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Cheap Breast Pumps Buying Guide

There are two types of breast pumps, manual and powered, and the latter is almost always more expensive. There are also two pumping styles -- single (one breast at a time) and double (both breasts simultaneously) -- but double is an option only with a powered breast pump.

According to BabyCenter.com, the time it takes to empty both breasts with hospital grade breast pumps that will set you back at least $1,000 is about half what it takes when using a non-hospital grade pump. These super high-end pumps also come closest to mimicking a baby's real sucking, which may enable the mother to produce more milk.

But if a hospital-grade breast pump doesn't fit your budget, not to worry. There are good cheap powered and manual breast pumps for personal use on the market, and choosing one that suits your nursing needs shouldn't be difficult. Cheap powered breast pumps are relatively small, portable, adjustable, comfortable, and efficient -- they don't, however, help a mother produce more milk. Pumps of this type run on batteries or must be plugged in, and double powered breast pumps are pricier than single powered breast pumps. If electric pumping isn't your style, you can opt for a low-cost self-operated breast pump that's always single and obviously requires more effort than the powered models.

According to experts at Breast Pump Comparisons, the three main brands are Medela, Phillips AVENT, and Ameda. Take the time to do your homework before you buy because many vendors do not allow returns. Factors to consider when choosing a cheap breast pump include the power source, the style, the breast shield, the pump cycle, and accessories. The breast shield is important because this is the part that goes over your nipple, so fit is critical; choose a breast pump that offers shields of different sizes or shields that can be adjusted. The pump cycle describes how the pump works, and a cycle is defined by the number of sucks completed each minute and by the suction level. Power source indicates how the breast pump is operated -- some come with battery packs, others need an electric outlet, others can be used either way, and some, of course, draw on mother power. Extras include items like bottles, lids, carrying bags, nursing pads, and ice packs.

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Of the low-cost breast pumps we researched, our favorites are the Medela Harmony (starting at $28), a single manual breast pump that's efficient and mother-friendly, and the Ameda Purely Yours (starting at $158), a double powered breast pump that features adjustable cycles and suction. Following close behind are the Simplisse Manual Breastfeeding Companion (starting at $30), a single manual breast pump with an unusual breast cup design that enhances comfort, and the Medela Swing (starting at $110), a single powered pump that imitates a baby's nursing rhythm. One cheap breast pump we aren't crazy about is the single powered Evenflo Comfort Select Performance Single (starting at $50) due to performance issues and sparse product information.

Note that breast pumps are considered medical devices and are regulated by the FDA.

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