The Right Way to Use a Manual Breast Pump

The Right Way to Use a Manual Breast Pump

As a new mom, you are probably familiar with almost all sorts of equipment that can help with breastfeeding, breast pumps included! And if you’ve happened to use a breast pump, you must be well aware that the process of pumping is less than glamourous. Nevertheless, they are a boon for new moms, especially working moms.

If you want to express milk for one feed a day, or for an occasional break, a manual breast pump would be your best choice. A manual breast pump is very convenient and easy to use. Read on to learn why we are rooting for it. 

What Is a Manual Breast Pump?

A manual breast pump is a breast pump that is held in place on the breast with one hand, and the milk is pumped manually with the other hand. A manual breast pump has a handle or lever that is operated manually to express the breast milk. The milk is collected in the container.

A manual breast pump is easy and simple to use, and is convenient for moms who want to express milk occasionally. This pump requires no electricity or battery, is small and handy, and can be carried anywhere. Plus, it’s also inexpensive!

What Is a Manual Breast Pump Made Of?

A manual breast pump is usually made up of silicone and non-toxic and lead-free materials, as they ensure a safe breast pumping experience for new moms. It mainly consists of three parts: 

  • Pump – A pump helps create a vacuum to extract milk from the breast. In a basic manual pump, you will find the pump either directly attached to the breast shield or through a plastic tube.
  • Breast Shield– A breast shield is a cone-shaped cup that is placed over the nipples or the areolas in order to extract the milk from the nipples.
  • Container– A breast pump usually has a bottle connected to the cone-shaped breast shield, which is called a container. The expressed milk gets collected in this container.

Types of Manual Breast Pumps

Manual pumps can be classified into two types: handle pumps and suction pumps. Let’s understand the difference between the two.

1. Handle Pumps

Handle pumps look like electric pumps, but they don’t require electricity or batteries to express breast milk. To use a handle pump, you will have to press it against the nipple or the areola of one breast with one hand, and operate the handle manually. The milk will be pumped in the bottle attached to the breast shield.

2. Suction Pumps

You may have a hard time believing that a suction pump is a breast pump, because it looks nothing like a breast pump. It is more like a small vase, made of silicone.

To use this pump, attach the open area of the pump to your nipple, positioning it correctly, to establish suction. Then squeeze the base of the pump to express the milk from your breast. You may have to put in a little effort to use a suction pump!

Manual Breast Pump

Why Use Manual Breast Pumps

Manual breast pumps are convenient for moms who don’t pump often. Manual breast pumps don’t require electricity or batteries to express milk. They also don’t make sound; you can use them anywhere, anytime. They are inexpensive and cheaper than electric breast pumps, which makes them a feasible option for moms who don’t want to buy an expensive pump.

Manual breast pumps are also lightweight and handy. You can carry them anywhere in a handbag. Plus, they can be cleaned and sterilised easily.

How to Choose a Manual Breast Pump

Note the following points before buying a manual breast pump.

1. Usage of the Pump

Keeping in mind the usage of the pump is important, as it will help you decide whether or not you should buy a manual pump. Ask yourself the following questions to decide if you should go for a manual pump or an electric and battery-operated pump.

  • How often will you use a pump to express milk?
  • How much milk can you (and want to) pump in a single session?
  • Do you want to use a pump exclusively or in addition to breastfeeding?

Answer these questions, and you will know if you should invest in a breast pump, and if yes, then which one.

2. Place of Use

If you want to use it at your workplace, consider buying a smaller pump – a small manual breast pump will come in handy and can be used anywhere.

3. Amount of Time to Spare for Pumping

If you want to use a pump at your workplace but don’t have much time, consider buying electric pumps, as they are more efficient and can help express milk faster.

But, if you have got some time on your hands, you can buy a manual pump. If you’re working from home, and on days you don’t feel that you can breastfeed, a manual breast pump will come in handy. You can express breast milk and save it for later use to feed your little one.

4. Portability

If you’re travelling with your baby and want to carry a breast pump, you should choose a small manual breast pump that can easily fit in your handbag. A manual pump is easy to assemble and won’t take up lot of space in your bag.

5. Instructions on the Pump

The instructions to assemble, use, clean and sterilise the manual pump should be easy to understand. Before you buy a manual pump for its design, make sure you go through its instruction manual carefully. You don’t want to spend money on something you will never use.

6. The Breast Shield of the Pump

While buying a manual pump, do check the size of the breast shield. It should match the size of your areolas. You can check the website of the particular brand of breast pump you’re considering buying, and pick the one that matches your size.

7. The Overall Appearance of the Pump

Before settling for an attractive pump, you may want to make sure that it is easy to hold and operate. Avoid buying a pump that is bulky and difficult to use.

8. Suction of the Pump

 If you don’t want to end up with sore or engorged breasts, check the suction of the pump you’re planning to buy. The suction created should be right for your milk supply, not more or less. If it’s more, you may have sore and painful breasts post pumping sessions, and if it’s less, you may have engorged breasts.

How to Use a Manual Breast Pump

If you’re convinced that a hand breast pump is right for you, then learn how you can use it the right way. Before you use the breast pump, make sure its parts are clean and sterilised. Next, wash your hands and find a calm place where you can relax and pump. Then follow the guidelines below to pump using a manual breast pump.

  1. Start with reading the instruction manual carefully to familarise yourself with the parts of the pump.
  2. Gently massage your breast to stimulate it; you can even think about your baby while doing so, as it may trigger the hormones that help release milk.
  3. Place the assembled breast pump (the breast shield, to be precise) against your breast such that the flange of the breast shield is pressed against your nipple.
  4. Begin pumping by pressing the handle rhythmically – it may take some time for the milk to start flowing.
  5. Once the milk is released and collected in the bottle, finish by hand expressing.
  6. Switch breasts to make sure you express milk through both breasts. And don’t worry if one breast produces more milk than the other!
  7. Once you’re done pumping, remove the breast shield and cover the bottle with its cap. Store the milk in the refrigerator.
  8. Dismantle the parts of the pump and wash them with soap and water, and sterilise them.
  9. Once clean, let them air-dry.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Using Manual Breast Pumps?

A manual breast pump is no doubt cost-effective and convenient to use, but it also has certain downsides to it.

  • Expressing breast milk through a manual breast pump can be a time-consuming process.
  • A manual breast pump is not as efficient as an electric or battery-operated breast pump.
  • A manual breast pump has the limited suction capability.
  • It may get difficult for you to create a regular pumping rhythm when using a manual pump.


1. How Long Can I Pump With a Manual Pump?

You can pump for 20 -25 minutes with a manual pump. However, in the initial days, you may spend 30 minutes or more pumping. Note: pump until the milk supply starts slowing down and you feel that your breasts are empty.

2. Can I Use a Manual Pump Every Day?

You can use a manual pump once daily, but new moms should wait until their babies turn six weeks old before using a breast pump. A manual pump can be used once the baby gets used to breastfeeding.

3. Is a Manual Pump Better Than an Electric Pump?

A manual pump is cheaper than an electric pump and is easy to use, but it’s not as efficient as an electric pump. If you want to pump milk quickly, you should go for an electric pump. But, if you have time and don’t fear the manual work, and if you’re planning to pump occasionally, a manual pump would be the right choice for you.

It may take you some time to get the hang of a manual pump; your hands will hurt, and you may feel frustrated if the milk doesn’t flow immediately. But, give it some time. If you plan to use a manual breast pump, read the instruction manual carefully to understand the instructions on how to use it, and follow them. However, if even after trying repeatedly, you’re unable to pump, check with a lactation consultant, who will guide you in the right direction!

Also Read:

Tips for Pumping Breast Milk at Workplace
Is Breastmilk Vegan or Not?
How to Pump and Store Breast Milk

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