Breast pumps are used to collect breast milk, called expressing, so you can store and give breast milk to your baby with a bottle. This is important if you are unable to breastfeed straightaway as no matter how eager we are to breastfeed our babies, breastfeeding may not go as planned.
Expressing is also necessary if you need to be away from your baby for any reason but want to continue to give breast milk – whether you’re going back to work, one of you is poorly or you want someone else to do the feeding. And if you suffer from engorgement or over-supply, expressing can relieve discomfort and build-up.
While hand-expressing works for many women, expressing using a breast pump is usually quicker, easier and more effective, particularly if you need to stimulate, maintain or boost your milk supply. To find the best breast pumps out there, we’ve analysed the breast pump market and rigorously tested a range of different pumps. Each of our recommended breast pumps has been used regularly by a breastfeeding tester with a young baby. We’ve also combined these results with feedback from breastfeeding mums to bring you our top picks.
How to choose the best breast pump
Manual vs electric breast pumps: what’s the difference?
Manual pumps require the user to pump a handle in order to create suction and extract breast milk. It can take a fair amount of effort and time to pump a volume of milk, and it’s not always possible to adjust the level of suction, therefore manual pumps are often more suited for occasional use.
They are cheaper and tend to be more compact and weigh less than electric versions. They are almost quieter than motorised pumps and more convenient as you don’t need to remember to charge a manual pump or worry about batteries.
Many mums who want or need to express milk may start with a manual pump to see whether expressing works for them, and then progress to an electric to produce more milk, more quickly.
Electric pumps create suction using a motor powered by mains, USB cord or batteries. They look very similar to a manual version, with a breast shell and milk collection bottle, but there’s no handle because you don’t need to pump with your hand.
Electric pumps create a rhythmic suction pattern and allow you to control suction strength, enabling you to pump larger volumes of milk in less time, but they are more expensive and often noisier and bulkier than manual ones.
Sophisticated electric pumps have 2-phase programmes that are designed to closely mimic the way a baby feeds – light but fast sucking initially to stimulate flow, followed by slower and deeper sucks that draw out large quantities of milk – promoting greater comfort and efficiency.
Single vs double breast pumps: which should you use?
Manual pumps are only available as singles because, well, you’ve only got one pair of hands and you need both – one to hold the breast shield in place, the other to pull the handle.
Electric pumps are either sold as singles – which allow you to express milk from one breast at a time – or doubles – which enable you to extract milk from both breasts simultaneously. While double pumping cuts expressing time in half, double pumps are more expensive (not twice the price of but certainly more than their single counterparts) and can be difficult to master.
Conventional double pumps require you to use both hands to keep them in place, making it tricky to adjust the speed and suction settings for each side. However, accessories such as specially designed expressing bras or bustiers that hold the breast shields and bottles in place give you a hands-free option, as do the latest wireless breast pumps.
Does portable, hands-free or wireless make a difference?
In short, yes – and a big one. If you don’t want to be tethered to a plug socket while you pump, look for a pump that can run off batteries or a rechargeable power pack. This will mean you can move around while pumping – be it wandering into the kitchen to find a snack or striding across the living room to stop your toddler emptying paint over the floor.
Hands-free pumping makes it possible to pump without having to hold the breast shield (or breast shields if you’re double-pumping) in place, leaving your hands free – though if the motor unit isn’t portable, you may be still be restricted to staying in one spot.
Wireless pumps have the motor, breast shield and bottle integrated in one unit and don’t require mains power or your hands to hold them in place, offering both discretion and freedom as you can carry on virtually as normal – be it at home or out and about.
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How much should I expect to pay for a breast pump?
Prices of breast pumps vary dramatically, with non-electric manual pumps starting at around £20 and high-tech, electric pumps that promise hands-free wireless pumping retailing up to around £200 – and up to £400 for a double. In between, a decent single electric hand-held pump will set you back around £130 to £150.
The best pump for you will depend on your needs and preference. As with virtually all parenting products, there are dozens of different choices on offer so if you’re unsure which breast pump is right for you, use our buyer’s guide to help you decide.
How did we choose our best breast pumps?
Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
When testing breast pumps we consider a number of features including ease of use, comfort, effectiveness, battery life, value for money and more.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
Here’s our pick of the best breast pumps for expressing milk:
1. Lola & Lykke Smart Electric Breast Pump, £135
– Best for wireless pumping
Type: Electric | Hands-free: No | Power: USB-powered rechargeable battery pack | Award: Gold – Electric/battery breast pump (single), MadeForMums Awards 2021
This streamlined breast pump boasts smart-touch screen technology and has no tubes or wires, making it portable and easy to assemble and clean. It offers 5 ‘massage’ settings and another 9 for expression, giving pumpers a good range of levels for individual comfort. Bonny, a MFM home tester, raved about this pump. “It works really well and not being tied by cables and tubes is great. Plus, the power the unit is excellent – it pumps effectively and the battery life is good.”
The pump is also virtually silent, as MFM home tester Sarah discovered. “It was so quiet, I pumped next to my sleeping baby without any risk of disturbing him.” Sarah also praised the pump for its “sleek and compact design” and said, “I’ve taken it out with me and found it easily mobile.”
These features are impressive enough but what also makes this pump brilliant is that it’s compatible with most standard baby bottles and has a pump adaptor that allows you to pump directly into storage bags. You can then attach a bottle cap to the storage bags for easy feeding.
Our MFM testers did find there were a couple of bugs with the display screen as it’s very sensitive. For example MFM tester Bonny found, when trying to switch off the pump, it reverted to the massage function.
Pros: Extremely quiet, no tubes or wires, compatible with most standard bottles
Cons: Digital display screen overly sensitive
Available from: Lola & Lykke
2. MAM 2-in-1 Double Electric Breast Pump, £200
– Best for versatility
Type: Electric and manual | Hands-free: No | Power: Mains and USB-powered rechargeable battery | Award: Gold – Electric/battery breast pump (double), MadeForMums Awards 2021
Portable and versatile, this pump can be used as an electric double or single using either mains or battery power – and as a manual single. This “excellent, sturdy and durable pump is straightforward to use in both electric and manual modes,” according to home tester Hannah, mum of a baby and toddler.
There are 9 different levels for both stimulation and expression, which are controlled by a “sleek, modern display.” As a double, the pump can be set to different suction strengths on each breast and either dual or alternate pumping in 30-second cycles. Our tester Jessica, mum of a 3-month-old baby, found this variety allowed for “pumping personalisation” that led to a higher milk yield.
The motor unit is “roughly the size of a 500ml bottle, so definitely compact enough for travel“, and quiet too, while the battery can power the pump for up to 3 hours, which should get you through a day of expressing.
There are plenty of extras in the box, including 2 milk storage pots, 2 anti-colic bottles, 2 extra-slow flow teats, silicone breast shields and covers. “The compatability with MAM bottles is a standout feature that makes the whole process of pumping and sterilising much easier,” according to Hannah.
Pros: Variety of modes, bottles and storage pots included, long-lasting battery, feeding bottles fit directly into pump
Cons: No hands-free option, can’t pump directly into storage pots
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3. Elvie Curve, £49.99
– Best for discreet pumping
Type: Manual | Hands-free: Yes | Power: None | Award: Gold – Manual breast pump, MadeForMums Awards 2021
“Natural, efficient and discrete enough to use in an office, on a Zoom call or in a restaurant without anyone noticing,” is how our home tester Rovenna, mum of 3-month-old baby, described this nifty device. Made of silicone, the Curve is part pump, part milk collector as it can be used to express milk when your breasts feel full, or to collect milk let down from one breast while you’re feeding or pumping from the other. In total, it can hold 4oz of milk.
It takes some practice to position the Curve correctly but once the silicone pouch was pressed to create suction, our home testers were blown away by how comfortable it was to use, with Rebecca, mum of a 1-month-old baby, commenting “it felt so comfy, I thought it wasn’t working but it did every time!” And because it’s worn inside your bra, it leaves your hands free “which is brilliant when you’re looking after your baby.”
There are clear instruction and just 2 parts so is “quick and easy” to put together, dismantle, wash and sterilise, plus the “clever suction technology” means it’s totally silent. The only issue our testers experienced is that the suction tends to decrease if you move around “so it’s not as great on-the-go.”
Pros: Comfortable, silent, hands free, can be used to ‘catch’ let down as well as extract milk
Cons: Suction decreases if you move around, can only hold 4oz milk
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4. MAM 2-in-1 Single Breast Pump, £130
– Best electric and manual pump in one
Type: Electric and manual | Hands-free: No | Power: Rechargeable battery | Award: Silver – Electric/battery breast pump (single), MadeForMums Awards 2021
Two simple steps turn this pump from manual to electric mode, offering mums the option to choose whichever method best suits their pumping needs. In both modes, the pump is easy to use and allows for different sized bottles and storage cups (supplied) to be attached directly to the breast pump, “removing the need to pour milk between containers and avoiding making a mess,” explained MFM reviewer and mum-of-3 Felicity.
As an electric pump, it stands out for its rechargeable battery which has an impressive 5 hour life, a whopping 9 levels in both stimulation and expression stages, plus a digital touchscreen that includes a timer, which Felicity commented is “useful if you’re pumping to increase milk supply or want to ensure you’re pumping the same number of minutes on each breast.” However she did find it was a little too sensitive and would accidentally end up pressing the wrong buttons.
This pump has no fewer than 7 5-star MFM user reviews. One MFM user said, “I found this breast pump very easy to set up, comfortable to use and I am impressed with the convenient features it has. I also find it quite discreet to use as it’s not overly noisy.” Another MFM user agreed and said, “one of the main perks was that I could hear the TV over the pump unlike others I’ve used.”
Pros: Converts from manual to electric, includes milk storage pots and feeding teats, quick to charge, long battery life
Cons: Overly sensitive touchscreen, one-size only funnel may not suit all users
Read our full MadeForMums MAM 2-in-1 single breast pump review
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5. Medela Freestyle Flex 2-Phase Double Electric Breast Pump, £349.99
– Best for efficient electric pumping
Type: Electric | Hands-free: Only with accessory (not included) | Power: USB and built-in rechargeable battery
Behold Medela’s most advanced breast pump, the double electric Freestyle Flex, which combines all of Medela’s latest advances, including rubber-tipped oval breast shields proven to extract 11% more milk than regular flanges, a lightweight palm-sized motor with built-in USB-chargeable battery and connection to the MyMedela tracking app, plus Medela’s tried-and-trusted bi-phase expression pattern that mimics a baby’s sucking rhythm.
Our MFM reviewer and mum-of-3 Christy liked the addition of the 2 pairs of Flex breast shields to help you get the best fit. “The soft, flexible rim on each shield also makes it much more comfortable than the harder edge of the old-style shields I had used in the past”, she said. “A little extra that makes me feel like it’s a really good quality product.”
For a hands-free pumping solution at home you can use Medela’s Easy Expression Bustier but this comes at an added cost of £25. Christy found this particularly useful, “When you’re a tired, time-poor mum of a new baby, being able to move around to make a cuppa while you pump is like gold dust.”
As this is a double pump it also halves the time spent expressing while collecting around 18% more milk compared to pumping from each breast in turn, according to research. “I’m not an expert pumper but have found I’ve managed to get almost a bottle’s worth in one sitting, which I’m happy with,” shared MFM tester Stacey.
Pros: Comfortable shields, comes with cool bag, ice pack and extra milk storage bottles
Cons: Hands-free bustier not included
Read our full MadeForMums Medela Freestyle Flex 2-Phase Double Electric Breast Pump review
6. Nuby Ultimate Double Breast Pump, £155
– Best quiet double pump
Type: Electric | Hands-free: No | Power: Mains and rechargeable battery | Award: Silver– Electric/battery breast pump (double), MadeForMums Awards 2021
Lauded by our home testers as “quick and efficient while being gentle on the breast,” this pump has 9 levels in both stimulation and suction modes and “soft” silicone breast shields. It also features a “neat and discreet” touchscreen control panel that can be operated with one hand for easy adjustment of pumping levels.
There’s an excellent rechargeable battery that provides up to 3 hours pumping time. Our tester Anna, mum of a 3-month-old baby, found this to be a “game changer” and loved “sitting where I wanted while pumping, having only needed to plug in the base for a short time beforehand.”
It’s “noticeably quieter” than other pumps our tester had used and although she said it’s “not quite quiet enough to allow you to pump during a Zoom call, it’s unobtrusive enough to allow you to pump during the night without fear of waking up the entire household.”
While our testers found it easy to assemble, take apart and sterilise the pump, it’s worth noting that some users have found the bottle can become unscrewed from the attachment that holds it inside the pump during expression.
Pros: Quiet motor, easy to assemble and take apart
Cons: Bottles can come lose from pump during expression
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7. Vital Baby Nurture Flexcone Electric Breast Pump, £99.99
– Best for an affordable electric pump
Type: Electric and manual | Hands-free: Cordless | Power: Rechargeable battery and USB cable
For those deliberating between a manual and an electric pump, this mid-range model offers both in one neutral coloured package. In either mode, the soft silicone breast cup and flexible flange gently squeeze the breast to imitate the action of a breastfeeding baby, offering “easy, pain-free expressing and the most comfortable pump ever,” according to Laura, MFM reviewer and mum-of-two.
In electric mode, the pump has a 9 different speed settings in 2 different suction patterns, allowing for a really tailored, controlled pumping session that is sure to suit even the most sensitive of users.
As well as outstanding comfort and control, the efficiency of the pump was what stood out for our testers. MFM home tester Bonny revealed, “I believe using this pump has helped me to increase my milk supply, as it’s a lot faster and more effective than my previous pump, so I can also pump more frequently during the day and build up a milk stash.”
Just keep in mind the mains battery needs to be fully charged before you can use it, which our MFM reviewer said wasn’t made clear at first.
Pros: Electric and manual, wide range of settings
Cons: Mains unit battery needs to be fully charged before you can use it
Read our full MadeForMums Vital Baby Nurture Flexcone Electric Breast Pump review
8. Tommee Tippee Made for Me Single Manual Breast Pump, £31.99
– Best for efficient manual pumping
Type: Electric| Hands-free: No | Power: USB-powered rechargeable battery | Award: Silver – Manual breast pump, MadeForMums Awards 2021
An ergonomic and compact pump that’s small enough to fit into your hand for comfortable pumping and into your changing bag for on-the-go expressing, with no need for batteries, tubes or wires. Our home tester Laura found the pump “easy to operate” thanks to “clear and carefully thought-out instructions with useful images” that show how to put together the 7 parts, all of which are BPA-free and dishwasher safe.
The silicone breast shield is soft and cushioned so is comfortable to use, even on sore and tender breasts – a relief if you’re suffering from blocked milk ducts. Though our tester pointed out that it can be difficult to “see milk flowing into the bottle” because of the design.
It’s particularly useful if you’re already using Tommee Tippee bottles as the pump fits directly onto the brand’s bottles, meaning you can feed directly after pumping with no need to transfer from a storage pot.
Pros: Compact, easy to use, comfortable
Cons: Difficult to assess milk flow, adaptor ring needs to be purchased separately to pump into storage bags
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9. Philips Avent Single Electric Breast Pump, £180
– Best for personalising settings
Type: Electric| Hands-free: No | Power: USB-powered rechargeable battery | Award: Bronze – Electric/battery breast pump (single), MadeForMums Awards 2021
With its huge range of settings – 8 levels in stimulation mode and 16 in expression mode – this pump allows you to find the choice of suction that is just right for you, every single session. If you can’t recall which settings you chose last time, don’t worry – the memory function automatically recalls previous levels – simply press the start button to recreate your last session.
The speed and suction can be changed via a control unit that our home tester Rayna, mum of a 2-month-old, described as “easy to navigate from the very first use.” She also praised the one-size breast shield that features a silicone cushion designed to gently flex to fit any nipple up to 300mm, describing it as “very comfortable and the perfect fit.”
Home tester Amy, mum of mum of a 1-month-old baby, similarly said the breast shields were “the most comfortable” she’s come across. She also found the rechargeable battery “a great, convenient feature” for pumping on the go or without being tethered to a power socket.
Pros: Broad range of settings, pump memorises previous setting, comfortable breast shield
Cons: One-size breast shield may not fit all users
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10. Elvie Single Breast Pump, £269.00
– Best for hands-free pumping
Type: Electric| Hands-free: Yes | Power: Rechargeable via USB
Billed as the first silent wearable breast pump, all the parts of this high-tech pump are hidden away inside the minimalist white hub (there are no garish colours here). The Elvie’s unique features are that it is completely tube-free, hands-free – it’s powered by an internal battery that can be charged via a USB cable so there’s no need for a power cord when it’s in use – silent and designed to be worn inside your bra so you can, in theory, pump anywhere.
“This is a game changer as, instead of being chained to the sofa holding the breast shields and attached to a motor by wires, you can carry on as you were,” revealed MFM home tester Tamara. “I also found the pump so quiet, I could pump when we had company over, often without them realising.”
The lack of tubing also means there is no chance of breast milk getting sucked into tricky-to-clean plastic and fewer parts to clean and assemble, as MFM reviewer and mum-of-3 Gabrielle discovered, “putting the Elvie pump together took moments as there are only 5 parts.” The Elvie App is essential to control the pump remotely as, once it’s in your bra, it’s impossible to change the settings. “Plus, it allows you to monitor your milk production and track your pumping history for each breast,” commented Gabrielle. “Luckily, it’s easy to install and navigate, even for the least techno-savvy person or sleep-deprived mum.”
Pros: No tubes or wires, discreet, wearable
Cons: Expensive, cannot run from mains
Read our full MadeForMums Elvie single breast pump review
11. Ardo Calypso Double Plus, £139.99
– Best for range of settings
Type: Electric| Hands-free: No | Power: Mains or battery | Award: Bronze – Electric/battery breast pump (double), MadeForMums Awards 2021
This powerful pump offers a staggering 64 combinations of suction strengthen and frequency (8 levels for each), plus each pump can be changed independently, allowing for super sensitive adjustments during expression. This flexibility in finding the ideal combination is typically found in hospital-grade models and Ardo also makes NHS-approved pumps to rent.
As well as the broad range of settings, the pump can be used as a single and comes in a kit that contains 3 pairs of different-sized breast shields – and a further 2 sizes can be bought separately, for a bespoke and comfortable pumping experience. There’s even a brush included to “clean in all the hard-to-reach places” of the pump parts.
Ardo claims this is the quietest breast pump on the market and our tester Emma, mum of a 3-month-old baby, found the pump ” quiet” , ” fantastic at extracting milk” and ” easy and simple to set up and use.” She also praised the pump as ” representing great value for money,” particularly because the motor unit can be powered by mains or (non-rechargeable) battery, offering further flexibility.
Pros: Highly adjustable, multiple breast shields included, quiet
Cons: Batteries not rechargeable
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12. Medela Solo Single Electric Breast Pump, £159
– Best for fast charging
Type: Electric| Hands-free: No | Power: Mains and rechargeable battery with USB type C port
This is the next generation and enhanced version of the best-selling and award-winning Swing Flex breast pump from Medela, a brand synonomous with dependable and efficient breastfeeding products. The Solo uses the same “incredibly effective” 2-phase expression technology to mimic a baby’s natural sucking pattern but is lighter and more compact than its predecessor, largely because it has a built-in rechargeable battery rather than a compartment for disposable batteries. The battery charges via a USB type C connector – which charges faster than a micro-USB port – and lasts for up to 6 pumping sessions, making it a great choice for trips or long days in the office.
Our home tester Amy’s only complaint with the previous model was “how noisy it is”, but Medela claims the Solo is noticeably quieter compared to the previous generation.
The rubber-tipped, rotatable and wide-opening breast shields are still here, reducing pressure on the breast and encouraging, according to Medela, 11% more expressed breast milk per session – impressive when every drop counts. It’s also easy to use, with an intuitive control panel featuring just 4 buttons and 9 levels in stimulation and expression modes. Our only gripe? The control panel isn’t backlit, making it tricky to see in the dark.
Pros: Flexible breast shields, intuitive to use, easy and quick to charge
Cons: Not ideal for night pumping
13. Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump 150ml, £20.99
– Best for an affordable manual pump
Type: Manual | Hands-free: No
Part milk collector, part manual pump, the soft and squishy Haakaa is made from 100% BPA-free food grade silicone – there are no tubes to get tangled, parts to lose in the sink or batteries to drain. Instead, the fluted bottle either sits on your breast to catch let-down milk while your baby feeds on the other side (alternatively you can pump from the other breast) – or you can use it as a manual pump by gently squeezing and releasing the bulb to encourage milk flow.
“It would have been perfect to use on my opposite side while I was nursing my son to catch heavy and difficult-to-control let-downs,” shared MFM home tester Wioleta Hamilton, who described the pump as “light, portable, with good suction but easy to remove and always ready to use – you don’t need to remember to charge it.”
Pros: Single piece, very light, no cords, cables or batteries, affordable
Cons: Can be difficult to get the right suction, unsuitable to help establish milk supply
About the author
Gabrielle Nathan, mum of 3, has been working as a journalist for nearly 20 years, on publications including GQ, Red, Women’s Health and Tatler. She began writing about parenting and family travel while pregnant with her first child in 2012 and joined the MFM ranks in 2014.