How to Select a Breast Pump and Get It Through Your Insurance

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Leah De Shay, IBCLC, and Lauren Bennet, BSN

This article made possible by the generous support of Aeroflow Breastpumps.

Get Paired with your perfect pump through Aeroflow Breastpumps

Disclaimer: This information is not to replace the advice of your health care provider. If you are experiencing breastfeeding difficulties find IBCLC. Not everyone needs to pump, successful breastfeeding is not dependent on pumping if there is no need to pump. This article is simply for information, not promoting any specific pump but rather promoting finding the right pump for your needs.

Selecting a breast pump can be an overwhelming task. It can be confusing to sort through the various pumps on the market, what you need, the terminology, and what to look for in a pump. I talked with IBCLC and mom Leah De Shay, and BSN and pump specialist, Lauren Bennet about the basics of selecting a breast pump and, if you’re in the USA, getting your pump through insurance. You can see the entire conversation here:

I’m frequently asked what is the best pump and while I know people are hoping I’ll give them a specific brand and model of pump, the truth is my answer is way more open:

The best pump for you is the pump that helps you reach your breastfeeding goals within your budget, comfort, ability to operate, and that suits your pumping lifestyle and needs.

There is no one pump I can say is the “best” and while I may have my favorites (and it hasn’t always been the same with each baby), my favorites have been based on what has worked best for me at that time recognizing that my breasts and my lifestyle and pumping needs may not be the same as the next person.

Ameda Finesse breast pump

Ameda Finesse

So how do you figure out what pump you should get?

Fortunately, there are a good number of pumps on the market and it is very likely that there are a few that would be just right for you. Though you can’t know for sure what will work best for you until you try it and sometimes one pump may not be a good choice for you while another one could be ideal, there are steps you can take to get you closer to the perfect pump. Just because one pump works great for your best friend doesn’t mean that your breasts will respond the same to that exact pump or even that one particular pump doesn’t work well for you but another may. The best you can do is see what worked for other people and gather as much information as you can on the various pumps available to you before you make your decision. If you’re feeling confused, the pump specialist at Aeroflow may be able to help you further but for now, we’ll break down the terminology, ask questions to help you determine your pumping lifestyle needs, and share how to get your pump covered through your health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act. For more in depth information, watch the above video.

Lansinoh Smartpump

What does it all mean?

There’s a lot of terminology used in association with breast pumps and if you don’t know what these concepts mean, it can sounds like a foreign language. This is just a quick look at some of the most frequently used terms:

Manual– a hand pump, doesn’t require electricity or batteries as it is powered manually.

Double Electric– a breast pump that can pump two breasts simultaneously with an electric powered motor.

Closed System– barrier designed to protect pump motor and tubing against moisture, mold, and pathogens.

Personal Grade– not a specific designation but usually used to mean a lower suction level, open or closed system, FDA approved as a single-user, limited pumping hours (usually 300-500), and available to consumers directly through retailers and DMEs (Durable Medical Equipment suppliers) usually with a maximum suction level of 25—300mmhgs.

Hospital Grade– not a specific designation but usually used to mean higher suction levels, closed system, FDA approved as multi-user, and longer life/higher pumping hours and limited availability such as renting through a hospital.

Multi-user– FDA approved for multiple users with their own individual kits.

mmHg– suction level.

Motif Duo Breast Pump

Your Pumping Lifestyle and Needs

While it may be tempting to get the pump with the most bells and whistles, the strongest suction level, and the highest dollar amount, reality is that may not be what you need or even the best pump to help you reach your goals. Keep these factors in mind when you assess your pumping lifestyle and needs:

  • How often do you plan to pump? Is it for working 40 hours a week away from your baby (approx. 3x/day) or to exclusively pump, or once a day as a breastmilk donor, or just for the occasional date night?
  • Will your pump need to be easily portable? Will you be lugging it back and forth frequently or will it be mostly stationary?
  • What will your pumping environment be? A relaxed, private setting, or an open cubicle or your car? Will you be multitasking or able to just focus on pumping? Does it need to be quiet? Will you have limited time available or however much time you need?
  • What type of power source will you need? Will you have access to an outlet?
  • Are there flange size options or will the standard available sizes work for your breasts?
  • How long do you intend to pump? Six weeks, six months, a year, or longer?
  • Will you be dependent on your pump and need to have access to replacement parts quickly?
  • Are you going to be more comfortable with independent speed and suction control or will preset options give you more confidence?
  • Will you need more than one pump?
  • Are there other factors unique to you and your situation you need to consider?

Medela Starter Set

Picking Your Pump

After you determine your pumping lifestyle and needs, you can begin to look at the various pumps available to you taking these factors into consideration. At the end of the day, picking the pump that is best for you is just as important as knowing how to use your pump correctly (i.e. don’t just crank it to the highest setting!). Remember, higher suction isn’t always better, longer cycling isn’t necessarily better at emptying the breast, and bells and whistles may not be what you need. In fact, higher suction can mean less milk output, particularly if the suction level causes pain. Your comfort is key in how you will respond to a pump. The pump that is best for you meets the criteria that fits your pumping lifestyle and needs.

Get your pump through your insurance

The Affordable Care Act means that many insurance plans now cover breast pumps. Each insurance company and even each policy can vary in what is covered, the options available, the criteria that must be met, and timing.

It can all be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, Aeroflow Breastpumps has streamlined the process, simplifying everything. Typically it takes between 3-5 days to hear back from a Breastpump Specialist from Aeroflow and depending on your insurance provider and policy, you can typically get your pump anywhere from 30-60 days before your due date and any time up to a year after giving birth.


how to pick the best breast pump

Here’s what you do:

Submit your medical insurance information with a few other demographics and a dedicated Breastpump Specialist will verify your insurance coverage.

Your Breastpump Specialist will contact you to explain your benefits and your pump options, including possible upgrades and using your FSA or HSA funds to cover an upgrade.

They’ll ship your breast pump!

Find out online if you qualify for a free breast pump through your insurance.

Things Aeroflow Breastpump Specialist does for you:

  • Contact insurance agent and verify coverage.
  • Coordinate with your doctor to get your prescription to your insurance company.
  • Help you understand the different benefits of the variety of breast pumps.
  • Make sure your pump ships at the right time. Some insurance companies limit when a breast pump can ship (for example 30 days before your due date).
  • Handle all the billings with your insurance company.

Aeroflow provides a number of services and resources as well as products that may be helpful to you in reaching your breastfeeding goals. Picking a pump and navigating insurance coverage can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be!


Leah De Shay graduated from La Sierra University with a degree in Psychology and Speech Pathology and Audiology. She completed her post-baccalaureate work in lactation at University of California, San Diego and went on to get her CLEC (Certificated Lactation Educator Counselor) certificate, and completed her IBCLC (Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant). Leah has since worked in various health care systems, including as Director of the Welcome Baby Program, Providence. She currently serves patients throughout southern CA as the coordinator for infant feeding at LOOM and the Lactation Specialist at Growing Healthy Together. In addition to her clinical practice and as a busy mom herself, Leah also assistant teaches for the UC system. 
Lauren Bennet is a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina and a Registered Nurse (BSN), and practiced as an intensive care nurse for 3 years. Currently, Lauren leads an incredible group of passionate and fun people at Aeroflow Breastpumps as the team lead managing the breast pump specialists. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, camping and being outdoors in and around Asheville, NC. 


Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of, co-creator of, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.

Pumping 201- working, exclusively pumping, volume, and weaning

Breast pump, Hospital grade breastpump

Hygeia EnDeare

by Star Rodriguiz, IBCLC
Previously, in Pumping 101, we talked about some basic pumping tips.  In this article, we’ll look at pumping when you return to work or school and pumping exclusively, either by choice or for a health condition. Hopefully, these tips will help anyone facing these situations to successfully provide breastmilk for their child(ren).  Just like before, if a certain situation applies or doesn’t apply to you, feel free to skip to or past it.  



This is probably the most common reason that I see for pumping.  Although we touched on it a little in the last article, we’ll go a bit more in-depth here.

First, know that federal law provides all overtime eligible workers (so, typically, anyone on an hourly salary) with the right to pump at work.  You are required to be given a private place that is not a bathroom to pump and reasonable amounts of time to do it until your baby is a year old.  If your state has a better law than the federal one (and you can find breastfeeding laws by state here) then employers have to go by that instead of the federal law.  Most moms should pump for 10-15 minutes every 2-3 hours.  To build up a store, I usually tell mothers that they can pump one time a day when their milk first comes in.  If moms do this fairly regularly in the beginning, even the mom returning to work at 2-4 weeks can have a decent store built up.

Most women pumping in the workforce should be utilizing at least an electric, double sided pump.  If you are pumping for twins, a hospital grade pump may be worth your while since you are pumping for two.  Pumping breaks aren’t usually very long, so you want to pump quickly and efficiently.  However, some women find that their schedule makes it difficult to take full 15-20 minute breaks at a time.  For those mothers, a swing pump or hand pump might work better, just because they can be taken out quickly without a lot of set up required.  For instance, some of my clients have been waitresses that have limited time some nights to pump, law or not.  Those clients sometimes find that using a hand pump for five minutes at a time can help.  Since this does not pump as efficiently and probably will not empty the breast, you will probably need to pump more often than every 2-3 hours, and I always advise that you do pump with a good electric pump at least once a shift.  If you are part time and working 4-5 hour shifts, you may be able to get away with just hand pumping as long as you are nursing often at home.

Many moms wonder how much milk to leave when they are away from their babies.  This can be a hard question to answer.  Some babies will eat as little as possible while separated from their mothers (and will make up for it when they are with their mommy by nursing more often), but some will want to eat more often – usually because they miss mommy and are comforted by her milk and sucking.  It’s good to remember that from 1 month to 6 months, your baby’s stomach is around the size of a strawberry and holds 2-3 ounces at a time.  Most babies will take in around 25 ounces a day until 6 months.  Therefore, store milk in 2-3 ounce increments, use slow flow nipples, and instruct your provider in baby led bottle feeding.  To get a rough estimate of the amount your baby will need, divide 25 by the number of times the baby nurses in a day, and consider about how many feedings your baby usually takes in during the time you will be apart. Most people will try to ensure that they have a couple of extra 2-3 ounces bags per day, too, just in case.

You may be thinking, “Well, MY baby eats/ate WAY more than 3 ounces at every feeding!”  And your baby may have been an exception.  However, a lot of babies are simply overfed by faster flowing bottles or are wanting more milk or to suck out of comfort.


Exclusively Pumping Moms/ Moms Separated from Babies

There are many reasons to exclusively pump.  Some moms have babies with issues that cannot latch. Some moms have a history of sexual abuse that makes latching difficult.  Other moms simply prefer to pump rather than latching.

In the colostral phase, when your body is producing small amounts, using hand expression can really help out.  Hygeia has some really awesome hand expression cups that I love (and a great article on hand expression), but you can also express into a small cup or spoon.  Babies take in a very small amount at birth (their stomach size is that of a marble) and colostrum is sticky and can cling to pump parts, making you feel like you’re not getting a lot.  Moms who are pumping should pump about 8-12 times a day (or the amount of times a baby typically nurses.)    You should pump for 15-20 minutes.  Some women can decrease their amount of pumps after awhile, but most have limited success when they pump under 7-8 times a day.

I prefer to have exclusively pumping moms use hospital grade pumps.  You can buy them, but they are quite expensive.  Renting is often a better option.  They can be found for rental in many drug stores, and many WICs also have them.  WIC can be a great pump resource, and lots of women are WIC eligible even if they aren’t aware of it.  Hospital grade pumps have the best control on suction and speed.  Do not assume that cranking up the suction and speed will get you the most milk.  You should start on a low to medium setting and play with it to see what your body responds to best.  Regardless, a double sided electric pump is pretty key to an EPing mom.

If you are pumping for a preemie or a baby with health conditions that might compromise immunity, be sure to ask your child’s provider how they prefer for you to store your breast milk.  Otherwise, many moms use reusable bottles, ice cube trays, or plain zippered storage bags to store their milk.  It can be less expensive than purchasing the breastmilk storage bags themselves.

Another good idea is to get, or make, a handsfree pumping bra.  You can buy some neat ones including PumpEase hands-free pumping bra or a Rumina Pump and Nurse tank or you can make your own by cutting slits into a sports bra.  The handsfree ones have the advantage of being able to be quickly snapped on and off.  They also tend to be prettier.  That sounds like a silly reason, but can be helpful, especially if you are pumping when you intended to actually nurse your baby.

Exclusively pumping moms can sometimes find that they have some chapping of the breasts.  Sometimes this is from the flanges sticking to the skin.  This can be alleviated by using something to lubricate the flanges.  My favorite thing to use is olive oil.  You can also apply lanolin to your nipples between pumpings to help the chapping.  The lanolin used in breastfeeding products will not need to be washed off of the breast when you pump.


Weaning Off Pumping

If you’ve been pumping for your baby for some time for any reason and you decide you want to stop, it can be confusing as to how.  Unless there is some medical reason, you never want to stop pumping “cold turkey.”  This can lead to engorgement and sometimes plugged ducts and/or mastitis.  There are a few ways you can stop pumping.  You can cut out a session at a time, every few days (usually, I say every 2-5 days.)  You can also decrease the time spent pumping in all of your sessions.  For instance, if you pumped for 15 minutes every session, you might decrease it to 12 minutes each time, and then, in another 2-5 days, decrease it further.

Please keep this is mind: not all of these time frames will work for all women.  Some may need to decrease more slowly; some can decrease more quickly.  Pay attention to how you feel.  You don’t want to compromise your health by trying to wean too fast.

Some women find that using cabbage leaves, peppermint, or taking over the counter cold or allergy medications can help to dry up their milk more quickly, if you are weaning altogether along with weaning from pumping.



 Star Rodriguiz, IBCLC, began her career helping women breastfeed as a breastfeeding peer counselor for a WIC in the Midwest.  Today she is a hospital based lactation consultant who also does private practice work through Lactastic Services.  She recently moved to the northern US with her two daughters and they are learning to cope with early October snowfalls (her Facebook page is here, go “like” for great support).