What is the best breast pump?
Your baby is due any day now. You’ve decided you want to breastfeed, but you’re worried about those days when it just doesn’t fit into your lifestyle? Wouldn’t it be great for you and baby to get the benefits of breast milk with the convenience of bottle feeding?
Expressing your milk with a breast pump will give you that freedom. But where do you start? Finding reliable breast pump reviews can be exhausting, so we’ve put together this resource – an all inclusive guide to help you find the best breast pump to suit your needs.
Best Breast Pump Comparisons 2017
|Medela Swing||Single||Frequent (1-2 times a day)||Mid-Range (£80-200)||4.4 stars|
|Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Breast Pump||Single||Frequent (1-2 times a day)||Budget (£40 - £79)||3.5 stars|
|Philips Avent Comfort||Single||Frequent (1-2 times a day)||Mid-Range (£80-200)||4.2 stars|
|Spectra 3||Single||Frequent (1-2 times a day)||Budget (£40 - £79)||4.1 stars|
|Ameda Lactaline||Single / Double||Frequent (1-2 times a day)||Mid-Range (£80-200)||4.2 stars|
|Medela Mini||Single||Occasional (1-2 times a week)||Budget (£40 - £79)||3.8 stars|
|ARDO Calypso Double Plus||Single / Double||Frequent (1-2 times a day)||Mid-Range (£80-200)||4.2 stars|
|Medela Freestyle||Double||High Usage / Exclusive Pumping (3-12 times a day)||Premium (£200-£300)||4.1 stars|
|Medela Swing Maxi Double||Double||High Usage / Exclusive Pumping (3-12 times a day)||Premium (£200-£300)||4.1 stars|
|Spectra S1||Single / Double||High Usage / Exclusive Pumping (3-12 times a day)||Mid-Range (£80-200)||4.1 stars|
|Lansinoh 2-in-1 Affinity||Single / Double||High Usage / Exclusive Pumping (3-12 times a day)||Mid-Range (£80-200)||4.2 stars|
|Spectra Dew 350||Single / Double||High Usage / Exclusive Pumping (3-12 times a day)||Mid-Range (£80-200)||4.2 stars|
|Spectra S2||Single / Double||High Usage / Exclusive Pumping (3-12 times a day)||Mid-Range (£80-200)||4.1 stars|
|ARDO Calypso||Single||Frequent (1-2 times a day)||Mid-Range (£80-200)||4.2 stars|
Top 5 Best Breast Pump Reviews
1. Medela Swing with Calma
Pros: quality brand, very effective, easy to use, very portable
Cons: open system
The Medela Swing is hands down the bestselling breast pump in the UK. It’s no surprise that it’s a multi award winning breast pump including WHICH? Best Buy Awards. The smart ‘2 phase-expression technology’ of the Medela swing mimics the natural feeding action of a breastfeeding baby. With adjustable suction rate and strength the Swing allows you to pump in comfort to produce the most milk. Great for frequent use and improve your milk supply as well as relieving sore nipple and engorgement. Looking for a double pump? Check out the Swing Maxi for a supersized version. Expect to pay around £110 for this pump.
Click here for our full review of the Medela Swing.
2. ARDO Calypso Double Plus
Pros: includes different breast shield sizes, easy to use, effective , comfortable, portable
Cons: no carry bag, drains batteries
The ARDO Calypso Double is the pump you need if you want to double your output whilst expressing. A 20 minute session instead of 40 minutes with a single pump? Hello new found nap time! Double pumping gets to the rich, fatty milk that baby only gets to during long feeding sessions. You’ll feel like Super Mum as your tiny new born sprouts up and smashes those milestones, thriving on your breast milk.
It can be used as both a double and a single depending on your need. We love that it’s a hygienic closed system so no risk of mould growing in the motor. We would recommend this pump if you need a pump for frequent use, and to keep your milk supply high. Expect to pay around £125 for this breast pump, check out current prices here.
Click here for our in depth review of the Ardo Calypso.
3. Philips Avent Comfort
Pros: comfortable, adjustable speeds, lightweight and compact
The Philips Avent Comfort is our best rated breast pump when it comes to comfort. Adjustable suction, comfort cushions and an angled breast shield helps to make you relaxed during an expressing session so you get as much milk as possible. This pump is best suited to you if you pump occasionally or at most once a day. If you need to pump more often we suggest looking at some of our double pump recommendations. The pump is very easy to use and Avent accessories and bottles are readily available online and in most supermarkets. This breast pump will cost around £80.
Read our full Philips Avent Comfort review here.
4. Spectra S1
Pros: hospital grade pump, very quiet, rechargeable battery, night light
The Spectra S1 is the most affordable home use breast pump if you need a pump for heavy use or exclusive pumping. It’s a hospital grade pump and will cope with any breastfeeding issues. If you have been using a breast pump in hospital and want to maintain the same expression schedule, then we highly recommend this pump for at home. This pump will tackle any breastfeeding problem thrown at it including sore nipples, multiple babies and low milk supply. Considering its performance this pump is a steal at the retail price of around £150 but check out online offers as you can sometimes pick it up for less.
5. Ameda Lactaline Personal Dual
Pros: quiet, use double or single, battery option, easy to clean, adjustable suction
Cons: no travel bag
The Ameda Lactaline is a great breast pump for frequent expressing. It can be used as either a double or a single pump depending on how much and how quickly you need to express. Ameda have ensured comfort with this pump by enabling you to choose 32 combinations of suction speed and strength. Plus you have the option of using different sized breast shields so there is no rubbing or nipple soreness while you pump. You’ll be looking to pay around £100 for this pump.
Check out our full Ameda Lactaline review here.
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Types of Breast Pump
Manual Breast Pump
This is a breast pump which requires no power source. They work by pushing a simple lever up and down with your hand to create a suction. The benefits of using a manual breast pump are:
- easy to clean
- fewer parts to maintain
They are quite tiring on your arms after pumping continuously for 20 minutes, especially if you pump a few times a day. Also some women find that the suction is not strong enough to express the breast milk.
We would recommend a manual pump if you are planning to express infrequently (2-3 times a month or less) or will be using a breast pump when travelling.
Electric Breast Pump
Buying an electric breast pump means you will need a power source to use it, either a mains power, batteries or a car power adapter. These breast pumps come with a breast shield and bottle connected to a pump motor which creates suction. Advantages of using an electric breast pump are:
- increased efficiency
- control over suction speed and strength
- greater milk volumes
- flexibility to pump ‘hands free’
You should consider whether an electric breast pump will be more beneficial to you than manual pump as they are more expensive to buy.
We recommend buying an electric breast pump if you will be pumping frequently (weekly – daily ) and is essential if you plan on pumping exclusively. You will also need to consider if you need a single or a double breast pump.
How to use a Breast Pump
Single Breast Pump
A single breast pump has only one bottle attachment so you and expressing milk one breast at a time. This type of pump is for mums who use the pump infrequently (1-2 times a week) or frequently (1-2 times a day). The benefit of a single breast pump is that they are usually cheaper than the double pumps, and allows mums to have one hand free or feed baby on one side whilst pumping from the other. The downside is that a single pump takes longer to get a high volume of milk, so isn’t really suited to mums wanting high use of the pump (3-5 times a day) or who want to exclusively pump (6-12 times a day). The Medela Swing breast pump is an example of a top rated single breast pump
Double Breast Pump
A double pump means halving the time it takes expressing milk, saving you lots of time, and what new mum doesn’t like to the sound of that? A top grade double pump is needed by mums who are expressing more than 3 times a daily. Don’t buy a budget pump if you are planning on pumping more than this as it will be false economy as you’ll soon be buying a second pump when the motor packs up as it’s not equipt for high usage. Finding the best breast pump for your needs is an investment for you and your family, especially if you plan on having more children in the future.
Breast Pump Systems
You’ve probably seen the term ‘open’ or ‘closed’ system when looking a breast pumps. Before you buy its best you know the difference between the two and why it matters.
Open System Breast Pump
An open system does not have a barrier between the pump motor and the collection kit. This means the motor is exposed to any milk or air pumped through the tubing. Milk and air can transmit bacteria, mould or viruses, putting your milk at risk of contamination .The tubing and motor are difficult to completely clean and sanitise, without damaging the parts. For hygiene reason you should replace tubing if you are concerned about mould growth. An open system should never be shared between women for health and hygiene reasons.
Closed System Breast Pump
A closed breast pump system uses a barrier, such as a filter, between the collection kit and motor. This prevents milk and droplet particles getting into the motor system. This prevents mould and bacteria growth from contaminating your expressed milk. This system is much more hygienic to use. The tubing system does not need washed or sterilised with each use, and should only need replaced if damaged.
Advantages of using an Electric Breast Pump
Using an electric breast pump offers a solution to mums who want to give their baby breast milk but may not be able to, or want to, put baby directly to the breast.
Returning to work
Mums often worry that they won’t be able to breastfeed for the recommended 6 months as they have to go back to work. As a working mum you are legally entitled to breaks at work to express milk for your baby.
Baby with Special Needs
Some babies may not be able to feed directly from the breast due to attachment issues caused by prematurity, cleft lip and palate or severe tongue tie. Expressing milk for special feeding equipment will help encourage their immunity, especially if baby is still in a special care unit.
Increase Milk Supply
Most mums worry that there baby is not getting enough milk, it’s the number one reason for stopping breastfeeding in the UK. Expressing milk allows you to increase your milk supply by stimulating the hormone which helps you produce milk – the more you express the more you make. Physically seeing how much milk your baby is taking is also a huge relief for a lot of mums.
Getting a Rest
Breastfeeding can be a big responsibility, after all you are the only person with that can feed your baby. Sometimes its just nice to hand over the reigns for one feed and a lot of dads appreciate getting to feel the bond of feeding a baby. So you can go for forty winks whilst dad or granny tend to baby.
Unfortunately breastfeeding in public is a rather taboo subject and a lot of women are embarrassed to feed in public. Expressing milk means you can breastfeed in the comfort of your own home and pump when you need to visit family or in public.
This is the official name for fear of breastfeeding and is a real issue for a lot of women. Exclusive pumping is lesser known an option available to mums who still want their baby to receive all the benefits of breast milk.
Disadvantages of a Breast Pump
Breast pumps have a lot of benefits; however, they also have their limitations. Let’s have a look at things you should consider before you buy a breast pump.
Extra Cleaning – You’ll need to keep your breast pump milk free after using, to prevent bacteria growth. The pump will need cleaned in hot soapy water after every use. You’ll also need to sterilise the parts at least once a day.
Time – Expressing milk can take a lot of time if you are doing it frequently. A session with a single pump can take up to 30 minutes per breast. Using a double breast pump will cut a pump session in half.
Milk production – Most women will maintain their milk supply with a breast pump; however, expressing can affect your supply. Over expressing can send your supply into overdrive, resulting in engorgement or mastitis. On the other hand, if the pump is not effective enough your supply can quickly dwindle.
Milk storage – Unless you are using the expressed milk straight away it will need to be stored. If you need to keep a big supply, this can take a lot of room in your fridge or freezer. When using a breast pump out of the house, remember you’ll need to keep it cooled until you get it home.
Best Breast Pumps for…
You are looking for a breast pump which will benefit your lifestyle. We’ve highlighted how to get the best from a breast pump with these buying needs.
Twins or Multiples
You’ll need a pump which really boosts you milk supply. Twins need double the supply to ensure enough milk for each feed. A high quality, double electric breast pump is the best option as it will cut your expressing time in half. If you intend to use it frequently make sure the motor is powerful enough to cope with excessive use. We would highly recommend the Spectra S1 or the Medela Swing Maxi.
You will probably need to exclusively pump for your premature baby until they can suckle themselves. A hospital grade pump is the best option. The neonatal unit should be able to provide you with a pump to use whilst you are in hospital. When you are discharged ask if they have a loan system. If not consider renting a hospital grade breast pump. If you prefer to buy your own opt for the Spectra S1.
Do you plan to continue breastfeeding when you return to work? A breast pump can help you relieve the engorgement and keep your supply high for baby. For work you’ll want a pump which is portable, quick and quiet. If you are pumping frequently we’d recommend the Medela Swing. For occasional work use opt for an inexpensive manual pump like the Lansinoh Comfort.
Plan on travelling but still need your pump? A manual or battery operated breast pump is best for this. You don’t need to worry about a power supply or running out of charge. These pumps are also lightweight and compact enough to carry in a handbag.
Buying a Used Breast Pump
If you are tight for money but need a good quality pump you might consider getting one second hand. We would highly recommend buying one from a known source such as family or friends. Buying online from a stranger may put your and baby’s health at risk. Let’s look at the pros and cons.
- Save Money – You can get a second hand breast pump for around half the retail price. This means you will get a better quality pump than if you purchased one new.
- Eco Friendly – Using a second hand pump will save it from going to landfill. Lots of pump have plenty of life left in them. Some mums buy pumps ‘just in case’ and never have them out the box.
- Warranty – Most breast pumps will state they are for single person use only. This means if when you buy second hand the warranty is void. Multi user pumps avoid this, however you may need a receipt to verify the purchase.
- Health – Breast milk is a blood product, which can carry infection or disease. If you are unsure of the health history of the seller, it’s not advisable to buy the pump. Open systems are at greatest risk of contain small droplets of the previous users milk in the mechanisms.
- Motor life – All electric pumps come with a motor which can be used for a certain period of time before it stops working. Unless you know the history of the pump then you won’t know how long it will last. If the pump has been used excessively it may be close to wearing out, the only way is to ask the seller how much the pump has been used.
Breast Pump Hire
There is the option to hire a pump for those who:
- Need a high quality pump for a short period
- Cannot afford hospital grade pump
- Prefer not to use a second hand pump
Mothercare rent out the Medela Symphony, a breast pump used in most neonatal unit all over the UK. It will cost around £46 a month to hire and it comes with an expression kit.
Buying Breast Pump Accessories
Just like formula feeding you’ll need to buy some equipment if you plan to express breast milk. If you’ve never expressed before this is the pumping equipment you should stock up on before your baby arrives.
You’ll need to feed baby your breast milk after its pumped. This is what you’ll need for feeding your baby expressed breast milk.
- Bottles – You’ll probably opt for bottles to feed your baby. The concern is that your baby will suffer teat confusion due to the different suckling technique. Check out our favourite bottles for breastfeeding babies. If you want to avoid plastic bottles click here for our top glass baby bottle picks.
- Teats – Any bottle you buy will come with a teat attached. You can swap these for breastfeeding friendly teats. They make baby work harder for the milk and prevent the suckling confusion of regular teats.
- Other Methods – If you prefer to avoid using bottles these are alternative methods you can use. Spoon, cup and tube feeding are all alternative methods for babies who have problems sucking or swallowing. You should be competent at using these methods.
If you don’t plan to give baby the milk straight away it need to be safely stored. This is what you’ll need.
Breast Milk Bag – If you need to store the milk for a few hours keep it in the collect bottle in the fridge. For long term storage decant the milk into breast milk bags as freeze, to keep for longer.
- Cool Bag – If you are travelling with you breast pump (e.g. working mums) get a cool bag to keep your expressed milk safely stored until you get home. A cool bag with a freezer pack can store milk for up to 24 hours.
Your breast pump equipment will need to be kept clean and sterilised to prevent bacteria growth. This will prevent your baby being exposed to infection or illness.
- Washing-up Liquid – You can use your regular washing up liquid to clean the breast pump parts. You can also buy specialist baby bottle soap which cuts through the fatty layers of breast milk which can leave a greasy film on the bottles.
- Bottle Brush – A bottle brush is ideal for getting into the small curves and edges of baby bottle and nipples. They are usually double ended to clean large areas and narrow tubes.
- Drying Rack – To thoroughly dry the bottle and pump parts its best to air dry. Dissembling the parts can take up a lot of space in your regular drying rack. A bottle drying rack has is specially designed to hold the small, narrow pump and bottle parts.
- Steriliser – Sterling the bottle and pump parts which have been washed will kill any leftover bacteria. You can choose from steam sterilising machines, microwave sterilisers, boiling in a pan or sterling fluid.
Cost of a Breast Pump
Using a breast pump can add up. Here are some costs you should consider before you buy a breast pump.
Your biggest outlay will be buying the actual pump. Prices for a new breast pump can vary from £15 up to £2500. With this range you’ll find a breast pump to suit your needs and budget. Average costs of a breast pump are:
- £15-£40 for a manual breast pump
- £50-£250 for an electric breast pump (single or double)
- £900 – £2500 for a hospital grade breast pump
You can also hire a breast pump to use for a short period of time. Typically they cost around £35-£50 for the first two weeks then the same rolling monthly fee after. The hire price usually includes the cost of a new expression kit.
Check our list above for what we recommend you buy to use alongside your breast pump. Not all of these are necessary if you are on a budget. However, they will make your life a whole lot easier, especially if you are pumping frequently. Most accessories are low cost, one of purchases. If you plan to pump a lot you might need a large stash of bottle which can get costly, especially if you opt for glass baby bottles.
Manual breast pumps don’t require a power supply but eclectic pumps will. Usually this is through a mains charger, however there are pumps which take batteries or can be run by a car charger. Electric breast pumps aren’t costly to run from a mains supply. If you use the portable battery option, we recommend using rechargeable batteries to keep costs low.
Before you buy your breast pump make sure it’s easy to get replacement parts. The big breastfeeding brands will be easy to get. Cheap or unbranded pumps may be difficult to get replacement parts for. Pump part such as membrane and tubing will need replaced every so often to get the best results from the pump. You’ll also need to regularly clean and sterilise the pump to keep it hygienic and safe for baby.
Breast Pump Parts
Breast Shield – Also known as the flange. This is the part of the breast pump which cups around the breast. Your nipple should point directly towards the ‘tunnel’ part. Once the motor starts your nipple is pulled back and forth along the tunnel as your milk is released.
Connector – Attaches the shield to the collection bottle.
Tubing – Attaches the connector, or the breast shield in some models, to the motor.
Motor – Electronic part of the breast pump. This part houses the on/off buttons and the suction levels of the pump. The motor is often power by an AC mains adapter, however some models may have a battery option at the back of the motor.
Bottle Holder – Holds the bottle upright as the breast shield will make the bottle top heavy. The holder prevents your milk from spilling.
Collection Bottle – This is where your milk collects as you pump. A good bottle has measurements to see how much you’ve expressed during a session. Collection bottle will come with a flat storage lid and some may come with a lid to convert it into a feeding bottle. Not all collection bottles can be used as feeding bottles so you may need to decant the milk from the collection bottle to a feeding bottle.
Valve– This prevents the milk flowing back from the bottle into the tubing or the motor of the breast pump.
Membrane – Fits onto the valve and also helps to prevent back flow of milk and to create a vacuum for good suction. The membrane is very important, the pump will not work well if it’s worn out or not fitted properly.
7 Best Breast Pump Brands
If you’ve never used a breast pump before it’s useful to know the best brands. Let’s check out the top breast pump brand sin the UK which sell high quality breast pumps.
The brand who paved the way for modern electric breast pumps. With over 65 year of making breast pumps they know what mums need. Their range is well rated by breastfeeding support groups such as La Leche League. Hospitals often use the high powered Elite model in their postnatal and neonatal wards.
A high quality brand making Swiss quality breast pumps. They are approved suppliers for the NHS and WHO compliant for breastfeeding products. They have a small range of award winning electric breast pumps and a manual pump. You can hire their hospital grade pumps directly. Accessories and replacement parts are easily available.
This well-known brand with over 30 years’ experience is a favourite of breastfeeding mums. Their best-selling product is their lanolin nipple cream. They have a range of breast pumps to suit all needs, at reasonable prices. Our best rated manual breast pump is from the Lansinoh range.
The world leading brand for breast pumps. The Medela brand has invested a lot of research into improving the expressing experience for mums. Their two phrase expression system has improved the quantity that mums get during a pump session. They have a large selection of breast pumps from manual to hospital grade. Their mid-price home use pumps are the best on the market. Read our reviews of the Medela breast pump range here.
One of the best-selling baby product brands in the UK. They have started focusing on breast pumps in the last few years. The range is really taking off and already award winning from parenting sites and magazines.
The combination of two British brands making high quality products for parents. The breastfeeding range is small but you’ll find one for your needs. They are easy to use and reasonably prices. They score highest in our reviews for most comfortable breast pumps.
Set up by a lactation nurse to bring hospital grade breast pump to the home. They have a big range of powerful pumps at affordable prices. The Spectra S1 is on par with the Medela electric breast pumps.