[UPDATED 10 APRIL 2021]
It is likely that you will spend more time with your breast pump than your best friend as a new mum… They are essential if you plan to breastfeed your baby and want the freedom to occasionally remove yourself from the process and hand the feeding over to Dad.
So finding the best breast pump to suit your needs will be one of the most important buying decisions you will make when your baby is born.
You need a high quality breast pump that will perform over time, is easy to use, and won’t cost you the earth (these things are expensive!).
After endless hours on my own pumping journey, we have used this experience to review the best breast pumps available so you can buy knowing that you have the most suitable pump for your situation.
Which Type of Breast Pump Should I Buy?
While a breast pump is essential for (almost) every breastfeeding mum’s journey. The different types of breast pumps available are designed to suit a variety of circumstances that we will summarise below.
Depending on whether you’re doing mixed feeding, exclusively pumping, or only pumping at work, the frequency and duration of your pumping sessions will differ, which in turn will become a factor in your choice of pump.
The first thing to make clear is that an electric pump is a must! But there are variations of this to consider.
We will review the best breast pumps in the following categories that are readily available in Australia, plus my top picks for each category:
- Hospital Grade Breast Pump – Powerful, fast, great for working Mums.
- Double Electric Breast Pump – Dual breast suction for well balanced pumping sessions.
- Single Electric Breast Pump – Great for Mums on a budget or have an imbalance in supply.
- Manual Breast Pump – A small, convenient, and portable backup breast pump.
To further help you make an informed decision, I’ve included the customer ratings on ProductReview as well as various stores and review sites.
Best Hospital Grade Breast Pumps
A hospital grade pump has very powerful suction strength to maximise what your pumping session yields in the shortest amount of time possible. Yet they are also very quiet while only being marginally more expensive than a double electric breast pump.
Designed for multiple users (like maternity wards in hospitals), these ones have a closed system breast pump design that eliminates the problem of mould growth in tubes.
However, hospital grade pumps are bulkier and need to be plugged into a power outlet. Some models are not even great for home use if you don’t usually pump in one set place.
There are also very few brand options on the market on hospital grade breast pumps. But we have found some great options below:
Spectra S2 – Best Overall Breast Pump (Editor’s Choice)
- Patented genuine closed system design
- 2x breast shield sizes included (24mm and 28 mm flange)
- Vacuum range: 0-270 mmHg
- Digital display with easy to use push buttons
The Spectra S2 is our overall pick for the best electric breast pump (despite the product review rating being slightly being no. 2 on our list). It is not too heavy and is full of features that make your pumping experience as pleasant and easy to use as you could imagine.
What we loved most was the custom settings that allow you to set up the suction strength to match your body’s response and milk flow as you let down.
It is also a closed system – which means there is an additional layer of material that blocks milk flow from backing up into the tubing- so it is easier to clean and the tubing is less likely to need replacing.
The speed of cleaning will be important to working mums especially. When you express milk 2-3 times a day in the office a quick cleaning process can remove a lot of hassle.
The motor is relatively quiet and it also has a built in night light. Pumping at night sucks! So every task that you don’t have to worry about at 3am is a big plus.
You also get 2 wide neck collection bottles (which are BPA free) with lids and two flange sizes – 24 and 28 mm. These are also easy to clean.
If you need to be more mobile with your pumping then you can also upgrade to the S1. The only difference between the two (aside from the colour) is that the S1 includes a rechargeable battery (check out our full comparison here).
You never know when this may come in handy, but you will have to fork out more for the luxury.
- Patented genuine closed system design
- Single and double pumping
- Vacuum range: 50-300mmHg
As an official partner of the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Unimom products are highly recommended by hospitals and midwives across Australia. Part of the proceeds from every Unimom sale also goes toward supporting breastfeeding mums through the ABA.
You get a stronger max suction with the Unimom breast pump compared to the S2, and for a slightly lower price. But we thought the functionality wasn’t quite as good, and the inclusion of only single size breast shields can also be limiting for mothers with smaller or larger breasts than what will fit the 24mm flange.
Hospital Grade Breast Pump Brands – Rating & Cost Comparison
Best Double Electric Breast Pumps
Double electric breast pumps are much more efficient than single ones. They are the best option for power pumping to increase milk supply, or for those who are exclusively pumping.
They are only slightly more expensive than single ones, and in fact many single ones easily convert to a double breast pump with an additional kit that comes as an add-on (more on this later).
Vice versa, most double electric pumps on this list can be used for single side pumping, so in terms of cost effectiveness, a double electric breast pump gives you the best value for money.
They are essential for a mum pumping at work as they get the job done in half the time as a single!
Medela Swing Maxi Flex Breast Pump (Editor’s Choice)
- Closed system design
- Portable pump that runs on AA Batteries
- Option to upgrade to the Freestyle Flex with tracking app
This is our pick for the best double breast pump. It performs just as well as the Spectra S2 with the only real differentiator being price.
If you really want a Medela and are on a budget then there is a single electric option that is much cheaper. But we don’t recommend this. It is important you maintain balance between each breast and doing one at a time is a huge time suck (pun intended) and could lead to imbalance in your supply if you lose patience.
Aside from that, you get similar inclusions and performance with one main exception. You can use regular AA batteries to run the breast pump.
The Medela is also lighter than the Spectra which makes it much easier to bring with you on a day out. So you have an extra portable breast pump that you can take anywhere.
If you want the ultimate pumping experience you can upgrade to the Medela Freestyle Flex. This includes a digital display, rechargeable battery, and use of the Medela breastfeeding tracker app. It is a lot more expensive though and these three features I don’t think are worth it.
There are plenty of similar apps out there that are free or much cheaper, and if the mobile pumping is important then the Spectra S1 will be more cost effective.
Pumpables Genie Plus Double Breast Pump (Editor’s Choice)
- Hospital grade closed system design
- Lightest portable electric breast pump at 220g
- Comes with 3 shield sizes included
- Powerful suction up to 300mmHg
- Save memory settings with one touch
- 20 different massage and expression modes
- Single or double pumping
- Built-in rechargeable battery and power plug
A product of Singapore, the Genie Plus by Pumpables is a fairly new contender in the market but has very quickly proven to be well received by mums around the world. The design and functionality are exceptional which makes it one of the best breast pumps available at a relatively low price.
They offer 2 years warranty instead of the standard 1 year, which shows how much confidence they have in the built of their product.
It comes with a lot of useful features that many bigger brands lack, such as 3 different breast shield sizes included so you can rest assured you will find your perfect fit for highly effective pumping.
The range of settings from massage mode to encourage the let down through to full on expression mode for fast milk extraction. You can customise your pumping experience to suit your body.
It is also the most lightweight electric breast pump weighing at just 220g, so if you are looking for a good balance of affordability, portability, and high performance, this new kid on the block is one to watch out for.
Use code SHOP10-BLISSFULMATERNITY for extra 10% off
Double Electric Breast Pump – Brands, Ratings & Costs
Best Single Electric Breast Pumps
We would almost always recommend a double electric breast pump. However, there are some considerations for whether you would get a single or double pump.
- Cost – A single electric breast pump is cheaper and may allow you to get a better quality pump.
- Imbalance in Milk Production or Expression – You may need to target one breast far more than the other.
Single electric pumps are perfect for mums who are combining breastfeeding and expressing or doing mixed feeding. If your baby finishes their feed and has only drained one breast then it is up to you to do the other so the milk supply stays balanced.
Even a single electric breast pump can be 2-3 times more expensive than manual pumps. So the single pump may be a necessity for some breastfeeding mothers so they have access to an electric pump if on a budget.
Spectra M1 Portable Single Electric (Editor’s Choice)
- Built-in rechargeable battery for portability
- Can also be used with power plug
- Letdown mode with adjustable cycle speeds and suction strength
- Closed system design – this is most commonly seen in hospital-grade breast pumps and very rarely in normal electric pumps
- Convertible to double pump with additional accessories
With a 98% 5-star rating from over 100 customers on the Spectra Australia site, it also has a fantastic rating of 4.6 on ProductReview, some reviews from early as 2014 so it is indeed a longstanding brand that has proven its quality over many years.
It is really easy to use. I have been using this machine for 10 months already. Very easy to clean and maintain. It very light, so it easy for me to carry when i’m going out.ProductReview.com.au
- Comfortable cushion on breast shield
- Three milk expression settings
- Light & compact unit
The control unit of the Philips AVENT Breast Pump is so small that it is easy to throw in a bag when on the way to the office and use in a restricted space.
The included carry bag fits everything comfortably. But what is disappointing is there is no cooler compartment to store your milk for the trip home.
Putting that inconvenience aside, the pumping experience is exceptional. There are 8 stimulation and 16 pumping levels which enable you to ramp things up quickly, but comfortably.
If you are squeezing in 2-3 pumping sessions in a work day then keeping your sessions efficient is important and the flexibility in strength allows you to do just that.
There is a double electric version available which is at the top end of the market. You would go for the single pump option if you want the best electric pump unit you can afford, but don’t quite have the budget for the double.
So if it is important for you to have the most compact breast pump possible for the office then this will do the trick. But this may only be a minor benefit and not worth the price point when the other breast pumps higher on the list may perform better overall vs the cost.
You also do not have the option to run off battery power. So this again knocks it down a notch losing that portability.
Single Electric Breast Pump – Brands, Ratings & Costs
Best Manual Breast Pumps
Manual breast pumps are affordable, lightweight, portable, and easy to use and clean with very few parts. They don’t require batteries or power and are great for occasional or light pumping.
They are best for expressing milk while travelling, at work, or relieving engorged breasts. Without electric motors, they are also almost completely silent.
However, the major disadvantage of manual breast pumps is that their suction strength is fairly weak and is better suited for mums who have quick letdowns or a good supply of breast milk.
It is always handy to have a manual breast pump as a backup that you can use at any time you may need to express milk. They are small enough to fit into our handbag so it is with you everywhere!
Spectra Handy Plus Manual Breast Pump (Editor’s Choice)
- Best small portable breast pump
- Powerful suction up to 350 mmHg
- Ergonomic, lightweight design
- Slow flow teat suitable for newborn feeding
- Certification CE, FDA, ISO13485, ISO9001
Made in South Korea, Spectra is still gaining popularity in Australia. They are more well known for their electric and hospital grade pumps, but their lesser known manual pump – the Handy Plus – is a top rated option on our list.
Its price point is also very affordable compared to other manual breast pumps, and it’s the most economical choice for manual pumping.
I have 4 month old twin boys so to say I need effective pumping is an understatement. I have the Spectra S2 but I wanted something more compact for the times I am out and about without easy access to electricity. Another pumping mother recommended this product (Spectra Handy Plus), it’s everything that I needed and super effective.Natalie Clarke – March 17, 2018
- Lots of inclusions offering great value
- Ergonomic swivel handle
- Manually controlled vacuum
- 2 phase expression technology
- Comes with a stand to prevent tipping
The Medela Harmony manual breast pump is one of the best on the market and a favorite of mothers everywhere.
This pump comes with everything you need to get started with manual breast pumping: 2 bottles with lids that hold up to 5 ounces each, all of the pump pieces (including one valve and 2 membranes), and a stand for the bottle to prevent it from tipping over.
When it comes to the Medela Harmony manual breast pump, the biggest thing worth noting is its handle.
The ergonomic shape helps to prevent fatigue while the swivel function allows you to hold it at just the angle you need to be comfortable.
You can even manually control the vacuum by adjusting how hard you squeeze.
- The same comfy cushion as the electric pump
- Compatible with other Philips Avent feeding products
- Lightweight and easy to hold
- Easy to assemble
- Can be used anywhere easily and discreetly
Philips Avent makes some of the best bottles for breastfeeding babies. So, if you are a fan of their breastfeeding products, including the Natural and Anti-Colic bottles, the Avent manual breast pump is a great choice for you.
This pump is compatible with all Philips Avent feeding products, attaching directly to the bottle without the need for any adapters or additional pieces.
One of the most unique factors of this pump is the soft, textured massage cushion.
This piece fits directly onto the breast shield and has silicone petals that help to massage the breast and promote better milk flow while pumping.
Manual Breast Pump – Brands, Ratings & Costs
|*Editor’s Choice* Spectra Handy Plus Manual Breast Pump||$54.95||4.3|
|Medela Harmony Manual Pump||Check Price||4.1|
|NUK Jolie Manual Breast Pump||$59||4.0|
|Philips Avent Comfort Manual||Check Price||3.7|
|Tommee Tippee Manual Breast Pump||$59.85||2.7|
Breast Pump Buying Guide
We have looked at a number of key performance areas to determine which breast pump outperforms in each area. The combined results have determined our overall rankings.
As with all baby products, the benefit to you is subjective and may differ depending on circumstances. So we have tried to provide as complete information as possible.
Compact And Easy To Assemble
If you are exclusively pumping, that means you are going to be pumping everywhere. Portability is going to be a key deciding factor for you.
You are going to want something lightweight and small enough to fit into your purse or diaper bag for on the go use.
Some breast pumps come with a lot of parts, which means more for you to clean and assemble. Fewer parts will save you a lot of hassle.
Adjustable Suction Speed
The general guidelines of your breast pump’s motor will determine how efficient it is, or how quickly it can drain the breast.
However, a strong suction right off the bat every time is not the most efficient for pumping.
For your body to effectively release milk, you not only need a strong enough suction but you also need to relax, and you won’t be able to fully relax if you’re in pain from your breast pump.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” suction speed, so you will want a breast pump that is adjustable so you can find what works for you.
A pump that can remember these settings makes the whole experience more pleasant due to the ease of use.
Multiple Pumping Modes
In order to drain the breast completely, you also need to know how breastfeeding works in the first place (I will touch on this a bit more later).
Your baby usually has two sucking patterns: one that starts the flow (stimulation) and one that keeps it going (expression).
A good breast pump should mimic these patterns with dual phase expression technology.
Backup Power Source
If you are out at the park with no power source or if the electricity in your home is out, you will need a backup power source for your pump.
It is better to have a pump with a battery pack option in case there’s an emergency. Even better if there is a rechargeable battery included.
Open Vs Closed System
A closed system means there is an additional diaphragm or membrane that blocks milk flow from backing up into the tubing, and open is – well – the opposite of course.
Milk that collects in the tubing not only makes it difficult to clean but it also creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew due to the moisture buildup.
You will either have to buy new tubing or a new pump if the growth is not dealt with quickly enough.
Breast Shield Size
To prevent pain and ensure optimum breast draining, you need to use the correct breast shield (or flange) size just the same as you need to have a proper latch with your baby.
This flange should be measured against your nipple and areola size, not your breast size.
Most breast pumps only come with one size (usually 24 mm or so), but additional sizes are typically available for separate purchase if needed. The Pumpables Genie (x3 sizes) and the Spectra S2 (x2 sizes) both come with multiple breast shield sizes included with the pumps.
Breast Pumping FAQs
Are Used Breast Pumps Ok?
Used breast pumps are not ok to use in most circumstances.
Even if you know the previous mum or the pump is “cleaned and sanitised,” there is still a risk for bacteria that can be trapped in the pumps or tubing.
There are some hospital pumps that are designed for multiple users (each with their own set of accessories), but be sure to do your research and talk to your doctor before renting or purchasing something used.
How Can I Make Breast Pumping Easier?
You can make breast pumping easy by prioritising your comfort. Find a cozy chair, a quiet spot, some peaceful music, a good book or TV show, or even close your eyes for a nap if you’re using a hands-free bra and a pump with a timer.
You also want to make sure your flanges fit properly, and if you have the option with your pump, find a flange with food grade silicone cushioning.
Where and When Can I Pump Breast Milk At Work?
You have the right to pump breast milk at work but the time and place are up to you to negotiate with your employer.
Refusing the time and a suitable space to express milk could be viewed as discrimination and employers are obligated to work with you to find a solution that works. However, there is no specific obligation to provide paid lactation breaks or a dedicated space for this activity all employers must take reasonable steps to accommodate you.
How Long Does Pumped Milk Keep?
According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, fresh breast milk can be kept at room temperature for 6-8 hours, in the fridge for up to 72 hours days, and in the freezer up to 12 months (if stored at -20°C).
For thawed (previously frozen) milk, only 1-2 hours at room temperature and up to 24 hours in the fridge. Thawed breast milk should never be refrozen.
Read our full guide on storing breastmilk here.
What if I Cannot Pump Enough Breast Milk?
If you cannot pump enough breast milk then you should first look at your diet and your pumping schedule.
There are a number of pumping techniques you can use with your electric pump to try and stimulate your body’s milk supply (like power pumping). Even something as simple as increasing the frequency of breast pumping sessions will train your body to ramp up that milk production.
Adding galactagogues to your diet is also a great way to temporarily increase your milk supply. Certain herbs – fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel – as well as foods – oats, brewer’s yeast, dark leafy greens – can help to boost lactation.
Mixing these up in smoothies or lactation cookies can be an easy way to make them part of your routine.
Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated!!
In Australia we have access to most of the breast pumps made by major brands and every breast pump recommended above will do a good job of pumping breast milk long term.
The pump that is right for you depends mostly on the level of portability you desire, the size of the flange to suit your body, and your budget.
Overall we thought the Spectra S2 was the best electric breast pump and offered an ideal combination of performance vs cost and features. With the option of upgrading to the S1 if you also want the mobility the rechargeable battery provides.