Best breast pumps UK 2022: from Haakaa to Elvie, we test them all

2022-04-29 08:59:18 By : Mr. Allen Jiang

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The best single, double, manual and electric breast pumps to help you master the art of expressing milk

New mamas take note! If you breastfeed your baby, you will need (and deserve!) a break from making milk for your mini-me every once in a while. So, if you're preparing to return to work, planning a night out with the girls, or you're keen to share the load with your co-parent, investing in a breast pump is essential kit during the early days.

But which pump is best, how do they work, and should you opt for single, double, manual or electric? We explore the best breast pumps on the market to help you master the art of expressing milk and keep your little one fed and happy in your absence.

Breast pumps typically fit into two categories: manual and electric. Manual pumps work by physically pumping a handle to stimulate the flow of milk (although you can use silicone suction, but more on that later...) while electric breast pumps use battery or mains power to create a more powerful simulated sucking action to express milk. You can also choose between single or double breast pumps to speed up the process.

Most breast pumps work by triggering your let-down reflex so your body naturally releases milk. Once you've collected your expressed milk in a pouch, it can then be kept in the fridge for up to two days or the freezer for about six months.

Need help getting started? If you struggle to achieve adequate milk flow at first, don't be dismayed. Most mums have to learn how to express milk and it takes time to master, so you are not alone. Eilis Mackie, Lead for Lactation and Infant Feeding at The Portland Hospital, part of HCA UK, offers the following expert tips on pumping for new mums.

Every single time you use your breast pump, make sure the equipment is sterilised and your hands are clean. 'This will ensure that there is no risk of cross contamination to you, or your baby,' explains Eilis. 'Babies are building their immune system, so it is important to reduce the risk of infection.'

It sounds obvious, but it's important to try to relax as much as possible. 'The more relaxed you are, the more milk you will produce,' says Eilis. 'Oxytocin is a hormone which is released in your body when you’re feeling happy and relaxed and can really help to stimulate milk flow. Understandably, when you have a newborn baby, this can be challenging. Taking your time in a comfortable place and listening to calming music might help with this.'

Finding the best position can actually aid milk flow. 'It helps if you sit up with your back straight and support your breast from underneath with your hand. Again, try to be as relaxed as possible,' explains Eilis. 'When placing your breast into the funnel, ensure that your nipple is placed in the centre,' she adds. 'Many pumps come with different sized funnels so make sure that you have chosen the best size for you.'

Just like mealtimes for grown ups, you can't rush these things! So take your time and settle in. 'At first, it might take a few minutes for your milk to start flowing, which is completely normal and will vary from woman to woman,' says Eilis. 'When you find that your milk flow slows down in one breast, switch to the other – this will help speed up the process. Even if you are only expressing a little bit of milk at a time, it all adds up.'

Struggling to get the milk flowing? 'Some gentle breast massage, as well as using a warm flannel on the breast, can help to release the milk,' advises Eilis. 'In fact, research has shown that combining some hand expressing and pumping can yield you up to 50% more milk.'

If you're struggling to kickstart your let-down reflex, looking at cute pics or videos of your baby can actually help get the milk flowing!

Breastfeeding comes with a number of health benefits for both mum and baby, but expressing can also be a handy alternative for the following reasons:

From Medela's bestselling model to Elvie's wearable pump, keep scrolling for our pick of the best breast pumps on the market.

The latest model from Swiss brand Medela, this electric breast pump comes with alternating speeds and rhythms designed to mimic the feel of natural sucking, which in turn stimulates speedier milk flow. Our mum tester found it easy to use and super light if you need to pump while you're out and about, plus it's rechargeable so you can express easily from the office/gym/hot tub without faffing about with plug sockets.

Type: Single electric pump Power: USB powered Extras: Features an intuitive interface and 9 pre-programmed settings, plus less than 45dB noise level Weight: 225g

With no wires or trailing leads to contend with, this USB rechargeable device from UK-based tech startup Elvie is easily the most innovative breast pump on the market. You simply slip it inside your bra, use the app to control the settings and start expressing milk on the move. It usually costs between £250 to £500 (but is currently on sale, starting at £228!) depending on the single or the double option, but for ease of use it's worth every penny.

Our mum tester used this pump to keep her six-month-old baby stocked up on milk supplies at nursery while she worked, and gave it top points for comfort and convenience. Compared to some pumps the sucking motion feels really discreet but it's still highly effective at collecting milk, plus it's reassuringly quiet so you can pump in public and no one will have a clue.

Type: Single or double electric pump Power: USB powered Extras: Closed system to minimise milk spills Weight: 225g

If you're not sure what type of breast pump to go for or you'd prefer to switch it up, this multipurpose device from UK baby brand MAM will tick all your boxes. It can be used as either an electric or manual pump depending on your mood, plus it comes with nine suction settings and five hours of battery life should you need to express on the go.

Our mum tester was also impressed with the corresponding kit, as the extensive range of bottles and teats worked well for her fussy baby who didn't instantly take to bottle feeding. Plus they fit directly onto the pump which saves time and mess, and they come in a range of cute designs too.

Type: Single electric pump Power: Lithion ION rechargeable battery, with up to 5 hours expressing time Extras: Digital touch screen display Weight: 860g total

Although it's not as discreet as some of its pricier competitors, we were really impressed with this lightweight pump from Finnish brand Lola & Lykke. It comes with a touch screen so you can track your stats, plus it's compact enough to pop in your handbag if you do need to pump on the go.

It has a number of settings so you can adjust the sucking speed to whatever feels most comfortable to you, and it's reassuringly quiet and wire-free. It also comes with a setting to help stimulate milk flow if your let-down reflex struggles to kick in.

Type: Single electric pump Power: USB rechargeable Extras: Includes built-in touchscreen technology plus a memory button and timer Weight: 300g

This double pump from popular baby brand Tommee Tippee is ideal for mamas with multiples or those looking to express extra milk in a hurry. Our mum tester struggled with sore and cracked nipples from breastfeeding and praised this pump for its well-cushioned silicone cups. It's also easy to switch from single to double pumping depending on your needs and the LED screen clearly displays key data so you know how long you've been expressing.

Type: Double electric pump Power: USB rechargeable Extras: Compatible with Tommee Tippee bottles and teats, available in most supermarkets Weight: 520g

If hands-free pumping appeals but you're conscious of the price tag, this affordable battery-powered gadget from new UK brand Fraupow is currently taking the market by storm. Designed to be worn on the move, it fits inside most nursing bras and comes with a clever anti-leak design to save you from precious milk spills too.

But what really gives it the edge is the timer and automatic shut-off function so you can express milk without even thinking. And best of all, it's less than half the price of many of its competitors.

Type: Single electric pump Power: USB powered Extras: Anti-back flow and overflow protected system Weight: 218g

This simple but effective hand pump is ideal for mamas on a budget and it's one of the lightest options on our list. The good thing about pumping by hand is it completely cuts out the noise factor, plus you can express straight into the bottle which saves on messing about with pouches. Our mum tester praised this pump for being comfortable, super light and easy to use. But she did also mention that it's better suited to occasional use, as manual pumping every single day could become arduous.

Type: Single manual pump Power: Manual powered Extras: Includes a warming massage cushion to stimulate natural milk flow Weight: 200g

Arguably all new mamas should own one of these clever contraptions and we can't sing its praises enough! Developed in New Zealand, the Haakaa is incredibly simple to use and completely battery-free, but you can still save a surprising amount of milk.

Simply slip the tear-shaped device onto your other breast during feeding time and the silicone suction will naturally draw the milk down. We were surprised by just how much we managed to save and love the convenience, although it is easiest to use while you're feeding.

Type: Single manual pump Power: Manual powered Extras: It is worth investing in a separate lid to minimise post-pump milk spills Weight: 160g

If you're looking for a fuss-free device that you can use at night without disturbing your baby or sleeping partner, this simple electric breast pump from US brand Lansinoh is a reliable option. Best known for brilliant lanolin nipple cream (a total Godsend for sore nips!) the brand's pumps are considered to have hospital grade suction strength to aid milk production.

Type: Single electric pump Power: USB power adapter as well as mains plug adapter Extras: Include automatic let-down and then expression phases, so you can stimulate milk flow and start pumping without having to press any buttons Weight: 250g