We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. In our test of breast pumps, we asked several different mothers to use the pumps. Some of them have wide previous experience of breast pumps, whilst others used them for the first time. In the test, we primarily examined the following characteristics:
Functions: What different settings does the breast pump have, can it be adapted to different sizes of breast and are there any other functions that make pumping easier?
Design: Does the breast pump have a convenient format, how noisy is the motor and can the breast pump accessories be used with universal feeding bottles?
Performance: How good is the battery life, how long does it take the breast pump to charge and how effective are the stimulation and expression phases?
The above factors have then been compared to the price of the breast pump, after which we have allocated a score.
Convenient and effective breast pump which is easy to clean and comfortable to use
Mains/battery: Yes/6 x AAA batteries Adjustable suction: Yes Bottles & teats included: Two bottles, but no teat Double pumping possible: Yes
The Medela Swing Maxi Flex is an updated breast pump from Medela, with a more attractive appearance and updated technology. At the same time, it still based on a long medical tradition of producing research-based breast pumps. And this is obvious immediately you unpack the Swing Maxi Flex™.
The breast pump is powered by a normal mains cable, but can also be run wirelessly if you insert six AAA batteries. The battery life is normal, and if you pump a lot the batteries will run out quickly. But the suction is just as good regardless of how you power the Swing Maxi Flex™.
The motor unit is round and compact, and doesn’t take up much space either at home or if you’re travelling or at the office. On the top are four buttons and an LED. When you switch on the Medela Swing Maxi Flex, it first enters the stimulation phase, which automatically switches to the expression phase. You can of course skip the stimulation phase when the milk is already flowing.
You can also adjust the strength of both phases to your personal preference. However, you can’t see whether the strength is on maximum or minimum, and it’s zeroed again after each use. So if you have a favourite position, you’ll have to find it by guesswork every time you use the pump. The Swing Maxi Flex can easily be transformed from a single to a double pump.
It’s also supplied with two different sizes of breast shield. And the shields are the closest anyone’s ever managed to comfort when it comes to a breast pump. The oval shape and the broad, soft edges feel innovative and incredibly obvious at the same time. There’s also built-in overflow protection, so you can lean back while pumping. Assembling the Medela Swing Maxi Flex™ is very straightforward. The breast pump has few parts, and these are adapted so they can only be assembled in one way.
There’s nothing negative to say about the pump function. If your milk flows easily, you won’t even need to use the maximum setting for the expression phase. When you've finished pumping, it’s easy to dismantle the Swing Maxi Flex. All of the parts that need washing are dishwasher safe, and there are no small parts that easily get lost.
Even compared to older breast pumps from Medela, which were all very good, the Swing Maxi Flex is a big step forwards. And for a very reasonable price. If you want to pump a lot while you’re on the go, the cost of batteries is a bit of a problem. But this together with a slightly higher, but still acceptable, noise level if you pump on maximum, is the only negative aspect. Everything else about the Medela Swing Maxi Flex is positive. This is one of the best breast pumps you can buy.
Very high quality and intuitive breast pump with quiet, convenient motor and comfortable breast shields
Mains/battery: Yes/inbuilt, rechargeable Adjustable suction: Yes Bottles & teats included: Four bottles, no teat Double pumping possible: Yes
Many products claim to be the Rolls-Royce of their niche. But with the Medela Freestyle Flex, such a claim is no exaggeration. It has the design, the innovation – and a (relatively) high price. And if you want to make pumping breast milk a pleasant experience, the Freestyle Flex™ is an excellent choice.
The Freestyle Flex comes under Medela's major update of their breast pumps. This involves both a new design and significantly improved technology. The motor is neat and fits into your palm. The buttons have been almost completely replaced by a clear and easy to use touchscreen. The Freestyle Flex can be run using mains power, but also has a built-in rechargeable battery that can be charged via USB. The battery life is exemplary.
It makes no difference whether you’re a beginner or a veteran – assembling the Medela Freestyle Flex™ is very intuitive. The fact that the hose has different shaped ends means it’s impossible to connect them the wrong way around. And assembling the connectors is just as easy. If you insert the membrane round the wrong way, you simply can’t close the connector. The Freestyle Flex contains impressively few parts, which makes cleaning easier. Everything that can be washed is dishwasher safe.
With the Freestyle Flex, you can choose if you want to double pump or just focus on one breast at a time. In the latter case, you insert the unused end of the tubing into the holder, ensuring a vacuum is achieved. The noise level is very pleasant. With the Freestyle Flex you can pump for as long as you need on maximum and binge your favourite TV series at the same time with a sleeping baby in the same room.
The pump has two phases – stimulation and expression. Both can be adjusted in terms of strength and the display shows how long you’ve been pumping for. Simple and clear. But the very best thing about the Medela Freestyle Flex is how the breast shields have been improved. From a completely round shape to one that is more oval, with a broad and soft silicone edge. The breast pump includes two different sizes of breast shield. A breast pump may never be entirely comfortable, but they’ve never been more comfortable than this before.
The pumping power is slightly stronger during single than double pumping. But this is a minor issue. If you aren’t sure whether you even need a breast pump, this one’s probably a bit over the top. But if you know you will be using your pump a lot and for a long time, the Medela Freestyle Flex is a high-class purchase you won’t regret a penny of.
There’s also a Medela app, MyMedela, which you can use to keep track of pumping and the child’s development.
Effective breast pump that can be run manually and with electricity, with lots of accessories
Mains/battery: Yes/rechargeable battery Adjustable suction: Yes Bottles & teats included: Two bottles and two teats Double pumping possible: No
With their 2 in 1 Electric & Manual Breast Pump, Mam have tried to cover all possible uses in a single model, which is an impressive feat. This breast pump can be powered with a mains cable, a built-in rechargeable battery and can also be transformed into a manual breast pump. This makes the 2 in 1 Electric & Manual easy to adapt to different needs. And this is ideal if you aren’t sure how or how much the pump will be used.
The power switch is on the underside of the Mam 2 in 1 Electric & Manual. The display on the top allows you to change between stimulation and expression mode, and adjust the strength. Both modes have nine different levels. And you can also see, in minutes and seconds, how long you’ve been pumping for.
Before first using the pump, it’s a good idea to read the instruction book carefully. The Mam 2 in 1 Electric & Manual is a breast pump that consists of many different parts, and you use different ones depending on whether you’re pumping manually or electrically. After using the pump a few times, you learn how it all fits together, and it’s quicker to assemble and disassemble for cleaning or sterilisation.
You can pump one breast at a time with the 2 in 1 Electric & Manual. The shield has a generous silicone insert to increase comfort. Once you've got used to the breast pump, you can remove the insert, which also makes the pump more powerful. The pump only includes one size of shield and the round shape means it’s important to find the right position on your breast so you can pump as comfortably and effectively as possible. The pumping power is ample for expressing the milk efficiently. When you switch on the pump it begins the stimulation phase and then you choose for yourself when to switch over to expression.
As a manual pump the 2 in 1 Electric & Manual does its job. Pumping manually is rarely as effective as when it’s electrically powered. But it’s handy that you can transform this breast pump from Mam. When you’re using it as a manual pump, it’s both small and light, and there’s no problem popping it into your handbag if you’re on the run and you need to relieve a bit of pressure to avoid breast engorgement.
Mam have come up with a great solution, and the pump works with all feeding bottles from the brand. The pump also includes storage containers and teats. For the mother who’s new to breast pumps, the Mam 2 in 1 Electric & Manual Breast Pump is a comfortable package solution that includes absolutely everything you need.
MAM 2-in-1 Single Electric Breast Pump, Flexible Use Electric and Manual Breast Milk Pump, Comforting Silicone Breast Pump, Green (Designs May Vary), Packaging and Instructions in Foreign Language
MAM 2-in-1 Single Breast Pump
MAM 2-in-1 Single Electric and Manual Breast Pump
For the modern mother who wants to multi-task as she pumps
Mains/battery: No/Rechargeable battery Adjustable suction: Yes Bottles & teats included: Two 150 ml bottles but no teat Double pumping possible: Yes
The first thing you notice about Elvie is that the breast pump is really expensive. If you want to be able to express both breasts at the same time, the price is almost double. However, the pump gives off a clear premium feel. Even the box feels luxurious. But above all, actually using it is something completely new.
The unique thing about Elvie is that this breast pump doesn’t force you to take up a stationary position. It doesn’t even require you to use your hands! With Elvie placed directly in your bra, you can express while reading a good book, eating lunch or working at your computer. You can even go for a walk with the pushchair while you’re using Elvie. However, the pump easily slides out of position during tasks that involve greater physical activity or bending down.
One difficulty with Elvie is positioning the breast correctly in the funnel. As you can’t see through the pump, you have to do this blind. Often you need to correct the position of the nipple afterwards. Once in place, the pump is easy to handle. The on/off button is clear, as are the plus and minus buttons to control the pump power.
To change breast, you simply press the select breast button, and Elvie starts the programme again. Immediately after start-up, the stimulation phase begins. It then switches to the expression phase as soon as Elvie detects milk in the bottle. This is a very quiet breast pump, which isn’t disturbing – at most it puffs a little.
The pump comes with storage bottles, two bra attachments and two sizes of breast funnel. After a few sessions’ practice, Elvie is easy to assemble and equally easy to disassemble. Due to the shape of the bottle, it’s difficult to clean in the dishwasher, although the breast funnel works well. The other parts are most easily treated as hand washing.
Just like other smart products, Elvie also has an app. In some respects, however, you have to ask how smart it actually is. The app should keep track of both how often you pump and how much. But Elvie measures the wrong amount of milk every time, and that can make a big difference. For example, Elvie indicates that 180 ml has been pumped out, but the bottle only contains 60 ml. However, the amount can be adjusted afterwards in the app. And the fact you can keep such a detailed check is nice.
For people who most often pump to have a little extra for feeding or before being away from the baby, there are much more affordable alternatives. But if you pump several times every day, Elvie is a long-awaited invention that frees up both your time and your hands. Elvie is a breast pump that actually feels adapted to the modern mother.
Well-constructed breast pump with comfortable breast shield and bottles that are easy to wash
Mains/battery: Yes/AA batteries Adjustable suction: Yes, 3 Bottles & teats included: One bottle with teat Double pumping possible: No
The Avent Natural is a breast pump from Philips, who manufacture a wide range of breastfeeding and infant products. The pump is a single pump, which means you can only pump one breast at a time. The Avent Natural has a stimulation phase together with three different strengths of expression phase. The maximum strength on the Avent Natural is comparable with the medium strength on many other of the breast pumps we tested, which is OK for general pumping. But we’d have liked to see one or two higher strengths to make it easier to vary the pumping power. The Philips Avent Natural has a comfortable rubber pad that makes the breast shield more pleasant to use. The neck of the shield is short and has an angle that makes it easy to pump without you having to sit in an uncomfortable forward-leaning position. It also means that the bottle doesn’t tip over as easily if you set it down without removing the shield.
The bottle that comes with the Philips Avent Natural has a wide opening, which makes it very easy to clean. But the size of the bottle is only 125 ml. Once you've got used to pumping, this is often only enough for one breast, which means you have to change bottle before you can continue with the other one. All of Philips’ bottles with wide necks fit the pump, however, so you can buy a bigger bottle separately. The actual pump is designed to stand on a table. This is one of the larger and more attractive breast pumps we tested. As well as mains power, the Avent Natural can also be powered by four AA batteries. If you’re primarily going to use the pump in one place – for example at home – the size of the pump and the lack of rechargeable batteries isn’t a problem. The kit that comes with the Philips Avent Natural also includes a teat for the bottle so you can feed your baby the milk directly.
Convenient breast pump with adjustable strength, adapters for different bottles and smart display
Mains/battery: Yes/AA batteries Adjustable suction: Yes Bottles & teats included: One bottle, but no teat Double pumping possible: No
The Beurer BY40 is an electric breast pump with adjustable pump strength. As well as the pump, shield and other essentials, the breast pump includes a large bottle together with adapters making it possible to use the breast pump with bottles from Avent and NUK. The BY40 can be powered using mains power or AA batteries, which are included. This makes it easy to take the breast pump with you on the go and allows you to pump even if there’s no power socket nearby. But the batteries only last for a couple of pumping sessions, so if you aren’t using rechargeable ones the BY40 is quite expensive to run. The pictures in the instruction book are rather difficult to understand. But the manual is also available online. The BY40 is easy to assemble and to clean after use.
The breast pump is easy to understand and has a very user-friendly display which clearly shows how long you’ve been pumping for. This means you get a good idea of how long it usually takes per breast, which makes it easier to plan your pumping sessions to fit in with your baby’s needs. The pumping power is good, which makes things easier when your breasts are full. But if you have sensitive breasts or they’ve recently been emptied, the BY40’s suction may feel a bit too strong, even on the lowest setting. Another downside with the BY40 is the size of the bottle. 180 ml feels a bit on the large side, and that makes it both tricky to find a comfortable position and difficult to pump while you’re breastfeeding on the other side. Overall, the Beurer BY40 is relatively good value and the display in particular is a good feature. For a higher score, we’d have liked to see more possibility to fine tune the suction and a more convenient bottle being included.
Beurer Electric Breast Pump
Beurer BY40 Electric Breast Pump | Vacuum Pump with 10 Stimulation Levels and 10 Pumping Levels| Setting Memory Function | Comfortable Silicone Cushion | Avent and NUK Bottle Adapter, White
Beurer - BY 40 Electric Breast Pump - 3 Year warranty
Breast pump that’s easy to use and is compatible with all bottles from the brand
Mains/battery: Yes/AA batteries Adjustable suction: Yes Bottles & teats included: One bottle with teat Double pumping possible: No
The NUK Luna is an electric pump constructed according to the same principles as Pigeon’s portable pumps. The breast shield is built into the pump motor and the bottle is attached to the pump head without hoses or wires. For a portable breast pump, the NUK Luna is very large. The actual pump is ball shaped and rather unwieldy. The NUK Luna is also relatively heavy when you have batteries in it, which means it’s uncomfortable to keep in the right position if you’re using it for a longer period. And despite the size of the motor, the NUK Luna has the weakest suction of the pumps tested, and really isn’t sufficient for the purpose.
The NUK Luna Electric Breast Pump starts easily with a touch of the start button, and automatically goes into the first phase. When you feel the stimulation phase is finished, you press the stop button again to move on to the expression phase. The NUK Luna has LEDs to show you which phase the pump is in. When the breast is empty or when you want to finish pumping for another reason, you press the start button a third time to switch the pump off completely. You can adjust the strength of the vacuum by rotating a dial. But as we said above, the maximum strength feels rather weak. It’s hard to get a good flow, and this means that pumping takes significantly longer than it needs to. The breast shield is comfortably rubberised, and the NUK Luna Electric Breast Pump includes a bottle with a wide opening for easy cleaning. The pump is powered by batteries or a mains cable which includes different adapters so you can take the breast pump with you on international trips. If you’ve already been using NUK’s feeding bottles, it’s an advantage that the pump is directly compatible with these.
Using a breast pump can act both as a complement and substitute for breastfeeding. The important things to think about when choosing a breast pump are how much and where you think you’ll use it. In this test, we used six different electronic breast pumps, but if you have a limited need to use one you can get by with just a smaller, manual breast pump or even expressing the milk by hand. But if you know you’ll be using the breast pump regularly over a longer period, an electronic version is preferable, as these often do a better job in a shorter time. There are several different price classes of breast pumps, and the number of accessories varies too, so the final choice is often about the money you have to spend and how often the pump will be used. Expensive pumps often include rechargeable batteries, which mean you have much more freedom in terms of where you can use the pump. With most pumps, you can use disposable batteries, which also provide freedom, but can be more expensive in the long run. Both single and double pumps are available. With a single pump, you pump the milk from one breast at a time, while with a double one you can do both at once. The primary advantage of a double pump is that it's more efficient in terms of time.
Most electrical pumps have two different modes. One that initiates pumping and imitates the child’s first suck on the nipple to start the milk being expressed in the breast – this is the stimulation phase. The other one simulates the child’s sucking when the milk has started to flow and is characterised by more powerful but less frequent suction – and this phase is called the expression phase. All removable parts of the pump should be cleaned and sterilised before the first use.
An electric breast pump contains a pump motor, with different controls and buttons to configure pumping. The motor is connected to a breast shield – the part of the pump placed against the breast and where the vacuum is formed to express the milk from the breast. The nipple must be positioned in the centre of the breast shield for more uniform pressure and so that the nipple can move freely without getting chafed on the edges of the shield. After the pump has been switched on, the stimulation phase begins. If the pump doesn’t automatically switch over to the expression phase after a certain time, you need to do this when you see that milk has started to flow. When the pumping is finished, it’s a good idea to have a small towel or washcloth handy to dry off your breast and wipe up any drops on the breast shield. Refrigerate the breast milk as soon as possible. If you pump several times a day, each batch of milk must cool separately before you can combine them together. Save the milk on a daily basis and mark it with the date. Fresh breast milk last for three days in the refrigerator and six months in the freezer. Thawed breast milk should be used within one day. Clean all parts of the pump and all containers used for the milk regularly.
We name the Medela Swing Maxi Flex as our best in test. This breast pump is as efficient as it is comfortable, with easily adjustable suction, good accessories and the option of choosing between pumping one breast or both. The motor is small and convenient and can be operated both with mains power and batteries.
Pumping with an electric breast pump takes place in two phases. First a stimulation phase, which often only lasts for a couple of minutes. This is followed by the expression phase. A common recommendation is to pump each breast for at least 10 minutes, but it’s better to pump for a shorter time and more often than to pump longer but more rarely. You shouldn’t pump your breasts for too long, as this can cause tenderness and discomfort.
You can start using a breast pump immediately the child is born. There’s no reason to wait. Mothers of premature babies or who for whatever reason can’t breastfeed are often advised to start milk production with a breast pump as soon as possible.
The breast pump’s job is to try as far as possible to resemble the suction created by a breastfeeding child. Breast pumps can be divided into manual and electric. With a manual breast pump, you have to sit and create the vacuum that extracts milk from the breast, using a handle. An electric breast pump creates the vacuum using the machine’s motor. The expressed milk is collected in a container.
If you aren’t sure how much use you’ll get out of a breast pump, you can wait and try manually milking a few times. The next step is the manual breast pumps. On one hand, these are significantly cheaper to buy, but on the other they're often perceived as being less efficient and sometimes more difficult to use comfortably. An electric breast pump is the most advanced version, and you essentially only need to position the breast shield correctly and let the breast pump do the rest.
If the electric breast pump doesn’t start, you may need to change the batteries or check the mains cable. If the pump is working but you aren’t getting any milk out, you could try having your baby skin to skin with you while you’re pumping. Remember that you need to be sitting in as comfortable and calm a position as possible, with your body relaxed. It’s also important to be aware that the quantity of milk you can pump out doesn’t reflect how much milk the breast produces.
Breast pumps can be used for many different reasons. You can express milk as a way of helping to get your milk production going after the birth. You can express milk to feed your baby a little extra with a bottle, a cup or feeding set. Expressed breast milk can also be a way for other family members to feed the baby. And sometimes using a breast pump can also make things easier if you have breast engorgement.
When you’re using a breast pump, hygiene is very important. Most parts of the breast pump can be boiled – in other words completely sterilised – before the pump is used for the first time. Most modern pumps can be dismantled, and in the case of electric breast pumps most things except the motor and tubing are dishwasher safe. Otherwise, you need to wash them by hand.
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