Community Curated • Updated 03, 2019
Expressing milk is important for a lot of new mothers out there. Whether you’re a mom working full-time or you have to spend a lot of time in different locations, often during the course of a single day, breast pumping is here to make all of that work. Breast pumps offer a viable alternative to breastfeeding when you simply aren’t able to do it in person - that way you won’t ever need to worry that your baby will remain hungry or devoid of important nutrients.
This is a buying guide that covers manual breast pumps - one of the two main varieties. The other option is to go for an electric breast pump, and for those, we have a separate guide (if you’re searching for a more general guide on breast pumps, you can check out our top breast pump recommendations here). Below you can find some of the frequently asked questions concerning manual pumps, which we hope we’ll answer as best as we can for you - and of course, our recommended manual breast pump picks
If you’re new to the breast pumping experience and want to know more about it, you’re welcome to go through this article.
Coming at a much more affordable price than other brands, the NatureBond Manual Breast Pump gives you a lot for very little money. Amazon reviewers have praised this pump for increasing their milk extraction and being very effective in catching even those last milk drops - especially important for mothers who face difficulties maintaining their milk supply. Reviewers have also been fond of the easy to use product design which allows you to adjust the suction amount by applying more or less pressure while squeezing the bulb. Another great feature is the silicone body - which basically means that you don’t need to disassemble any parts in order to wash the pump. The premium pack also includes a silicone stopper, which effectively means you'll be saying goodbye to any accidental spillages once and for all!
The Haakaa pumps are already quite a name on the breast pump market, and this one comes with a great price! Made from a 100% food grade silicone, it’s super soft and comfortable, and its simple design will make it very easy to clean and use. On account of its suction prowess, Amazon reviewers have especially recommended it for clogged ducts that found it hard to release milk. What’s more, it fits everywhere, whether it’s a regular handbag, a travel bag or a special baby bag and is perfect for short or long distance trips, as well as different types of rides because it allows a silent, discrete and quick milk expression. One possible design flaw, though, is a reported inaccuracy in the ounce storage measurements.
Efficient and fast, the Medela Manual Breast Pump is perhaps a slightly pricier choice compared to other manual breast pumps, but it's definitely a worthy spend. Hailed for its ergonomic, convenient design and its small, portable size, this pump is perfect for mothers whose lifestyle demands constant movement - whether it's in and out of the office, frequent traveling or just about any situation that doesn’t allow much time and space for using bulky electric pumps. Its quiet, but powerful pumping system, which is very easy to use and requires very little hand pressure, is said to extract even more milk than many other models on the market. Another thing that's great about it is that it's made to be very easily assembled. It comes with five pieces of milk collecting bottles, a cap - convenient for keeping the milk fresh and microorganism free, and a stand - great for keeping bottles secure from turning over or spilling.
A tad lesser known brand, the Bumblebee Manual Breast Pump falls in the category of affordable manual breast pumps with a relatively good price-quality ratio. It has everything moms need in a manual pump: it’s hands-free, it’s compact, small, effective, and both easy to use and clean. Reviewers have praised it as a great pump, especially when it comes to its capacity for saving let-down milk, and not letting even a single drop to get lost! There have been some reviewer complaints, however, concerning the container which can only hold a maximum of 2-3 ounces of milk without further spillage, while they also note that it can be a bit problematic when it comes to storing the milk, having some difficulty with the secure fittings of the cap. Some mothers have complained of soreness after suction as well.
This is the pump for you if you struggle with breast pumps that are hard to hold and squeeze – it has a carefully designed ergonomic handle that helps prevent hand fatigue and hand cramps during pumping. It also helps a lot with better and more efficient milk extraction, as it makes complete use of every squeeze of the hand. The Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump is a better-known name among the breast pump brands, but it also comes with a higher price. That shouldn’t stop you, though, if you choose to purchase a good quality product, that is also reported to be very convenient for larger sized nipples, considering it comes with two size breast cups (25mm & 30.5mm) and contains soft silicone rims that make the pumping experience easier and more comfortable.
The Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump comes with a unique, gentle and lightweight design which allows for a bigger amount of comfort when it comes to pumping positions and a closer lever that saves the hand from too much strain. A top-notch product, it’s one of the best known and highest quality brands on the market, while managing to show all of its credit in its price as well. What sets it apart from other such products is its cushioned flange, which means that it provides some extra softness, allowing for a tighter suction, better collection of milk, while it also helps prevent pain during and after suction and, what’s more, it makes it especially suitable for smaller nipples. It’s designed to be incredibly simple to take apart and then put back together, which makes the cleaning process much, much easier.
Manual breast pumps are really convenient for mothers who don’t need to express milk regularly. They represent a very convenient low-budget option if you consider expressing milk once a day, only occasionally, or if you’re frequently out of the house since they’re so practical to carry around.
If you plan to feed your little one only with expressed milk, though, getting an electric breast pump will make things a little easier, since electric once can express the milk faster and more efficiently.
When choosing a breast pump, always consider comfort as your priority number one. Generally, regardless of the type of breast pump you use, breast pumping shouldn’t be a painful experience, although there are women who find the whole thing a tad (or more) uncomfortable. If you use a manual pump, you’ll have more control over the suction rate, and by feeling more in control, you may as well reduce the level of discomfort.
For a selection of the best manual breast pumps currently on the market, check out the products listed above.
In the beginning, you can expect that the pumping will last approximately the same as your usual breastfeeding session. With practice, though, and if you use a double pump, you can collect a fine amount of milk in 10-15 minutes. If you’re at work, it’s recommended that you try and pump as often as your baby nurses.
Generally speaking, electric pumps are more efficient and quicker when it comes to expressing milk. They’ve got a higher expression speed, and allow you the possibility to express bigger milk volumes than the ones you can with a manual breast pump.
But, as is mentioned earlier, manual breast pumps give you more control when it comes to the suction. A lot of mothers claim that manual pumps feel more natural and can very closely mimic the baby's sucking.
They’re cheaper than electric breast pumps and using them won’t cost you a thing
They’re easier to sterilize and clean than electric pumps because they have fewer components
They’re very convenient if you’re out of the house a lot - they’re simple, small, compact, practical and can easily fit in your handbag.
They’re also lighter and much quieter than electric pumps, which makes them very convenient for pumping in the company of a sleeping baby. Manual pumps are also very convenient when you want to breastfeed and pump at the same time - the quietness of the manual pump won’t disturb the baby feeding on one breast.
They’re simple to use and don’t require a particular, lengthy setup
They don’t require electricity so you won’t need to worry if you’re not able to find any power sockets around you
Some mothers may find it difficult to get into a regular pumping rhythm
The repetitive pumping motions can become strenuous on your hands
They’re generally slower than electric breast pumps (but, once you get the knack of it, it gets much easier and faster to use)
Always check your manufacturer’s instructions on how to use your manual breast pump for more detail. The general use-practices are as follows: place the suction cup over your breast, then squeeze the handle so you can create a rhythmic vacuum that will stimulate milk flow. In the beginning, you’ll probably need to use both hands to operate the pump, but in a short time and with practice you'll get used to doing the pumping with only one hand.
Manual breast pumps are very practical and easy-to-use alternative for milk expression during the months of breastfeeding. Some mothers prefer using them when their breasts are tender and sore since they can manage and control the suction and speed manually (manual breast pumps are also said to closely mimic the way the baby’s sucking on the breast). And although they’ve got a lot of good sides (low-cost, easy to use, portable and lightweight), they’re not as effective as electric breast pumps. If you plan on regularly pumping milk, maybe you’ll prefer a pump that’s electric.
A convenient time for using a manual breast pump is the same as using an electric one, and that is somewhat around week 6 after giving birth, after you’ve already established the breastfeeding process with your little one.
Take your time until you find a manual breast pump that will suit your body best. Don’t be discouraged if you need to change several ones, or if it doesn’t quite work in the beginning. These things, like everything else, take time.