When it comes to nursing, modern-day moms depend on the electric pumps to do the work of pumping out their breast milk. While electric pumps are efficient, they are pricey and need to be powered by batteries or via an outlet. Manual pumps may be a better option depending on your situation because they are reliable, cheaper, and will work without powering so long as you squeeze that handle.
If you decide to go with the manual pump, there are so many options in the market that it might be hard to choose the right one. In this review, we will guide you on how to choose a quality manual pump, explore the best models out there, and teach you how to use a manual pump.
Is Breast Pump Necessary?
A breast pump is not a necessity for every nursing mom, but it is wise to have one on hand. One of the heart felt wish for every new mom is to be able to spend every moment with their little one and feed them as much as they need. While some can afford this luxury, other moms are so pressed by the daily demands of life that the only solution they are with is feeding their baby with formula.
Now formula is good, but we know that breast milk is the best source of food for babies. So if you are a working mom or for some reason you are not able to be around to feed your baby whenever they need, a good breast pump will come in very handy.
With a breast pump, you can pump milk ahead of time and store it so your baby can be fed as and when they need, while you are away.
Advantages of A Manual Pumps
Price: manual pumps are much cheaper than their electric counterparts because they lack the electrical component. If you will not be pumping frequently, you do not need to spend extra cash to buy an electric pump while a cheaper manual pump can sort your needs.
Portability: you can go with a manual pump anywhere because it does not need batteries or connection to an outlet like an electric pump. Also, they are smaller and lighter than electric pumps.
Noise level: manual pumps are much quieter than electric pumps. If you want a pump you can use quietly and discretely a manual pump is ideal.
Ease of cleaning: manual pumps have fewer parts than electric pumps; hence cleaning them is easier and faster.
Ease of use: unlike electric pumps, you do not need to be an experienced mama to use a manual pump. It is all straightforward.
Comfort level: some moms including those who pump frequently prefer manual pumps because they feel is more comfortable than when using electric pumps. With a manual pump, you can control the suction – to be faster or slower depending on your comfort level.
Disadvantages of Manual Pumps
Effectiveness: some moms find manual pumps not as effective in pumping out as much milk as they would like when compared with an electric pump.
Tiredness: depending on whether you are already exhausted, pumping a lot of milk might leave your energy levels zapped.
Time factor: you take a longer time to pump out every bit of milk with a manual pump than if you used an electric one.
Types of Manual Breast Pumps
Unlike the electric pumps, manual pumps come in only two types as outlined below:
1. Levered Pumps
Levered pumps consist of a nipple shield attached to a valve that opens into a bottle. When one pumps the handle, it creates suction against the breast expressing the milk into the bottle. Some models have a two-way lever where one-lever massages the breast to encourage letdown, and the one is used for milk flow.
2. Silicone Models
These models are also known as milk catchers. They consist of a specially shaped food-grade silicone that fits around the nipple to catch any leaks when breastfeeding or pumping. You can also use it to pump out the milk by pressing on the reservoir, which in turn creates the suction for milk to flow into the reservoir. With the help of a cap or stopper (bought separately), you can seal off your milk to help you preserve it.
Choosing the Best Manual Breast Pump
When choosing the best manual breast pump you need to consider a few factors. First, you want one that is easy to pump so you don’t end up with a fatigued arm after every session. Consider the shape to ensure that your desired pump is comfortable and ergonomic to make it easier to use since you will be spending long durations and sometimes pumping vigorously.
The other factor to consider is the suction strength of a pump. A good pump should provide a firm latch and suction power like your baby. This will help to stimulate your milk ducts to produce milk and keep it flowing.
Some models of manual pumps require you to use both hands, while others just one. With practice, you will find yourself so good, that you can nurse and pump at the same time.
Finally, you need to consider how much milk the pump can express. The reason is, if you get tired and not empty the breast, you will be producing fewer ounces of milk in subsequent pumping sessions which will not be enough to meet your baby’s needs. Also, you could clog your milk ducts and potentially risk getting an infection called mastitis.
Reviews of the Best Manual Breast Pumps in 2021
If you are a nursing mom who is not able to maintain a steady flow of milk supply when expressing, it is time you ditched your pump and lay your hands on the Medela Harmony Manual Breast pump. This manual pump is known for having a strong suction that helps to empty the breast easily and is our overall best manual pump available in the market in 2020.
This manual pump is manufactured by Europe-based Medela, a company that has over 30 years of experience doing research and developing cutting edge breastfeeding products.
|Name||Medela Manual Breast Pump|
|Manufacturer||Medela founded in 1961 and known advocate of breastfeeding through its development of innovative, research-based breast pump technology.|
|Rating and ranking||Over 5,700 reviews on Amazon and rated 4.4/5|
Currently the 3rd best-selling manual pump on Amazon
|Features||Portable(14.4 ounces), BPA Free, 2-Phase Expression technology, ergonomic swivel handle makes manual pumping comfortable|
The Medela Harmony Manual Pump consists of a breast pump, a 24 mm breast shield, two 5-ounce bottles with lids, a bottle stand, and pumps parts like membranes and a valve.
Remember how we said that some pumps have two levers? Medela pump is one such. It uses what they refer to as a two-phase expression technology. What that means is that you prepare your breast for a letdown using the lever that is next to the breast shield in the first phase. Then, when the milk starts flowing, you use the longer lever to express the milk until your breast is emptied. And this process takes such a short time with this pump. Also, most moms report that it is much more gentle than other manual pumps.
- Lightweight and portable
- Ergonomic swivel handle which makes manual pumping comfortable
- Has quiet operation
- Works fast
- It seems the suction lessens after consistent use, perhaps because it is designed for occasional use
- Some users complain that the O-ring breaks after just a few uses
Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump by Lansinoh is our second best manual breast pump you can find in the market in 2020. If you are a working mama you need the pump that will get the job done in the shortest time possible. Sure a double electric pump can do that but, a cheaper manual option specifically, the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump is known for operating fast. Plus you will not need to spend so much energy because it has an ergonomic easy-express handle which greatly reduces your hand from getting fatigued.
Lansinoh manual pump like the Medela pump has two phases to efficiently express breast milk; the stimulation phase and the Expression phase. The former phase allows a rapid suction similar to the baby’s pattern to stimulate a letdown and once the milk starts flowing, the latter phase provides slower cycles with more suction to pump the milk until the breast is empty.
We also love the innovative design of the Lansinoh pump where the breast shield comes with two sizes; large and standard, so every mom can find the proper fit that will produce the right suction. Also, the bottle that is attached to the pump has a wide neck which makes for a smooth transfer, and also makes cleaning easier.
Lansinoh breast pump package includes a dual pump with two flanges sizes (standard 25 mm and large 30.5 mm), a storage bottle with a stand, natural wave slow flow nipple, cap and lid for storage bottle, and extra valve and lid.
- Affordable pricing
- Easy to clean
- Effective and fast
- No cramping effect
- The suction is not very strong in comparison to some other manual pumps
- It might not fit bottles from other brands
Philips Avent Manual Comfort is our third-best manual breast pump in this 2020 list. Philips Avent is known for its high-quality products and this manual pump won’t disappoint.
If you want to avoid the problems of a pump breaking down on you from consistent use (a common complaint by users of some manual pumps) you need to buy a sturdy pump that is designed to withstand heavy usage, a good example being the Philip Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump.
The pump is light and compact so you can just carry it in your purse. It is designed in such a way that you can pump in an upright position as opposed to leaning forward like when using other manual pumps, which is a more comfortable and relaxing position to pump. Plus, it comes with a soft and textured massage cushion to help stimulate milk flow.
The Philip Avent Manual Pump package includes the breast pump body with handle, a 4 ounces bottle with a newborn nipple, 25 mm massage cushion, one travel cover, sealing disc for milk storage, and four breast pad samples ( 2 day pads and 2 night pads).
We also love that the pump is compatible with more options like the Natural and Classic bottles, other storages with a wide neck.
- Provides a comfortable position with no hunching
- Convenient for travel
- Very easy to clean
- Comes with everything you need while on the move, breast pad and nipple attachment
- It is squeaky
- Almost double the price of some manual pumps
- The one-size breast cushion might not fit every mom
How to assemble Philips Avent Comfort Manual breast Pump:
Our forth-best manual breast pump in this 2020 list is the Haakaa Silicone Manual Pump by Haakaa, a New-Zealand-based family company. This product is their best-selling brand and is actually the best-selling manual pump on Amazon that is also pocket friendly.
Pumping to get enough milk for your baby is hard work, that’s why it is wise to catch the extra milk that is lost when letting down starts (during pumping or when breastfeeding). No other pump collects the leaking milk like the Haakaa Silicone Manual Pump. It is an award-winning and top seller with a rating of 4.5 by more than 14.7 k customers on Amazon.
The reason the Haakaa pump has such a large number of fans is that it has a simple and iconic design which is just one piece-no assembly needed. Also, it is light and small to carry and it is even easier to use. To operate you start by squeezing the pump to force air out. Then fold the flange back, place on your breast, and release the flange to create a strong hold. You then apply suction by gently squeezing the base of the pump until milk flow begins and let the pump carry on with its work. Once the pump is full carefully empty into a bottle or in freezer bags.
Some moms might find it hard to pump using the Haakaa, preferring to use a stronger pump for pumping and the HaaKaa for occasional relief and as a milk catcher.
- Excellent at relieving engorged breast or passive pumping
- Very inexpensive
- Very easy to clean
- Soft and comfortable material
- Gentle to use
- Compact, small and ideal for travel
- Quiet operation
- Some users report reduction in suction after several uses
- Not very suitable for active pumping
- Measurements are inaccurate sometimes
- The baby might kick off the pump when nursing
#5. Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump
For moms who find it hard to get a pump that fits their large breast size, we have good news! The Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump is for every cup size. Even better, it is the cheapest option on this list at under $15.
The Nuk manual pump is a small lightweight pump weighing just 5 ounces, which is unnoticeable in your hand but also allows you to express with one hand while the free hand can get busy with something else. Another advantage is that you can adjust the speed and suction as you pump the milk into the attached Nuk bottle.
The Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump package contains a pump, a 5-ounce container with one silicone nipple, collar, cap, seal disk, stand, and extra silicone valve.
- Easy to clean, dishwasher safe
- Usable on one hand
- Some users complain that parts break down after some time of consistent use
- The ergonomic handle does little to prevent the hands from getting fatigued and sore
- It sometimes produces annoying popping sound when pumping
How to Use a Manual Breast Pump
Manual pumps are the easiest use, even if you are a first time mom. Below are a few steps to help you get started:
- Clean your hands to prevent contaminating the storage bottles or parts of the pump that will come into contact with your breast milk.
- Place the breast shield on your breast with the nipple centered and not on the sides. Since every mom is different, you need to buy a shield that fits you. If the fit is not correct, the suction will be compromised.
- Begin pumping by squeezing the handle of your pump. You might need to pump a few times before you can see the milk coming out.
- Pump one breast for about 5 minutes, and then switch to the other one. If you favor one breast over the other your milk supply will start to dry up.
- Once you are done you can opt to feed your baby or store the milk. Wash the pump and the pieces and allow them to air dry until your next pumping session.
I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at 10BabyGear. I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.