After having my second child, I needed to return to work and wanted to continue to give my daughter breast milk instead of switching to formula. I knew I would need a good breast pump, something electric and a double pump was preferred. I found all of these features in the Medela PIS (Pump in Style) breast pump. I also found it on clearance at Target, so I saved almost $100 on the purchase!
This pump is rated for everyday use, and it's been put to the test so far. I use it a minimum of twice a day, five days a week. Once in a while I will even use it three times a day. Before I could get started pumping, it is recommended to boil everything for 5 minutes, then you can hand wash or put in the dishwasher (top rack) thereafter. They even make a microwaveable sterilization bag that you add water to and can sterilize your pump parts if needed.
The Medela PIS comes with a power cord, battery pack (requires 12 AA batteries), four bottles, a freezer pack, soft side cooler, two lengths of tubing, and a set (2) of the valves, membranes and horns required to make the pump work. This is all stored inside the bag which looks like a messenger bag and has a easy-to-use carry strap. Fortunately I've never had to use batteries to power the breast pump, so I'm not sure how long batteries would last, but the directions say to replace the batteries by the 20th time you pump, so for me that would only be about 10 days (2 work weeks). I think I'll stick to plugging it in!
There is an instruction manual that is helpful in showing how the parts and pieces connect together to get the unit to work, however I felt the directions were lacking in providing guidance to what speed and vacuum level to set the pump to. It was a lot of trial and error to get what worked best for me (speed 3, vacuumabout 85%).
One thing that concerns me is that while I'm pumping, I will notice (both by hearing and just feeling) the pump start to slow down. It will do this for a bit, maybe 10 pumps or so, then it'll pick back up. I really hope it's not dying (I've now used it for almost 2 months) because it's supposed to be a heavy duty pump for daily use! Other than that, it seems to be doing well, there are some storage pockets along the interior area that I can put some extra membranes and some baby wipes to clean the pump after I use it instead of finding a sink to wash everything out. There is also a large zipper pocket in the back that I will put papers to transport to work and back so I don't forget them.
The freezer pack works well to keep the milk chilled until I get home, get the kids to bed and have a couple of minutes to put it in the fridge, so about 11-12 hours total. It also freezes quickly, and as long as I remember to put it in the freezer at night, it'll be frozen the next morning, ready to go.
In all, this is a good enough pump, but there might be better out there. The worst thing about breast pumps in general is that you can't try them out without purchasing, and they can't be returned once opened, so you're kind of stuck with whatever you buy. If for some reason this one does die on me, I would probably look at a different brand to replace it with.