The first thing I’ll say is that if you plan to breastfeed you will need a pump unless you NEVER plan to leave your baby alone. If you ever want someone else to be able to feed the baby, then you’ll have to get a pump and have some milk in storage. I own three pumps and rented another.
The first pump I bought was the Avent manual pump.
I used it almost daily during my maternity leave. It’s ok but the valve kept popping through, and it was sometimes uncomfortable. Also when you’re using a manual pump, that’s ALL you can do. You need both hands, and you don’t get as much milk.
The second pump I got was a Medela Pump in Style.
It comes with a pump (attached to the bag), milk storage bag, storage bottles, freezer pack, a small manual pump (HA, yeah right), a battery pack (need 8 AAs), two flange sets and bottle rests. It runs at one speed, but you can adjust the suction level. I purchased a Medela hands-free bra so that I could pump hands-free. I also purchased the car adapter so that I could use it in the car. Worked GREAT. Loved this pump.
The next pump I got was the Medela Pump in Style Advanced.
It has all the same accessories as the Pump in Style (with a slightly different bag). The difference is the pump. It has adjustable suction, but it also has a “Let Down Button.” As soon as you let down you push the button and it slows down the pump. If your milk stops you push the button and it gets faster again. When you let down again, push the button and it slows down. You get much more milk with this pump! It mimics a baby’s suckling (fast then slow and fast then slow).
Both of the Pump in Styles are great because they’re portable, you can use them in your car or at work or wherever. They’re both double-electric which means they can pump both breasts at once. The little storage bags are great to store milk you pump away from home and keep it cold.
The last pump I used was the Medela Symphony.
I rented it from a local shop for $3 per day. It’s a hospital grade pump. I pumped WAY more milk with that than with my home pumps. The downside is that it isn’t very small, it’s actually pretty large. If you duct tape two 2-liter bottles together that’s about the size of the pump itself. The case it comes in is a hard-shell plastic case that’s even bigger. It doesn’t come with anything but the pump, you have to buy the tubing, flanges, and pump accessories. This was great to use when I needed to pump a ton of milk to store. Not really necessary for daily use unless you have problems with milk production or pumping with the home pumps. If you can get a prescription for a pump that your insurance would pay for, I’d buy this pump. Super great pump, but not really great for portability or travel.
TL;DR: Manual pumps suck. Medela Pump in Style and Pump in Style Advanced great for working moms and portability. Hospital grade Medela Symphony great for storing lots of milk, but expensive and bulky.