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Best Wearable Breast Pumps That Give You the Freedom to Leave Your House

best wearable breast pumps
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updated: June 25, 2024
edited by Sarah Grossbart

estimated that one year of breastfeeding equates to 1,800 hours—which means it’s a full-time job on top of that whole keeping-a-tiny-human-alive thing. Unless you plan to never leave your baby’s side for more than, say, three hours in their first year of life, you’ll likely spend a bit of time literally tethered to a breast pump. Great for catching up on your Netflix backlog, not so great for actually getting stuff done, like washing baby bibs and cleaning high chairs.

When compiling a list of baby gifts for newborns for your shower, put wearable hands-free breast pumps to the top, above items like travel strollers. A game-changer when they hit the market in the late 2010s, these slip in your bra and you can almost forget about them. These devices are quieter, more discreet and, most importantly, provide nursing parents with much needed freedom—whether that means pumping while traveling, at a concert or just doing chores around the house. In the days since the Elvie and the Willow ruled the space, a slew of new competitors have emerged. While different people tend to respond to different devices, we pumped lactation consultants and nursing parents alike to compile this list of the best wearables on the market today.

Our top picks

Best overall hands-free breast pump: Elvie Wearable Double Electric Breast Pump

Best overall hands-free breast pump
Elvie Wearable Double Electric Breast Pump

Elvie Wearable Double Electric Breast Pump

An oldie and a goodie, lactation consultant Belen, puts this OG hands-free breast pump at the top of her list. For users, the device checks off a lot of boxes with a lightweight design, a quiet motor that allows for discreet pumping, an intuitive app that allows for easy monitoring of their progress, an auto-detection that shuts off when you’ve hit the five-ounce capacity, and more. It’s even dishwasher-safe and the company is known for its top-notch customer service.

For one mom, it was key to kicking off her nursing journey because while she found her plug-into-the-wall pump uncomfortable to use, the Elvie “was so easy and it didn’t hurt when I had it attached. I could be doing almost anything and put it in and it got a lot of milk.” Though, one caveat, she added, is that when she had to increase milk production to meet her son’s needs, she did mix in more sessions with her wall pump, noting she got more output than with her Elvie.

Specifications:

  • Flange sizes: 24 mm and 28 mm
  • Milk capacity: 5 oz per side
  • Dimensions: 2.68” x 4.33” x 5.04”
  • Weight: 7.9 oz
  • Battery life: Approximately 2.5 hours
  • App?: Yes

What we like:

  • Four rhythms and seven intensity settings
  • Slim fit and quiet motor makes it one of the most discreet options
  • Extremely helpful customer service

What we don’t like:

  • One of the more expensive wearable pumps
  • Getting the alignment right can be a bit tricky

The bottom line:

The OG Elvie edges out the pack thanks to a discreet design and super quiet motor.

Best value hands-free breast pump: Momcozy S12 Pro Double Wearable Breast Pump

Best value hands-free breast pump
Momcozy S12 Pro Double Wearable Breast Pump

Momcozy S12 Pro Double Wearable Breast Pump

The upgraded version of this budget-friendly, hospital-grade pick boasts a double-sealed flange design that promises a tighter fit for a more comfortable and productive pump session. The motors sit on top of the cups, making for a slightly bulkier appearance that likely wouldn’t allow for pumping fully incognito, but reviewers rave about the four-hour battery life and features like the easy pour spout and a completely clear design that lets you keep tabs on your milk. That last bit is particularly key because while the cups can hold up to six ounces, the manufacturer recommends limiting it to four to avoid spillage.

Specifications:

  • Flange sizes: 24 mm
  • Milk capacity: 6 oz per side, though 4 oz is recommended
  • Dimensions: ‎7.2” x 5.9” x 4.2”
  • Weight: 8.1 oz
  • Battery life: Approximately 4 hours
  • App?: No

What we like:

  • Clear design lets you track how much milk you’ve pumped
  • Strong suction
  • Long battery life

What we don’t like:

  • Silicone parts have to be hand-washed
  • The design is not quite as discreet as others

The bottom line:

Score a heavyweight pump on a relatively lightweight budget with this hospital-grade choice.

Quietest hands-free breast pump: Freemie Liberty II Deluxe Breast Pump System

Quietest hands-free breast pump
Freemie Liberty II Deluxe Breast Pump System

Freemie Liberty II Deluxe Breast Pump System

The Freemie’s model has cups that each hold up to 8 ounces of precious liquid gold and the motor has noise-reduction technology to make the pumping process nearly silent. Though the tubing makes it less discreet than other models, the pump can easily clip to a waistband allowing for freedom of movement. It features an automatic shutoff timer in case the session is so quiet you forget what you’re doing.

Specifications:

  • Flange sizes: 25 mm and 28 mm
  • Milk capacity: 8 oz per side
  • Dimensions: ‎7.6" x 7.36" x 6.38"
  • Weight: 8 oz
  • Battery life: Approximately 2.5 hours
  • App?: No

What we like:

  • Incredibly silent for discreet pumping
  • Lightweight cups hold an impressive 8 oz per side
  • Automatic shutoff option

What we don’t like:

  • One reviewer noted the setup was somewhat complicated

The bottom line:

Lightweight and virtually silent, the high-capacity Freemie gets high marks for discreetness.

Best suction portable wearable breast pump: BabyBuddha® Double Portable Breast Pump

Best suction portable wearable breast pump
BabyBuddha® Double Portable Breast Pump

BabyBuddha® Double Portable Breast Pump

Though not a traditional discreetly-slip-it-in-your-bra portable pump, the fully rechargeable hospital-grade Baby Buddha is beloved by many on-the-go pumpers. With six levels of stimulation mode and nine levels of expression, it is strong enough to serve as a primary pump. Though the cups do attach through tubing, the pump itself “is small,” notes one mom, “and you just hang it around your neck.” Also, since it’s compatible with other pump parts (she used the silicone Legendairy cups), with a little ingenuity it can be turned into a more portable system.

Specifications:

  • Flange sizes: 24 mm
  • Milk capacity: 4.73 oz per side, 8.5 oz with larger bottles
  • Dimensions: 2” x 5” x 1.5”
  • Weight: 6.6 oz
  • Battery life: Approximately 1 hour
  • App?: No

What we like:

  • Strong enough to serve as a primary pump for most nursing parents
  • Can be attached to other pumping parts

What we don’t like:

  • Not fully portable, so less discreet than other options
  • A little louder than other pumps

The bottom line:

Though not as discreet as other hands-free pumps, the BabyBuddha® is quite the powerhouse.

Best hospital strength wearable breast pump: Elvie Stride

Best hospital strength wearable breast pump
Elvie Stride

Half the price of its older cousin, the Stride offers hospital-grade performance in a portable package. While slightly bulkier than the original, the cups connect to the motor through tubing. It’s still discreet enough to use on-the-go with a clip that easily attaches to your clothing. While the device is ideal for more discreet situations (my husband could not tell I was wearing it while at a tailgate), some users find it strong enough to use as their primary pump. Plus, the app allows you to set your own default custom settings, so you can turn it on and forget it.

One gripe, however, is that there are a lot of parts that need to be cleaned, fully dried and maneuvered carefully back together between each use. You have to be careful when removing the cups to not spill a precious drop.

Specifications:

  • Flange sizes: 24 mm
  • Milk capacity: 5 oz per side
  • Dimensions: 4.6” x 2.6” x 1.7”
  • Weight: 7.9 oz
  • Battery life: Approximately 3 hours
  • App?: Yes

What we like:

  • Hospital-grade strength allows for better output
  • Comfortable suction
  • Ten intensity settings
  • Relatively quiet pump
  • Three hours of battery life

What we don’t like:

  • Cup shape can make it tricky to see how much milk you’ve collected
  • Six parts per side that have to be cleaned and reassembled each time

The bottom line:

The Elvie Stride combines the convenience of the original model with hospital-grade strength for maximum efficiency.

Best hands-free breast pump covered through insurance: Willow Go™ Wearable Breast Pump

Best hands-free breast pump covered through insurance
Willow Go™ Wearable Breast Pump

Willow Go™ Wearable Breast Pump

There are several reasons the HSA and FSA eligible Willow Go™ edges out the OG version. Reviewers rave about the comfortable continuous latch suction and decent output with nine available pumping levels. Plus, its ability to hold 7 ounces per side if you spring for the larger containers. For one mom it was a “lifesaver” on work trips. “I've used it on planes, trains, even at home with visitors and they did not notice! So overall, very quiet and relatively discrete.”

The biggest draw, she said, was the dishwasher safe parts, making it one of the easiest pumps to clean. “When fully disassembled,” she said of the six parts per side, “you can easily clean each part without fighting with small bottles.”

Specifications:

  • Flange sizes: 21 mm and 24 mm
  • Milk capacity: 5 oz per side, 7 oz each if you purchase the larger containers
  • Dimensions: 5.3" x 4.7" x 3.15"
  • Weight: 6.72 oz
  • Battery life: Approximately 1.25 hours
  • App?: Yes

What we like:

  • Easy to clean, dishwasher-safe parts
  • Comfortable, strong suction
  • Cheaper than the Willow 3.0

What we don’t like:

  • Not the quietest hands-free pump
  • The app is not as informative as others, really only sharing how long you’ve been pumping and your suction level.

The bottom line:

A comfortable latch, hospital-grade suction and easy-to-clean parts make this kit a lifesaver for many nursing parents.

Best lightweight wearable breast pump: Medela Freestyle™ Hands-Free Breast Pump

Best lightweight wearable breast pump
Medela Freestyle™ Hands-Free Breast Pump

Medela Freestyle™ Hands-Free Breast Pump

Medela entered the wearable game with their Freestyle, using an expression style meant to mimic a baby nursing, it’s on the more powerful side, notes one mom. Perhaps, just as importantly, it is one of the easier hand-free pumps to use with a fairly intuitive setup. And each cup consists of just 3 parts. Translation: less time scrubbing and sanitizing. The motor is small enough to be slipped in your pocket or worn on your wrist using the strap.

Specifications:

  • Flange sizes: 21 mm and 24 mm
  • Milk capacity: 5 oz per side
  • Dimensions: ‎5.04 x 9.76 x 8.62 inches
  • Weight: 2.16 oz
  • Battery life: Approximately 2 hours
  • App?: Yes

What we like:

  • Only three parts per side means less time spent cleaning and assembling
  • Battery provides roughly 2 hours of pumping time
  • Super lightweight cups with a motor that can be easily carried

What we don’t like:

  • Tubing means it’s not quite as discreet as other hands-free options

The bottom line:

Brand stalwart Medela entered the wearables game with this strong, easy-to-use gem.

Best manual wearable breast pump: Elvie Curve

Best manual wearable breast pump
Elvie Curve

There’s a reason Elvie has earned brand-name recognition in the category with their wide range of wearable options. Their electricity-free manual version is designed to effortlessly collect bonus milk when you’re nursing or pumping on the other side (or just seeking a release).

One press of the silicone pouch jumpstarts the active suction and since it doesn’t require charging to use, it can serve as a truly on-the-go option. Though it’s important to note that as a manual, you’re unlikely to be amassing a huge supply of milk. Better yet, it’s composed of two dishwasher-safe parts making cleanup a breeze.

Specifications:

  • Flange sizes: N/A
  • Milk capacity: 4 oz
  • Dimensions: 4.45" x 4.17" x 2.24"
  • Weight: 4.23 oz
  • Battery life: N/A
  • App?: No

What we like:

  • Can truly be used anywhere without worrying about charging
  • Ideal for an on-the-go, desperately-need-a-release situation
  • Stable, spill-proof design
  • Only two dishwasher-safe parts

What we don’t like:

  • As a manual, suction-powered pump, it’s not ideal for regular pumping.

The bottom line:

Elvie’s manual version is perfect for those seeking relief on-the-go and can be popped into the dishwasher when you’re done.

What to consider when choosing a wearable breast pump

Purpose

Here’s something you don’t hear a lot as a parent: “Consider your needs first,” instructs Maternal Health Expert and co–founder of Boober, Jada Shapiro. Will you be an exclusive pumper? You’ll likely want to look for something that is easy to clean and reassemble rather than commit to constantly drying a pile of tiny parts. For those that anticipate a lot of on-the-job sessions with little flexibility, prioritizing a more discreet look and a quiet motor might be key.

Comfort

A proper, painless fit could be the difference between a successful pumping journey and one you’re desperate to cut short. “What we look for in a proper fitting pump and flanges is that the nipple is moving freely in and out and not getting stuck to the side of the flange in any way, that the person has no pain or discomfort and that milk is flowing,” says Yamel Belen, RN, IBCLC—doula, and founder of One Love Doula Services. Measure your nipples, you may have to explore beyond the standard flange offerings to find the best fit.

One sign of a successful session (beyond the obvious milk output), she notes, is the shape of your nipple when you finish: “You should not have an odd shape or discoloration.” Echoes Shapiro, “If there is a lot of chafing or rubbing, usually the pump flange is too small. If your whole areola is uncomfortably being sucked into the flange tunnel, then the flange is usually too large.”

Ease of use

The learning curve for wearable breast pumps can feel very steep, so consider taking a peek at any online instructions to get a sense of how complicated the set-up might feel. You’ll also want to consider how many parts there are to clean, if they can be thrown in the dishwasher and how the milk itself will be stored. For those short on time, the option to pump directly into a storage container might seem rather attractive.

How we selected the best wearable breast pumps

Practice, practice, practice. In addition to scouring the internet for reviews of the top hands-free pumps on the market and speaking with lactation specialists about how to choose the best pump for your needs, we leaned into hands-on (or, rather chest-on) experience. That meant speaking with parents about the devices they used and relying on expertise gleaned from our own years of pumping.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Are wearable breast pumps as effective?

Yes, for some people, says Shapiro, “especially when used correctly. However, they may have lower suction capabilities than more traditional pumps.” Just like no two chests are the same, neither are pumping journeys. The effectiveness of a hands-free pump, she says, “does vary from person to person, depending on factors like milk supply, fit, personal comfort, and responsiveness to its suction.”

Is there a wearable breast pump with no leaks?

A leaking pump usually indicates some sort of user error, whether the parts aren’t assembled quite right or your nipple alignment is a bit off. That being said, while hands-free pumps offer a lot more freedom of movement than the plug-in set, you want to be mindful of attempting something like a high-intensity workout routine mid-session.

What is the disadvantage of wearable breast pumps?

The top drawback, both experts agree, is lower suction capabilities, meaning you may have to pump for more time to see the same result. Plus, not only are they more expensive, but they’re also less likely to be fully covered by insurance. In the pro column, though, notes Shapiro, “They're quieter and less obtrusive, which can be an advantage in public or work settings.”

Do you need to wear a bra with a hands-free pump?

You can skip it, says Shapiro, but that would then require holding the cups in place “and you will no longer be hands-free.” You don’t, however, need to purchase a specialty bra, notes Belen. “They fit easily in most bras.” (A wireless bra or a comfortable sports bra may be good options.)

How long do you have to pump with a wearable breast pump?

While lactation consultant Belen recommends 15 to 20 minutes on both sides no matter the type of pump used, Shapiro notes, “some people will have to pump longer, but most people find the benefit of being able to be hands-free and on-the-move to be more important to them.”

Are wearable breast pumps covered by insurance?

It really depends. “All insurance companies are required to have some breast pumps for their customers,” notes Shapiro and some cover wearables at full or partial cost, “but you’ll have to ask your insurance provider.” You may also use a third-party Durable Medical Equipment (DME) supplier “who is an ‘insurance partner’ with a specific wearable pump,” she said. Check the pump’s site to find their particular DME suppliers.

Can I return breast pumps?

Generally, no. “It is not a closed system,” says Belen. Meaning, there’s no barrier between your expressed milk and the pump itself. “It cannot be returned once the package is opened. However, if it were to be defective, I am sure the manufacturer could help.”

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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