The best breast pumps tried and tested by real mums

For mums who decide to breastfeed, finding the best breast pump is important

Breast pump on table with mother and baby in background

by Mother&Baby |
Updated on

There are lots of reasons why you might choose to express breastmilk. Maybe you’re breastfeeding but want to enjoy some time away from home – or just an early night – while your partner takes care of the feeding. 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.

Breast pumps can also bring relief if your breasts are engorged or swollen, and many mums express between feeds to boost their milk supply.

Here are the best breast pumps you can buy today:

Gallery

The best breast pumps

Medela Swing Maxi Flex Breast Pump1 of 9

Medela Swing Maxi Flex Breast Pump

Medela are known for their breastfeeding expertise and products (with more than 50 years of business) and their pumps are often spotted on maternity wards - 94% of UK hospitals have them. The Swing Maxi Flex is perfect for mums who need that extra bottle in half the time as it has a clever double pump.

Elvie Pump - Single Electric Breast Pump, £249.00, John Lewis2 of 9

Elvie Pump - Single Electric Breast Pump, £249

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 a sleeping/feeding baby nearby. With just five parts, cleaning and reassembling it takes seconds.

Vital Baby Nurture Flexcone Electric Breast Pump3 of 9

Vital Baby Nurture Flexcone Electric Breast Pump

The Nurture Flexcone electric breast pump from Vital Baby is designed to make breastfeeding as easy and fuss-free as possible. The pump has 9 different speed settings, making the pump perfectly adaptable for your comfort level, so you can benefit from a uniquely tailored feeding experience.

Philips Avent Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump4 of 9

Philips Avent Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump

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. 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.

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Electric Breast Pump5 of 9

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Electric Breast Pump

We love that this comes with so many accessories, including a microwave steriliser, 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.

Nuby Ultimate Electric Breast Pump6 of 9

Nuby Ultimate Electric Breast Pump

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 double pump with an adaptor kit (sold separately).

Nuby Digital Electric Breast Pump7 of 9

Nuby Digital Electric Breast Pump

Comfortable and simple to use, it has five different settings for suction and speed that are all easy to navigate. Adjusts the pump to your flow, preventing soreness, it's compact and easy to store when not in use. Pretty quiet which is a big plus.

Lansinoh Breast Pump 2-in-1 Double Electric Breast Pump8 of 9

Lansinoh Breast Pump 2-in-1 Double Electric Breast Pump

It's an award-winning breast pump, very effective and is great value for money. It is excellent quality and a great buy if you're looking to express a lot of milk quickly. The pump also uses batteries rather than plugging into the mains. However, you'll need both hands, and it's also quite noisy.

MAM Electric 2 in 1 Single Breast Pump9 of 9

MAM Electric 2 in 1 Single Breast Pump

There is no need to choose between electric or manual pumping, with the MAM 2in1 Single Pump you can have both, The electric pump device features stimulation and expression modes that mimic your baby's natural sucking behaviour and offers up to nine different suction strengths. The touchscreen technology is easy to use and the pump can be plugged in or powered by rechargeable battery.

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. Breast milk can be refrigerated for up to five days. Make sure you follow all the best practices when storing your breast milk.

Our real mum testers' reviews

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 also gave us valuable feedback on each one.

Elvie Breast Pump
Price: $212.49 (save 15%)
Alternative retailers
Target$228.99View offer
Best Buy$412.99View offer

Mum Naomi said: "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!"

Mum Georgina said: "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."

Mum Lucy said: "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."

Mum Eleanor said: "This product is amazing and makes life as a breastfeeding mum so much more easier. I have struggled before to express when breastfeeding, but this pump has been easy to use and enabled me to pump. The double pumping technology allows you to express two bottles of milk comfortably and quickly. The breast shield is great and can be adapted to fit you, so is personalised to you."

Mum Jenny said: "This product is great for me as a mum because it means I can pump more milk in less time. This is both from the internal mechanism and the fact that it is a double pump. This is handy for me as a mother of 2 as it means I can spend more time with them rather than being stuck sat down pumping. Another good thing about this breast pump is that it is easy to clean because it has fewer parts in comparison to other pumps."

Mum Abi said: "This breast pump is amazing! Being able to express from both breasts at the same time saved me a lot of time! As a mum of a toddler and a baby time is very precious and this product gave me more time to spend with my babies. It’s easy to use with no faffing around trying to get the pump position correct as the funnels are perfect size and shape. The pump is quiet in comparison to another I have previously used too which meant when I have pumped in the night I haven’t woken anyone up with the noise which has also been a brilliant feature."

Mum Katherine said: "I've found this electric breast pump so easy to use as it's now part of my daily routine. This has allowed me the ability to feed my baby breast milk using a bottle. This has meant I've been able to get back to doing bedtimes for my older child, while my husband gives the baby his bottle."

Mum Tina said: "This pump lets me express milk very efficiently and without hassle. The rechargeable base means that I’m not tied to a certain spot in the house but I can easily pump on the sofa or sitting at the kitchen table. The parts are very easy to clean and assemble."

Mum Roxy said: "The Vital Baby Nurture Flexcone pump is a two-in-one piece of kit, which saves space and money; if the battery dies or you find yourself somewhere without a power source but need to pump, you have the option to express manually (if you don’t have any charge left). And because it is charged using a USB power cable, it means you can essentially express milk ‘on the move’, as you can plug it into your laptop or in the car."

Mum Naomi said: "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."

Mum Georgina said: "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."

Mum Lucy said: "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."

MAM Electric 2 in 1 Single Breast Pump
Price: $246.85

Mum Jessica said: "This pump allowed me to quickly express good volumes of breast milk every morning that I could freeze for when I go back to work. It was effective and easy to use. I found it easy to put together and also to disassemble when needing to sterilise it. I also took the manual pump to a wedding and was able to quickly and discreetly express during the day."

Mum Selina said: "The flexibility to use the pump while plugged into the mains to recharge the motor unit battery and then use while on the go makes life as a daily expressing breastfeeding mum more liberating - in addition depending on the level of power you set, the battery of the unit can last up to 5 hours. The MAM bottles also have a self-sterilising function which offers mums less hassle and is more efficient - once bottles are washed and assembled per instruction - heating in the microwave for 3 minutes is such a time saver."

Mum Neda said: "This makes my life so much easier as a mum because I can quickly and easily express milk, so I have the opportunity to go for appointments, with the peace of mind that my baby will have her breast milk from other family members. This breast pump has everything you need - you can either pump straight into the bottle or into a storage pot."

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Electric Breast Pump
Price: $250.00

Mum Naomi said: "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."

Mum Georgina said: "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."

Mum Lucy said: "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."

Mum Naomi said: "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."

Mum Georgina said: "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."

Mum Lucy said: "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!"

Breast pumps

Do you need a breast pump?

It's all down to 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 production 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.

What type of breast pump is best?

There are two types of pump: manual and electric. With a manual pump, you place the 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 process is automated – you simply hold it to your breast and let the pump do the work.

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 – you can put your feet up and 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 which 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 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, with have a good suction power to facilitate the express process.

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 to pump one or two breasts at the same time. They can be battery or mains-powered.

Manual breast pump

These require your strength to squeeze the lever in order to create suction to express your milk. They are quieter, smaller and cheaper, perfect for pumping on the go.

Hospital-grade breast pump

This one is the most efficient and expensive as it pumps quickly and powerfully, 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 frequently, feeding twins or a premature baby, or you’re juggling breastfeeding and working full-time. Most mums find that a single electric breast pump is all they need, though. Some pumps, including one of the ones we tested, can be used in both single and double mode.

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. 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, and make sure the container is suitable for storing and transporting milk safely. 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 they're feeding on the other breast, or when you’re at work – or if you just want to hear what’s on the telly!

Extra features

Some breast pumps come with extra features, including feeding bottles, breast milk storage bags (pump & 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 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.

General usage tips about breast pumps

Always check if the breast pump is in the correct position to make sure you are getting 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 plug electricals 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.

Breast pump safety tips

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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