Best Discreet Breast Pump 2019
If you’re looking for a really discreet breast pump, the new wearable Elvie could be the answer. It’s quiet, completely hands-free and fits easily into a nursing bra.
Verdict in 10 seconds
- A revelation for breast pumping mums who want a completely hands-free and discreet device
- Pricey, but worth the investment for those who have the budget
Watch our two-minute video review
- Quiet (one of the quietest pumps we tested)
- Compact and lightweight
- Worn inside a nursing bra
- Cordless and rechargeable – no wires, which means you’re completely unrestricted
- Three breast shield sizes – 21 mm, 24 mm and 28 mm
- The price
- You have to pump into the compatible Elvie bottle and then transfer to another bottle to feed your little one
What are the key features?
- Wearable – it fits in your nursing bra
- Hassle-free – only five parts to assemble and clean
- Smart technology – you can control the pump remotely using the free Elvie app, monitor milk volume and track pumping history
- Seven suction settings
What are the specs?
- Closed system
- Two-year warranty for the hub and a 90-day warranty for washable components
- RRP: £249.00 (single); £449 (double)
- Good resale value particularly as Elvie do sometimes sell out – second hand pumps go for between £100-£200 online
- Extras you can buy: pump bottles (£24.99), breast shields (£24.99), bra adjusters (£12.99), pump seals (£14.99) and a spout and valve kit (£14.99)
What's in the box?
- 1 hub
- 2 bottles (150 ml)
- 1 breast shield (24 mm)
- 1 breast shield (28 mm)
- 2 valves
- 2 spouts
- 2 seals
- 2 storage lids
- 2 bra adjusters
- 1 USB charging cable
- 1 carry bag
What's so special about the Elvie breast pump?
The Elvie really is an innovative addition to the breast pump market and gives mums, especially working mums, something they’re crying out for – it’s completely hands-free, it's really convenient and it's practically invisible.
Breastfeeding can mean pumping several times a day, and with most pumps that means your movements are restricted. The Elvie simply pops into your nursing bra so that you can carry on doing whatever you need to do while you collect your milk.
There are no cords, and the pump connects to an app that allows you to monitor milk flow and control the pump from your phone.
How easy is the Elvie to assemble?
With only five parts, the Elvie is simple to assemble. The first time our tester, Sam, used the pump it took two minutes to put together – after a few uses it took her less than 30 seconds. You will, however, need to charge the hub via a micro USB for about 40 minutes before first use.
There are clear step-by-step instructions included in the box and you can also find additional instructions and videos online which show you how to assemble, fit and sterilise the pump. There is also a FAQ section if you really get stuck.
With two of almost every component if you buy the double box (this comes at a steep cost of £449 though!), one set can be sterilised while the other is being used, which is particularly handy for mums who are always on the go.
Elvie sell extras online, which includes breast shield, bra adjusters, pump seals and a pump spout and valve kit, but are a little on the pricey side – £24.99 for a two-pack of breast shields, for example.
How does it look?
This pump is sleek and attractive and the design minimal – it's so small that it will easily fit into the palm of your hand, measuring only 128 mm x 110 mm x 68 mm.
It consists of a small plastic hub that attaches directly to a bottle, both of which sit inside your nursing bra. There are no wires or tubes, and it isn't bulky to wear.
How does it work and what's it like to use day-to-day?
You can control the pump directly on the hub or via an app on your phone, which you can download for free. As the buttons on the hub are quite small, it may be better to use the pump solely through the app. The app also allows you to monitor milk volume, track pumping history for each breast and control the Elvie remotely.
Once you position it on your breast and tuck inside your bra, the pump will always start in stimulation mode before automatically switching to expression mode after two minutes – you can also switch to expression mode manually in the app. Expression mode is a slower pumping rhythm to release milk efficiently and there are seven suction settings altogether.
If you have a demanding baby, twins, older children that need your attention, or if you are returning to work, the Elvie means you can spend less time tethered to a wall and more time focusing on those other life essentials.
There's no need to be near a plug socket as it is completely hands-free and wireless. Sam really rated the freedom of movement the Elvie gave her. She found that she could walk around, use her phone and even do the washing up while using it.
You can easily use the pump at home or when out and about. It's ultra portable and more than small enough to pop into a handbag, something you could have trouble with when it comes to larger electric pumps like the Ardo Calypso Double Plus – it also comes with its own carry bag for convenience.
As such, it's easy to store as it fits together nicely and doesn't come with many additional parts.
A friend of mine with a 12-week-old baby has one and it looks amazing. I ordered one as soon as I saw her use it.
Discretion and convenience
You can express anywhere at all times of day with the Elvie, not just in a separate room on your lunch break.
Even though she was on maternity leave at the time of testing and didn't actually test the Elvie out at work, Sam still felt that she would be able to sit at her desk and express without her colleagues knowing.
She found it really discreet to use overall, fitting neatly into her bra so, with the right clothes (think T-shirt or jumper rather than skin-tight vest top), no one could tell she was wearing it.
During testing, she typically expressed while her babies were feeding so tended to sit still most of the time – this also gave some reassurance that the pump was held securely in place. While she said she wouldn't feel comfortable wearing the Elvie on the school run, she did pump confidently in a café. She also expressed in bed in during the night in an upright position.
While the Elvie isn't completely silent as the manufacturer suggests, it is really quiet so it didn't disturb her babies or her husband as they were sleeping. She reported having to strain to hear her milk being collected over the newborn snuffles.
How comfortable is it?
The Elvie is incredibly comfortable. The instruction manual clearly states that you should not feel any discomfort and, according to our tester, you really don’t.
There are two sizes of breast shield available. They’re made from solid plastic (not the soft rubber most breast pumps have) and didn't rub against the nipple. Sam preferred the larger size because her nipples were fairly sore from trying to breastfeed twins.
The only added extra she didn't use were the bra adjusters as her nursing bras were stretchy enough to accommodate the electric hub. As there should be no gaps between the Elvie and your breast (this prevents milk leakage), it's important that your bra fits correctly. Some mums have reported milk leaks so bra fitting is crucial.
How safe and stable is it?
Once used, it takes about two hours to fully recharge the Elvie, which gives around two and a half hours of power – less than we'd like (and less than other electric pumps on the market, such as the MAM 2-in-1), but decent enough for such a small device.
Unfortunately, with the pump our tester used, the connecting bracket from the hub to the bottle snapped after six weeks' use. This was, however, replaced immediately, free of
charge, by Elvie and took seconds to fit, which meant that Sam's pumping schedule wasn't interrupted.
The pump is wireless so there’s not much that can be damaged, but because the connector is similar to that used for a smartphone, you shouldn't put too much pressure on the connection points.
The bottles are hardwearing and don’t crack or break even when dropped on a hard floor, which makes this pump very suited to being transported. There are two bottles included as standard which, despite their small size, are large enough to accommodate enough milk when expressing on the go.
How easy is it to clean?
There are five components to sterilise – the bottle, lid and spout plus the breast shield and seal.
You can wash them quickly in soapy water and then sterilise each part in a hot or cold steriliser, dishwasher or microwave. Sam has been using the Elvie for two months, and it still looks brand-new.
The hub must be kept dry as it’s electronic, but all other parts are easy to clean.
What about value for money?
It is pricey, there's no doubt about it, but if you need to return to work within three to six months of having your baby, this pump would allow you to maintain a pumping schedule that most others wouldn’t. You could even pump on your daily commute!
There's definitely an appetite among parents for this kind of pump, so we think the Elvie offers great value for money.
Many women stop breastfeeding when they return to work because it can be difficult and time-consuming, so the biggest advantage of the Elvie is its convenience.
A mother’s time certainly isn’t worth nothing, so if you’re considering switching to formula because expressing is too much hassle, then this pump could be the answer.
While the downside is the price (which is outside an affordable bracket for the majority of mums), we hope that, as technology improves and women’s time becomes more valued, innovative products like the Elvie will eventually be accessible to everyone.
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All Mumsnet product reviews are written by real parents after weeks of research and testing – this includes recommendations from the Mumsnet Talk boards. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust. Sometimes, we earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage. Read our how we test page to find out more.
For more information about what to look for when buying a breast pump, check out our buyer's guide.
All prices correct at time of publication
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