Hospital Grade Breast Pump Vs Regular (What Is Best?)

If you’re looking for the best electric pumps and trying to decide between a hospital grade breast pump vs regular breast pump, you are in the right place. 

In this article, I’ll explain the differences between the hospital-grade breast pump vs regular pump and also show you how to go about getting the best breast pump for free with your insurance plan. 

Pro Tip: If you’re wondering whether an electric or manual breast pump is right for you, read my post on Manual Vs. Electric Breast Pumps. Spoiler alert: it’s not a bad idea to have electric and manual pumps at home.

Hospital grade vs regular breast pump. Plus get yours for FREE.
Hospital Grade Vs Regular Breast Pump

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Hospital-Grade Pump Vs Hospital Strength Breast Pump 

We need to talk about is the two very similar terms “hospital grade” and “hospital strength” breast pumps.  

The term hospital grade refers to a multi-user closed system (more on that later) that is rented to individuals or used by mothers in a hospital setting. 

“Hospital strength” is a marketing ploy that breast pump manufacturers use to advertise personal pumps. 

“Hospital strength” doesn’t have a consistent definition. It is a term that manufacturers came up with as a way of saying their breast pumps have powerful motors and suction.  

Neither term is regulated by the FDA.

So, make sure to check with your hospital, lactation consultant, or healthcare provider when choosing a hospital-grade pump.  

As far as “hospital strength” goes… 

Know that most new personal use pumps that you will get from major manufacturers like Spectra and Medela have great motors for individual pumping. 

To clarify, the use of the term “hospital strength” isn’t regulated, so there is no way to prove that one hospital strength motor is stronger than another. 

Hospital Grade Breast Pump 

A hospital grade breast pump is a multi-user, closed system breast pump that is used in hospital settings or rented to individuals for at-home use. 

Additionally, hospital grade breast pumps take protective measures to make sure there is no milk cross-contamination so that multiple mothers can use the same pump hygienically. 

And, even though mothers share the breast pump motor itself, each mother is provided with their own accessory kit. A pumping kit includes tubing, flanges (or breast shield), backflow protectors, and any other parts that come in contact with the breast milk. 

Mothers cannot share the same pumping kit for sanitary reasons. 

Closed-System Breast Pump 

A closed system breast pump is a breast pump where the milk goes straight from the breast into a collection cup. 

The milk does not go through the tubing or have any contact with the motor. 

For this reason, hospital grade breast pumps are all closed system breast pumps. 

An open system breast pump (usually older breast pump models) have the milk flow through the tubing. Open systems are harder to clean. There is a risk of mold or bacteria developing in the tubing or motor. 

Pro Tip: If you have the option, always go with the closed system breast pump. Even if you don’t need a hospital grade breast pump. Closed system pumps are easier to clean and have less chance of contamination from mold or bacteria.  

Hospital Grade Breast Pump Vs Regular Breast Pump 

Here are the similarities and differences between a hospital grade breast pump vs regular: 

  1. Closed System: Hospital grade breast pumps are closed systems to avoid cross contamination, but regular breast pumps (like the Spectra S1 and S2) can be closed system as well. 
  2. Motor Strength: Hospital grade breast pumps have a more powerful motor that allows for faster, more efficient pumping. 

    Not all mothers need the strength of a hospital grade breast pump. In fact, the vast majority of women only need a regular strength personal breast pump to succesfully express milk. 
  1. Customizablility: Hospital grade breast pumps have different wavelengths, frequencies, and ranges of suction strength that can be combined in different ways to get the most customizable pumping experience for the mother. Ameda Platinum advertises 5000 unique combinations of frequency, suction, and speed to mimic a baby’s rythme more closely. 
  1. Power: Hospital grade breast pumps are going to have a longer-lasting and more powerful motor. Typically hospital grade pumps have longer warranties to cover the motor. Because of the more powerful motor, you can pump milk faster with a hospital grade breast pump. 
  1. Milk Production: Hospital grade pumps are sometimes recommended for moms with low milk supply. If you have low supply or are struggling to get an established milk supply, a hospital grade pump is a good idea because you can adjust the cycle speed and suction levels better than a personal pump to get as much milk as possible in less time per pumping session.
  1. Portability: Both hospital-grade and personal pumps are meant to be portable (they can move from room to room with you). 

    Hospital grade breastpumps are going to be bigger and heavier, so they won’t travel as easy as personal-use pumps. 

    Some personal breast pumps (like the Spectra S1 double electric pump) have a rechargeable battery so you don’t need a separate power source. 

    If you’re looking for a very portable breast pump, you should look at wearable breast pumps like the Elvie or Willow double electric breast pumps. This type of pump also has rechargeable batteries and no wires or tubing. 

    Perfect for new moms on the go!
  1. Number of Users: Hospital grade breast pumps are rental pumps that are meant to be used by multiple mothers. Personal pumps are used by a single user. If you want a hospital grade breast pump but don’t like the idea of getting a used one, you will have to buy the pump outright. Check the price on Amazon here
  1. Double Pumping: Double pumping means pumping milk from both breasts at the same time. Something that both hospital grade and regular breast pumps have working for them over manual breast pumps is the ease of use for double pumping. 

    With manual pumps you can only pump on one side at a time. Though, there are times when having a manual pump at home comes in really handy.   Read more about why you need a manual pump as well as an electric pump here

Getting A Regular Breast Pump Through Insurance 

Getting a regular breast pump through insurance is a super-easy process (especially if you do it through a company like Aeroflow which does all of the work with your insurance for you). 

Since passing the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies must provide a free breast pump to all mothers. 

Mom Tip: There are dozens of other free breastfeeding supplies that you can claim from major brands! Here’s how!

So, don’t panic when you see the cost of a breast pump when you’re making your baby registry… You will be able to get a breast pump for free. 

It’s up to the individual companies which model they provide to your for free, but third-party companies like Aeroflow will work with your insurance company and can usually offer you different types of breast pumps like the Medela Pump or Spectra S2 (which is a premier electric breast pump), but you will have to pay a small fee for the upgrade.

Depending on the type of pump your insurance company offers, paying for an upgrade to get the right pump for you is probably a good idea.

You only get one pump per pregnancy through your insurance. Don’t get stuck with a model that doesn’t have a powerful motor, suction, or isn’t a closed system long term.

Getting A Free Breastpump From Aeroflow

It can take a few days for Aeroflow to process your insurance information, and some insurance policies won’t send you your breast pump until later in your pregnancy. 

Claiming your breastpump is not something you need to do quite yet if you are in the early stages of pregnancy, but you definitely want to start the process around the halfway point

With Aeroflow the process looks like this: 

  1. Create a free account with Aeroflow
  2. Input your insurance information 
  3. Get an email with which models your insurance covers
  4. Pick the breast pump that you want 
  5. Get FREE SHIPPING for your breastpump right to your door

That’s it! 

You never have to call your insurance, or even talk to a person on the phone. 

I really liked using Aeroflow because they give you the option to upgrade your pump (if your insurance doesn’t cover the one you want) and also purchase a pumping bag and accessories (like ice packs for your collection bottles) for your pump at a discounted rate. 

I love the bag that I got through Aeroflow! 

It’s also a great feature if you want a newer breast pump (like a wearable breastpump) that your insurance doesn’t cover… Aeroflow will only charge you an upgrade fee to buy one of the newer pumps, rather than having to pay for the full price of the pump out of pocket.  

Getting A Free Breast Pump Directly From Insurance

Call your insurance provider and ask for information on breast pumps that are covered under your plan. 

Your insurance company will likely give you the phone number of a medical device retailer near you that you will call or schedule an appointment with you to pick up your breast pump. 

Do you need a hospital grade breast pump?
Do You Need A Hospital Grade Breast Pump?
Related Posts:
Manual Vs. Electric Breast Pump: Which One Is Best For You?
How To Clean And Sterilize Breast Pump Parts And Accessories
How To Use A Haakaa Breast Pump: Tips And Tricks For New Moms
Top 10 Breastfeeding Gowns For The Hospital
30 Ways To Get Free Breastfeeding Supplies & Samples

Do You Need A Hospital Grade Breast Pump? 

More than likely, no. Generally, a standard electric breast pump for personal use is all that mothers need for pumping. 

A hospital grade breast pump is usually only needed for mothers who have babies with complications who can’t breastfeed properly (like a premature baby or baby with health conditions). 

They can also be used for mothers who need to pump more milk than typical, such as mothers of twins, mothers with babies in the NICU, and mothers who will do exclusive pumping. 

Sometimes a hospital grade pump is a good choice for breastfeeding mothers or exclusive pumping mothers who aren’t producing enough milk… Especially in the first month or so. 

The “extra strength” motor of a hospital grade breast pump can make a big difference in the amount of milk that a mother can produce.

If you’re not sure, you should check with the doctor or lactation consultant at the hospital on whether you would be a candidate for renting a hospital grade breast pump or not before you are discharged. 

How To Rent A Hospital Grade Breast Pump? 

The easiest ways to rent a hospital grade breast pump are going to be: 

1. Rent directly from your hospital

2. Rent from an authorized third-party company like Aeroflow 

Read More About Aeroflow Here

Rent A Hospital Grade Breast Pump Directly From The Hospital

If you are a candidate to rent a hospital-grade breast pump, your hospital should be able to provide the unit to you (as well as the pumping kit) before you are discharged. This is probably the easiest way to go about it! 

Rent A Hospital Grade Breast Pump From Aeroflow 

If you can’t rent a hospital-grade pump from your hospital directly, the next best thing is to rent from a trusted third-party company like Aeroflow

The only hospital grade breast pump that Aeroflow offers for rental (or purchase) is the Medela Symphony. The Medela Symphony is the gold standard in hospital-grade breast pumps. 

In order to rent a hospital-grade pump from Aeroflow, you will need a prescription from your doctor. 

Don’t worry!

Aeroflow requests the prescription from your doctor for you and submits the prescription to your insurance. 

Then Aeroflow will mail you everything that you need within a few days.  

If you don’t have a prescription or insurance, but want to rent a hospital-grade breast pump, you still can through Aeroflow. 

They will rent the Medela Symphony to you for $75 per month, or $2000 to buy it outright (see details here). You will also need to provide your own pumping kit which you can purchase the pumping kit from Aeroflow, directly from the manufacturer, or on Amazon

You can also purchase the Medela Symphony directly from Amazon for a similar price. 

Check the price of the Medela Symphony On Amazon

The Best Hospital Grade Breast Pumps

There aren’t many hospital grade breast pumps on the market. If you’re renting through Aeroflow, you will get the Medela Symphony breast pump. 

And if you’re renting directly from your hospital you probably won’t have the choice in your pump either. 

That being said, a multi user hospital grade pump isn’t going to have a lot of bells and whistles or different features. They will have:

  • Digital controls
  • A power cord
  • A closed system

Here are the best hospital grade breast pumps available for rent:

Conclusion: Hospital Grade Breast Pump Vs Regular Pump

To summarize:

  1. A hospital-grade breast pump is a multi user breast pump that you rent. You can buy them, but they are VERY expensive.
  2. The term “hospital strength” doesn’t mean anything.
  3. Unless you have a medical reason, you likely don’t need a hospital grade breast pump.
  4. You must get a prescription from a doctor to rent a hospital grade breast pump.
  5. If you want to rent a hospital grade breast pump without a prescription, you can do it for $75/month from Aeroflow.
  6. A regular pump is the best option for most mothers and you can get one for free from your insurance.

Create Your Aeroflow Account And Claim Your FREE Breastpump 

Related Posts:
Manual Vs. Electric Breast Pump: Which One Is Best For You?
How To Clean And Sterilize Breast Pump Parts And Accessories
How To Use A Haakaa Breast Pump: Tips And Tricks For New Moms
Top 10 Breastfeeding Gowns For The Hospital
30 Ways To Get Free Breastfeeding Supplies & Samples
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Hi, I'm Jacqui, founder of Mommy Maker Teacher and mom of two toddlers. With a degree in education, 12+ years of experience as a K-12 teacher and curriculum developer, and courses in childhood psychology and language acquisition, I share research-backed parenting tips and advice. I provide helpful content for moms on all stages of motherhood - from trying to conceive and pregnancy to postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting.