Best breast pumps
Breastfeeding can be a draining experience, both physically and emotionally, so a little help can go a long way. We put 15 of the UK's best breast pumps – six manual and nine electric – to the test and awarded the Ardo Calypso Double Plus Best Breast Pump 2018. It's a low-maintenance piece of kit, but it won't let you down when you need it most.
Best Breast Pump 2018
Ardo Calypso Double Plus
Breast pumps really can be a lifesaver and there are a number of reasons why you might decide to express:
- Your baby is struggling to latch on
- You have mastitis so breastfeeding has become painful
- You want to stimulate milk flow or you're worried about supply
- You're returning to work and want to continue breastfeeding so need to express on the go
- Your baby is premature
Here are the 5 best breast pumps to buy
- Ardo Calypso Double Plus Electric Breast Pump (£119.99 from Ardo using MUMSNET10 discount code)
- Philips Avent Single Manual Breast Pump (£28.80 from Amazon)
- Medela Harmony Electric Pump (£24.99 from Boots)
- Lansinoh 2-in-1 Double Electric Pump (£85.99 from Amazon)
- Spectra S2 Hospital Grade Electric Pump (£106.26 from Amazon)
How real-life comparative testing makes Mumsnet Reviews unique
In our mission to find the best breast pumps on the market, we scoured the Mumsnet Talk boards and spoke to experts to find out which products parents rated. This included manual, double and electric pumps.
After narrowing the recommendations down to 15 products, we enlisted a parent tester to put each one to the test over a period of three months, scoring them on six key areas: safety and stability, assembly, day-to-day use, cleanliness, aesthetics and value for money.
It would be quicker and cheaper to send each product out to a different tester, but we believe that consistent scoring and like-for-like comparisons are crucial.
The five top-performing pumps were awarded a Mumsnet Best Badge, but we think that the Ardo Calypso Double Plus is the best breast pump for most parents.
Why is the Ardo Calypso Best Breast Pump 2018?
The Ardo Calypso is totally customisable, with three breast shield sizes and lots of different suction levels.
The clear digital display and soft silicone cushion also mean you can express in comfort whatever time of day it is.
Verdict in 10 seconds
- An efficient and sturdy pump that's simple to use
- Mechanism is really quiet despite being powerful – ideal for discreet pumping or night feeds
- In the no-guarantees world of expressing, we reckon the Ardo Calypso is as close to a sure bet as you can get
- A powerful, closed system breast pump
- Can be tailored to suit your needs
- Transitions from a single to double pump with ease
- Used widely in hospitals and milk banks, it’s WHO-code compliant and ethically-produced
- Can be sterilised using an electric, microwave or cold-water steriliser
- Three breast shield sizes included
- Mains or battery-operated
- Not visually appealing
- Portable, but not compact
- Not a press-a-button-and-go pump – expect some fiddling before you find the settings that suit you perfectly
How we tested
With far fewer variables in the testing process than other sites, we are absolutely confident in our recommendations.
We put each product through its paces with a real mum and two new babies to give honest feedback about performance, reliability and value.
Safety and stability
- The pumps were chucked into the car boot, thrown on the floor and shoved into handbags to test for sturdiness
- Different suction settings were also tested and any discomfort noted
- We timed assembly and disassembly, noting how easy or tricky it was, and got an estimation of each pump’s noise level using a decibel reader
- We also looked at aspects like customer service, warranty and if it was easy to source spare parts. Did the manufacturer also offer advice through articles or helplines as well as online instruction videos?
- Our tester expressed at home, at work, in the car, when out shopping… almost anywhere that a mum might need to express
- She noted how easy or fiddly each pump was to use depending on the situation, how discreet it was (an important factor for a lot of mums) and how quickly and efficiently she could get the job done
- The bottles were also dropped on hard floors and the wires were sat on, pulled and tugged to make sure they dealt well with the rigours of busy family life
- We thoroughly investigated materials and hygienic design
- Each pump was put through the dishwasher, the microwave and an electric steriliser a number of times to see if it would stand up well to frequent washing
- What did each pump look like?
- We looked at size as well as appearance, considering whether it was portable and compact enough to carry around day-to-day
Value for money
- Finally, we assessed price, looking at exactly what you'd be getting for your money and, if pricey, whether it was worth the investment
We then scored each pump based on the above criteria to find out which was our best all-rounder and which four pumps deserved honourable mentions.
All prices on this page correct at time of writingRead full review » £119.99 using the code MUMSNET10 at checkout
Best Manual Breast Pump 2018
Verdict in 10 seconds
- An efficient and comfortable manual pump
- Ideal for mums who are occasionally expressing
- Portable, but loud, so may not be the most discreet in public places
The Philips Avent (£28.80 from Amazon) is a great option for those expressing breast milk less regularly – it's cheaper and less bulky than many of its competitors, but more hardwearing than other pumps on the market.
It's easy to assemble, with only six parts to put together, and can be done on the fly without the instructions.
- The silicone breast cushion is soft and tactile – option to purchase a larger-sized cushion if needed
- Simple to use
- Sturdy and robust, but also small
- Portable – stands at a diminutive 17cm when assembled
- Comes with breast pads and a travel cover to keep the breast cushion hygienic when thrown in a bag or car boot
- Easy to assemble, even without the instructions
- Rubber valve (usually the first piece to wear out) is more hardwearing than others on the market
- Fairly loud – may prove an obtrusive soundtrack to your TV programme or conference call
If you're looking for a small, hard-wearing travel pump, the Philips Avent definitely delivers.Read more »
Best Budget Breast Pump 2018
Verdict in 10 seconds
- An attractive, but effective, manual pump
- At less than £30, it's an affordable option for the majority of parents
- Portable and slimline
Looking for a serviceable pump costing not much more than your fortnightly nappy bill? Meet the Medela Harmony manual pump (£24.99 from Boots) – not overly easy to clean, but totally worth that extra effort.
It is thoughtfully designed, with both a gentle stimulation and a stronger expression setting to make expressing that little bit easier.
- Great value for money – low budget, but still feels like a high-quality product
- Five breast shield sizes available
- Comes with a Calma bottle teat, which is specifically designed to suit breastfeeding babies
- Small in size – 20cm at its highest point
- A thoughtful design, with a gentle breast stimulation phase
- Open system pump
- Not suitable for heavy-duty expressing
- Short warranty period
While this model might not be ideal for parents who want to express frequently throughout the day, the tiny, low-budget Medela Harmony feels like a high-quality product nonetheless – and it won't break the bank as you start your breast pumping journey.Read more »
Best Breast Pump for Working Mothers 2018
Verdict in 10 seconds
- The perfect option for a mum who wants to express discreetly and quickly, as long as she can find a power socket
- Effective enough for the shortest lunch break – there’s a set let-down phase and three expression phases, as well as a timer
- Not as noiseless as some pumps, but it won't disturb your colleagues
Returning to work and worrying about expressing for your baby? Look no further – the Lansinoh 2-1 Double Electric (£85.99 from Amazon) has got you covered.
The Lansinoh sits near the top tier of hospital-grade electric pumps, including the Ardo and the Spectra S2, but is cheaper, smaller and easier to handle than both.
- Powerful, closed system design
- Can be used as a single or double pump
- Comes with two sizes of breast cushion
- You'll also find a travel bag in the box, offering easy transportation to and from the office
- The electric unit is compact and attractive
- Easy to assemble and 18cm tall when put together
- Option to alter suction strength
- Has an LCD screen that's easy to read
- Sits in the higher price bracket
- Could be quieter – volume level is similar to that of a soft conversation
While this pump may be a small investment, if you have the means then you can be confident about the performance and reliability of the Lansinoh.Read more »
Best Electric Breast Pump 2018
Verdict in 10 seconds
- The ideal pump if you're thinking of expressing milk full-time (eight times a day, seven days a week)
- The best breast pump for twins
- By far the quietest model we tested
For longevity, reliability and top-quality performance, the Spectra S2 (£106.26 from Amazon) is loved by Mumsnetters. Whether for premature babies, twins or a little one struggling with their latch, the sizeable S2 will not let you down.
It caters to your needs in various ways – both the cycle and vacuum levels can be adjusted, and there’s an automatic let-down phase for convenience too.
- Hospital-grade, closed system pump
- Can be converted to a double pump
- Practically noiseless
- Has an integrated bottle stand two-level night light
- Display screen tells you how long you've been expressing
- Pump will turn itself off automatically after 30 minutes
- Comes with a two-year warranty
- Large and bulky
- No battery option
Some pumps are like workhorses – less streamlined than others, perhaps, but able to perform consistently at the highest level. This is where the Spectra S2 comes into its own.Read more »