Best Breast Pumps 2021
If you’re currently breastfeeding, or pregnant and planning to breastfeed then a breast pump is a useful gadget to have. Some baby lists will characterize a pump as a “must-have” accessory for all nursing mums, but this isn’t actually the case. It is perfectly possible, and okay to breastfeed a baby and never make use of a pump. However, there are circumstances in which having a pump makes life significantly easier or even saves your breastfeeding journey.
You may want to use a pump if you are planning to be separated from the baby for more than a couple of hours and need a caregiver to provide the baby with milk whilst you are gone. This might be because you are returning to work or because you’re spending some baby-free time with your spouse or friends.
Breast pumps can also be really useful if you run into any nursing problems, which are surprisingly common, and can help get you through a rough patch. For example, some babies struggle to latch on to the breast so a good breast pump can help you to maintain your milk supply whilst you work on the baby’s feeding.
Some mums plan to only give their baby expressed milk from the outset rather than feed directly from the breast and obviously in this circumstance a breast pump is going to be a must-have.
If you do plan to get a breast pump, here are some of the features to consider:
The type of pump you’re going to need will depend upon your goals with expressing. Suction pumps are relatively new to the market and made with food-grade silicone. They’re incredibly easy to use and are designed to simply suction onto one breast whilst the baby is feeding from the other. This can take a little practice but takes advantage of the natural let-down reflex stimulated by baby feeding, and catches milk that would otherwise have leaked into breast pads or similar. Unlike breast shells, which simply sit in the bra and collect this milk, a suction pump applies a little suction to draw the milk out meaning that more is collected without mum having to do very much at all.
A manual pump can be useful for very occasional expressing, or as a tool for relieving engorgement in the early days. This kind of pump can also be handy when you want to express discreetly as they make very little noise, or you’re somewhere without access to an electric outlet. A manual pump is operated by hand, as mum squeezes a handle to create a suction that draws milk out of the breast.
An electric pump is what most people think of when they hear ‘breast pump’ and uses a motor to create the suction needed to remove milk from the breast. Electric pumps come in both single and double options, which is another factor to consider but they are really useful if you’re wanting to express more than occasionally.
Electric pumps are available in both single and double designs, with a single electric pump you can express from one breast at a time and then swap over if needed. Single pumps can also be used whilst nursing a baby on the other breast and most mums are able to express more milk like this. Double electric pumps allow you to express from both breasts at the same time which should cut the time you spend pumping in half, so is a good option if you’re planning to pump regularly. Some pumps even combine the two and can be set up as a single or double pump depending on what mum needs at the time, making these really versatile options.
In your search for a breast-pump you may come across the term “hospital grade” and what this means is that the pump has been built to the standards required for use in a hospital. It can be a good sign of quality as this kind of pump is designed with a longer life span and for multiple users. If you need to maintain, or increase, your milk supply over a longer-term then a hospital grade pump is the highest quality you can get, unfortunately, they also tend to be the most expensive, and many are pretty large and unwieldy. Short-term rental is an option for this kind of pump too.
Closed system pumps are the most hygienic options when it comes to electric pumps. These pumps have a barrier between the milk collection part of the pump and the pump’s motor and suction mechanism preventing contamination. An open system pump does not have this barrier which means that in theory, milk or particles of the milk, could be drawn into the motor itself where it may mold and then throw up spores of this mold into freshly expressed milk. Whilst this is a problem that hasn’t really been studied in-depth, and no cases of a baby becoming ill because of this have been reported to date, the potential for this to happen remains.
- Top 8 Best Breast Pumps of 2021
- 1. Best Overall Breast Pump: Tommee Tippee Electric Breast Pump
- 2. Best Budget Breast Pump: Bellababy Breast Pump
- 3. Best Manual Breast Pump: Medela Harmony Flex Breast Pump
- 4. Best Breast Pump with App: Elvie Pump Single Silent Wearable Breast Pump with App
- 5. Lansinoh Breast Pump 2-in-1 Double Electric Breast Pump
- 6. Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Electric Breast Pump
- 7. NatureBond Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump
- 8. Philips Avent Ultra Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump
- Final words
Top 8 Best Breast Pumps of 2021
The Tommee Tippee Electric Breast Pump is a single electric pump with a quiet motor, in fact, the pump has been lab-tested and proven to be significantly quieter than other comparable pumps. It’s also USB rechargeable so doesn’t need plugging into a socket giving the flexibility to pump quietly and discreetly pretty much anywhere.
The soft silicone flange (The funnel part that fits over the breast) has a cushioned design that makes it comfortable to use, and there are 5 massage modes to get milk flowing, and then 9 different expressing options too so it’s easy to find one to suit you. With up to 60 minutes of power from a single charge, this pump is ideal for using to express when returning to work.
The Bellababy Breast Pump is one of the best-kept secrets of breastfeeding mums, gaining plenty of popularity through social media mums’ groups but not really heard of outside of these circles. Many women felt that at the low price-point this double electric pump was too good to be true, but the verdict seems to be that it’s not! Made with food-grade silicone parts, completely BPA and phthalate-free, the Bellababy is also a hygienic closed system pump.
It can be plugged into the mains or cordlessly with its built-in lithium-ion battery being charged up through mains, laptop, car charger or power bank. It’s small and easily packed away making it really handy to take on the go. There are 4 different modes, with different levels of suction intensity so you can find out what’s most effective for you, it can be used as a single pump and the 18-month warranty makes this kind of a no-brainer purchase!
Compact and lightweight, the Medela Harmony Flex Breast Pump is ideal if you’re looking for a manual pump for occasional expressing. From popular pump brand Medela this has more to offer than basic manual models and particularly noteworthy is the clever 2-phase expression which imitates a baby’s natural sucking rhythm for quick, effective milk release.
As a manual pump, no batteries or mains power is necessary, and the pump is almost silent when operated so it can provide a really discreet pumping option when traveling. It’s also very easy to dismantle and is compact in size and easy to store. Unlike many manual pumps, this pump is designed for comfort with chest caps that can be rotated and individually positioned, wide opening angles and soft edges which all combine to reduce pressure on milk ducts for effective and comfortable pumping.
The Elvie Pump Single Silent Wearable Breast Pump with App was the first breast pump of this kind. It’s very small and lightweight and is designed to be worn inside a bra so that you can pump hands-free. It’s also completely wireless so you can pump pretty much anywhere and its revolutionary technology also means that noise is eliminated so you can express very discreetly.
The pump comes with 3 different shield sizes so that you can achieve a custom fit and the free Elvie Pump app allows you to track how much milk you’ve expressed and control the pump from your phone. You can also buy a second Elvie Pump and pair them up with the app to express from both sides at once. With its smart technology, the Elvie Pump will automatically switch from stimulation mode into expression mode once the milk let-down reflex is detected and also stop when the storage bottle is full. The Elvie Pump is ideal if you need to pump discreetly at your desk, or want to express whilst getting on with some laundry or household chores!
Lansinoh is an incredibly popular brand with breastfeeding mums; their nipple cream is widely heralded as the best on the market so for many mums the purple of Lansinoh signifies a well-trusted brand. The Lansinoh 2-in-1 Double Electric Breast Pump is ideal for those who need choice and flexibility as it can be used as a double or a single electric breast pump, and with mains power or batteries.
This pump states that it performs as well as hospital-grade pumps without the hefty price tag and the pump has been redesigned from earlier versions to operate as a ‘closed system’ which is much more hygienic. With an adjustable suction level and 3 different pumping styles, this pump is easy to control and also has a backlit and a clear display so you can pump at night too.
Part of Tommee Tippee’s Closer to Nature range, this pump is a portable, lightweight single electric pump designed for convenient expressing at home or away. The Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Electric Breast Pump can be plugged into the mains or battery operated.
Mimicking a baby’s natural feeding action the soft silicone cup is specially designed for maximum comfort and effective expressing. The pump is easy to clean and comes with its own microwave sterilizer and to minimize washing up mums can pump directly into Closer to Nature bottles or milk storage pots. A Closer to Nature bottle is included in the set.
The NatureBond Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump is made with BPA-free, food-grade silicone and is a suction pump. As the pump is all one piece it’s incredibly easy to use and to clean. The pump attaches directly to the breast and creates a kind of vacuum that helps to draw milk out of the breast, because it’s hand-free it’s ideal for using whilst breastfeeding. The NatureBond pump is a great way to make the most of the let-down reflex and collect milk that would otherwise leak into a breast pad. This collected milk is then ideal for mixing with food while weaning.
The NatureBond pump says it’s 100% spill-proof, and it comes with a stopper and a strap to help prevent spills because whilst you shouldn’t cry over spilled milk every nursing mum knows that breast milk is the exception to this rule! With no motor or handle to pump there is absolutely no noise generated, meaning it won’t distract the baby as you feed.
The Philips Avent Ultra Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump has been designed with comfort at the forefront. The flanges are lined with soft massage cushions to simulate the feeling of a baby suckling helping you to achieve a let-down much more easily and express much more comfortably. The pump is designed so that there’s no need to lean over in order to have the milk flow into the collection bottles, instead the pump parts are angled so that you can express sat upright.
This quiet pump is ideal for discreet expressing, and starts in a gentle stimulation mode before allowing the user to choose from 3 different styles of suction so you can choose what suits you and your needs best. It can be used with both mains power and batteries so can be used whilst traveling, and a compatible bottle is included in the set to get you started.
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Hand-expressing is also an alternative for mums who need to express occasionally but with a range of effective, comfortable and reasonably priced pumps available, pumping is often an easier and quicker option. So, if you’re looking for a breast pump to use to express some milk for your baby then these pumps are an excellent place to start. There’s a lot of research that goes into buying a breast pump so we’ve done some of that research for you! We hope that this article has helped you to think through your choices and highlighted some of the best products on the market including suction, manual and electric pumps as well as singles, doubles and some that can do both!