If you’re pumping to relactate, you’ll be using your pump often. Since you’ll need a good quality pump, I will review and recommend the best breast pump for relactation from some of the most popular ones on the market.
Why Use a Breast Pump to Relactate?
To re-establish breastfeeding, you will need to make and release and two important hormones involved in milk production, prolactin and oxytocin. You will need to stimulate the breasts by having your baby latch or frequent pumping.
Do you need a hospital grade pump?
On my own relactation journey, I considered renting a hospital grade pump, such as the Medela Symphony. So you don’t get sticker shock, these hospital grade pumps can be very expensive to buy outright. Lots of hospitals or medical equipments will rent them to you on a monthly basis.
It is not necessary to use a hospital grade pump to relactate. I used a single use double electric breast pump and was fine. If you feel you need one, you can locate a provider to buy or rent from on Medela’s website.
TIP: Didn’t get enough information about breastfeeding in the beginning or you just need to know more about the essentials? Consider taking a simple, go at your own pace online breastfeeding class or step by step pumping class to learn everything you need to know and empower yourself to reach your relactation goals!
Best Breast Pump for Relactation
While I was relactating, I used 4 different breast pumps, including one manual and 3 electric. You don’t need that many breast pumps. If you can only purchase or use one breast pump, I would recommend getting a double electric breast pump to get the most of your pumping sessions.
Manual Breast Pump
I used a single manual breast pump while I was pumping to relactate. It was not my primary pump for many reasons. You can only pump one breast at a time, which doubles your pumping sessions. Your hands can get tired doing that much manual work because you have to constantly squeeze the handle to express milk.
However, the manual pump worked in a pinch, when I was not able to access my electric breast pump. Sometimes I used it when I needed to hold my baby and pump. It got the job done.
One thing I was not fond of with this particular brand, was the availability of flange sizes. The pump comes with 25 mm and 30.5 mm flanges, but if you need a smaller size then you’ll probably end up order them online. In my personal experience, there was not a lot of Lansinoh brand products in my local stores.
- Works in a pinch
- No need to use an outlet
- Doubles the pumping time
- Labor intensive
Best Double Electric Breast Pump
I used the Spectra S2 for relactation pumping because it was the first pump I had gotten through my medical insurance. The S2 is a very popular choice among breastfeeding mothers and it lives up to the hype in my opinion.
It’s very quiet compared to the other pumps that I used. The suction is gentle and not painful. The suction is adjustable, depending on your comfort level or how the milk is flowing. You can also manually switch between expression and stimulation mode on the pump when you get ready.
The S2 has a nightlight feature that was very helpful for late night pumping sessions. I also found the flanges and parts to be more available. I was able to run into Target to get a new backflow protector when I needed one. There are also plenty of 3rd party sellers on Amazon that sell their brand of pump supplies that fit Spectra pumps.
The downside to this pump as well as many other electric breast pumps is that you need to be near an electric outlet. I used the Spectra S2 when I was working and able to be plugged into an outlet for 15 minutes or more. I also used it when I didn’t have baby near me to play with or tug on the tubing and wires.
- Suction levels adjustable to your comfort
- Can switch between stimulation and expression
- Flanges available in most retail stores and online, including 3rd party suppliers
- Need to be plugged in
- Baby might play with or tug on tubing and wires
Wearable Double Electric Breast Pump
This is a popular breast pump that takes the pumping experience hand and cord free. It is one of the most pricer options for breast pumps for relactation. It is designed to go in your bra for a complete hands free experience.
The pump also comes with a nice app that you can track your pumping session progress and monitor the battery.
I did not have a lot of success with using this pump to relactate and I’ll tell you why.
This smart pump automatically switches from stimulation to expression mode when it detects you have 0.5 ounce of milk in the milk bags you use with the pump.
If you’ve completely dried up and you’re pumping to get your milk supply established, it is entirely possible you won’t get half an ounce of milk in one session. So the Willow stays in stimulation mode the entire pumping session.
I spoke with a Willow representative about this issue. She advised me that it was okay for the pump to stay in stimulation mode.
I explained to her that this mode was uncomfortable and I wanted to go into expression mode because you can adjust the suction in that phase.
The hack that I ended up finding was to put a little bit of water into the milk bag to “trick” Willow into thinking you’ve pumped enough milk.
The issue with that is that their milk bags are designed to be for one time use. When you’re pumping 8-12 times per day that can get pretty expensive.
I found the Willow Pump to be painful compared to the others that I used. When the pump first starts, there is a pinching sensation that I never got used to.
There are even Facebook groups dedicated to people who use this pump and they have tons of tips on how to use this pump more comfortably. The suggestion that I used was to put a little bit of coconut oil in the flanges before pumping.
- Can use completely hands free
- App shows progress
- Did not switch from stimulation mode
- Suction hurts
- Milk bags are expensive
Portable Double Electric Breast Pump
This turned out to be my best breast pump for relactation for many reasons. It is a more affordable solution to the need for portability, while also performing like a traditional breast pump that you’re probably used to.
This pump is very small, probably shorter than the length of most cell phones. It’s lightweight and can fit most places like a pocket or purse. It charges with a micro USB cable, which is good because you can find them anywhere or chances are you’re using a device that uses one.
This pump’s suction can be extremely strong so there’s a learning curve to using this pump. Despite it being smaller than my Spectra pump, the suction is way stronger in my opinion. The tip that I learned to use this pump in a gentler, comfortable way was to actually reverse the pumping modes. Usually you start in stimulation mode and then change to expression. With this pump you would reverse the order and start in expression mode and then once your milk starts to flow or you feel a let down, then switch to stimulation.
The trackball on the pump allows you to change the level of suction on either mode. My suggestion is that you start out very low, on level 1 and work your way up.
This pump saved me so many times when I would need to pump on the go or in the car. You will hear the pump, its not quiet. If you want to pump anywhere with your clothes on you’ll want to change the standard bottles and flanges it comes with out for Freemie collection cups. You can easily hack this pump to fit the Freemie cups or other brands component and the Baby Buddha website will show you how!
I found that the pump stays charged for at least two pumping sessions which helpful because don’t have to charge it as much as the Willow pump. Speaking of the Willow, this pump and the Freemie collection cups together are less than the cost of the Willow Pump.
- Efficient at removing milk
- Can use with Freemie Collection Cups for pumping with clothes on
- Stays charged long enough for two pumping sessions
- Less expensive option for portable breast pumps
- Can be loud, especially in quiet places
- Suction can be strong
Which Pump Should You Use For Relactation?
Bottom line is that any breast pump will do. Some of them have more convenient features than others, but the important thing is to start pumping.
My favorite pump overall is the Baby Budda Pump because of the convenience, cost and its very good at removing milk.
I am wishing you all the success on your relactation journey! Be sure to check out my other posts in the relactation series: