The REAL difference between a Single and Double Breast Pump?

People often ask how a mechanical engineer ended up with a company selling breast pumps? The funny truth is that my engineering background prompted this decision!

My wife was expressing with a leading brand breast pump for our son Phillip, but was experiencing difficulties. I found the mechanics interesting and started wondering how those problems could be solved. One thing I immediately realized was that there is a big difference between a single and a double electric breast pump. I opened a can of worms in a world where most parents simply believed what they are told.

I am writing this blog article because I believe consumers should be making informed decisions. Most moms will do research before purchasing a pump to find the one best suited to them. One of the decisions that you need to make is whether you need a single or double breast pump.  What I want to share today may sound like simple common sense. Yet most people don’t understand it at all. Chances are you did not buy what you think you did.

What is a breast pump?

From an engineering viewpoint an electric breast pump is simply a normal motorized vacuum pump. The pump generates a vacuum to express/pull milk from the breast. You can adjust the vacuum pressure level which will then increase or decrease the strength of suction on the breast.

Not only is each mom unique and different, but each of her two breasts are unique and different as well. Some moms have plenty of milk and can easily express at lower suction levels. Others may need higher suction levels. Some breasts are more sensitive and may experience pain if suction is set too high. For this reason, why you have difference “suction levels” on a breast pump.

So what is the real difference between a single and double electric breast pump?

Simply put, the number of vacuum pumps. On a single electric breast pump, you will have one vacuum pump and on a double electric breast pump you should have two vacuum pumps. On a double electric breast pump, you should have the ability to adjust the vacuum levels on each motor independently. This is because each breast is different. A mom may experience that the suction level of the left breast to be too strong, while on the right side it’s comfortable. With a double pump she can then reduce the suction strength on the left while keeping the same strength on the right.

I am sure that you will at this stage agree that what I have said make perfect sense and will most probably ask what the purpose of this article is.

If you take a closer look you will find that some pumps have two flange kits. But when you trace the pipes back to the pump you will find that there is only one pipe outlet. In this case this is a single electric pump ,where the pipe has been split to allow for double expression. Yet  this pump is inaccurately sold as a double electric breast pump, which is really not the truth.  It is a single electric breast pump, with a double expressing kit.

The truth is that a mom cannot control the suction strength on each breast individually if there is only one pump. In this case it’s not really a double electric breast pump!

Three types of pumps

You will therefore find that it’s not just a case of single vs double electric breast pump, but rather case of the following three options:

  • Single Electric Breast Pump with one Flange Kit
  • Single Electric Breast Pump with Two Flange Kits (Called a Double Electric Pump- although, in truth, it is a single electric pump.)
  • Double Electric Breast Pump with Two Flange Kits (A true Double Electric Pump)

When looking to buy a double electric breast pump you should therefore carefully evaluate the pump. Try to determine whether you are buying a unit containing two vacuum pumps or only a single vacuum pump. There is BIG difference!

If a pump has only one motor that needs to supply two sides, the following is true:

  • The pump may have excellent suction strength when used as a single pump, but mediocre suction strength when used double (as one pump now needs to do double the work).
  • If there is any leak of air anywhere on the system from a damaged breast pump part (like a valve), the WHOLE pump’s suction is affected and both sides will stop working.
  • If the one motor fails you won’t be able to express at all, versus with a double pump where you would still be able to use the one side until you can get it sorted.

This is one of the reasons why we chose the BabyWombWorld Double Electric Breast Pump, which is one of the only pumps on the market with two pump motors. This allows our very unique Dual Suction Control, which allows you to set each side for that individual breast. For many moms this is a pumping game changer.


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Heinrich started the BabyWombWorld brand in 2015 after the birth of his son Phillip. He is a qualified mechanical engineer but has that his true passion lies in helping parents. Through his experience, working with experts in the field and by providing quality products to new parents he hopes to help make your life as a parent a bit easier!

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