12 of the best breast pumps tried and tested by mums

best breast pumps

by Maria Martin |

For mums who decide to breastfeed, finding the best breast pumps can be a lifesaver. There are lots of reasons why a mum might choose to express breastmilk. Maybe you’re breastfeeding but want to enjoy a night out – or just an early night! – while your partner takes care of the nighttime feed.

Perhaps you’re returning to work and want to enable a caregiver to bottle-feed your breast milk to your baby. Perhaps you have twins!

Even if you’re not planning to give feeding duty to anyone else, a breast pump is still worth having since expressing even small quantities of milk can bring pain relief if your breasts are engorged or swollen, and many mums express between feeds to boost their milk supply.

What is a breast pump?

A breast pump is an electric or manual device that extracts milk from a lactating mother.

The extracted milk can be stored in the fridge or freezer to be fed to your child via a bottle at a later time (all breast milk can be refrigerated for a maximum of two days. Please make sure you follow all the best practices when storing your breast milk).

There are a number of different options available – single, double, manual, and electric.

But how do you choose the best one for you?

We have selected the best ones that have been tried and tested by our mum testers who gave us valuable feedback on each one.

Meet our mum testers

NAOMI: 37, from Dover, is mum to Lyla Harper, five weeks: "I travel a lot with work so I need a quiet, compact pump I can take with me."

GEORGINA: 37, from Greater London, is mum to Isla, three months: "My baby is easily distracted, so I’d like a quiet pump that won’t disturb her."

LUCY: 27, from Wigan, is mum to Ernest, six months: "I go back to work soon, so I’m looking for a comfortable pump that’s quick and easy to use."

ALEX: 38, from York, is mum to Max, two months, and Ralph, three: "I’d like a pump that’s quick to clean, so I can fit in expressing around my life."

AMANDA: 43, is mum to twins Jacob and Charlotte, five months: "I have very little time, so I need a pump that produces lots of milk in the shortest time possible."

GEORGIE: 35, from Cardiff, is mum to Julliette, six months: "I’m looking for a simple, efficient breast pump that can be used on the go."

The above testers are those that feature in this article, however, each product was tested multiple times by a number of different mums on our panel.

For more information on each product, and to read the other tester's comments, please click the link beneath each description to read the full reviews from the mum testers who assessed the breast pumps for our Mother&Baby Awards.

Choosing the right breast pump for you

Like our mum testers, you will have certain things that matter most to you when choosing a breast pump, so there are some things you may want to consider when making your choice:

Will you be popping the milk into the freezer for use another day? If so, choose a pump with storage containers, or factor in the cost of buying these. If you intend to feed your baby within days, go for a pump that lets you express milk directly into a clean, sterilised bottle until you’re ready to use it.

Expressing is easier and more efficient if you feel relaxed, so choose a pump that’s appealing to look at and comfortable to hold. Anything too clinical or cumbersome is likely to be a hindrance.

Choose a pump that’s quick and easy to assemble once you’ve taken it apart for cleaning and sterilising. Hunt-the-tiny-missing-part-of-the-breast-pump is not a game you want to play, especially if you’ll be using it frequently.

The breast cup fits over your breast inside the pump funnel. It’s essential it fits well, for optimal milk drainage as well as comfort. Some pumps come with more than one cup, so you can try different sizes to find the perfect fit.

You can control all the variables – such as the suction level and the speed at which the pump extracts milk from your breast – via the control panel.

If you like the thought of not being confined to one spot when you’re expressing, choose a pump that can run on batteries. If you’re the type of person who always forgets to charge your phone, a mains-operated pump might suit you better.

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The best breast pumps 2021

JUST SO YOU KNOW, WHILE WE MAY RECEIVE A COMMISSION FOR PURCHASES MADE THROUGH LINKS, WE NEVER ALLOW THIS TO INFLUENCE PRODUCT SELECTIONS.

Elvie Pump - Single Electric Breast Pump

Best breast pump
Elvie Pump - Single Electric Breast Pump

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Oh, this is clever. It’s the world’s first wireless, wearable breast pump and it’s completely hands-free – just pop it inside a standard nursing bra and start expressing.

You can control it remotely via the free app, which also monitors milk volume and tracks pumping history.

It’s truly silent, so you can pump discreetly in public or with your sleeping baby nearby.

With just five parts, cleaning and reassembling it takes literally seconds.

Advantages

  • Truly silent - the only breast pump that can claim as much
  • Easy to clean and assemble
  • Wearable
  • Wireless
  • Hands-free

Disadvantages

  • We can't think of any!

Our mum testers’ opinions:

Naomi: "I was sceptical but this is great – a real investment for busy mums. Controlling the pump via an app on my phone seemed strange initially but it’s actually much easier than faffing around with the controls. You can get on with doing chores at the same time as expressing, though it did leak when I wore it while attempting to make a bed! Choosing the right nipple guard is vital. There’s minimal equipment to wash and sterilise. And it really is silent!"

Georgina: "A game-changer for working mums! It fits neatly inside my bra so I can express easily and discreetly at work. I was sceptical about it but it’s by far the most comfortable, quiet and easy-to-use pump. It’s virtually silent – brilliant for pumping at the same time as feeding Isla, who’s easily distracted. Along with the Medela pump, this produced the highest milk output for me. I found I only needed to charge this pump every three days."

Lucy: "My favourite. It goes unnoticed under loose clothing and it’s very comfortable, efficient and easy to use. It’s so small that it’s easy to transport and sterilise, yet it holds a surprisingly large volume of milk. The biggest advantage is that it leaves both hands free – this was the only pump I managed to use at the same time as feeding Ernest – and it’s so quiet that I felt totally comfortable pumping in public."

This pump also won a 2020 Mother&Baby Gold Award - read more here.

Lansinoh 2 in 1 Double Electric Breast Pump

Best double breast pump
Lansinoh 2 in 1 Double Electric Breast Pump
Amazon

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Lansinoh's double electric pump is a favourite with many mums who find it super easy to use; it can be plugged into the mains but also battery-operated, so you can use it at home or out and about. It's a flexible design that you can use as a single or double pump.

Advantages

  • Very effective pump and is great value for money
  • Excellent quality
  • Mains operated and battery

Disadvantages

  • You’ll need both hands
  • It’s also quite noisy

Our mum testers’ opinions:

Claire: "The pump is easy to use at home as it can be plugged into the mains. However, I also like that it is battery operated and fairly compact so it can travel easily. The pump does make some noise (as no electric pump can be silent) although it is not any noisier than other brands I have used."

Nadia: "This product was a joy to use. Having struggled with another brand of breast pump I resigned myself to the fact that pumping wasn't for me. The first time I used this pump I was sceptical, however, I was very happy to be proven wrong. The pump was gentle and I expressed more than I ever have before!"

Tasneem: "The electric pump removes the extra work that you would have to put in and you can sit back and just let the machine do the work. I love the fact that it is a double pump as it helps get more milk in one session."

This pump was shortlisted for Best Breast Pump at the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards. It also won a 2019 Bronze Mother&Baby Award - read more here.

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Electric Breast Pump

Best natural feeling breast pump
 Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Electric Breast Pump
Amazon

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We love that this comes with so many accessories, including a microwave sterilizer, so it’s really excellent value for money.

You can use this pump via mains power or batteries, and it’s perfect for travel use and holidays.

There are several levels of intensity and the silicon cup is soft and comfortable, but there are lots of parts so it takes a while to clean and reassemble.

Advantages

  • Mains or battery operated
  • Includes lots of accessories
  • Excellent value for money

Disadvantages

  • Time-consuming to clean and assemble
  • Noisy

Our mum testers’ opinions:

Naomi: "This works via mains electricity or batteries so it’s very portable. It has multiple settings but, unlike some of the pumps we tried, no stimulation mode. It’s sleek and simple plus easy to assemble and use, but it’s so loud – I couldn’t hear the TV over the noise! I like being able to express straight into a bottle and the fact that it comes in a handy storage box."

Georgina: _"_Very impressive for the price. It performed really well and comes with several accessories, including a steriliser kit, which adds value to an already reasonably-priced item. It’s easy to set up and very comfortable to use. It’s easy to get an air-tight seal, which meant I achieved a high yield of milk on a lower suction setting. Fiddly to reassemble, though, and far too noisy to enable me to express whilst feeding."

Lucy: _"_A very efficient, comfortable pump, thanks to the massaging silicon cushion and the tilted design, but there are so many parts – it took longer to assemble the pump than to express! It’s by far the noisiest pump and very bulky. It’s very reasonably priced though and, if you’re pumping occasionally and only at home, then this will do the job very comfortably."

Nuby Digital Electric Breast Pump

Best breast pump for comfort
Nuby Digital Electric Breast Pump
Amazon

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This digital breast pump is comfortable and simple to use, with five different settings for suction and speed that are all easy to navigate. The pump adjusts to your flow, preventing soreness, plus it's compact and easy to store when not in use.

We love that it's pretty quiet compared to some other breast pumps, which is a big plus if you're pumping while baby is sleeping.

Advantages

  • Simple to use
  • Five different settings for suction and speed
  • Adjusts the pump to your flow
  • Compact and easy to store

Disadvantages

  • Suction could be improved
  • Doesn't come with a storage pouch

Our mum testers’ opinions:

Layna: "I would recommend this breast pump to a mum who needs to be able to express from both breasts at the same time. I found the use of the touchscreen controls handy when needing to adjust the suction as I could do so with minimal effort even whilst double expressing."

Mariana: "It is easy to use, keep clean and store. I like the design as it isn't bulky or hard to use. The two modes of stimulation and express have meant I express more milk. The battery lasts all week when used 30 minutes every day."

Charlotte: "I find it easy to use as a single pump and it is very comfortable. I love that you can charge it up and use on the go meaning you have the power of an electric pump with the usability of a manual one."

This pump was shortlisted for a Mother&Baby Award in 2019 - read more here.

Nuby Ultimate Electric Breast Pump

Best smart breast pump
Nuby Ultimate Electric Breast Pump
Amazon

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With three phases to encourage milk flow and nine speed settings, this pump is designed to mimic your baby's feeding action and produce more milk in less time.

Touch-screen technology makes it easy and intuitive to operate, and it can be used either via mains power or rechargeable batteries so it’s a good choice for using away from home.

It can convert easily to a single pump too.

Advantages

  • Nine speed settings
  • Three flow phases
  • Touch-screen
  • Mains power or battery operated

Disadvantages

  • Bulky for on-the-go pumping

Our mum testers’ opinions:

Naomi: "This is great value for money. The design is sleek and the screen tells you everything you need to know, including the battery life and how long you've been expressing. The rechargeable function is great as you don’t have to be near mains electricity. You can hear the pump, but it's not a loud, distracting noise. I like that you express directly into a bottle so you can feed straight away."

Georgina: "Versatile, user-friendly and good value. It’s comfortable but less effective than some of the other pumps and too bulky to be practical for use on the go. I like having the option to express from both breasts simultaneously but found that tricky to do. It’s very simple to put together and I like the sleek design and easy-to-use digital touch-screen. The timer function is very handy."

Lucy: "I struggled with this pump and expressed very little milk. It’s heavy, bulky, noisy, and I found it uncomfortable to use. The pieces don’t seem to fit together well, and multiple bulky parts make it difficult to transport and clean. The touch-screen display is very easy to use, though, and I like the idea of dust caps for use on the go – if it was small enough to take out of the house."

This pump was shortlisted for a Mother&Baby Award in 2020 - read more here.

Medela Harmony Breast Pump

Best manual breast pump
Medela Harmony Breast Pump
Amazon

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This Medela breast pump is highly efficient when it comes to expressing a lot of milk in a small amount of time; it's one of the smallest on the market and could definitely fit into most handbags with ease.

It's comfortable to use and the spring handle allows you to express at different angles; there are two speeds available – push the top and get a short, gentle suction to stimulate flow, then push the handle in once let-down starts.

Advantages

  • Highly efficient
  • One of the most compact breast pumps
  • Comfortable to use
  • Two speeds

Disadvantages

  • The shield could be softer

Our mum testers’ opinions:

Laura Holmes: "The Harmony is easy to use; it ensures great results for occasional pumping. I love how lightweight it is and the comfortable pumping handle. The bottle stand ensures that the precious contents isn't spilt."

Sarah Panter: "Easy to use, great that the handle moves so you are not stuck to one hand position. Novel function; mimicking the babies natural sucking rhythm. Smooth pumping action. Personal shield could possibly be softer. Great start up set, easy to use and good value for money."

This breast pump won Silver in the 2016 M&B Awards - read our full review here.

Medela Swing Maxi Flex

Best breast pump for support
 Medela Swing Maxi Flex Double Electric Breast Pump
Amazon

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This is Medela's smallest and lightest pump and it can be used with batteries or via mains power, so it’s a good choice if you need a pump that’s practical for use at home and away.

We love that it’s cleverly designed to be attached to your pocket or belt or hung from your shoulder or around your neck – no more being stuck in one spot while you’re expressing milk! Our testers found it efficient, compact and comfortable.

Advantages

  • Provides fantastic support, with maximum comfort
  • Portable and lightweight for a double pump
  • Has a range of different vacuum levels and settings to suit your needs and comfort

Disadvantages

  • There’s no screen or digital display, meaning you’ll have to get old-school when it comes to keeping track of how long you’ve been pumping

Our mum testers’ opinions:

Naomi: _"_I found this simple and intuitive to assemble – without needing to read the instructions – and it’s equally easy to disassemble and wash/sterilise. The separate silicone cup has to fit snugly to ensure you don't lose suction when expressing. It feels slightly old-fashioned and not as modern as other brands, both in design and packaging. This is quite bulky compared to others but it’s an efficient pump and it’s not too noisy."

Georgina: "Very easy to assemble and clean, and good value. It can be used with batteries, so it’s suitable for expressing on the go, although I found it pretty noisy – I had to turn up the volume on the TV! That said, this pump worked very well for me. I used the highest setting with no discomfort and, as a result, expressed larger volumes of milk than with other pumps in less than 15 minutes."

Lucy: "The pre-sterilised bottles I use fit perfectly, which cuts down on washing up and reduces the risk of contamination. The batteries aren’t rechargeable (although it also runs on mains power) and it’s quite large with stiff buttons. It clips onto your clothing so you can move around while expressing and it’s very simple to use, comfortable and fairly quiet – I happily used it in public. The storage bag is useful, too."

This pump was shortlisted for Best Breast Pump at the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards. It also won a Silver Mother&Baby Award 2020 - read more here.

Lansinoh Compact Single Electric Breast Pump

Best single breast pump
Lansinoh Compact Single Electric Breast Pump
Amazon

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This, lightweight compact breast pump has five adjustable suction levels, so you can select the strength to suit you. A compatible micro USB adapter is available if you want to use it away from home but you have to buy this separately, however this makes it ideal for expressing when you’re out and about. It has two pumping phases and variable suction levels, which are simple to adjust using the controls on top of the unit. Impressive!

This is designed to mimic the way a baby naturally feeds and our testers all found it particularly comfortable and easy to use.

A bottle with teat and sealing cap is included.

Advantages

  • It's in a compact, lightweight package
  • Six different adjustable settings in each of the two phases
  • The breast shields have a soft silicone ring to maximize comfort
  • The digital display is a super handy feature as it keeps track of how long you’ve been expressing

Disadvantages

  • Noisy
  • Only mains operated

Our mum testers’ opinions:

Naomi: "Easy to assemble and very compact – ideal for travel use. There's no timer display but I didn’t miss that feature. I like the built-in silicon cup as it doesn’t lose suction and fits more snuggly than pumps with a removable cup. It's easy to take apart and wash/sterilise, with no small fiddly parts to reassemble. The suction is powerful for such a small unit, producing a good amount of milk, but it’s noisy."

Georgina: "I expressed a large volume of milk in a small amount to time. It’s really comfortable and very simple to set up. Its size makes it ideal for use on the go, but the power-bank you need isn’t included. The breast cushion is comfortable, easy to position and seals well. The teats provided are brilliant – I replaced Isla’s usual teats with these as she’s really comfortable using them and even takes a bottle better."

Lucy: _"_Very compact and light but it’s noisy and the lack of a power-bank proved problematic – I could only use this within 1.5m of a mains plug socket. The pump was really comfortable to use and the breast cup fits really well. I was able to express large volumes of milk quickly and found the controls easy to use. I particularly like the LED indicator to show the vacuum strength and let-down setting."

Alex: "A ‘no-frills’ pump, but it’s extremely efficient. The control unit is straightforward, even when sleep deprived, and the pump is super light, but still has plenty of power. There are minimal parts to clean and I find the breast shield very comfortable."

Amanda: "I cannot praise this enough! It’s noisier than others but its performance makes up for it. I was amazed at how quickly it stimulated my let-down. I obtain far more milk in less time than ever before. It’s so compact, and I like that I can use it with a power bank."

Georgie: "From set-up to cleaning, this pump is great. It’s lightweight, compact and very easy to pop in my handbag and use on the go. The USB adaptor is fantastic and faff-free – so handy to plug in and pump when out and about. The ability to adjust the suction and the rhythm levels, including the different phases, make expressing milk user-friendly."

This pump was shortlisted for a Mother&Baby Award in 2018 - read more here.

Philips Avent Ultra Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump

Recommended single breast pump
Philips Avent Electric breast pump

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Designed to mimic the way a baby sucks, this pump has a wide, breast-shaped teat to promote a natural latch, so it’s ideal if you’re combining breast- and bottle-feeding. This particular pump comes with a feeding set too with everything you need to express, store and feed with your breast milk.

The massage cushion feels soft and velvety against your skin.

The gentle stimulation mode gets your milk flowing and there are three further settings so you can choose the one that’s most comfortable.

Our testers found this intuitive to use and easy to clean.

Advantages

  • Easy to carry around
  • One of the most comfortable on the market
  • Good suction and massage cushion
  • Pumping is easy to clean and sterilise
  • It makes sure your milk ends up in the bottle without any mess

Disadvantages

  • It’s pretty noisy compared to some of the others on this list

Our mum testers' opinions:

Naomi: _"_This is quiet to use, even on the strongest suction setting. The huge instruction booklet is daunting but the pump is actually pretty self-explanatory and easy to use. The silicon breast cup is comfortable and there’s a nice long cable from the plug so you don’t have to sit right next to a socket. The bottle supplied has a sealing disc, so it’s great for transporting milk after expressing. Breast pads are included, too."

Georgina: "This was easy to set up and useful for expressing on the go, thanks to the compact design and optional battery functionality. This was by far the most comfortable pump I tried – the breast cushion is made of a delicate rubber that you can barely feel against your skin – but I only produced very small quantities of milk, just 1-2 ounces. It’s relatively quiet and it didn’t disturb Isla."

Lucy: "I managed to express a decent quantity of milk after lots of practice. But, unfortunately, the seal leaked air, preventing the suction from working, so I had to keep resealing it. I like how easy it is to dismantle and clean. It helped me to sit very comfortably, thanks to the no-lean-forward design, but you really need to sit at a table to use it. It’s very quiet and the controls are simple to use."

This pump was shortlisted for a Mother&Baby Award in 2021 and 2019 - read more here.

MAM Manual Breast Pump

Best budget breast pump
MAM Manual Breast Pump
Amazon

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For a manual breast pump, this is impressively versatile. You can adjust the angle of the funnel for your comfort while expressing, and it also has an adjustable suction controller, so you change how long the vacuum is held to match your milk flow.

Soft breast pads inside the funnel ensure it fits securely and feels comfortable against your skin. Although there are multiple parts to this pump, it’s fairly easy to clean and reassemble.

Advantages

  • Highly adjustable
  • Relatively easy to clean
  • Good value for money

Disadvantages

  • Tricky to operate at first
  • For some, it took some strength to work the pump

Our mum testers' opinions:

Alex: "I couldn’t get to grips with manual pumps when expressing for my eldest, but this is a revelation! My first go produced an impressive quantity of milk – and without causing hand cramp. While there are lots of parts, it isn’t hard to assemble. Great price, too, especially if you only want a pump for occasional use."

Amanda: "Lots of parts to assemble, and the transparent valve, which needs to be removed for cleaning, is easily lost in the sink – but the set comes with an extra two. I found this slightly uncomfortable, but I was able to obtain milk quickly once I perfected the technique. A brilliant budget option."

Georgie: "Easy to assemble and to use – set-up is minimal, so you can use it instantly. You need some serious arm muscles, but this never lets me down – it’s efficient at getting milk, and I like that there are no batteries or cords. It’s quiet, simple to clean, and effortless to use on the go."

This pump was shortlisted for a Mother&Baby Award in 2019 - read more here.

NUK First Choice+ Electric Breast Pump

Best breast pump for control
NUK First Choice+ Electric Breast Pump
Amazon

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This versatile electric breast pump has no less than 16 settings, including four pumping-rhythm modes and four suction- strength options, so you can achieve optimum milk flow. You can save your preferred setting, which our testers loved.

The LED display is easy to use and it adapts to the lighting, so it’s ideal for use at night. It runs on mains power, unless you buy a power bank.

Advantages

  • Save your favourite pumping setting
  • Quiet
  • Easy to clean
  • Reliable pumping, day or night
  • Unique LED feature for night pumping

Disadvantages

  • Requires mains, so can't be used on the go without purchasing a power bank

Our mum testers’ opinions:

Alex: "I thought being able to combine my preferred suction strength with suction rhythm might be complicated, but it’s not. It’s impressive how much more speedily the milk flows. It’s quiet, simple to clean and to put together, with minimal parts. It’s a shame you need to be plugged in at the mains though, unless you buy an external power bank."

Amanda: "I was able to choose and save my preferred setting using the memory function – a real time-saver. It’s quiet, and easy to clean. It has a carry strap for portability and I like that the tubing is long, making it easy to use when holding a baby. The shield is comfortable, but I had a few leaks."

Georgie: "I enjoyed using this. The comfort factor and the ability to find the right setting made expressing a breeze. It’s fairly quiet, cleaning was uncomplicated, and the pump has been very reliable. One stand-out feature I really enjoyed was operating this at night – the LCD display is a big plus."

Lola & Lykee Smart Electric Breast Pump

Recommended breast pump
Lola & Lykee Smart Electric Breast Pump

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This super smart breast pump comes with touch screen technology, a memory button and timer for easy tracking and recording of pumping sessions. The streamlined design is great for super-convenient pumping and you're guaranteed a comfortable experience as the 6 stimulation settings and 9 expression modes mimic the baby´s natural sucking pattern . Plus the ultra-soft silicone breast shield helps massage the breast to promote let-down and optimize milk flow

It has an USB rechargeable battery with 2-hour battery life and light motor unit connected to the pump for handy, wireless use. Pump directly into the milk bag, feed directly from the bag and store milk safely with the handy adapter - great for pumping on the go.

Advantages

  • Quiet operation
  • Excellent quality and very effective
  • Super portable
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Great, comfortable design

Disadvantages

  • Doesn't come with carry case

Our mum testers' opinions:

Brogan: "This makes my life easier as a mum as this is one powerful breast pump! This is very powerful compared to others I’ve tried I had given up with pumps as they never seemed effective at all even with an oversupply of milk! I love how all of the functions are on top of the bottle/pump makes life so much easier as there’s no complicated buttons to fiddle with!"

Catherine: "I would recommend this product to other mummies, friends and family members. I think it is great - it was easy to use, the screen for control was great and the success I had using was great also. I have used other 'portable' pumps in the past, and found them noisier than this, and a lot less comfortable. This is a great design!"

Helen: "This product makes life easier as a mum because it’s so quiet to use it didn’t wake my sleeping husband or baby and it’s so convenient as it’s wireless that you can literally use it anywhere! It’s really easy to charge with a USB charger and each charge lasted for ages so could easily be taken to work, on holiday or to hospital if you needed to. You can express directly into a bottle or a freezable storage bag and the digital display makes it super easy to operate. It also has very few parts so is very straightforward to clean."

This pump won a 2021 Gold Mother&Baby Award - read more here.

FAQs, cleaning and further information

Choosing the pump that's right for you often comes down to a lot of things, from budget to comfort, to speed. We cover what you need to know.

Do you need a breast pump?

This is a personal choice. If you’re only planning on expressing occasionally, a manual pump is often a much cheaper investment and can cost as little as £15.

They are also far more discreet than an electric breast pump, so if you’re expressing in a cubicle at work, this is probably the preferred option.

That said, manual breast pumps are much more labour intensive, so if you’re in a rush and want to express milk quickly and efficiently, an electric breast pump might be worth investing in.

If you’re feeding twins, or are going to be away from your baby for a longer period of time, using a double pump is a good option.

Recent scientific research also suggests there are benefits to double pumping, as it stimulates additional milk ejection and has been found to stimulate prolactin levels, meaning you pump a higher volume of milk, but also the milk pumped has more fat and higher energy content for your little one. Of course, if you’re hoping to breastfeed, a breast pump can also ensure you’ll be prepared if you need someone else to feed your baby.

What type of breast pump is best?

There are two types of pumps: manual and electric.

With a manual pump, you place the breast cup over your breast and squeeze the handle to extract the milk, which collects in a storage container or bottle.

With an electric pump, the expressing is automated – you can literally put your feet up and relax while the pump does the work for you!

Electric pumps have variable settings so you can alter the suction and speed of extraction to suit your milk flow, and they’re generally quicker and more efficient at expressing milk than manual pumps.

The big advantage of an electric pump is speed and convenience, meaning you can multitask (or relax!) while the pump collects your milk.

Hospital-grade breast pumps are available to hire from hospitals and maternity units, too.

These are electric pumps that are super-efficient at expressing a high volume of milk in a short period of time.

How do you choose a breast pump?

How natural do you want it to feel? Of course, it won’t fully feel like it does when you’re feeding your baby, but the best electric breast pumps work closely to imitate breastfeeding.

Most will operate with a two-phase programme, the first stage stimulating the flow, the second copying the longer sucking motion of your baby when feeding.

You may wish to consider a breast pump that is easy to assemble and to use, lightweight, compact, and durable.

Also, look for pumps with good suction power to facilitate the express process.

See below the most important points to keep in mind when choosing a breast pump:

Electric breast pump

This is one of the most popular as you can adjust both speed and suction.

You can have also single and double allowing you to pump one or two breasts at the same time. You find them in plugs or batteries.

Manual breast pump

This one requires your strength to squeeze the lever in order to create suction to express your milk.

The advantages are: quieter, smaller and cheaper, perfect for trips and casually pumping on the go.

Hospital-grade breast pump

This one is the most efficient and expensive as it pumps really fast and strong making the activity more productive.

They are very expensive and can be rented in some cases.

Do you need a single or double pump?

A double pump allows you to express milk from both breasts at the same time.

This is indispensable if you need to express lots of milk very frequently, feeding twins or a premature baby, or you’re juggling breastfeeding and working full-time.

However, most mums find that a single electric breast pump is all they need.

Some pumps, including one of the ones we tested, can be used in both single and double modes.

Where will you pump?

Most pumps have to be connected to a power supply during use, but some also run on batteries, which is handy if you want to take the pump with you to express while you’re at work or away from your baby.

A battery-powered pump also means you can move around while you’re expressing milk at home.

How portable is an electric breast pump?

Some electric pumps are heavier than others, so choose a lighter, portable model that’s practical for use on the go if you plan to use it out of the house.

If you are expressing on the go, make sure the container is suitable for storing milk safely (you can store expressed breast milk in the fridge for up to five days and in the freezer for six months).

How quiet do you need the breast pump to be?

Another thing to take into consideration is the noise factor.

Electric pumps tend to be pretty noisy, which can be impractical if you’re expressing while your baby is asleep nearby, while she’s feeding on the other breast, or when you’re at work – or if you just want to hear what’s on the telly!

But this is improving with technology, and newer models such as the Elvie Pump are much quieter - if not silent!

Extra features

Some breast pumps come with extra features, including feeding bottles, breast milk storage bags (pump and save bags), cleaning equipment or auto cleaning plastic bags, breast pads, milk storage pot and soft massage cushion.

Sometimes, the breast pumps can also have stimulation mode, rechargeable battery and charging via USB.

Ease of assembly

Choose a pump that’s quick and easy to put back together once you’ve taken it apart to clean and sterilise.

Playing hunt-the-tiny-missing-part-of-the-breast-pump is not a game you ever want to play!

Breast cup

This fits over your breast inside the pump funnel. It’s essential it fits well to ensure maximum comfort and optimal milk drainage.

Some pumps come with more than one cup so you can find the perfect fit – if your boobs are bigger or smaller than average, this option is well worth having.

Control panel

You can control all the variables such as the suction level and the speed at which the pump extracts milk from your breast, via the control panel.

You’ll need to experiment with the settings to find the right option for you.

Milk storage

If you’ll be popping the milk into the fridge or freezer to use another day, choose a pump with storage containers, or factor in the cost of buying these separately.

Your milk keeps in the fridge for five days, so if you’re likely to always use it within that timeframe, you can save yourself a lot of faffing about by choosing a pump that lets you express milk directly into a sterilised bottle.

Travel bag

Some pumps come with a storage bag to help keep everything safely together in one place. Designed for travel use, it’s also useful if you plan to express at work.

Batteries

If you like the thought of not being confined to one spot when you’re expressing, choose a pump that can run on batteries.

One that uses rechargeable batteries is a must if you’ll be using it regularly but, if you’re the type of person who always forgets to charge your phone, a mains-operated pump might suit you better.

Aesthetics

Expressing is much easier and far more efficient if you feel relaxed, so choose a pump that you find appealing to look at and comfortable to hold.

Anything too clinical or cumbersome is likely to slow your flow.

Cleaning and using a breast pump

A breast pump must be thoroughly cleaned and sterilised after every use. This can be a quick and easy job or a serious chore, depending on how many parts there are to clean, sterilise and reassemble.

So, if you're likely to use it every day, avoid pumps with lots of parts that are easily mislaid.

Or, for extra speed and convenience, opt for a pump that comes with its own steriliser.

  • Always check if the breast pump is in the correct position to make sure you are getting the most out of every pumping.

  • The more organised you are, the more milk you are likely to get, as you will be stress-free and more relaxed. So, set up a routine to make sure you know how much time you need to do it.

  • If you can, always choose electrical breast pumps, as they are usually stronger when connected than when with batteries.

Important: The electricals breast pumps have usually a two-phase programme, one is for stimulating the flow and the other copying the longer sucking motion of your baby when feeding.

As you are dealing with your baby food, you need to make this process as clean as possible.

You need to make sure that the material that is in contact with your milk is safe for food contact (BPA-free and 100% Food Grade Silicone).

Also, you need to be able to sterilise most parts of the breast pump. Avoid sharing your breast pump with anyone.

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