- Breastfeeding twins (or more) brings it’s own challenges and worries:
- If you have multiples, here’s what you should look for in a breast pump:
- Spectra vs Medela: Which of these are the best breast pumps for multiples?
- Why wasn’t the Medela Pump In Style Advanced or Medela Sonata included in this list?
Will your milk supply be enough milk for both babies?
How will you feed both at the same time?
What if something happens and you can’t nurse?
While pumping is optional for most breastfeeding mamas, it is a necessity for moms with multiple mouths to feed.
A powerful electric breast pump is an easy way to build up your milk supply as well as stockpile extra milk so you’ll never have to worry about running low on milk for two babies.
- Go electric – Sorry. Manual pumps are not an option for you. Remember: two babies equals double the work and double the milk. Your hands will cramp up with all the pumping you’ll be doing and the manual pump will break before your babies’ first birthday. It just won’t work.
- A strong motor that’s made to last – Get a pump with a hospital grade motor. You need a pump that can keep up with your pumping schedule and your babies’ feeding schedule without breaking. Avoid cheaper pumps as they’re made for occasional use and will lose power after several months.
- Double pumping – Get a breast pump that lets you pump both breasts at the same time. Double pumping is proven to increase milk supply. It’ll also mean you can finish pumping faster and spend more time with your babies. Most electric breast pumps let you switch between pumping one breast or both, but some cheaper brands only allow single pumping.
- Lightweight breast flanges/horns – Get a pump with lightweight breast flanges and bottle adapters so you can use a pumping bra. Since you’ll have your hands full taking care of your babies, you’ll want to keep both hands free and ready at a moment’s notice.
- Dual-phase modes – Get a pump with let-down mode and expression modes. A pump with a let-down mode will speed up your pumping sessions by mimicking your babies’ rooting reflex and encouraging your milk flow. Again, shorter pumping sessiojns means less time attached to the pump and more time with your family. Some older pumps don’t have this feature, so watch out!
- Easy to assemble and clean – Since you’ll be pumping multiple times a day, look for a pump with few parts to put together and a closed system pump. Closed system pumps keep milk and moisture from getting into the tubes which means it’s easier for you to clean up after every pumping session.
The Best Breast Pump Under $300
The S1 and S2 are identical except the S1 is blue and has a battery while the S2 is pink and has to be plugged in.
- The most comfortable suction: Instead of painfully pulling at your nipples like most pumps, the Spectra pumps add a bit of vibration to the let-down mode. Everybody swears this feels a lot more comfortable and natural like their baby’s at their breast teasing their nipple.
- Hospital-grade: Durable motor will give strong suction for hundreds of hours.
- Closed system: Very easy to clean. No need to worry about cleaning up milk in that’s leaked into the pump tubing. Also has a back flow membrane to keep milk from pooling back into the breast flange (trust me, this happens with some pumps and is very annoying).
- Lightweight: The collection bottles as well as the breast horn and adapters are light and easy to use with a pumping bra. The S2 (no battery) weighs less than 2 pounds while the S1 (has battery) weighs less than 4 pounds.
- Portable: At under 4 pounds, bringing the Spectra S1 or S2 with you while you travel is like bringing along a laptop. The S1/S2 can be bought as a standalone, but you can also buy a tote with all the accessories you’ll need to pump and store milk away from home. While the S2 needs to be plugged into an outlet, you can get third-party car adapters that will let hook the pump up to your car for power. Just make sure you charge up the S1 before you go and you’ll have enough power for at least 3 pumping sessions.
- Perfect for late night pumping sessions: Most breast pumps are annoyingly loud and sound like freight trains rumbling down the tracks. The Spectra is very quiet, more of a cat’s purr than chugging train. This paired with the nightlight display means you can pump at night without worrying about waking up the rest of your family.
Are there any potential cons to the Spectra?
- The breast shields only come in 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, and 32mm. Medela breast shields go all the way up to 36mm. If you have larger nipples, you might have to use Medela breast shields instead. No need to worry! There are third party adapters that let you use Medela parts with your Spectra pump.
- The collection bottles are on the thin/flimsy side. This is good because the bottles are light enough to be held up in a pumping bra. But you’ll want to pour the milk into a sturdier bottle with a tight lid for transport/storage in a tote or cooler. You can also add a third-party adapter ring and use Medela bottles or other brands with the Spectra.
Amazon: Check Prices
The Best Hospital Breast Pump For Improving Milk Supply
- Proven durability: The Symphony is already a staple at hospital NICUs. It is made to last for many years of daily pumping by multiple moms. Perfect for you if you plan to exclusively pump or need to pump enough milk for two (or more) babies.
- Closed system: This is a true closed system pump so it’s easy to clean and you won’t have to worry about mold problems after months of use.
- Strong suction: Medela pumps are famous for their strong suction and the Symphony is no different. Moms who need a stronger suction to empty their breasts or to stimulate their milk flow will love this pump.
What are the downsides to the Medela Symphony?
- It’s expensive. Most places sell the Symphony for over $1800, so this pump is out of many parents’ budgets.
- It’s heavy. You’ll want to buy a spare pump like the lighter Spectra S1 for travel. Even though the Symphony has a battery that’s good for 60 minutes when fully charged, it’s not ideal for travel or pumping at work. The Symphony is one of the heaviest pumps on the market at almost 7 pounds for just the pump. When you add all the breast flanges, bottles, ice packs, carrying case, you’ll end up carrying around 10 pounds of gear.
- Since the Symphony is made to be used by multiple people, the breast flanges, collection bottles, valves, and tubing are sold separately as a kit (available at Amazon and buybuybaby). This adds an additional $50 to an already expensive machine.
- It’s really not suited for travel. The Symphony is a huge pump, measuring around 13”x8”x10”. That’s the size of a diaper bag! Like I mentioned above, you’ll want to get a smaller pump if you plan to pump away from home or at work.
Amazon: Check Prices
Even if pumping breastmilk for multiples leaves you feeling like a dairy cow, the Spectra S1/Spectra S2 and Medela Symphony make pumping sessions as quick and pain-free as possible. With a proven track record of:
- lots of easy to find replacement parts and accessories (Spectra parts, Medela parts)
- approval of breastfeeding moms
You can’t go wrong with either the Spectra Baby S1 or S2 or the Medela Symphony.
Why wasn’t the Medela Pump In Style Advanced or Medela Sonata included in this list?
While I think the Medela PISA is one of the best double electric breast pumps, the deal-breaker for me was:
the open system design which lets breast milk leak into the tubes. It’s super easy for this to happen, just lean forward too much or tilt the bottle/breast flange and the milk will end up in the tube. Having to mess with fiddly tubing and breast flange is a deal breaker if you plan to double pump or pump multiple times a day.
The newer model Medela Sonata pump was supposed to be a lower cost replacement for the Symphony, but several flaws kept it off of our list:
- Problems with milk pooling and kicking back into the breast flange. Moms report that they have to stop after several minutes of pumping and tip the milk into the bottle to avoid dribbling mess of overflowed milk. How annoying!
- The flange, valve, and bottle are heavier, sometimes too heavy to use hands-free with a pumping bra (depending on your bra)
As the Sonata just came out, I’m sure Medela will work out these problems in future models. But for now, I’d give it a pass.