Best Manual Breast Pump for Working Moms and Pumping Parents

 September 9, 2021

By  Tim Parry

Breast pumps are not necessarily a must-have essential for breastfeeding mothers, but they sure do make life easier, especially if you're a working mom. This is one way to ensure that your baby gets a nutritious filling of your liquid gold, aka breast milk, when you are not around. The best manual breast pump also helps ensure that you don’t experience pain or engorgement from not breastfeeding.

Yes, electric breast pumps make milk pumping a breeze, but that's until you can’t find an outlet to charge or run out of those fresh batteries. Then what do you do? This is one of the leading reasons why having a manual backup pump comes in handy. Additionally, manual pumps come in a durable construction that also costs less, well, that's as long as you choose a reliable and good product.

But before you head out to get yourself a manual pump, research the different options that are ideal for your breasts. This is one way to ensure that each pumping session is efficient and comfortable. On that note, also consider when you’ll be using the manual pump and where you plan on keeping it. Whether in your work purse or diaper bag where a compact option would be ideal.

What is A Manual Breast Pump?

A manual breast pump is a hand-operated pump placed over one breast while you use your hand to manually 'pump' the lever and create suction in a motion that helps milk flow. They come in either single or double breast expressing models. This is quite an essential tool that will smoothen your breastfeeding process and let you hand over some feeding responsibilities to your partner or caregiver while you can rest or work.

Using a pump also helps give you some relief from engorgement and other issues that tend to make breastfeeding quite painful. Suction pumps come in 2 different types: manual and the electric pump. Both have their unique benefits.

Mothers who'll need to pump multiple times in a day may need to consider electric breast pumps, but if you’re only looking to pump occasionally, then the manual pump is definitely the way to go. Manual breast pumps (hand pumps) are a low-tech but effective way to express milk for your little one. Also, unlike electric pumps, you won't need to plug in or use a rechargeable battery as you’d need to with battery-operated electric pumps.

1. New Medela Harmony Manual Single-Hand Breastpump- Best Overall

New Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump, Single Hand Breastpump with...
  • Light and discreet: our new Medela harmony manual pump can easily fit...
  • Flex Technology: unique 105-degree angle, oval shape, and soft rim...
  • Research-based technology: our manual breast pump uses 2 phase...
  • Ease of use: easy to use and clean leaving you with more time to spend...
  • INCLUDES: (1) Harmony breast pump (handle, diaphragm, stem with...

The Medela manual pump is a compact and lightweight pump that's your reliable go-to if you need to pump on the go. It comes with an oval-shaped shield, padded rim, and a 105° angle to help mothers easily find the right fit for their breasts. In addition, it uses a 'two-phase' technology that closely mimics the baby’s natural suckling motion so as not to interfere with the regular breastfeeding routine.

The Medela pump construction includes a diaphragm, handle, 1 Medela harmony connector, and stem with the 'O-ring that helps make the manual pumping easier. It also includes a 24 mm breast shield, a breast pump, one 5-ounce collection bottle with a lid, a stand, and all the breast pump parts that you might need to set it up.

In the first stimulation mode phase, the 2-phase expression technology uses a lever closest to the breast shield to prepare your breasts for a liquid gold letdown. Once your milk begins to flow out, use the longer lever to help pump out the milk until you're done.

To help make pumping sessions more efficient, the PersonalFit shield of the Medela pump has a soft and flexible rim that is clinically proven to help produce more milk.

  • A 2-phase stimulation technology for efficient milk flow
  • PersonalFit breast shields for comfortable milk production
  • Quite affordable
  • Easy to put together
  • Lightweight and compact size that can fit in a large purse
  • It's not as noisy
  • The suction power lessens over time
  • Some users have reported that the o-ring on the pump breaks easily, so you may end up needing to replace it

2. Evenflo Advanced Manual Breast Pump - Best for Large Nipples

Evenflo Advanced Manual Breast Pump
  • Occasional-use, lightweight hand pump is easy to use and travel...
  • Includes multiple flange sizes for a comfortable pumping journey
  • Pivoting handle allows you to adjust your pumping position for added...

Here comes another manual breast pump that gives you both a 24.5-mm flange and a 30.5-mm flange. This is the best breast pump that comes in extra handy for someone with large nipples.

If these 2 sizes also don't work, there's an extra set of 4 additional size options that can be purchased separately. This is actually one of the best manual breast pumps for large breasts and nipples.

It is also lightweight and comes in a compact design with an easy-to-use handle pump that pivots for a comfortable hold on either the left or right side. Additionally, it also completely comes apart, so you can easily clean every crevice with no worry.

  • A lightweight and easy to use a hand pump
  • Travel friendly
  • 2 flange sizes that are comfortably ideal for large nipples
  • The pivoting handle easily allows the adjustment of your pumping position for extra comfort
  • Comes completely apart for easy sterilization and cleaning
  • Many parts for assembling and cleaning

3. Dr. Brown's Manual Softshape Silicone Shield Breast Pump - Best for Small Nipples

Dr. Brown's Manual Breast Pump with Softshape Silicone Shield
  • The soft, 100% silicone SoftShape Shield conforms to different breast...
  • Two pumping modes better mimic breastfeeding. Shorter, quicker pumps...
  • Comes with the Dr. Brown’s Options+ Anti-Colic Wide-Neck Bottle...
  • All parts are dishwasher safe (top rack), BPA free
  • Comes with (1) Manual Breast Pump, (1) 5 oz/150 ml Dr. Brown’s...

Dr. Brown's silicone manual breast pump comes with a 100% silicone breast shield that conforms to your body and shape. This helps you stay as comfortable as you need to be while you use it. It is one of the best breast pumps for mothers with small nipples. Furthermore, it comes with an easy-to-use squeeze handle and 2 pumping modes that mimic your baby’s natural suckling motion.

All the parts of this silicone pump are top-rack dishwasher safe, and along with the pump, you get a level-1 nipple flange, a 5-ounce anti-colic wide neck bottle, a wide neck cap, and a cleaning brush that you can use when you need to handwash the parts after you have pumped milk.

  • Soft, 100% silicone SoftShape Shield that conforms to the different breast shapes for a comfortable pump
  • 2 pumping mechanisms to better mimic the breastfeeding motion
  • Usefully comes with an anti-colic wide-neck bottle and a breast-like level 1 slow flow nipple
  • All parts are BPA free and can be safely cleaned in the dishwasher
  • Comes with a 5-ounce collection bottle
  • Relatively pricey

4. Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump-Best Budget Pick

Haakaa Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump Milk Pump 100% Food...
  • 2019 New Model. Award winning, best-selling, nursing mom and lactation...
  • Patented design. Pat. No. USD810,925S. Distributed by Haakaa USA....
  • Material: 100% food grade silicone. Soft and comfortable. BPA PVC and...
  • Easy to use: simply suction to your breast and let the pump do the...
  • Easy to clean and washable: 100% dishwasher safe, can be boiled and...

The Haakaa breast pump is also another favorite among many moms because it's effective yet easy to use. It uses a simple suction method to pump directly into the collection can, so you won't need to hand pump it. Simply, you only need to attach it to your breast, then squeeze once or twice, and the milk starts trickling out.

Alternatively, some moms like to attach it to one breast to catch the milk letdown and avoid having spilled milk while breastfeeding with the other. The fact that it is made of food-grade silicone makes it the best breast pump that's safe for sensitive moms and babies. It also comes in just one piece that makes it super easy to clean and easy to use.

To sterilize, just put the Haakaa in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Moms can also use the Haakaa to clear their clogged ducts. Just fill the bottom with some warm water, not too much, so that you're still able to attach it to your breast and one tablespoon of Epsom salt. Then attach it to the affected breast for the suction to clear the clog.

This manual pump is budget-friendly, can be safely washed in the dishwasher, is hot water safe, and can only have 4 ounces of milk.

  • Comes in 1 piece
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Patented design
  • Made of BPA 100% soft food-grade silicone that is Phthalate-free
  • Easy use
  • It can be washed using a dishwasher
  • The flange that is designed to fit all breast sizes and shapes
  • Can work for both pumping and collection of milk letdown
  • Can be sterilized in boiling water in 2-3 minutes
  • Compact and travel-friendly design
  • It can only hold a few ounces of milk
  • The operation needs some learning
  • Comes with an open-top that can't be used to transport milk

5. Philips Avent Breast SCF330/30 Pump Manual

Philips Avent Breast SCF330/30 Pump Manual, Clear
  • More comfortable pumping position due to unique design.
  • Soft, textured massage cushion helps stimulate milk flow
  • Compact, lightweight design of the pump body makes it easy to hold and...
  • Compatible with other Philips Avent feeding products, such as Natural...
  • BPA-Free

The popular Philips Avent manual breast pump is a simple and comfortable pump that doesn't come in many parts, making it easy to use and clean. In addition, the flange comes with a soft 'massage cushion' to make the pumping process more comfortable. What's more, there's no need to lean forward to express milk in such an uncomfortable position since the pump works just as well when you sit up straight.

This is one of the best breast pumps designed for optimum comfort since it comes with an angled breast shield. This angled shield has a soft, textured cushion for a secure fit and to help stimulate the nipple. Additionally, it has an easy-to-use grip handle for pumping and an Avent bottle that is perfect for feeding your baby at home.

Lastly, it only comes in a few parts that make it simple to assemble and take apart when you need to clean.

  • Unique design that allows a comfortable pumping position
  • A soft, textured massage cushion that feels warm on the skin and helps stimulate flow
  • Compact lightweight design that is easy to hold and position
  • Compatible with other Philips Avent baby feeding products, such as the natural and anti-colic wide neck bottles
  • BPA-free material construction
  • Comes with a Phillip Avent natural feeding bottle and nipple
  • Few parts for easy assembly and cleaning
  • Easy to pump system and that expresses milk fast
  • It is a little squeaky while in use
  • It doesn’t fit the standard sized baby bottles

Factors to Consider when Buying the Best Manual Breast Pump

1. Fit Options

Milk flowing and milk volume on manual pumps is affected by how comfortable the pump is. So always look for something perfectly made for your breast size or one that comes with different shield options for you to find the best fit. Unfortunately, the pump won’t work or collect breast milk if it has a tendency to lose suction and doesn't hold onto your breast, so the fit is quite important. 

Mothers with large breasts should opt for a breast pump that comes with multiple flange size options.

2. Easy to Clean/Hygiene

It’s also very important to find a pump that can be thoroughly cleaned easily. If not well-cleaned, bacteria will quickly grow and, through the milk, get passed on to the baby. Always consider the best breast pumps that are easy to take apart or comes as one big piece without many crevices in the structure. To help kill these bacteria, get a pump that can also be cleaned in the dishwasher safely after each use.

3. Efficiency

Manual pumps are only as good as their efficiency in expressing milk. So when looking for the best manual pump, always be sure to read through the user reviews to help you get an idea of the efficiency. In addition, some breast pumps might need some learning, while others might be a little straightforward to use right out of the box.

Not being able to use both manual and electric pumps properly won't give you the full benefits of these pumps. Also, purchase the pump from retailers who have a flexible return policy if the one you get doesn’t end up working for you.

Frequently Asked Questions on The Best Manual Breast Pump

1. Does a manual pump help you get more breast milk?

Manual pumps can actually help you remove more breast milk. Some women can actually express more milk when using a manual pump mechanism than they can with a rechargeable battery electric pump; however, women are different. If you're a mom struggling with low milk supply while using an electric pump or having trouble and need to maintain milk supply, it is highly recommended that you, ease off the electric pump give the manual breast pumps a try.

2. Do manual breast pumps decrease your supply?

The continuous use of a manual pump can cause the depletion of your milk supply. With this in mind, manual breast pumps should be used to complement normal breastfeeding. In addition, the best manual breast pumps help working mothers ensure that the baby gets enough milk when they are away.

3. Can you pump both breasts and transfer milk in 1 bottle?

Using a double pump, pumping both breasts at once can give you a total amount of milk that will fill 1 bottle no more than two-thirds full. You can carefully combine these contents in 1 bottle from one sterile container to another. However, pumping mothers shouldn't combine milk collection from different pumping sessions, especially for sensitive babies.

Tim Parry

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