If you’re a mum who has committed to the breastfeeding journey and is faced with the need or desire to travel, I can definitely empathize with your reservations about the prospect of maintaining breastfeeding while on the go.
I can confidently say that having a reliable and discreet portable breast pump made all the difference for my babies and myself.
There are several possible situations in which having a travel breast pump would be greatly beneficial:
- You are travelling without your baby and want to maintain your milk supply
- You and baby are travelling and you want to pump milk in advance for in-flight feedings
- Due to your adjusted travelling schedule, you may need to pump while your baby is sleeping
- It’s too difficult to nurse your baby due to location, social custom, or space constraints
While I’m sure we can both agree that pulling out your nursing cover and feeding your bub the way nature intended is preferable in all situations, it’s simply not possible 100% of the time. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best portable breast pumps for your individual needs.
This post is part of our tried and tested series of travel product reviews
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Features to look for in a portable breast pump
Before you choose a portable travel breast pump, it’s important to consider several factors. You want to make sure that the pump you choose is versatile enough to be used in most travel scenarios, and of high quality to ensure it will last until you no longer need it.
Travel Breast Pumps – Power Source
When it comes to methods of expressing your breastmilk, you essentially have several options: manual, electric, and battery-powered pumps. There are possible benefits and drawbacks to each, and we’ll outline a few here.
Manual Breast Pumps
- Don’t need to worry about power source
- Typically fewer parts to clean
- Least expensive option
- Best option for occasional expressing
- Light and portable
- Can be tiring to hands, as you need to continuously pump to maintain suction
- More time consuming than other options
- Typically do not extract as much milk
Electric and Battery-Operated Breast Pumps
- Most efficient option
- Will extract the most milk
- Available hands-free models
- Best option for working mums
- More expensive than manual options
- Some can be noisy and distracting
- Can be bulky and hard to pack
- Extra expense of batteries
- Might need voltage converter
Travel Breast Pumps – Single vs. Double
If you decide to go with a portable electric breast pump, you have the option of purchasing a single pump or a double pump. Single electric pumps are less expensive and can allow you to multitask on one side and pump on the other, while double electric pumps allow you to efficiently pump both sides in half the time and move on to other things that need your attention. However, double electric breast pumps are more expensive.
In the United States, insurance companies must cover the cost of a breast pump. You would need to call your insurance company to find out if the coverage is for a manual or electric pump, but that is a call worth making.
Travel Breast Pumps – Discretion
I’ve travelled to places where openly nursing my bub was encouraged and accepted, and I have also lived in a country where it was expected that I nursed as discreetly as possible. You may naturally wish to choose a pump that’s as quiet as possible to avoid calling undue attention to yourself, and that’s understandable.
Manual pumps can be quieter than electric ones, but a bit more awkward to operate. Most portable electric breast pump companies also focus on designing pumps that operate at a low volume so as not to call attention to working and traveling mothers. From a mother’s point of view, the most discreet breast pump is always greatly appreciated!
(And yes I have found the hum of an airplane does drown out the sound of a pump if you don’t want to occupy a toilet cubical for 20 minutes!)
Travel Breast Pumps – Washing on the Go
Regardless of the length of your trip, you’ll probably need to wash and sanitize your portable breast pump at least once on your journey. Manual pumps have fewer parts and are easier to clean, but cleaning and sanitizing your travel electric pump isn’t impossible. If you choose to go with an electric pump, here are some of our suggestions:
- Don’t be afraid to ask your flight attendant to wash or microwave your pump parts in a sanitizing bag for you – most of the time, they’ll be understanding and happy to help
- Bring along a pack of sanitizing wipes in case of emergency cleaning
- Pick up a travel-size bottle brush and cleaning kit to pack in your diaper bag. It’s a lifesaver!
Travel Breast Pumps – Available Sizes
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that just because women come in all beautiful shapes and sizes does not mean that all portable breast pumps accommodate those sizes.
Women with larger-than-normal nipple sizes tend to have a harder time finding pump flanges that fit them, and a further purchase is usually required because they’re not included. Finding the best portable pump for you is absolutely possible if you fall into this category, and I’ve tried to include several options.
- If you are looking at feeding baby on the go, don’t forget to check out our buying guide for portable bottle warmers.
- We have a great detailed guide on dealing with baby bottles on the go – from TSA Liquid rules to how to keep your bottles clean & sanitized away from home.
- We also have a complete guide on HOW to pump on the go here.
- For storing your breastmilk, we recommend investing in a good-quality insulated cooler bag
The Best Portable Breast Pumps of 2020
|Spectra Baby USA S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump||Battery||$$
|Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump||Manual||$|
|Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump||Manual||$|
|Haaka Silicone Manual Breastfeeding Pump||Manual||$|
|Philips Avent Single Electric SCF332/21 Breast Pump||Single - Electric||$$|
|Medela Pump In Style Double Electric Breast Pump||Double - Electric||$$|
|Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Electric Breast Pump||Double - Electric||$|
|Elebebe Hospital Grade Portable Breast Pump||Double - Electric||$|
|Bella Baby Double Electric Breast Pump||Battery||$
|TRY.HU Rechargeable Single Breastfeeding Pump||Battery||$|
|Baby Buddha Portable and Compact Breast Pump||Battery||$$|
|Elvie Wearable Double Breast Pump with App||Hands Free||$$$|
$ = under $100 USD; $$ = $100 to $200 USD; $$$ over $200 USD
Let’s take a look now at each in much more detail.
Spectra Baby USA S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump – Our Top Choice
Why We Love It: I really cannot say enough great things about the Spectra portable breast pump. It has a built-in, rechargeable battery and is powerful enough to use regularly both travelling and at home or work. You don’t have to worry about bacteria and mould getting into the tubing because of the closed pump system, and mums can customize their individual settings.
The Spectra is also surprisingly quiet, allowing for discreet pumping on the go. I also love that larger flanges are available for purchase, making this a realistic option for every woman, regardless of breast size.
Cons: The Spectra pump has a higher price point than some of its competitors, and it can be a bulkier addition to an already heavy luggage load.
Unsure between the Spectra S1 or Spectra S2? See this detailed review.
Best Manual Breast Pump
Why We Love It: The space-saving Medela manual pump has a lightweight and ergonomic design, making it a viable solution to occasional pumping while travelling. The researched two-phase expression technology makes it possible to get more milk in less pumping time.
Cons: As with any manual portable breast pump, your hand will get tired after a short amount of time, and it’s difficult to manually pump and complete any other tasks at the same time. I would definitely suggest it for a day trip, but not for longer, extended travel time.
Other Manual Pumps to Consider
Best Single Electric Breast Pump
Why We Love It: One of the drawbacks of pumping can be hunching over uncomfortably in your seat, which is why the Philips Avent pump has a revolutionary no-lean-forward design. The quiet pump is lightweight, with fewer washable parts 3 expression settings.
Cons: This portable electric breast pump is only intended for use from 0-6 months, which means you’ll have to make an additional investment in another pump if you intend to breastfeed and travel after your baby reaches 6 months of age.
Best Double Electric Breast Pump
Why We Love It: The Medela Pump in Style comes in at a lower price point than the brand’s other models, and we love its adaptability to many different situations. The durable backpack holds all of the pump’s components, including a battery pack, plug-in adapter, and cooler pack for expressed milk.
Cons: Although less expensive than other Medela models, this portable electric breast pump may be too expensive, even with insurance.
Other Double Electric Pumps to Consider
Best Rechargeable/Battery-Operated Pump
Why We Love It: The Bella Baby pump is an affordable, effective option for most travelling mums. It has a built-in, USB-rechargeable battery, which can be charged in a variety of different ways while on the go. This portable breast pump boasts a low working sound and has 9 levels of suction, which is an impressive range of customization.
Cons: Given that this is a battery-operated pump, it will need to be charged regularly. This could be difficult on longer, overseas flights. Flanges also come in limited sizes, eliminating this as an option for women with larger breasts.
Other Battery-Operated Pumps to Consider:
Best Hands-Free Breast Pump
Why We Love It: This stealthy, cord-free double breast pump fits inside the bra and can be worn discreetly while travelling. There are few washable parts, and the app monitors milk volume in real-time. The app also controls suction, and the Elvie automatically detects letdown and switches from Stimulation to Expression mode.
Cons: The Elvie comes with a hefty price tag, making it an unaffordable option for many. In addition, women with larger busts may not find a flange that fits. It would also be necessary to insert the Elvie into your bra before boarding a flight and would need to be recharged after two or three feedings. This can be quite a bit to remember while you’re trying not to lose your children in the airport terminal.
With all of the portable breast pumps available on the market right now, continuing to breastfeed your bub while travelling and working is a more realistic option now than ever before.
I am living, breathing proof that you can explore the world and maintain breastfeeding, and I’m here to make that dream a reality for you as well. I’m sure that with the many options we’ve provided for you, you’re sure to find the Best Portable Breast Pump to fit your unique needs.
More useful information travelling with infants
We have a wide range of articles to help you get on the move, even after kids come along. You can start with our best baby travel advice then move on to our toddler travel advice home page, or jump straight to:
- The ultimate guide to your first flight with a baby
- 10 baby travel essentials we never leave home without
- Best portable baby baths – for washing on the go
- Best portable baby monitors – ideal for when baby is sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings
- Best infant travel bassinets – for sleeping on the go
- The best compact travel strollers – so small they can even come with you on the airplane
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