How to Choose the Best Manual Breast Pump for Moms

Investing in a manual breast pump is a great way to make sure no drop of breast milk goes to waste. Because of them, moms can store milk for babies so they can have breast milk when they are away or if breastfeeding is not convenient. There are many reasons why women want and need to pump. Thankfully, there are plenty of makes and models available in today's market.

What Is a Manual Breast Pump?

First thing's first: What is a breast pump, exactly? A breast pump is a device that expresses milk from the breasts and allows mom to store it for later use. It can either express via either an electric or manual pump. The milk stores in bottles or larger bags and refrigerated, or frozen, for later consumption.

Reasons for pumping vary. While nursing from one breast, moms may want to pump the other breast to reduce soreness and keep nursing even. Pumping also helps moms whose babies are not nursing well to maintain milk supply. Furthermore, mothers may wish to pump to give their babies breast milk in bottles when traveling or going out. There are plenty of reasons why moms may want to pump, and when the time comes, she may choose to either use an electric or manual pump.

COMPARISON TABLE

Product

Features

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  • Includes Medela Harmony Manual Breastpump
  • Can also be used as Medela Swing Pump Replacement Parts
  • For use with hospital-grade or personal use breastpumps
  • Includes Single pumping kit
  • Sterile and ready-to-use
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  • Made in USA
  • ERGONOMIC & PORTABLE
  • CONVENIENT & HYGIENIC
  • PUMP IN COMFORT
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  • Spectra Handy Plus Manual Breast Pump, BPA Free 25mm Size Flange, Silcone Massager Insert, Hygienic Silicone Duck Bill Valve
  • 250 mmHg suction.
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  • Soft, textured massage cushion helps stimulate milk flow
  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Compatible with other Philips Avent feeding products
  • BPA-Free
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Electric vs. Manual Pump

Electric pumps are faster and enable mom to have her hands free while pumping. However, they are often costly, cumbersome, and noisy — not to mention expensive. Despite its downfalls, some mothers prefer electric pumps because they are used on a regular basis and are therefore worth the cost.

On the other hand, manual pumps are smaller, lighter, cheaper, and are more travel-friendly. Their small size and weight make them the perfect option for moms who are pumping on the go. Plus, mothers have greater control over suction on a manual breast pump, as opposed to rather than an electric one. At the end of the day, the best breast pump is one that works best with mom's lifestyle, and the choice is entirely personal.

How We Reviewed

We've scoured the vast land of the world wide web to find the best manual breast pumps available today. We also use real reviews from those who have tested the product as a basis for our pros and cons.

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Harmony's Medela set comes with the manual breast pump, two 150ml bottles with lids, a bottle stand, a 24mm breast shield, and a Calma nipple. This pump features an adjustable, ergonomic handle to make pumping less strenuous on mom's hand. It also has two-phase expression technology which promises to produce more milk in less time compared to other brands. The stimulation phase mimics the quick sucking motion of babies when they first latch onto the breast. The secondary expression phase emulated a child's slower, deeper suck once the "let-down" phase starts.

This manual breast pump is pretty common in brick and mortar stores. If you're particular about color, unfortunately, the Medela is only available in yellow.

This pump has close to 3,000 reviews on Amazon, and they are mostly good. Mothers enjoy the two-phase expression technology and feel it does work better than the constant suction of an electric breast pump. It is also easy to clean and gives mom the ability to walk around and do other activities without being hooked up to a machine. However, some have experienced a decrease in suction after a few days due to a problem with a tiny o-ring in the pump. The manufacturer can ship out replacements for these o-rings, or you can buy them at a local hardware store.

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Moms can walk around while pumping
  • Amazon sells it for less than in-store and Harmony's website

Cons

  • One hand is always being used to pump
  • LiFaulty O-ring which decreases suction over timest Element
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Quality

Usability

Support

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The Lansinoh breast pump kit comes with a bottle stand, nipple, collar, cap, storage bag samples, two bottles, and two differently sized flanges to fit every nursing mother. Like the Medela model, his manual breast pump also comes with two modes: stimulation and expression. Mothers can flip from one way to the other with a simple click of a button.

While all parts are dishwasher safe, the manufacturer recommends hand washing the white valve, silicone diaphragm stem, and flanges. All parts are BPA- and BPS-free and can be sterilized using boiling water in a large pot.

Some reviews praise the Lansinoh manual breast pump for its ability to quickly and efficiently express milk (sometimes better than electric pumps). The neck of the Lansinoh bottle is wider than most models, which makes milk transfer from breast to bottle a little bit easier. Reviewers also enjoy its ergonomic handle which promises to reduce hand fatigue — a common problem with breast pumps. The only downside is the loss of suction. Mothers complain that after a few uses, the ring around the flange curls and breaks the airtight seal. Besides that, the Lansinoh is also only available in one color — purple.

Pros

  • Wide Bottle Neck
  • Expresses milk faster and easier than other models
  • Can be washed by hand, in the dishwasher, or sterilized in boiling water

Cons

  • Suction decreases over time

Quality

Usability

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Spectra has a wide range of electric breast pumps but offers only one manual breast pump. The Spectra Handy manual breast pump is available in white and suctions up to 250 mmHg (a manometric unit of pressure). It boasts an ergonomic design and weighs a mere 0.2 lbs. It's available on 

Spectra prides itself on hygiene. Thus, this manual breast pump has a built-in back-flow protection device. This ensures a safe and hygienic pump at all times. Spectra's website is conflicted when it comes to warranties, as one page states it has 90 days of warranty, while another indicated one year. Fortunately, Spectra sells replacement parts should one of the pieces stop functioning.

Pros

  • Small and Lightweight
  • Built-in back-flow protection
  • Replacement parts readily available

Cons

  • Conflicting information regarding warranty
  • Not readily available at most online retailers

Quality

Usability

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Avent's manual breast pump is available at most big box stores including Walmart, Target, Babies R Us, Walgreens, and many other retailers. It is also available on Amazon

Despite their low cost, the Avent is still well-reviewed. t features a soft massage cushion with 5 textured petals intended to help gently stimulate milk flow by mimicking your baby's natural suckling patterns. An ergonomic handle and lightweight, compact design makes it easy to operate with one hand. 

This pump kit also comes with something no other brand does: a 90-minute online breastfeeding class taught by professionals. These classes are particularly useful for new mothers who may not have anyone to turn to and may be shy to ask for help about how to use a manual breast pump.

There are a few drawbacks with Avent. First and foremost, there have been complaints the O-ring gets stuck in the pump’s mechanism. When that happens, the handle stops working smoothly and eventually stops working altogether. Some have claimed that the solution to this problem is to wet the ring before use; however, the manufacturer does not have an official way to solve the problem. Reviewers also state that the cups are rather shallow, which will prove problematic for mothers with larger breasts.

Pros

  • Low Cost
  • Readily available online and in stores
  • Includes a 90-minute breastfeeding class

Cons

  • Shallow Cups
  • Problematic O-ring in the handle

Quality

Usability

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Manual Breast Pumps: Which One Is the Best?

Choosing which manual breast pump is best is a personal choice. Some mothers prefer flat cushions to pump, so there's less leakage while others prefer the comfort of padding and petals to mimic the baby’s nursing motions. Some moms would rather use natural suction while others find better results with pumping with a handle until the letdown begins.

Whatever your preference, it is important to trust your instincts and try different pumps if the first one didn’t work out for you. If you have a favorite manual breast pump, tell us your story in the comments below!

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