Fertility

Best Manual Breast Pumps, Are They Any Good?

Updated on 30 June 2021 • 11 minute read
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Overview 

Manual breast pumps are inexpensive and portable, but are they any good? 

Most moms find better success in pumping using a double electric breast pump. But manual breast pumps also have advantages over electric pumps.

Some moms even prefer using manual pumps over electric pumps, even if they could get a free breast pump through insurance.

What are the best manual breast pumps for your breastfeeding needs? 

You’ll learn more about these pumps below and whether they are better than automatic breast pumps.

 

Main Differences 

If you’re looking for a manual pump to collect your breast milk, the following are our top choices, arranged from the cheapest to the most expensive:

BumbleBee Manual

  • Price: $12.68
  • Best for large breasts
  • Made from food-grade silicone
  • Cute heart-shaped stopper

 

Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump

  • Price: $12.94
  • Best for letdown
  • Simplest manual pump
  • Food-grade silicone pump with one-size-fits-all flange


Dr. Brown’s Silicone Pump

  • Price: $14.99
  • Best milk catcher
  • Easy-pour design can ensure safe transfer and storage
  • Stylish drawstring travel bag

 

NatureBond Manual

  • Price: $16.99
  • Best non-spill system
  • Uses BPA-free (no harmful bisphenol-A chemicals) and FDA-approved (Food and Drug Administration) food-grade silicone
  • Air-tight vacuum packaging
  • It comes with a stopper and straps for a non-spill system.

 

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump

  • Price: $25.00
  • Best for large nipples
  • It’s a manual pump but has a suction strength of up to 250 mmHg
  • Two modes: stimulation and expression to help letdown and increased milk supply

 

Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump

  • Price: $32.99
  • Best for traveling
  • PersonalFit Flex breast shields for a better fit
  • 2-Phase Expression technology

 

Philips Avent Manual

  • $41.25
  • Best for small nipples
  • Best for everyday use
  • Soft, textured massage cushions help stimulate milk flow
  • Angled neck lets milk flow into bottle naturally

 

Elvie Curve Manual

  • $49.99 
  • Best hands-free manual
  • Best for working moms
  • Wearable, food-grade silicone breast pump 
  • Adjustable suction with a one-way valve that controls pressure

 

Best For Large Breasts

  • BumbleBee Manual
  • $12.68

 

Key Features 

Weight: 0.33 lbs

Pump Control: Suction pump

Capacity: 3.5 oz

Suction Strength: Not rated, but strong

Breast Shields: Built-in

Ease of Use: Angled opening can make it easier to express milk

Ease of Cleaning: Very few parts to clean

Warranty: One year

What’s in the Box:

  • One (3.5 oz) Bumblebee breast pump
  • One breast pump stopper
  • One breast pump lid
  • One instruction card
  • One package box

 

Bag options: One green carry bag

 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Doesn’t contain harmful chemicals such as BPA (bisphenol A), PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), and phthalates that can cause harmful effects (altered development of genitals and changes in sex hormone levels) in the body. (1)
  • The angled opening can make pumping easier.
  • Strong suction can lead to less time needed for milk collection.
  • The soft food-grade silicone won’t hurt your breast and your baby.

 

Cons

  • The pump only has space to collect 3.5 oz of breast milk.
  • It can take time for you to get used to how it works.
  • It can easily get knocked off your breast.

 

What Customers Say 

Positive Reviews 

I LOVE THIS THING!!!!! Needless to say, it looked too simple to actually be effective. Once I took the time to figure it out, I found it works like a charm.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

Negative Reviews 

Does not “pump” your breast. Helps with engorged breasts that are leaking but not so much a pump. I got an ounce when I was “fully filled,” but nothing I couldn’t do by hand.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

Best For Letdown

  • Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump
  • $12.94

 

Key Features 

Weight: 0.24 lbs

Pump Control: Suction pump

Capacity: 5 oz

Suction Strength: Not rated

Breast Shields: Built-in flange can fit all kinds of breasts

Ease of Use: No assembly required, easy to use

Ease of Cleaning: No separate parts to clean

Warranty: One year

What’s in the Box:

  • One pump

 

Bag options: None

 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 100% food-grade silicone
  • You put it on your breast and let the suction pump do the work for you.
  • PVC, BPA, lead, and phthalate-free
  • You can use this with a pumping bra for hands-free pumping.
  • It has a suction base so it won’t fall over when placed on the table or counter.

 

Cons

  • The lid is sold separately ($9.99).
  • No stimulation mode to promote faster milk flow.
  • No extra flange sizes
  • No adjustable suction

 

What Customers Say 

Positive Reviews 

The cool thing about the Haakaa is that you don’t have to sit in one spot to collect milk; you can put on a big tee shirt and walk around the house and do whatever you need to do while you’re discreetly collecting milk.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

Negative Reviews 

It’s okay if your milk is already leaking, but for pumping, it’s too painful. And if you are dealing with unblocking plugged ducts, then it’s torture.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

Best Milk Catcher

  • Dr. Brown’s Silicone Pump
  • $14.99

 

Key Features 

Weight: 0.5 lbs

Pump Control: Suction pump

Capacity: 4 oz.

Suction Strength: Not rated

Breast Shields: Built-in, one size fits all

Ease of Use: You just squeeze the suction pump, position it over the breast, and let the pump work.

Ease of Cleaning: It’s easy to clean because there are no other pump parts.

Warranty: One year

What’s in the Box:

  • One pump
  • One Dr. Brown’s Options+ anti-colic bottle
  • One storage cap

 

Bag options: Drawstring travel bag

 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easy-pour design can ensure safe transfer and storage.
  • Stylish drawstring travel bag
  • Allows hands-free milk collection.
  • Compatible with Dr. Brown’s breast milk storage bags.
  • It comes with an anti-colic feeding bottle.
  • It’s dishwasher safe (top rack).

 

Cons

  • The pump doesn’t have a lid.
  • The suction strength isn’t as strong as electric pumps, just like the Spectra S2 Plus.

 

What Customers Say 

Positive Reviews 

“The Dr. Brown’s Milkflow breast pump has been my go-to product since I received it! It is made of very high-quality silicone, which makes it comfortable to use and very easy to clean.” – Reviewer on Dr. Brown’s website.

 

Negative Reviews 

I think the flange is too much like a hard plastic flange and doesn’t go up onto your breast enough to stay on well. When the baby bumps, it comes right off, and you say goodbye to your liquid gold.” – Reviewer on Dr. Brown’s website.

 

Best Non-Spill System

  • NatureBond Manual
  • $16.99

 

Key Features 

Weight: 0.44 lbs

Pump Control: Suction pump

Capacity: 4 oz

Suction Strength: Not rated

Breast Shields: One-size-fits-all design for the built-in flange

Ease of Use: It’s easy to use

Ease of Cleaning: More pump parts to clean (pump, lid, and stopper) compared with other manual pumps

Warranty: One year

What’s in the Box:

  • One silicone breast pump 
  • One silicone breast pump stopper
  • One dust cover lid
  • One lanyard strap
  • One full-color English instructions manual
  • Quality hardcover box packaging so you can give this pump as a baby shower gift for new moms.

 

Bag options: Luxury pouch

 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It doesn’t have uneven pour spouts.
  • Uses BPA-free (no harmful bisphenol-A chemicals) and FDA-approved (Food and Drug Administration) food-grade silicone.
  • Air-tight vacuum packaging
  • It comes with a stopper and straps for a non-spill system.
  • Hassle-free pump that can easily fit into any handbag or diaper bag
  • Recommended by lactation consultants from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital (USA).

 

Cons

  • The suction might become weaker with regular use.

 

What Customers Say 

Positive Reviews 

Breastfeeding mamas, you’ve got to get one of these. I’ve caught all this milk in six days, no electric pump. I love it.” – Reviewer on Nature Bond Global website.

 

Negative Reviews 

This thing is terrible. After a few weeks, it loses suction. At first, it was awesome. Now it falls off unexpectedly.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

Best For Large Nipples

  • Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump
  • $25.00

 

Key Features 

Weight: 0.75 lbs

Pump Control: Lever, with two modes for stimulation and expression

Capacity: 5.4 oz

Suction Strength: Up to 250 mmHg

Breast Shields: Two flange sizes (standard 25mm and large 30.5 mm)

Ease of Use: It’s a strong manual pump that’s easy to use. You simply fit the flange over your breast and operate the lever.

Ease of Cleaning:

Warranty: One year

What’s in the Box:

  • One pump
  • One standard 25mm breast shield
  • One large 30.5 mm breast shield
  • One milk collection and storage bottle
  • Samples of breast milk storage bags
  • NaturalWave nipple, cap, and collar

 

Bag options: None

 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Suction strength can go up to 250 mmHg
  • It pumps in two modes: stimulation and expression to promote letdown and a larger amount of milk.
  • The easy-express handle can help reduce hand fatigue.
  • It comes with two flange sizes.
  • It’s dishwasher safe, but Lansinoh recommends washing by hand to extend the pump’s usefulness.

 

Cons

  • It isn’t as strong as electric pumps.

 

What Customers Say 

Positive Reviews 

Really great product. I ended up switching from an electric double pump to this single manual hand pump as I was pumping less during this second time around.” – Reviewer on the Lansinoh website.

 

Negative Reviews 

Terrible. I have other pumps that work great. This one doesn’t do anything. I get no milk when this one is used.” – Reviewer on the Lansinoh website.

 

Best For Traveling

  • Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump
  • $32.99

 

Key Features 

Weight: 0.9 lbs

Pump Control: Ergonomic swivel handle

Capacity: 5 oz

Suction Strength: Strong

Breast Shields:

Ease of Use: 2-Phase Expression Technology with manually controlled vacuum

Ease of Cleaning: More parts to clean compared with other manual breast pumps.

Warranty: One year

What’s in the Box:

  • One manual breast pump
  • Two (5 oz) breast milk bottles
  • One nipple with collar
  • Two lids
  • One bottle stand
  • One valve
  • Two membranes
  • One card of instructions for use
  • One breastfeeding information guide

 

Bag options: None

 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Best for traveling
  • It comes with PersonalFit Flex breast shields for a better fit.
  • It uses 2-Phase Expression technology.
  • It can be a backup to your other electric Medela pumps.
  • It can use other Medela bottles for the pumping sessions.

 

Cons

  • It’s designed for occasional use only.
  • Its handle can pop off if the suction becomes strong.
  • The seal can make the pump lose suction after a few uses.

 

What Customers Say 

Positive Reviews 

Wow, I really am impressed with this simple pump and its cost. You control the speed and force of the pump, and it seems to be a better pull off the nipple and areola.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

Negative Reviews 

The handle keeps popping off when I try to use it. It even comes off when I am just carrying the base. I even tried getting a better “o” ring, and I did not have any better luck.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

Best For Small Nipples & Best For Everyday Use

  • Philips Avent Manual
  • $41.25

 

Key Features 

Weight: 0.88 lbs

Pump Control: Lever

Capacity: 4 oz

Suction Strength: Strong

Breast Shields: Can work with several breast shield sizes (19.5mm, 25mm, and 27.5mm)

Ease of Use: Single pump system with no assembly required

Ease of Cleaning: More parts to clean than suction pumps

Warranty: No applicable warranty

What’s in the Box:

  • One manual pump body with a handle
  • One (4 oz) natural bottle
  • One 19.5mm standard massage cushion
  • One extra soft newborn flow nipple
  • One sealing disc for milk storage
  • One travel cover
  • Two packs breast pad samples

 

Bag options: None

 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Best for small nipples
  • Best for everyday use
  • The soft, textured massage cushions can help stimulate milk flow.
  • The angled neck lets your milk flow into the baby bottle naturally.
  • Compatible with other massage cushion sizes: 25mm and 27.5mm (power cushions).

 

Cons

  • No warranty.

 

What Customers Say 

Positive Reviews 

When I got this manual pump, I was able to extract more milk because I could hold a stream as long as necessary and be more gentle about it.” – Reviewer on Target.

 

Negative Reviews 

This is useless, you can only pump 2 oz each time, and it hurts. So it doesn’t do the job. The handle and the silicon that covers the breast when pumping can easily fall off. Garbage.” – Reviewer on Target.

 

Best For Working Moms & Best Hands-Free Manual

  • Elvie Curve Manual
  • $49.99

 

Key Features 

Weight: 0.44 lbs

Pump Control: Suction pouch

Capacity: 4 oz

Suction Strength: Variable suction, with a one-way valve to control the pressure

Breast Shields: Not applicable

Ease of Use: It can take time to get used to but easy to use afterward

Ease of Cleaning: One two parts to clean; dishwasher safe

Warranty: 90 days

What’s in the Box:

  • One pump
  • One frame
  • One pouch
  • Instructions for use

 

Bag options: None

 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Best hands-free manual
  • Best for working moms
  • It’s a wearable, food-grade silicone breast pump 
  • It has adjustable suction with a one-way valve that controls pressure.
  • Free from BPA and phthalates.
  • It’s designed to be worn inside a nursing bra.
  • Designed like the wearable Elvie electric pump, but just a tenth of the price and doesn’t need rechargeable batteries.

 

Cons

  • Pricier than all the other pumps

 

What Customers Say 

Positive Reviews 

Since this fits right into my bra, I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I love how discreet it is. I’ve been getting 1-2 oz using this.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

Negative Reviews 

Honestly, too pricey for what it does. Within about 30 minutes, literally, NOTHING came out. I went to pump with my electronic pump, and my milk came out. Don’t waste your money on this. Also, it’s kind of annoying how they charge $50 for just ONE.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

Types Of Breast Pumps

  • Double electric breast pump
  • Single electric breast pumps
  • Wearable breast pumps
  • Portable breast pumps
  • Hospital-grade breast pump for multiple users
  • Hospital-grade breast pump for single users
  • Manual breast pumps

 

Types Of Manual Breast Pumps

  • Lever Or Handle Pumps. There’s a lever that you squeeze to express milk.
  • Milk Catchers Or Suction Pumps. These are usually one-piece pumps wherein the suction pump also acts as the milk collection bottle.
  • Bulb Type Breast Pumps. Not recommended by lactation consultants because the rubber bulbs are unhygienic. These are simply used to ease engorgement. Don’t use it for pumping and collecting milk for your baby.

 

Advantages Of A Manual Breast Pump

  • Portability
  • It usually has a closed system.
  • It’s usually quiet.
  • No need for a power source.
  • No need for rechargeable batteries.
  • It’s usually cheap.
  • It can pump milk effectively even without electric power.
  • It’s usually easy to clean because there are only a few pump parts.

 

Disadvantages Of A Manual Breast Pump

  • It’s not as powerful as an electric breast pump such as the Medela Pump in Style or Medela Freestyle.
  • You’ll need to use your hands for pumping.
  • Some moms notice that they don’t experience a letdown using a manual pump if their baby is not breastfeeding from their other breast. So, they weren’t able to use it to collect breast milk when their baby was sleeping.

 

Manual Breast Pump FAQs

Which Is Better: Manual Vs. Electric Pump?

While electric pumps have a higher suction or vacuum pressure than manual pumps, some moms prefer to use manual pumps because these can be more comfortable to use.

Other moms prefer manual pumps because they are cheap, portable, lightweight, small, and can still collect a good amount of milk.

But regular pumpers prefer electric breast pumps to collect more milk faster.

 

Who Needs A Manual Breast Pump?

Not everyone wants to use a breast pump. But you might need one if you:

  • Just pump occasionally
  • Simply need a backup pump at home
  • Need a portable pump for traveling
  • Need a pump for dealing with engorgement

 

How Do I Choose A Manual Pump?

Consider the following factors:

  • Size
  • Cost
  • Ease of use
  • Suction strength
  • Comfortable and ergonomic
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Ease of use

 

How Do I Use A Manual Pump?

This depends on the type of pump:

  • Suction pumps. Squeeze the pump body and position the flange over your breast before releasing the pump. Depending on your pump, you might need to repeat this several times, or the pump will continue suctioning without a lot of further input.
  • Lever or handle pumps. Squeeze the lever and position the flange to your breast before releasing the handle. Most lever pumps have to be squeezed repeatedly to pump more milk.
  • Bulb pumps. Operate in the same manner as suction pumps, but the rubber portion makes it unhygienic. So, don’t give the collected breast milk to your baby. These pumps are only used for easing your engorgement.

 

Do I Need A Breast Pump If I’m Breastfeeding?

Even if you’re breastfeeding and can regularly empty your breasts, a breast pump can still be useful in helping stimulate milk flow or deal with engorgement

Having a stash of milk in your freezer can also help during emergencies or if you have something urgent to deal with away from your baby.

 

How Can I Use A Manual Pump For Clogged Ducts?

You can use manual breast pumps to clear clogged ducts.

Put some Epsom salt and warm water inside a silicone pump, and use it as you normally would. Once the ducts are cleared, you can encourage more milk flow by pumping that side first.

 

Can A Manual Pump Express A Lot Of Milk?

Yes, a manual pump can also express a lot of milk. Some moms are even able to express more milk with a manual pump than an electric pump.

But what works for other moms might not work for you. 

 

How Do I Clean My Manual Pump?

Read the instructions packet that came with the pump. Some breast pumps are dishwasher safe, while others should only be washed by hand.

In cleaning your manual pump, make sure to use a soft brush and baby-friendly dishwashing soap to remove milk from nooks and crannies. Also, make sure to clean the pump after each use so that milk doesn’t dry inside, making it harder to keep it clean.

Rinse the pump and all pump parts thoroughly, then dry on a counter that’s away from high-traffic areas.

 

Summary & Recommendation 

Different manual breast pumps have different pros and cons. You simply have to choose the pump that could fill in your needs and suit your budget.

All these pumps can be useful, but here are our recommendations:

  • Best for Large Breasts: BumbleBee Manual – $12.68
  • Best for Letdown: Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump – $12.94
  • Best Milk Catcher: Dr. Brown’s Silicone Pump – $14.99
  • Best Non-Spill System: NatureBond Manual – $16.99
  • Best for Large Nipples: Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump – $25.00
  • Best for Traveling: Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump – $32.99
  • Best for Small Nipples & Best for Everyday Use: Philips Avent Manual – $41.25
  • Best for Working Moms & Best Hands-Free Manual: Elvie Curve Manual – $49.99

 

 

 

REFERENCES

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873014/

 

 

 

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