What are the best manual breast pumps?
Do I really need one of those?
So you’ve chosen to breastfeed. That’s great! All you need is your milk and your baby, right? At the very basic level, yes, but unless that’ll be the focus of your entire day, you need some tools to help you along the way. (That rhymed, didn’t it?) That’s why we created this Best manual breast pumps article. To save you research time and some costs.
One of the simplest tools to have on hand is a manual breast pump. Electric pumps are fabulous, but not always necessary in every situation. For instance, if you’re a full-time mom or only need to pump occasionally, a manual one will usually do the trick.
But let’s talk specifics, shall we?
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||$$$|
When do you need a manual breast pump?
When I had my first baby, I chose to breastfeed. The hospital gave me a simple breast pump to take home. It seemed so strange, with the funnel thing that looked like one of those old-timey record players.
The baby was eating well enough on the colostrum milk. Why did I need to pump anything? I knew moms who worked outside the home needed breast pumps but I was going to be staying home with her full-time.
Then my milk came in. Not just colostrum, but THE milk – the stuff my baby would be getting until she was a year old. And OMG, did it ever come in. My already enlarged breasts swelled up like balloons ready to pop in their overzealous effort to do what they were designed to do. And they hurt. Badly. Between feedings, a bag of frozen peas became my BFF.
My days-old daughter wasn’t yet eating enough to drain the supply. Hello, engorgement! I tried expressing the old MacDonald way, but that wasn’t doing much to alleviate the pressure. So out came the manual pump.
It took me a little while to figure out how to use it best with my natural letdown cycle and all that, but once I did, talk about relief! I filled up two bottles in no time and stored it to use later. I even bought a new one for backup. It came in really handy for the hubby and me to go out for an evening, once the baby learned to take a bottle.
When we had to move six weeks after she was born, that extra milk allowed the grandparents to feed her while we looked at houses. There’s always a situation in which a manual breast pump will keep you and your baby happy. Plus, Dad won’t have to miss out on baby feeding. Just give him a bottle and let him feed the baby while you nap.
Why get a manual pump instead of an electric pump?
Like my experience, 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 I 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 pumps, so they won’t weigh you down. I took mine with me when we looked at houses and when I was battling recurring milk blisters (which are about as fun as a root canal).You already have a 7-8 pound bundle with all her sundries to carry around. No need to add to the strain.
Okay, 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. There are a few other things to remember. Always read your user manual for specific instructions before use. Always have clean hands before you begin pumping, and always clean your pump when you’re finished. I do mean always. Cleanliness = safe meals for baby.
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 one you really like.
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 and unlike older models, it has a 2-phase operation that works with your natural letdown and expression cycles. That can make your pumping sessions a lot quicker.
It comes with two BPA-free bottles that also work with a Medela electric pump so you can interchange if the need arises. It’s more expensive than lesser-known brands, but a good investment if you already know and love Medela products.
- 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 can fit easily into your purse or diaper bag. 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.
Quiet and affordable, it’s a good option for pumping while traveling or working and for those on a tight budget.
- Easy to clean/sterilize
- Expression could take more time than other models
Lactation consultants have recommended this very simple pump. 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.
You can collect up to 4 oz. of milk to save for later bottle feedings. The super soft food grade silicone provides comfortable, natural suction. Plus, it’s super easy to clean and sterilize. The best part is it’s really affordable and comes with its own carry bag.
- Hands-free collection
- No wasted letdown milk
- Easy to clean/sterilize
- Very affordable
- Suction may not be as good for small-busted women
This cute little pump is made from food-grade silicone, is lightweight, quiet and pretty affordable. The compact size makes it easy to pop into your purse or diaper bag for pumping while traveling.
Several moms reported no issues with this one, but some reported poor suction, badly translated instructions and difficulty cleaning some parts. It’s one of those try it and see products if you’re looking for an affordable option.
- 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
This is another hands-free model designed to catch letdown milk for less waste. It’s made of food-grade silicone and free of all toxic chemicals. 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.
Some women report bruising and inaccurate measurement markings. But it’s affordable so a good one to try if you don’t want to spend a lot.
- 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 breastmilk storage bags you may already have. It’s design lets you sit at a good angle so you’re comfortable during pumping. It is also compact and light, so you can take it with you anywhere.
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
Last but not least on our list is this pump from NUK, another popular baby brand. This one is really cute. It’s easy to adjust the suction and speed for your comfort. The ergonomic handle helps with hand fatigue. It’s super light too, at only 5.5 oz.
Some women have reported issues with the top coming apart and difficulty with cleaning. But it’s a good choice for both tight budgets and those looking for trusted brands.
- 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 of baby feeding and nursing products. A breastfeeding mom actually started the company. It’s light, easy to clean and fits all Lansinoh pumps. 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.
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!