There are many reasons why you might buy a breast pump. You may need to relieve engorgement, boost milk supply, express at work, or want to share feeding duties with a partner or family member.
As Rachele Lowe, a breastfeeding counsellor from La Leche League (the nonprofit breastfeeding organisation) points out, “Hand expression is a really useful skill and, with a bit of practice, can be very effective, but many mums like to use a breast pump too, especially if they need to express regularly”.
If you have just given birth and are juggling all the responsibilities that come with welcoming your new child, the last thing you want to be dealing with is a pump that doesn’t work.
When it comes to something as personal and important as feeding your child, our breast pump reviews and recommendations make it as easy as possible.
In our effort to find the best breast pumps on the market for most mums, we commissioned Alison Williams, a journalist and mum of two grown-up children, to write about breast pumps. She has experienced almost every stage of the parenting journey and, as a journalist, has written articles on a wide variety of parenting subjects.
During the testing process, she partnered with Sam, a mum of three with newborn twins and a seven-year-old.
So, which breast pumps did we test?
We spent 18 hours conducting research to find out which products real mums were recommending. We scoured the Mumsnet Talk boards, read reviews, talked to experts (including Rachele from La Leche League and Emma Pickett, chair of the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers and an International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners lactation consultant) and researched new and exciting models as well as those with the best reputation.
Following this, we made a longlist of 40 products, which was later whittled down to a shortlist of 15 pumps – five single electric pumps, two double electric pumps, a combined single/double electric pump, six manual pumps, and a new silent, wearable pump – to put to the test, with an emphasis on testing for a variety of parenting situations and needs.
Here is the full list:
- Ardo Calypso Double Plus electric breast pump
- Medela Harmony manual breast pump
- MAM 2-in-1 electric and manual
- Elvie wearable pump
- Lansinoh Compact single electric breast pump
- Haakaa silicone pump
- Medela Swing single electric
- Philips Avent single electric
- Lansinoh 2-in-1 double electric
- Nuby Natural Touch digital electric
- Haberman 2-Phase manual pump
- Tommee Tippee manual
- Philips Avent manual
- NUK Nature Sense battery-operated rechargeable pump
- Ardo Amaryll Start manual pump
Which breast pump is best?
After four months of research and thorough testing, five breast pumps triumphed: the Ardo Calypso Double Plus (Best Double Electric Breast Pump 2019), the Medela Harmony (Best Manual Breast Pump 2019), the MAM 2-in-1 (Best Breast Pump for Working Mums 2019), the Lansinoh Compact (Best Single Electric Breast Pump 2019) and the Elvie (Best Discreet Breast Pump 2019).
The Ardo Calypso Double Plus impressed us most because of its versatility and efficiency. As such, we think it’s the best breast pump for most parents.
Who tested the products?
At Mumsnet, we believe that one expert should test every product in the running. 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.
With far fewer variables in the testing process than other sites, we are absolutely confident in our recommendations.
We put the breast pumps through their paces for over 300 hours, testing vigorously and as honestly as possible to ensure that each model had been pushed to its limits.
Our tester, Sam, had newborn twins at the start of this process and had used breast pumps before with her older child (now three years old).
She used each breast pump throughout the day and night, undertaking frequent feeds with her two newborns, and split her testing between manual and electric.
The manual pumps were tested for a day each and the electrics tested for a minimum of two to three days in a row so that she could thoroughly try out all the different settings. She has continued to use the Elvie post-testing.
How were the breast pumps scored?
Each product was put through a series of specific tests to help us find the five best breast pumps on the market.
The breast pumps were scored based on six key categories: safety and stability, assembly, day-to-day use, cleanliness, discretion and convenience, and value for money.
How did you test for safety and stability?
Sam looked at the overall breast pump construction, evaluating whether the mechanisms were hard-wearing. This included the power cord, if there was one.
She assessed whether each pump could stand up to the rigours of everyday family life – they were dropped on hard floors and, on the whole, treated abysmally. The wires were also sat on, pulled and tugged.
How did you test for assembly?
Our tester looked at how easy the product was to put together – were there lots of parts, did the pump require assembly and, if so, were the instructions clear?
She also checked whether the manufacturers offered advice and support, and whether there were videos, helplines or webchats for any mum struggling or looking for support and help during the breastfeeding process.
We looked at aspects like customer service, warranty and ease of sourcing spare parts, assessing whether parts and advice were easy to come by, or whether, if things went wrong or the pumps weren’t suitable, there was an easy and stress-free way to sort things out.
Did the pump come with any extras (eg bottles, teats or milk storage bags) or would you need to purchase everything separately?
As Emma advises, “You don't just want to consider the initial cost but how easy it is to get hold of replacement parts, as some pumps that may look like a bargain end up being useless if you can't find replacement valves or tubing. And you need to be able to access these spare parts quickly to enable you to continue expressing.”
She also recommends chatting with a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant if your nipples might not be standard size as some pumps have narrower or wider breast shells available.
How did you test for ease of use on a day-to-day basis?
Our tester expressed at home, at work, in the car, when out shopping…almost anywhere that any mum would need to express and at various times of day.
She noted how easy or difficult expressing with each pump was was (did the breast pump have adjustable settings and was it clear how these worked?), how fiddly and heavy the pump was to use, and if she could move around freely while expressing (did she have to be close to a plug socket?).
Sam also assessed whether or not each pump was comfortable or caused irritation in any way, and how quickly she could get the job done – did batteries need to be recharged and was the pump time-consuming to use?
If you’re expressing between meetings, before rushing to pick up other children from school, or in the only free minutes you have during the day, your breast pump needs to be efficient.
The pumps were also chucked in the boot, thrown on the floor of the car, shoved into handbags and backpacks, and taken on the bus, the train and the tube to test for sturdiness and transportability.
How did you test for design and cleaning?
We investigated materials and hygienic design, and cycled through the different suction settings.
The pumps were repeatedly put through the dishwasher, the microwave and an electric steriliser according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The parts were put together, taken apart and put back together again, and the process was timed to see just how long it would take to assemble and disassemble each pump.
How did you test for discretion and convenience?
Discretion is a really important aspect for a lot of mums when using a breast pump, so we asked our tester whether she felt comfortable using each product when at work or out and about.
We also checked noise levels and how discreet each model was, and whether it was easy to store when not in use, ie in a handbag or changing bag.
What about value for money?
We looked, too, at exactly what you’d be getting for your money.
A breast pump is supposed to make life easier for busy, tired mums. It’s supposed to make feeding your baby easier no matter your reason for expressing, and it needs to do that without breaking the bank.
In order to do this, we tested breast pumps within a number of price ranges, from the cheaper models like the Philips Avent to the more expensive like the Elvie.
Why you should trust us
Mumsnet has been making parents’ lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed countless products. We’ve watched trends come and go and safety features become more and more slick. Our testing is best in class – we rigorously test each product with real children in real-life situations as well as standardised lab-style testing and we're confident that our testing leaves no stone unturned. This means that parents don’t need to compare reviews or hunt around for other opinions. They know Mumsnet has it covered.
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