Is the pump easy to assemble and transport?

If the breast pump is difficult to assemble, take apart or clean, it's bound to be frustrating — which might reduce your enthusiasm for pumping. Make sure you can remove any parts of the pump that come in contact with your skin or milk for cleaning after use.

If you'll be toting the pump to work every day or traveling with the pump, look for a lightweight model. Some breast pumps come in a carrying case with an insulated section for storing expressed milk. Also keep noise level in mind. Some electric models are quieter than others. If it's important to be discreet, make sure the pump's noise level is acceptable.

Is the suction adjustable?

What's comfortable for one woman might be uncomfortable for another. If you opt for an electric pump, choose one that allows you to control the degree of suction.

Are the breast shields the correct size?

Breast shields are the cone-shaped cups that fit over your breasts and nipples. If you're concerned that the standard breast shield will be too small, check with individual manufacturers about other options. Larger or replacement shields are often available. If you want to pump both breasts at once, make sure the pump is equipped with two breast shields.

What if the electricity fails?

An electric pump needs to be plugged in. If an outlet isn't accessible or the power fails, you'll need a rechargeable battery pack. In case of emergency, you might want to keep a manual pump handy.

If you're not sure which type of breast pump would be best for you, ask for help. A lactation consultant can help you make the best choice — and offer support as you start to use your breast pump or if you run into trouble. If you haven't worked with a lactation consultant, ask your baby's doctor for a referral or check with the obstetrics department at a local hospital.

Apr. 07, 2012 See more In-depth