Breast pumps are a must for breastfeeding mothers who plan on taking any kind of break from their little one. Pumping gives you the freedom to work outside of the home or have a date night. Manual breast pumps are an affordable option, with most models costing $30 or less.
We’ve got what you need to know before buying a breast pump and how to decide between manual and electric. Here’s our top choices for best manual breast pump.
|Top 3 Manual Breast Pumps||Why It's Best||Mom Rating|
|Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump||Uses a 2-phase expression technique that makes pumping more effective||♥♥♥♥♥|
|NatureBond Silicone Breast Pump||Best silicone design that allows hands-free manual pumping||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Yassier Manual/Electric Hybrid Breast Pump||Option to use as a manual or electric pump, still lightweight and easy to carry||♥♥♥♥♥|
The Best Manual Breast Pump Choices
Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump
The major benefit of the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump is that it has been designed after years of research to mimic a baby’s natural suckling. The movements allow more efficient flow, which means less time pumping and more productive results. The Medela model is a little more expensive than others on this list, but its unique design makes it worth it.
This comes with 2 5-ounce bottles and lids, a bottle stand, the membrane for each bottle, and a valve/breast shield.
The bottle stand is nice when you are taking a break from pumping or when you need to switch to a new bottle since you don’t have to worry about the bottle tipping over and spilling all your hard work.
The included breast shield is 24mm, which fits the average nipple size. You can buy additional shields that are different sizes if necessary. Medela does provide a guide that helps you find the right breast shield fit.
Another great thing about the components of the Medela Harmony is that they are all BPA-free.
The unique design of the Medela manual pump is designed to make it function as an electric pump in terms of efficiency. By achieving a letdown before pumping, breast milk can be removed more efficiently.
To make it easy to mimic your baby’s natural suckling motions, the handle functions in two ways. It has a swivel design with two clearly labeled sides of the handle that makes it easy for moms to use.
It is easy to assemble this breast pump from Medela, too. Just place the swivel handle on the collection bottle, attach the shield, and you’re ready to get started. When you’re finished, you can easily pop all the pieces in the dishwasher for cleaning.
The unique suctioning of the Medela makes it great, however, the O-ring does wear down with use. Once it wears down, you lose all suction. Some parents report the ring wearing down after the first few uses, so you may want to buy a spare to keep on hand. This is a little disappointing considering the higher price point of the Medela pump.
- Uses a 2-phase pumping process for better results
- Easy to assemble
- Parts are BPA-free and dishwasher safe
- Bottle stand included
- Comes with 2 bottles/storage containers
- O-ring wears down with time and the pump will lose suction
- More expensive choice than others
Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump
The Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump also has a 2-part expression process that makes milk collection easier. It is near the same price range as the Medela model but has extra features like an extra valve, a secondary breast shield, and a nipple that fits on the collection bottles.
This comes with the pump, two separate breast shields, and a BPA-free bottle with a lid. The included bottle is a nice feature, especially for mothers who are going to pump a lot and want the convenience of storing breast milk directly in the fridge. This works with Lansinoh 5-ounce bottles, so you can easily stock up.
The included nipple is also nice. It has a shape that mimics that of the breast, which really helps the transition when you give your baby a bottle instead of a breast for the first time.
There are two flanges (or breast shields) provided with this model; 25mm and 30.5mm. The smaller of the flanges is standard sized, but moms who have smaller nipples might need a smaller flange to create the airtight seal needed for effective pumping.
The Lansinoh manual pump has a few small pieces that need put together to make the handle work. However, it is not difficult once you learn where everything goes.
The shape of the handle fits in your hand well, which reduces the risk of hand cramping during a long pumping session. The breast shield is also comfortable and there is a rubber ring that makes it gentler, especially for women with larger breasts.
Even though the different parts of this pump are dishwasher safe, it is recommended washing some of the smaller parts by hand. The valve might get damaged after many uses. Fortunately, an extra valve is included in case of damages.
- Bottle nipple included
- Two-step expression process is more effective
- Two breast shields included
- Less risk of cramping because of ergonomically designed handle
- Extra valve included
- Has a few small parts that should be washed by hand
Ameda One-Hand Breast Pump
The Ameda One-Hand Breast Pump is as simple to use as the Medela model in terms of its pieces and it works with most standard baby bottles, which is a major plus for moms who don’t want to worry about transferring from the collection bottle to a different bottle. It is around the same price range, however, it doesn’t come with as many extra features as the other pumps mentioned so far.
In addition to the pump itself, this model comes with a 4-ounce Ameda bottle and lid. If you want to buy freezer bags or additional bottles, this has a wide range of compatibility that lets you use it with other brands. This means no unnecessary transfers from bottle to bottle and less milk wasted.
The design of the handle is very easy to use and the bottle is narrow enough that you can effectively pump with one hand. However, mothers who have used other pumps will note that this has a very different angle than they are used to. It will take a little practice to become accustomed, but once you are, this is simple to use.
One thing to note is that some moms report some squeaking after using the pump for a while. This has an easy fixjust apply a little Vaseline to the joints of the pump and you’ll be good to go again.
The flange and pump are connected with the Ameda, which makes it a snap to put together. However, you’ll need to clean immediately after using to be sure the pump is sterilized. This model is also designed much lighter than even the Medela model. Even with the shield and pump being attached, it still fits conveniently in a diaper bag, purse, or tote.
- Works with a wide range of bottles
- Easy one-handed design
- Very lightweight and slim
- Won’t have to transfer milk to different bottles
- Easy to use while breastfeeding your baby
- Might be hard to clean if you let it sit after using it
- Pump can get squeaky
Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump
The Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump has features like an angled neck that lets you sit comfortably while pumping and a wide range of compatibility with Philips Avent bottles. It sells for around the same price as the Medela and Lansinoh models.
The Philips Avent pump comes with a soft, textured massage cushion that goes on the breast shield, the pump itself, and a collection bottle and nipple. It is easy to put together and use and the compatibility with Philips Avent wide-mouth bottles is good news for moms who have colicky babies that might need specialized bottles.
The included breast shield is 28mm, which is a little bigger than the average size. You can purchase a different size if you need to.
Something that sets this best breast pump apart is the massaging cushions inside the flange. The hard plastic outer has a rubber cover that is intended to make the shield more comfortable while massaging to make pumping more effective. Some mothers found that the shield was effective in doing this, though others found the massaging cushions stopped them from getting a good seal. If this is an issue for you, then the rubber cover is removable.
The angle of the milk collection bottle is also different than others. It allows you to sit back and relax while pumping instead of leaning forward, which is good when you are trying to relax.
Something to note is that even being dishwasher safe, this is not as easy to clean as some of the others. You’ll need to clean the nooks and crannies before putting it in the dishwasher, which can be a challenge. Additionally, the handle might start to squeak if milk solids are left behind (which is possible because of the difficulty of cleaning).
- Soft massage cushion to stimulate flow
- More comfortable than some other models
- Angle allows you to relax while pumping
- Compatible with Philips Avent wide-mouth bottles
- Not as easy to clean as some others
- Handle might start to squeak eventually
NatureBond Silicone Breast Pump
The NatureBond Silicone Breast Pump is designed for mothers who want to pump to get their milk supply up. Costing less than $15, it’s a great choice when you are trying to save money and save your t-shirts from the inevitable leakage that happens when you are trying to feed your little one.
This uniquely designed pump uses a food-grade silicone pump and also comes with a stopper and lid, which lets you save breast milk for later. It is also convenient to throw this in the diaper bag and go because it comes with a cute, compact carrying bag. The pump itself comes in air-tight vacuum packaging, which ensures hygiene through the shipping and selling process.
The design of this silicone pump doesn’t necessarily let you pump breast milk. Instead, you position the breast inside, give it a gentle squeeze, and collect the letdown. It’s small enough that you can use it with one hand and it gives you the opportunity to pump from one side and feed your baby from the other. It is even so lightweight that once you get the seal right, you can easily use this hands-free.
If you expect to get 4-5 ounces the first time you pump, you’ll likely be disappointed. However, this is a great tool for building your milk supply. Many mothers report that they only get 1-2 ounces the first time, but that amount increases with use.
Maintenance of this is super easy because there are only a few parts. You wash it with soap and water as you would normally and then sterilize with your bottles.
For moms who are worried about how to use a silicone breast pump, there are full-color instructions that make it easy to understand. You’ll be using this pump in no time at all.
- Very affordable
- Uses food-grade silicone
- Hands-free, lightweight design
- Helps you increase milk supply
- Very easy to clean
- Doesn’t collect a lot of milk at first, but it will as your supply grows
Haakaa Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump
The Haakaa Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump has a single part that makes it easy to use and bring with you wherever you go. It also has a one-size-fits-all design that works well for most mothers.
The Haakaa breast pump has a single piece that makes assembly non-existent. It also comes with easy-to-understand instructions. The pump is made from high-quality food-grade silicone that is free of BPA, PVC, and other harmful contaminants.
One downside is that if you buy the most affordable model, it only comes with the pump. While you could transfer the expressed milk to another container and save it, this can be a hassle. You can buy just the cap or you can choose to buy the manual breast pump with extra parts like a lid and bottle for a higher cost.
For mothers who want simplicity in a breast pump, the Haakaa model offers it. All you have to do is cover your nipple with the pump and squeeze until there is a good amount of suction. Then, you can continue squeezing or let the pump sit and catch letdown. Like the previous model, this works well for mommies who leak when feeding their baby from one side.
The small, compact design is perfect for bringing along with you wherever you go. This pump is about the size of a large cellphone (like the iPhone 6).
The one-size-fits-all design of this pump works well. It suctions to small breasts, large breasts, and all sizes in between.
Many parents also appreciate the quiet operation. As you do not have to constantly pump this to make it work, it is even quieter than other manual models that have handles or other moving parts that squeak sometimes. This means that there is no risk of waking up your baby while pumping, regardless of how lightly they sleep.
- Silent operation
- Small, compact design is the size of a large cellphone
- True one-size-fits-all design
- Do not need to constantly pump to get results
- Free of BPA, PVC, and other contaminants
- Need to buy extra parts (like a storage lid) if you want to keep the milk without transferring to another container
Bumblebee Manual Breast Pump
The Bumblebee Manual Breast Pump is affordable and comes with everything you need to express and save milk. Once you are done using the food-grade silicone pump, simply put the stopper in place or add the airtight lid and store until later.
This comes with a silicone breast pump that helps you collect breast milk while feeding your little one. It is made of certified food-grade materials and free of PVC, BPA, and phthalates. It also comes with a convenient carrying pouch.
The design of the Bumblebee pump allows you to adjust the amount of suction depending on where you squeeze it at. This is very similar to the Haakaa model previously mentioned and works in the same way.
The super-quiet operation is perfect for parents of babies who are light sleepers. Even if your little one falls asleep while feeding, you can finish pumping the other side before laying them don without fear of waking them up.
As there is only one part of this pump, it is easy to clean and maintain. However, you may need a special brush to get down inside the bottle. You can clean it using the dishwasher and sterilize it using boiling water, a microwave sterilizer, or another type of bottle sterilizer.
The included bottle is about 3.5 ounces. Therefore, you might need something else if you want to store a lot of milk.
- Easy to clean and sterilize
- Very quiet operation
- You can adjust suction depending on where you squeeze
- Uses food-grade silicone and other materials
- Comes with an airtight lid
- Only holds about 3.5 ounces
Yassier Electric/Manual Breast Pump
For parents who don’t want to break the bank, but who aren’t sure if they prefer an electric or a manual pump, the Yassier Electric/Manual Breast Pump is a great choice. It works using a rechargeable built-in battery, which provides convenience without too much hassle. This is also a lot more compact than other electric models and costs around the same average price.
This comes with several parts because it can be used as an electric or manual model. The manual design uses the bottle with a pump on top, while the electric function requires you to attach the battery on top. It also comes with a dust cover, feeding bottle, nipple, and charging cable. You’ll get the manual handle and cylinder, as well as the electric cylinder and LED screen motor.
This is a lot more compact than other electric models, taking up the same amount of space as a manual pump. Something to note, however, is that you’ll need to carry both the pump handle and the electric part if you want a back up in case the battery dies. This is unlikely if you are anywhere with a charge, however, because the built-in battery recharges using a standard USB cable.
Something to note, however, is that the battery life on this is not very long. You may need to recharge it after a 30-45 minute pumping session. Since it is easy to charge, however, this isn’t too much of an inconvenience.
There are a few parts with this, so you might need to take a close look at a manual or instructional video before you get started. However, the parts make it easy to disassemble this and clean it properly.
- Works as a manual or electric pump
- Rechargeable battery is easy to plug in
- Easy to disassemble for proper cleaning
- More compact than other electric models
- Comes with feeding bottle
- A lot of parts
- Battery life doesn’t last too long
Manual vs. Electric Breast Pump: Which is Best?
Like many tools for parenting, the breast pump that will work best for you depends on your lifestyle.
Mothers who plan on staying at home and breastfeeding might not need a pump as often. Additionally, as they are not usually pressed for time, they don’t need the efficiency of an electric pump.
For breastfeeding mothers who plan on working outside of the home, an electric pump might be a better choice when you are trying to pump quickly so you can return to work.
Here are some other considerations to make:
- Portability – Even if you are using the pump for working hours, manual pumps have a lot less working parts and are more compact. This makes it easier to pack in your bag and take to work. You also don’t have to worry about having batteries charged or finding an outlet in a discreet location to pump.
- Expression – Some moms need to express more milk. If your milk supply is low, you have limited time to pump, or you are separated from your newborn after birth because of an illness, being able to pump efficiently can help keep your milk supply up. While a manual pump can be used to express frequently, it also can be tiring to use it frequently.
- Control – Unless you buy an expensive electric model that lets you adjust the speed, using a manual pump is going to give you more control. This means once you learn what works best for your body, you’ll maximize the amount of milk you are expressing.
- Easy Cleaning – Manual pumps have less working parts than electric pumps, so they are easier to clean when you are done using them.
- Quiet – Even though many manufacturers have worked to make their pumps quieter. Even so, the mechanisms used to create suction in an electrical pump can be noisy. Manual pumps are always quiet.
How Does a Manual Breast Pump Work?
It is fairly easy to understand how a manual pump works.
First, you’ll do the letdown technique. This is a slower method of pumping that stimulates the breast and gets the milk flowing. Then, the expression technique is used to remove milk from the breast more rapidly. This simulates the same suckling motion that a baby would use while feeding.
Usually, a manual pump has a breast shield (or flange) that you position your breast inside. Then, you squeeze the handle to create suction on your breast. The breast milk drips down inside of the storage container, which is usually a bottle. You can put it in the refrigerator to use later or place it in a breast milk bag to store in the freezer.
There is a secondary style of breast pump that also works with hand expression. These usually have a flexible silicone shield for your breast. You manually stimulate milk flow and the pump catches it. This style works well for mothers of babies who prefer one side over the other since they can express milk on one side while their baby feeds on the other.
Using a Manual Pump for Clogged Ducts
One major benefit of a manual pump is that it can be used to easily remove milk from blocked ducts. Silicone pumps work best for this. You can fill them with warm water and some Epsom salt, then use them as you would normally. After the duct has been cleared, you can pump that side to encourage milk production and ensure the blockage is out completely.
Do I Need a Breast Pump?
Many new mothers might think that a breast pump isn’t necessary, at least for the first few months of your child’s life. However, it’s important to remember that you are going to be separated from your baby eventually. Even if its only for a few hours, your baby is going to need to eat in that time. Having a breast pump lets you provide them the nutrition they need when you’re gone.
Some mothers also use a breast pump to help stimulate milk flow. One of the main reasons that mothers stop breastfeeding is because they are not producing enough milk for their little one. While there are supplements and other techniques that can be used to increase milk flow, one of the easiest ways to encourage your body to produce more milk. By expressing more milk than your baby needs, your body replaces what you lost and you begin producing more.
Manual Breast Pump Buying Guide
It can be hard for new (and even experienced) mommies to know what they need in a breast pump. Once you have decided that manual is the best choice for your lifestyle, here are a few tips that will help you choose the right model for you.
The amount of suction provided by a pump is going to affect how easily you can express it. Some mothers require more stimulation than others. While you cannot necessarily try out the suction on different pumps before you make your decision, take time to read manual breast pump reviews and learn about other mother’s experiences.
You want a pump with a firm latch but aside from that, the amount of suction depends on your preference.
One of the benefits regarding the comfort of manual breast pumps is that you have the freedom to control how quickly or slowly you express milk.
Something else that affects the level of comfort is the breast shield. Many companies offer more than one size, so it might be best to choose a model that has options.
Additionally, while the breast shield is usually made of hard plastic, some pumps are sold with a silicone cover that is generally more comfortable.
The reason that many mothers choose pumps instead of manually expressing the breasts is that they are generally more effective. Self-expression works well when the breasts are full, but it is important to empty your breasts completely when you are trying to get your milk supply up. The pump should help you effectively remove the pump.
One of the reasons that some mothers choose a manual pump, especially if they don’t plan on using it a lot, is because manual breast pumps are significantly more affordable than electric pumps.
For mommies who are worried about the cost, many insurance companies provide at least one breast pump at no cost to you. It’s worth checking into if you are shying away from an electric pump because you don’t want to spend $50-100 or more.
Manual pumps are perfect for moms who pump occasionally or who prefer a smaller, discreet model when they need to pump after going back to work.
As you look over the models, think about what will work best in terms of suction and effectiveness. Comfort is also importantsome mothers prefer silicone models because they are softer.
There are dozens of options, so, hopefully, one of our recommendations for the best manual breast pump will work for you and your family.