It helps a lot to have a good breast pump. It is not only a waste of money to get a pump that does not perform well, it is very frustrating to try to pump with a lousy pump.
1. Electric vs Manual
Most mothers find that an electric pump is more efficient than a manual pump. It is less tiring to use an electric pump, and usually people find that electric pumps can get more milk out than manual pumps. Among electric pumps, there are those that run on batteries only ( usually the single pumps), and those that run on both batteries and AC power (usually the double pumps). It is, of course, better to have the options of using either batteries or AC power.
Needless to say, electric pumps are more expensive than manual pumps. The hospital grade pumps are the best but also the most expensive, costing over S$1000. You can arrange to rent from the hospital if you are really interested in using the hospital grade pump. I personally find electric pumps worthwhile investment if you are serious about breastfeeding. To save costs, you can try getting second hand pumps, if you are not too squirmy about it. Alternatively, you can change the spare parts, like funnels and valves.
Two popular models of electric pumps are the Medela Pump in Style (over S$500) and Ameda Lactaline Dual Pump ( over S$300).
As for manual pump, I think the most popular one is the Avent Isis Breast Pump (about S$85).
2. Single vs Double Pump
Electric pumps come in both single and double version. Of course, the double version is more efficient because you can pump from both breasts at the same time, and let down is suppose to be faster when both breasts are stimulated at the same time.
One good thing about single pump is that you can feed your baby at one breast and pump the other simultaneously. Some people find it easier to pump this way because your baby is definitely better at stimulating a let down than any pump.
If your work requires you to be always on the go, then you might find it better to use a single pump because it is quite a load to lug around a double pump.
On popular model of single electric pump is the Medela Mini Electric Pump, although I think a lot of mothers also complained that it’s very noisy. My friend said it sounds like a noisy grass cutter. So you might not want to use this in the office!
What I use : I use the Ameda Lactaline Dual Pump, which I bought 2nd hand from someone. It’s quiet and unlike the Medela PIS, there is no risk of the breastmilk back-flowing into the pump itself, ie. the breastmilk goes directly into the bottle. Also, I can choose to use only 1 pump and not both.
I also own a Avent Isis Breast Pump, which I also bought 2nd hand from someone. It is actually not too bad, although it is indeed more tiring to try and pump with a manual pump. I bought it when Dominic began taking solids and I need to get rid of engorgement sometimes. In other words, for me, it’s not for serious milk expression; just to get rid of some extra.