There are a variety of reasons that a breastfeeding mother may have to rely on a breast pump to express milk through the day for her baby. From needing just enough milk for a bottle or two while Mom visits the doctor or heads to the gym or needing enough to satisfy the little one's hungry through the day as Mom works for eight or more hours, knowing how much and how often breast milk will need to be expressed is an important factor in purchasing the right breast pump. There are several options available from hand pumps to electric double breast pumps to allow mothers to empty out both sides at a much higher rate than a hand pump.

For moms who simply need a couple of bottles of milk for their little one while they leave them with Dad or a sitter, a hand or manualor, a small battery operated breast pump, may be the way to go. These pumps are designed to pump one breast at a time, and are easy to use. Some mothers even prefer to pump while they are feeding, on the breast the baby is not nursing from. These types of pumps are also useful for ensuring that the breasts are emptied completely after the baby is done nursing. This can help with long term milk production, including the breasts are emptied completely each time will help the milk supply lasts at its peak or even increases.

There are a number of electric breast pumps available. A pump known as a hospital grade pump is for mothers who have a great deal of difficulty producing milk or have a preemie baby in great need of the milk. A hospital grade breast pump uses a sucking motion that reflects the motion of a baby nursing. This type can be extremely important for mothers who have yet to be able to nurse their newborns as it helps these mothers to establish and keep up the milk supply.

Other types of electric breast pumps include personal use electric pumps with double sides. These pumps are intended to use on one side or both sides at the same time, however users must plug the side not being used to avoid a loss of suction from the breast they are expressing milk. These pumps range from mid-priced to more top ended models, some of which have adapters to plug into a vehicle's ac adapter, really making them the most versatile of the bunch. These pumps are ideal for mothers who need to spend more time away from their babies therefore need to express milk several times per day. Several models even work on a timer and have a feature which allows the speed to increase after so long to trigger the “let down” response of the breast.

While choosing the right pump is important it is also worth mentioning that they all must be cleaned thoroughly after each use. Warm water and a mild dish soap should be adequate to clean pumps on a daily basis, but, depending on how often it is used, pumps should also be sterilized by being placed in boiling water for at least thirty seconds. This is recommended at least weekly. Many portable pumps come with carry bags which can help to ensure the parts stay clean prior to use but it is always a good practice to have extra plastic zipper baggies on hand to store dirty parts in not contaminate the bag or other parts of the pump . Some companies offer sterilizing wipes to clean pumps after use, but caution should be used before using anything of this type and a thorough understanding of the ingredients and any harmful effects it could potentially have on a baby should be understood.