What are the best manual breast pumps?
Breastfeeding is the primary way to feed your baby breast milk and the best source of nutrition for your precious little one(s). That being said, there are a plethora of reasons why many mothers may need the help of breast pumps in order to provide their child with as much “liquid gold” as possible.
Since you’re here reading this, we’ll assume that you need one as well. So, which one do you choose, manual breast pump or an electric one? If you continue reading you’ll learn more about the former, from whether or not you need a manual breast pump, to giving you the best manual breast pumps on the market and lots of valuable advice on what you need to know if you’re new to the breast pumping world. You’ll also get answers to other questions you might have if this is your first time dealing with breast pumps as well as a short overview on why to get a manual instead of an electric one, so let’s start.
Which pump from our best manual pumps list would you like to try first?
|Product||Photo||Customer Rating||Hands-free operation||Cost|
|Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump||★★★||No||$$$|
|Gland Manual Breast Pump||★★★★||No||$$|
|NatureBond Silicone Manual Breast Pump **EDITOR'S CHOICE**||★★★||Yes||$|
|NOKIRE Manual Breast Pump||★||No||$$|
|Gleebee Manual Breast Pump||★★★★||Yes||$|
|Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump||★★★||No||$$$|
|NUK Expressive Manual Breastpump||★★||No||$|
|Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump||★★★||No||$$$|
Do You Really Need a Breast Pump?
You know that breastfeeding is the best way in which you can give your baby all the nutrients it needs. Be that as it may, unless you’re with your baby 24/7 for the first year you’ll need some help, which is why we’re here.
Breast pumps are the perfect tools that any woman can incorporate into her breastfeeding routine which can be extremely useful and helpful in a myriad of situations. So, do you personally need one or not? Let’s see all the situations when a manual breast pump would be of a great use to you.
When do You Need a Manual Breast Pump?
Each and every mother has her own reasons for pumping their breast milk. Many think that breast pumps are useful only if the mother cannot breastfeed due to various reasons, but this is not the case. Even if breastfeeding goes great for both you and the baby you may still need a manual breast pump so your breastfeeding experience can be much easier and your baby gets the most of it. Let’s take a look at some common situations where a breast pump would seem like a great solution.
Your Baby is Unable to Nurse
If you have a newborn who simply isn’t able to nurse, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Even though breastfeeding is a natural way of supplying your baby with food, some babies just never get the hang of it, can’t do it due to a medical condition, or just nurse ineffectively. This is one of those situations when a breast pump can save your sanity and help your baby be fed all the time.
You’re Not Comfortable While Breastfeeding
Just like some babies simply never get the hang of nursing, some mothers are not comfortable to breastfeed. This can be due to many personal reasons as well as the process being extremely uncomfortable or even painful. If this is the case with you but you still want to feed your baby your own breast milk for a longer period of time, a breast pump can be a lifesaver.
You’re Apart from Your Baby
Not all mothers can stay with their babies 24/7 during the first year of their life. Whether it’s going back to work, taking some time for yourself, sharing custody with your partner, being hospitalized, or any other reason for being away from your baby, you’ve guessed it – breast pumps are the solution.
Your Partner Wants to Feed the Baby
Sometimes your partner can express a desire to feed the baby in order to be more connected to it. Even if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you can use a manual breast pump to allow your partner to take part in this incredibly intimate and bonding act. This will make both your partner and yourself happy since your partner will feel more involved and you’ll have some time off to relax.
You Want to Increase Your Milk Supply
Did you know that there are ways to increase your milk supply if you’re not producing enough breast milk? Indeed, and one of the easiest ones is simply using a breast pump. A consistent use of the breast pump can help to increase your milk supply due to your body being encouraged to produce more and more after each pumping.
You Want to Relieve Oversupply
Not producing enough milk can be a problem, but did you know that overproducing can be problematic as well? Sometimes mother’s breasts produce much more milk that their baby can consume, which can cause a great discomfort, even pain. In order for you to feel relieved as well as for your baby to have more “liquid gold” for later feeding, using a breast pump can be incredibly helpful.
Why Buy a Manual Pump Instead of an Electric Pump?
Like the examples we mentioned, you may have a physical situation like engorgement or mastitis, etc. that requires quick intervention to keep your milk flowing and your breast healthy. If you’re still not convinced, here are a few reasons to go manual:
Good for occasional use: If you’re staying home full time, you probably won’t need to pump very often, so investing in an electric pump isn’t usually necessary. There are times when an electric pump can be a lifesaver, though, as we wrote about in this post.
Cost: By far, manual pumps are more affordable than electric pumps. Having a baby isn’t cheap, so any way you can save money while keeping the little one fed and happy is worth the bargain.
Easy to wash and sterilize: With fewer parts and no electronics to worry about getting wet, it’s easy to keep a manual pump clean. Most of them are dishwasher and sterilizer safe, but a quick wash in warm soapy water and letting them air dry is usually enough.
Portable: Most manual pumps can fit right in your diaper bag or purse, and they’re lighter than electric ones, so they won’t weigh you down.
Things You Must Know Before You Start Pumping
It may sound easy and simple but pumping regularly can be exhausting. Here are 5 things that you must know before you start pumping, so it all goes much smoother and you have a good experience while doing it.
Keep Good Hygiene
The first few months of the baby’s life are most important when it comes to getting nutrients from the mother’s milk. Since the main way of obtaining nourishment is through breast milk, it’s vital that the mother’s hygiene is kept on a good level. We’re talking about keeping your hands clean before pumping, but also your breasts and nipples so the milk can be clean when pumped into the bottle.
However, keeping a good hygiene so that the milk is spotless also refers to keeping the bottle and the pump clean all the time. Cleaning the bottles regularly and in the right manner is important so that the milk doesn’t get infected, but you should also take care of the pump in the same way.
Manage Your Stress
Some mothers can pump more milk than others. Some pump much better in a sitting position while others pump their milk faster and smoother while standing or walking. Everyone is different, and so are you. If you keep stressing why you pumped a smaller amount of milk than the last time or feel negative about your situation, that can only worsen things.
Your body produces milk as much as it can, so you must believe and think positively that all is going well while pumping. Comparing yourself to others can make you feel like there is something wrong with your body or milk production, and that’s always a bad thing since being stressed or nervous can and will have an impact on your milk production. That’s why it’s important to be said again: try to feel positive even when you have problems pumping, so that you can lower your stress levels and finish the job faster.
Another important thing that you must keep in check is to stay hydrated at all times. This means that a mother who pumps should regularly drink fluids so that she maintains the breast milk supply. Getting dehydrated regularly will have an effect on the milk production, and even if this doesn’t happen from getting dehydrated once, it’ll happen for sure if you repeat the mistake more often.
Dehydration will also affect the pumping process by making it harder. That’s why one study says that mothers who pump or breastfeed should drink 8-10 glasses of water each day. If you find this hard you can substitute water for other fluids, like herbal tea.
Storing the Milk
It’s of utmost importance that the pumped milk is stored in the right way. By this we mean keeping it in a clean bottle made from quality materials, but also to keep it in a good temperature.
Milk that sits half the day in a room temperature or for too long in a fridge will go bad. Since spoiled milk is harmful to the baby, it’ll go to waste. If you want to keep the milk for a couple of months, you need to store it in a deep freezer at an optimal temperature. This way it will be good from 6 to 12 months.
Keeping the milk in a regular fridge is also okay, but the milk will only be good from 3 to 5 days. If you instead keep your milk bottle in a place with a room temperature, it will be good for consumption only in the next 4 hours.
Setting goals is important for every mother who pumps. When you start giving your newborn your breast milk, you need to set a goal for how long you think you’ll do it. Some mothers give their babies milk for only 6 months, which is the minimum recommended time, but others decide to keep doing it for much longer, even up to a couple of years.
Being able to set realistic goals is also vital for you and your baby. If you’re able to pump 5 times a day but you set your goal to 10 times, it can have a negative effect on your milk production. Feeling stressful for not being able to achieve your goal can additionally lower the amount of pumped milk and even make it harder for you to pump. So, it’s vital that you find your perfect number so that you dodge the stress and keep up with your goal daily.
Once I Get a Manual Breast Pump, How Do I Use it?
The good thing is, manual pumps are easy to use, once you get the hang of it. At first, it will be challenging (like learning how to nurse your baby), but soon you’ll find the right rhythm and pressure that works for you. Here are some tips if you’re a beginner.
- Read the instruction manual carefully.
- Find a cozy spot where you can make yourself comfortable and stay relaxed.
- You can warm and massage your breasts right before pumping to stimulate your milk flow and increase the amount you’ll pump.
- After washing your hands, take the clean pump and place the shield on your breast so that it’s centered over the nipple.
- Once you start pumping, don’t worry if the milk doesn’t immediately start flowing. Sometimes you need to give it a couple of minutes.
- Depending on the pump, you can adjust the suction and speed for more personal comfort but also to mimic a baby’s sucking motions.
- Every five minutes (more or less) switch breasts. The optimal amount of time to pump each breast would be around 15 minutes, so 30 minutes for both. Don’t worry if one breast produces more milk than the other, that’s perfectly normal.
- Once you’re done pumping, immediately remove the pump from the bottle and place a cap on it. If you don’t give it to your baby right away or in the next couple of hours, store it in the fridge or the freezer, depending on when you plan to use it.
Which Manual Breast Pump is Best for Me?
Then there’s the question of what kind of manual pump you should buy. There are many on the market, but every woman won’t have the same experience with every pump. Sometimes you have to try a few before you find the one you really like, or simply read our reviews for the 8 best manual pumps that can be found today and choose accordingly.
To get you started, here are eight of the best manual breast pumps we found:
Medela is one of the most popular brands for nursing accessories. They make a lot of different pumps. This manual one weighs less than a pound so it’s easy to carry it discreetly in your bag. Unlike older models, it has a 2-phase operation that works with your natural letdown and expression cycles which can make your pumping sessions a lot quicker and easier.
Moreover, due to the soft touch of the pump and the ergonomic swivel handle, the Medela Harmony breast pump is very comfy to use. The breast shield is so soft that it sits comfortably on the breast while the handle is made to sit perfectly in one’s hand.
Because of all these reasons, the Medela Harmony is the perfect breast pump for mothers who want to breast pump as well as for those who come across breast pumping for the first time. This product is also very easy to clean due to its very few parts, so you won’t be spending much time preparing it for pumping.
It comes with two BPA-free bottles that also work with a Medela electric pump so you can interchange if the need arises. This is an affordable option and a good investment if you already know and love Medela products. Even if you’re first-time Mendela user, give this product a try if what you’re looking for in a pump is a quiet and discreet performance combined with comfort.
- BPA-free bottles
- 2-cycle operation
- Very quiet
- Some parts may be difficult to clean
- Could cause wrist pain especially if you have carpel tunnel
- More expensive than other models
This lesser-known brand is compact and discreet, just like the previously-mentioned pump. It’s very small with only a few parts making it very portable, especially since it can easily fit into your handbag or diaper bag. This makes the Gland manual breast pump extremely useful and convenient to use while on the go when you can’t pump in the comfort of your own home.
Its anti-backflow system keeps your milk free of germs and mold. Users report good suction and a better ability to control suction and flow since you can control the suction rate yourself. The shield is very soft so pumping is pretty comfortable, according to many mothers who’ve tried it.
Quiet and affordable, it’s a good option for pumping while traveling or working, as well as for those on a tight budget.
- Easy to clean/sterilize
- Expression could take more time than other models
The NatureBond silicone pump is much more than a simple manual breast pump.
Firstly, if you notice, there’s no handle. It’s actually a multitasking tool. You can use it hands-free to collect your let-down flow from one breast while feeding the baby from the other breast. No more wasted milk soaking into your nursing pads. It’s one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that?” products I wish had been around when I still had babies.
Secondly, the shield is made from super-soft food grade silicone which provides a very comfortable and natural suction. Except for providing comfort, this silicone pump does not allow for any leaks or let-downs to go to waste. It collects every drop of your precious breast milk so that your baby can get as much as he/she can. You can collect up to 4 oz. of milk to save for later bottle feedings.
Lastly, it’s super easy to clean and sterilize. The best part is it’s really affordable and comes with its own carry bag, so you can easily store it in your handbag without making a mess.
- Hands-free collection
- No wasted letdown milk
- Easy to clean/sterilize
- Very affordable
- Suction may not be as good for small-busted women
The Nokire manual breast pump, in addition to looking very cute, is also extremely efficient due to a couple of reasons.
For one, it’s made from BPA-free food-grade silicone which ensures the purity and safety of the breast milk for your baby. The shield is very comfortable and gentle on the breasts and collects every drop of leaking milk so that nothing is wasted.
Also, due to its size and ultra-light weight, it can easily fit into your handbag or diaper bag for pumping while traveling. Moreover, you can barely hear it when in action so you can maintain your privacy while pumping no matter where you are.
If you’re looking for an affordable option, this is the pump for you. It’s also easy to maintain and clean since if you don’t want to sterilize it in a boiling water each time you use it, you can simply throw it in the dishwashing machine.
- LIghtweight, easy to transport
- May not provide good suction, especially after frequent use
- Some parts may be difficult to clean
- Instructions may not be clear
There’s so many great things about the GleeBee silicone manual pump, we don’t know where to begin.
Firstly, this is a hands-free model. This means that you can pump from one breast and either feed your baby on the other or simply have your hands free. The GleeBee pump is designed to catch letdown milk so that no milk gets wasted and your baby receives the most of it.
It’s durable, light, and lets you adjust the suction for personal comfort. A dust cover keeps the milk clean, and the pump is easy to wash and sanitize.
The shield is made of food-grade silicone, free of all toxic chemicals, so it’s completely safe for your precious little one(s).
If you have very sensitive breasts which bruise easily, you might want to skip on this product since very few women have reported bruising and inaccurate measurement markings. On the other hand, it’s very affordable so a good one to try if you don’t want to spend a lot and have stronger breasts.
- Comes with dust cover
- May cause discomfort
- Inaccurate measurements
Phillips Avent is another longtime trusted brand in the baby feeding industry. It is compatible with other Avent bottles and breast milk storage bags you may already have, like the Natural and Classic bottles. Its design lets you sit at a good angle so you’re comfortable during pumping and its soft massage cushion only adds to the comfort. It is also compact and light, so you can take it anywhere with you and use it discreetly since you can barely hear it working.
As with most big name products, it’s a little pricier than lesser-known brands. Some women have reported it’s a little noisy during use and may be uncomfortable for larger nipples or breasts. If you’re looking for a trusted name that’s been around a while, though, it’s a good investment.
- Better angled for more comfortable pumping
- Compatible with other Avent products
- May cause discomfort for women with larger nipples or breasts
- Could be noisy
NUK is another popular baby brand that mothers enjoy using, mostly due to the comfort it provides. Firstly, it has a silicone rim on the shield which is much more comfortable when compared to the plastic ones. Secondly, it has an ergonomic handle which helps with hand fatigue so your hand won’t go numb after long periods of pumping. Lastly, the suction as well as the speed are really easy to adjust, and let’s not forget to mention that it’s super light too, at only 5.5 oz.
You can use the NUK breast pump while doing some other activity in the meantime, like talking on the phone or reading, since you only need one hand to do the pumping. This breast pump’s convenience is not only because of its light weight, comfort, and one-handed use, but also due to it being easy to assemble and disassemble making it easy to clean.
The NUK Expressive manual breast pump is a good choice for both tight budgets and those looking for trusted brands. It’s perfect for occasional use, especially if you pump while on the go, so consider it if what you’re looking for is a quiet, comfortable, and easy to use manual breast pump.
- Easy to adjust speed and suction
- Ergonomic handle
- Top may come off during use
- Parts may be hard to clean
Coming in last, but not least on our list is this pump from Lansinoh, another trusted brand in the baby feeding industry. Did you know that a breastfeeding mom actually started this company? This is why the Lansinoh pumps are more comfortable and easy to use than most electric breast pumps, according to many women who’ve used it.
It’s light, easy to clean, and even more importantly, easy to assemble and disassemble since all pieces fit together intuitively. The best part is you can pump directly into milk storage bags so you don’t have to risk contamination and spillage while transferring from bottle to bag.
This is a two-phase breast pump, meaning you can go from let-down to expression phase while pumping which can be very effective in order to achieve good suction. But wait, there’s more! Even though most of the pumps that made this list are pretty quiet while in action, this one is one of the quietest manual pumps out there, so if what you want is discretion, this is the right one for you.
It’s a little more expensive than other brands, which may not be the best choice if you have a super tight budget or rarely need to pump. Some women reported that it didn’t work as well as the older versions, but you can always try it and see for yourself.
- Easy to clean
- From a trusted nursing brand
- May not work as well as older versions
- More expensive than other brands
Things to remember
Do your research. Every woman’s body is different. You may find one that looks great and doesn’t do the job well, or one you thought would be terrible might work great for you. Since manual pumps aren’t as costly an investment as electric pumps, you don’t have a lot to lose in trying different brands.
Most importantly, realize that no one is an expert at nursing or pumping at the start. Be patient, and if your pump doesn’t seem to be working well at first, keep trying with different angles, suction levels, etc. After a little practice, you’ll be a pumping expert!