Breast pump is one of the essentials that all moms should own even before your little ones arrive. But the choice between manual breast pump and electric breast pump is not easy to make. I personally own 2 electric breast pumps and 1 manual breast pump, and let me tell y’all, I cannot tell which one is the most effective.
Because they perform best in different circumstances. Sometimes my double electric breast pump will do wonders, sometimes I need my manual breast pump, sometimes I use both a single breast pump and manual breast pump.
If you are thinking of getting a manual breast pump, I recommend you should do so right from the start. Because breastfeeding is a long journey, until you clearly understand your body, you will face a lot of trials and errors. And trying different types of breast pumps will help you when you are in pain from clogged milk ducts, or when your nipples crack.
What is a manual breast pump?
A manual breast pump works without electricity. It requires hand operated and can only be used for one breast at a time. The pump is placed over the breast and the other hand is used to ‘pump’ the lever in order to create suction.
In general, these pumps are often less expensive than the electric ones and are usually quite light and compact, making them a good choice for those on a budget or with limited space.
Why use a manual breast pump?
Manual pumps are a great option for moms who breastfeed or combine breastfeeding and pumping. A manual breast pump is a fantastic choice if you need or want to pump occasionally to collect some milk to store. A manual breast pump can also be handy in collecting your letdown without causing any oversupply concerns.
For moms who do exclusive pumping, a manual pump may not be the best fit as it can be time consuming and tiring on your wrists. But here’s the twist. If you get clogged milk ducts easily, it is beneficial to use a manual breast pump for those painful times.
How to choose a manual breast pump
A manual one is quite cheap in general, so you can easily make up your mind. However, we don’t want to waste money on something that doesn’t work and you end up buying 3 manual breast pumps. It is vital that you consider some following features when choosing a manual breast pump.
Ease of use
Even with their simple designs, there are several types of manual breast pumps and they work in a variety of different ways. Some manual breast pumps use suction and you just need to hold it to your breast and let the suction slowly do its work. Some manual breast pumps have levers for you to push. Some have rubber balls for you to squeeze and get the milk out.
Purpose of use
If you need a manual breast pump to collect milk from one breast while you are breastfeeding your little one from the other side, a suction manual breast pump like Haakaa will do.
But if you need something to help you during the clogged milk ducts pain, you will need something with a rubber ball or a lever to turbo charge the suction between massage time.
Weight and size
One of the biggest selling points of a manual pump is its portability. Pumps may vary in size and weight and it's important to choose one that feels comfortable and fits your purpose of use.
How easy it is to clean
Look for a pump made from a material like food grade silicone or a pump with a simple design as it's easy to keep clean, will not leach hazardous chemicals and is resistant to mold and other nasties.
How to use a manual breast pump
Most manual pumps on the market have a few easy-to-put-together pieces. Once it’s clean and properly assembled, simply place the nipple shield over your breast and begin pumping the handle. It’s important to note that it might take a minute or two for milk to start flowing.
Unlike an electric pump, it might take a while to accumulate; you are not a machine, after all, and your hand might get tired. After a few minutes, you should switch to your other breast and begin again.
I myself prefer to use a manual breast pump with a single breast pump.
Because of my sleep deprivation from all the nights staying up to work out my son’s neck, I don’t produce a lot of milk. Therefore, I need to massage my nipples during the pump to get the milk out.
I set the electric single breast pump at “light” or “medium” mode, and while waiting for it to work, apply my palm to my other nipple. Then I rolled my palm in a circle to stimulate my breasts to let down. Often after 20 seconds of stimulation, I get a let down.
Repeat the process until my girls get empty and often I could get like 120ml from pumping.
Can I use a manual breast pump everyday
But depending on your breastfeeding method, you can choose between different types of pumps for your needs.
If you are exclusively pumping, an electric breast pump will do a better job in taking care of milking and letting your hands rest. But if you suffer from occasional clogged milk ducts, a manual breast pump helps greatly to unclog as you can adjust the suction level to get the clogged milk out.
If you are often around your baby, using a manual breast pump on one breast while nursing is a great way to collect that liquid gold during let down.
Do you get more breast milk with a manual pump
Remember how I said that I didn’t know which kind of pump is more effective?
Turns out, I’ve realized that to get more breast milk, you need to massage your breasts and nipples to stimulate let down. The more you stimulate properly, the more let down you have and more milk you collect.
On a good day, I could get nearly 200mil from my girls after breastfeeding my son. Yes, you read it correctly. I breastfed my son first from both sides, and then I pumped some more.
But on a normal day, I used both a single breast pump and a manual breast pump to get milk, and I could get to around 100mil after breastfeeding my son.
And when I got back to work, I ran to the nursing room every few hours and let the double electric breast pump do its job. I could get around 100mil of milk from both breasts for each pumping session when I got back to work.
How often can I use a manual breast pump
Again, depending on your purpose of use you can use the manual breast pump as often as you can.
However, considering how time-consuming it could be and how tired your wrists could get, I recommend only using the manual pump from 1 to 2 times a day. At the end of the day, your mind did most of the job to produce milk for your little one. And if you are not relaxed and comfortable, no breast pump could come and milk 2 liters of milk out of you.
Can manual breast pumps damage breast tissue?
It can. If it is used improperly.
Now that your breast tissue is very sensitive after too much inflating and deflating and suction. So if you choose the breast pump that has the wrong suction, you can hurt yourself. Especially your nipples. I’ve seen women who milk themselves until they bleed, just due to the wrong suction.
So make sure you select the right size of manual breast pump suction and it must feel comfortable when you use it.
A breast pump is a must-have item in modern moms’ necessities.
And choosing between different types of breast pump is really a pain in the booty. But don’t sweat over it. Because at least you know you would need a manual breast pump here and there sometimes.
And the good thing about manual breast pumps is that they are quite cheap. You just need to select the right one for your needs and you are good to go.
Remember, no matter how expensive, how cheap, how pretty, how other moms say, your mind and your brain play the most important part in producing enough milk for your little one.
And you’ve got this mamas! Trust your instinct.