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Best Manual Breast Pumps Buying Guide
Drawing milk can be convenient for several reasons. Whether for medical reasons or with a premature baby, for personal reasons or for occasional or extended absences such as a return to work, a breast pump can be a good investment.
Considering that your breastfeeding needs may change over time, it is recommended that you wait until your baby arrives to find out your real breastfeeding intentions in order to choose the breast pump that best suits your needs. It is essential that your breast pump is suitable for you and your baby’s needs.
There are two main models of breast pumps, manual breast pumps and single or double breast pumps. A manual breast pump allows you to express milk, one breast at a time, from a pump that you operate with your hand. An electric breast pump allows you to pump milk, one or two breasts at a time, using an electric motor that drives the pump and runs on an electrical outlet or batteries. Manual breast pumps are portable and less expensive, but are usually less efficient than electric ones.
Depending on how you plan to use your breast pump, it may be a good idea to choose one or the other model. If you want to pump your milk occasionally to relieve occasional breast engorgement, to go out for dinner or to stock up on milk to put in your baby’s cereal later, a manual breast pump is an excellent choice. Avoid this choice if you’re going to be pumping your milk on a daily basis, otherwise you’ll quickly become discouraged and won’t have optimal milk production. However, if you are planning to pump, a manual breast pump may be appropriate when traveling, as a complement to your electric breast pump.
There are 2 main types of manual breast pumps: handle pumps and suction pumps. The first allow you to extract milk by operating a pump up and down with your hand, while the second allow the milk to flow out using the natural suction created by the pump, often made of silicone.
A good manual breast pump will allow you to express your breast milk efficiently without getting tired by exercising the right suction according to the size of your breast. It will not hurt you and will ensure a good seal to guarantee its performance.
As part of this review, 5 of the most popular models on the market were selected. The functionality of each is compared and an inventory of the pros and cons of each breast pump has been completed.
4 main criteria were assessed: Easy to use, for understanding and washing the device; Effectiveness for expressing milk and quantity; Quality, for comfort, materials and durability; and finally, the Overall Appreciation, for the overall performance.
My first choice for the best manual breast pump is the Medela Harmony. Its two-stage technology impresses with its ease of use and overall performance. The company is unquestionably a recognized leader in the breastfeeding world. Quiet and comfortable, the Medela Harmony has all the qualities sought after in a manual breast pump. The Philips Avent SCF330 also performs well in terms of comfort and performance. For smaller budgets, the Haakaa Silicone Suction Pump can be a great alternative if you don’t want a large breast milk supply, but still want a manual pump to relieve breast engorgement and have a few ounces of milk in the freezer. This pump of incredible quality is remarkably soft.
It is strongly discouraged from buying a used breast pump. A breast pump is an intimate device that should not be shared, even with a loved one. Even sterilized, milk residues may remain in the breast pump mechanism. Some diseases such as HIV and thrush can be passed on through breast milk.
I also recommend that you sterilize your breast pump before using it for the first time. Also remember to wash your hands thoroughly before each use of your breast pump. Please refer to the user guide supplied with the device for more information.
Finally, there are several tricks to make it easier to express milk: hot water compresses, breast massage, thinking about your baby, relaxing, etc. The morning is also the best time to express milk. Remember that the more you stimulate the expression of your breast milk, the more you will produce.
Don’t hesitate to use a breastfeeding sponsor or consult breastfeeding promotion organizations to support you in your breastfeeding effort.
Our Opinion on the Medela Harmony
- Excellent suction
- 2 phase expression technology
- High price
- Less ergonomic handle for small hands
- Milk can flow out at the connector
Why We Love It
With exemplary social responsibility, the Swiss company Medela has distinguished itself by its commitment to breastfeeding research and innovation. A true leader in breast pumps, after several years of research, Medela has developed its dual-phase expression technology. This technology best imitates a baby’s natural sucking movement. By activating the pump from the short side, you can initiate a phase of stimulation of your production. With the longer side of the handle, you activate the expression phase. This last phase allows a longer and deeper pumping.
The Medela Harmony is compatible with Medela electric breast pumps. It has several compatible spare parts and uses the same bottles. Therefore, for moms who own a Medela electric breast pump and want to purchase a manual breast pump for their outings, this model is for you. All parts that come into contact with breast milk are BPA free.
The Medela Harmony is very comfortable even if, at first glance, the plastic breast shield (also called a flange) seems less so. The breast shield sticks well to the breast and thus creates excellent suction, essential for breastfeeding. Pumping is gentle and painless. Its performance in extracting the maximum amount of milk in the shortest possible time is remarkable and stands out from the other models reviewed.
The handle, however, is less comfortable and ergonomic for small hands when you want to express milk with one hand. Otherwise, the 180-degree swivel handle contributes to its ergonomics. It allows the mother to find the best angle to express her milk without getting tired.
The handle has a rubber outline that prevents snapping on the bottle. Thus, expressing your milk gently and silently has never been easier. It is probably the quietest rated model without squeaking. This rubber padding is also very comfortable for the hand.
Compact and lightweight, you can easily carry the Medela Harmony in your handbag or diaper bag. Hello discretion! At this price, this model would be almost perfect if it came with a carrying bag or at least a lid to protect the breast shield from dust or other dirt.
To sterilize it, you have to disassemble the breast pump into 8 different parts. The Medela Harmony is very easy to assemble and the instructions in the user guide are very clear. Washing the breast pump is very easy. To facilitate the sterilization of its accessories, Medela has designed a steamable bag to heat in the microwave which can be reused about twenty times. Very practical when you want to save time.
Several moms mentioned that milk could leak out when the connector is removed from the bottle, which can be very frustrating considering that breast milk is very precious. This leakage is often due to the wear of the rubber ring installed on the diaphragm. It can be replaced without problems.
The various parts of the Medela Harmony, such as the connector, valves and diaphragms, can be purchased separately in case of breakage or wear. Also, the Medela Harmony comes standard with a 24 mm breast shield, but it is also possible to purchase a different nipple size ranging from 21 to 36 mm. The set also includes support for safely and securely placing the breast pump.
While this model may not be the most affordable of the manual breast pumps available on the market, it is well worth the investment. The performance of your breast pump is essential if you want to extend your breastfeeding as long as possible while providing milk reserves for occasional outings.
Our Opinion on the Philips Avent SCF330
- Good milk expression
- Transport cover for breast shield
- Ergonomic design
- Handle discomfort
- Milk can flow out of the connector
- Less adaptable breast shields
Why We Love It
Avent is a subsidiary of the technology company Philips founded in 1984. It quickly positioned itself as a leader in anti-colic bottles. It has since become the UK’s largest manufacturer of baby care products, including bottles, pacifiers and breast pumps.
The Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump is generally very popular with moms. Its design allows you to express milk without having to bend over to let the milk flow into the bottle like with other models. This means you can easily express milk from the comfort of your chair without generating back pain.
The Philips Avent manual breast pump is compatible with Philips Avent electric breast pumps. So it may be a good idea to choose the same company if you want to buy both a manual and an electric breast pump. It is also compatible with Avent Natural and Anticolic bottles.
The breast shield has a silicone coating that many mothers appreciate for its comfort and good suction. If this coating bothers you, it is removable. Some moms like it and others don’t. The Philips Avent’s milk expression performance is quite similar to that of the Medela.
The plastic handle is ergonomic, but less comfortable to the touch. In addition, the handle makes an annoying slam on the bottle when pumping thoroughly.
The Philips Avent is very light and compact. It has a breast shield to prevent residue build-up during transport. You love this feature when you’re a mom who travels a lot.
The various parts of the breast pump are BPA-free and easily washable, and are dishwasher safe. The parts are wide enough to facilitate assembly and washing.
As with Medela, some users have reported occasional breast milk leakage during expression. In addition, several moms also complained about the lack of clarity in the Philips Advent’s user guide.
The various parts of the Philips Avent are readily available in the event of breakage or wear. This model comes with a single size of plastic breast shield. The 25 mm silicone coating is included with the purchase, but a 19.5 mm one is available. This makes the Philips Avent less adaptable to the size of your breasts, especially if you have a large bust. In addition, this model does not come with a support to ensure stability when deposited.
This model from Philips Avent does not match the comfort and performance of the Medela Harmony, but comes very close. Its price makes it better value for money and a great choice if your wallet is tighter.
Our Opinion on the Haakaa
- Affordable price (really cheap!)
- Easy to clean
- Lightweight and compact
- Does not allow full breast expression
- Inaccuracy of the oz measurement
- Longer learning curve
Why We Love It
Recently, silicone suction pumps have made their appearance as a new range of manual breast pumps. Much more affordable than pumps with a handle, these pumps have a look that at first glance makes us doubt their efficiency, but let this doubt quickly dissipate.
Haakaa, a New Zealand family business, specializes in environmentally friendly products for children and mothers. All their products are designed and manufactured in New Zealand with high quality raw material. Since its release in 2016, Haakaa has won several awards with its suction pump and is highly recommended by several famous moms, including Chrissy Teigen. You should not rely on its appearance to judge its effectiveness.
Expressing milk with the Haakaa pump is effortless. This is why this pump is more a breast milk collector than a real breast pump. You are probably wondering how to use this pump. Nothing could be easier! First, reverse the opening of the pump and place it on your breast with your nipple pointing upwards. Then press down to remove air from the pump and push the pump opening back towards the breast. Now be lazy and let nature do the work. You remove the pump the same way you unhook a baby, by inserting a finger into the pump opening.
It is best to use the Haakaa pump during breastfeeding (on the other breast) and especially in the morning when the breasts are more engorged. You can further stimulate milk expression by pressing the pump lightly or with a breast massage.
Obviously, it will be difficult to extract more than 2-3 ounces at a time with the Haakaa suction pump (unless you have a production to make jealous). This is why it is an extra breast pump to have a small supply one day at a time. If you need a good supply of breast milk over a short period of time, this model is not the most appropriate. However, it is worth using it to avoid wasting this white gold in the bra or on a nursing pad.
Made with food-grade silicone and BPA free, this suction pump is safe for mom and baby as well as being incredibly comfortable. Compact, lightweight and discreet, the Haakaa pump is easy to carry. You can choose from several pump capacities, from 3 oz to 5 oz or 90 ml to 150 ml.
The pump adapts to all breast sizes. Some moms have complained that the pump could fall out when it was full. Haakaa has responded with a new version of the pump that now offers better suction. Here is a company that listens to its customers!
Several moms also said that the ounce measurement was inaccurate, as the amount of milk indicated on the pump was often less than the actual amount. Haakaa has improved this aspect on the latest version of its product. A pacifier at the bottom of the pump has also been added to ensure better stability at rest and to prevent tipping.
Cleaning the Haakaa pump is the easiest among the models on the market. There are no parts that require a small brush to prevent curdling. You can put it in the dishwasher, but washing with a mop does the job too.
The look of the Haakaa pump is truly original. You can get the silicone flower cap or a regular cover separately to make the pump airtight. The flower cap is available in several colors and is really nice.
With a price equivalent to a restaurant lunch, this breast pump impresses. The Internet is full of positive comments about this model. Recommended by lactation consultants, midwives and most importantly, mothers, the Haakaa suction pump has definitely proven itself. However, don’t kid yourself, this model has neither the efficiency of an electric breast pump nor even that of a manual breast pump with handle. However, it is perfect for the mother with a good established production who wants to recover the milk that has been pumped out without spending a lot of time pumping. You’ll probably have to make several attempts to find the optimal positioning of the pump, but with a well-controlled stroke, you’ll enjoy using the Haakaa pump.
Our Opinion on the Lansinoh
- Affordable price
- 2 phase expression technology
- 2 sizes of breast shields included
- Milk flows through the breast shield
- Handle squeak
Why We Love It
Like Medela, Lansinoh has developed a 2-phase expression pumping process for her breast pump that goes from stimulation to expression. This technology makes it possible to best imitate the baby’s sucking rhythm to facilitate milk expression. This 2-phase mode is, however, less user-friendly than that of the Medela. Instead of activating each of the phases of one or the other end of the handle, you must press on the small white rod located on the top of the handle. Otherwise, the Lansinoh breast pump is still easy to use.
The handle is really easy to operate, even with small hands. On the other hand, plastic is less comfortable to touch, which can make the expression less pleasant. In addition, the poor quality of the plastic of the handle makes a squeaking sound with each activation and makes it less quiet than other models.
The contour of the breast shield has a silicone padding to increase comfort to the touch of the breast and provide better suction.
The Lansinoh is not the easiest model to wash. Some areas of the parts require a fine brush to remove all milk residue. For this purpose, Lansinoh includes a small cleaning brush with the purchase of the breast pump. Parts in contact with breast milk are BPA free. 2 valves and a replacement diaphragm are included with the purchase.
Several users reported milk flow at the breast shield. This is because the orientation of the nipple does not allow the milk to flow down to the connector. It is best to lean forward before removing the breast shield.
After several criticisms, the new Lansinoh model now includes 2 sizes of breast shields (25 mm and 30.5 mm). At this price, it is surprising that the company has decided to offer 2 sizes when the majority of breast pumps sold on the market include only one size and the others are sold separately. With these 2 sizes, unlike the Philips Avent model, the Lansinoh is suitable for women with large breasts. It would have been interesting if the company had sold smaller breast shields as an option. On their website, Lansinoh suggests contacting them if the 2 sizes of breast shields are not suitable. Also, it comes with a support for better stability.
With its very low price, it can be a good choice if you plan to express your milk only occasionally and if you don’t want to invest too much money for a breast pump. In short, the Lansinoh Breast Pump amazes with its performance and price. If you have large breasts, this model will probably suit you and may be a good buy.
Our Opinion on the NatureBond
- Affordable price (really cheap!)
- 3 suction levels
- Travel pouch included
- Does not allow full breast expression
- No support
- Risk of falling pump
Why We Love It
Launched by parents, the company Naturebond’s mission is to design innovative baby products. It currently has 3 main lines: silicone pumps, nursing pads and baby food products. Its silicone suction pump is in fact a replica of the Haakaa model, the original designer.
The Naturebond suction pump allows you to easily collect your breast milk directly from the breast when you breastfeed your baby with the other breast. Its good suction allows you to withdraw an amazing amount of milk effortlessly. The use of a silicone pump is done by depositing the opening of the pump towards the nipple (without touching the edges) and first applying pressure at the bottom of the pump so as to remove the air. For mothers with smaller nipples, it is advisable to first reverse the opening of the pump. It is not necessary to perform suctions to allow the milk to flow out. A silicone pump allows you to relieve temporary engorgement and stimulate both breasts at the same time during breastfeeding.
Designed from BPA-free food grade silicone, using the Naturebond pump is safe for you and your baby. The opening of the pump placed on the breast is very soft and comfortable. The look and size of the pump is very similar to the Haakaa pump.
Like other silicone suction pumps, this model does not allow complete extraction of breast milk. You will certainly not have a feeling of emptiness in the breast, but you will have easily unclogged it. It’s a shame that the pump doesn’t have a suction foot like the Haakaa or a stand to avoid unpleasant surprises with a restless baby.
In 2019, the company improved its model by reducing the weight of its pump. Indeed, Naturebond has received numerous comments that the pump could withdraw from the breast when it was full. She also adjusted the thickness of the silicone at the base to allow 3 different suction levels to adjust to the needs of the mom. This adjustment can make the pump more comfortable, but makes it a little more complicated to use.
The cleaning of the Naturebond pump is very user-friendly. You can clean it with a mild soap and no residue can get trapped behind a fold. The laziest can even put everything in the dishwasher.
At a very competitive price, the Naturebond pump comes with a carrying bag, lid and silicone cap. These accessories come in addition to the Haakaa model. Thus Naturebond offers a cheaper product than Haakaa.
In short, the Naturebond suction pump doesn’t come with the coveted aura of Haakaa, but offers a frankly amazing product with excellent value for money. In fact, it feels like you get more quality for the asking price. The quality of the silicone of the Naturebond pump, however, seems slightly lower to the touch than that of Haakaa, which allows the latter to surpass it.