works best for you and your baby. You're doing a great job, mama!

Is a More Expensive Breast Pump Necessarily Better?

When we talk about the cost of a breast pump, it's not just about the price tag. There's a lot more to consider.

Comparing Cost and Value

A high-end pump often comes with features designed for the working mom, like portability, rechargeable batteries, and adjustable suction. But, is it worth the extra money? Sometimes, yes! However, there are affordable pumps on the market that perform remarkably well. They may lack some features but can still get the job done effectively.

Making an Informed Decision

So, how can you make the right choice? First, determine what's important to you. If you're always on the go, a compact and portable pump might be worth the investment. But, if you're mostly pumping in one spot, a cheaper, bulkier pump might suffice. At the end of the day, the “best breast pump for a working mom” isn't the most expensive one, it's the one that meets your specific needs and makes your pumping journey a bit easier.

Best Breast Pumps for Working Moms

Can You Continue Breastfeeding After Returning to Work?

Yes, absolutely! Going back to work doesn't mean you have to stop breastfeeding. It might require a bit more planning and organization, but it's entirely possible—and many working moms do it successfully!

Tips for Successful Breastfeeding and Pumping Post-Return

Coming back to work after maternity leave can be a challenging transition. But with a bit of strategic planning and a dash of patience, you can continue to nourish your little one with breast milk. Here are some tried-and-true tips:

  • Create a Pumping Schedule: Similar to how your baby has feeding times, set specific times to pump at work. This consistency not only helps maintain your milk supply but also allows you to plan your workday around your pumping sessions. It's your right to take breaks for pumping at work. 
  • Stay Hydrated and Well-Nourished: This might seem obvious, but it's easy to forget when you're juggling work and baby duties. So, keep a water bottle and healthy snacks at your desk to keep your energy levels up.
  • Invest in Comfortable Pumping Gear: This includes a quality breast pump that suits your needs, comfortable nursing bras, and breast pads. You might also want to consider a hands-free pumping bra for multitasking. 
  • Have a Back-Up Plan: Sometimes, things don't go as planned. You might have an unexpected meeting during your pumping time, or your pump might malfunction. Having a manual pump in your bag and some extra storage bags can be a lifesaver in such situations. 

Despite the challenges, remember that breastfeeding is a personal journey and it's okay to have ups and downs. What works for one mother might not work for another. It's all about finding the best solutions for you and your baby. You're doing an amazing job, and every drop of milk you provide is an incredible gift to your child. Hang in there—you've got this, mama!

Feature image by Marek Levak


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