Manual vs. Electric Breast Pump: Which One Should you Choose?

Manual vs Electric Breast Pump

Doctors advise breastfeeding exclusively for babies who are younger than six months. There is no substitute for mother’s milk as it contains all the nutrients your little one needs. At this time, babies need to be fed on demand and that can be multiple times a day.  

The complication begins when the new mother is unable to feed the baby directly, or if the baby is unable to latch on. That’s when you are required to press milk out of your breast and feed it to your baby, either by a bottle or spoon.

This can be particularly tiring and time-consuming for new mothers. That’s when breast pumps can be used to solve your milk pressing problems.

What is a Breast Pump?

What is a Breast Pump?

Not all babies are able to latch properly. Due to being premature or other health conditions, they are unable to feed directly from the breast. Sometimes mothers have to be separated from the baby for a job or other urgent issues. But in both these situations, babies need to be fed and breast milk is the best food you can give them.

The machine used to extract milk from the breast is called a breast pump. It is very useful in the above situations. Before breast pumps, mothers had to press the milk by hand. Breast pumps were invented around 1854. While it doesn’t feel the same to a nursing baby, it helps new mothers very much.

There are two types of breast pumps out there – a manual breast pump and an electric breast pump. 

Related Read: Breastfeeding Tips: A Guide for New Moms

Reasons for Using a Breast Pump

Reasons for Using a Breast Pump

There are many reasons to use a breast pump, whether you’re a working mom or not. Below, we discuss the most important ones:

When the Baby is Unable to Feed by Themselves

Sometimes a baby can’t feed on their own. This might be because they are premature, or because the mother and baby have been separated for some reason. Under these conditions, milk must be extracted as soon as possible using a breast pump.

When you’re a Working Mother

A breast pump is a great way to continue breastfeeding after you go back to work. You can extract milk using a breast pump at work or before leaving home. Then this milk can be bottle fed to the baby. A breast pump also helps to increase lactation for mothers with low milk flow.

To Reduce Breast Pain

You may have produced more milk than your baby is able to drink. The extra amount of milk causes pain and could lead to further infection in the breasts. Breast pumps can help you to get rid of any excess milk easily.

Donating the Milk

You can also donate your breast milk to another baby. Mothers whose babies have just stopped breastfeeding or whose babies are not with them anymore can use a breast pump to get out any remaining breast milk. 

Important Read: Best Glass Baby Bottles – A Complete Buyer’s Guide

 Which is Better, Electric or Manual?

Which is Better, Electric or Manual?

There are two types of breast pumps: manual and electric. Electric pumps also have the option of double pumping. We’ll discuss the benefits of each type below.

Manual Pump

You have to operate a manual breast pump by hand, working on one breast at a time. Manual pumps are more affordable than electric ones. It’s a good option if you are on a tight budget. These pumps are lightweight, easy to carry and don’t take up a lot of space.

It can be used by mothers who don’t need to pump a lot. And because it’s easy to carry, mothers can carry it around with them so they can use it whenever they need to.

However, manual pumps take more time and can be tiring for the wrists as it requires the use of both hands to operate. A manual pump may not be ideal for you if your baby is bottle fed as it requires more time and energy.

Electric Pump

An electric pump can be a wise choice if budget is not an issue for you. They are quite expensive but worth the money spent. They work much faster than manual pumps. You can use an electric pump easily at work or when you need to press more milk in a short amount of time.

Compared to manual pumps, electric pumps have a better suction capacity which helps with the let-down reflex. Electric pumps are the best choice for working mothers to use both at home and the workplace.

However, the electric pump is not as travel-friendly as the manual pump and may not be necessary if you don’t need to pump a large quantity at a time. 

Additional Read: Best Nursery Glider Rocking Chair for Happy Nursing

How to Use A Manual Breast Pump

How to Use A Manual Breast Pump

Choosing which breast pump will be most effective for you is the first step. There are various models of breast pumps available on the market. If you choose a manual breast pump, you can follow the below instructions to operate it properly.

Before Using A Manual Breast Pump

  • Read the instruction manual thoroughly.
  • Clean the pump instruments with soap and warm water. Clean narrow tube/funnels as much as possible. Don’t forget to clean your hands before you start pumping.
  • Find a private and quiet place to sit where you feel comfortable.
  • Assemble the various parts of the pump if required.

Tips on How to Use It Properly

  • Attach the breast shield to your nipple.
  • Make sure that you’re using the right size breast shield for you as the wrong size can cause the suction to fail which can be painful.
  • Place the shield in the middle position.
  • Start to pump. Squeeze or plunge the handle to create the suction effect.
  • Holding the shield in place with your hand might help the process.
  • Think positive. This really affects the milk flow.
  • You may need to pump for a few minutes before the milk starts flowing. Milk will be stored in the attached bottle.
  • Try to adjust the pumping speed to that of your baby latching for better milk flow. Reposition the handle if necessary.
  • Leaning forward can help the milk flowing process.
  • Change sides every 10 to 12 minutes.
  • You may need to pump for 45 to 60 minutes to get the desired quantity.
  • Don’t worry if each breast doesn’t produce the same amount of milk; this is normal.

What to do After Pumping

  •  If the milk flow has stopped then you should stop pumping immediately.
  • When you’re done, detach the breast shield and carefully remove the bottle from the shield.
  • Be careful not to spill the milk.
  • Close the bottle and keep it in a cool, dry place.
  • Breast milk stays fresh at room temperature for about six hours, four to five days in the fridge and six to 12 months in the freezer.
  • Clean the used parts with soap and warm water and let it air dry. 

Important Read: Reviews of the Top Five Best Manual Breast Pumps

How to Use An Electric Breast Pump

How to Use An Electric Breast Pump

Using an electric pump requires a lot less effort. Following instructions can be helpful for using an electric breast pump.

Before Using An Electric Breast Pump

  • Follow the instruction manual properly.
  • Every model is different and will parts that have to be put together by hand.
  • With a new electric pump, make sure you clean it well with a dry cloth, soap, and warm water.
  • Set the breast pump somewhere close to a plug point.
  • Be careful if there are children around.
  • Wash your hands before starting the process.
  • Attach the breast shields to your nipple.
  • If you are using a double pumping machine, then attach the shields to both breasts at the same time.
  • Double pumping saves a lot of your time.

Tips on How to Use It Properly

  • Start the machine; check if it is working properly.
  • In the beginning, you can hold the shields for better adjustment
  • It might take a few minutes to start the milk flow.
  • Some modern electric breast pumps adjust the pumping speed for better milk flow.
  • If your one doesn’t do that you can adjust the speed yourself. You must not feel any pain.
  • Stay relaxed and think about your baby. It helps increase milk flow.
  • As it is a machine you might feel a bit uncomfortable for some time but don’t worry, it will go away soon.

After Finishing Pumping

  • Stop the pump when you feel the milk flow has slowed.
  • Each breast should not be stimulated for longer than 15 minutes by an electric breast pump.
  • Carefully remove the bottle from the shields then remove the shields from the breasts.
  • Close the bottles and store the milk in a cool, dry place or in the fridge or freezer.
  • When you’re done, clean the machine and wash the used parts with soap and warm water. 

Related Read: Top 5 Best Nursing Covers – Breastfeeding Moms Choice


According to the World Health Organization, it’s recommended to breastfeed for the first six months. They also recommended continuing breastfeeding while solid foods are given for up to two years of age. Using a breast pump allows you to extract your nutritious breast milk if you are unable to breastfeed your child directly. 

Both types of breast pumps discussed above have their merits and demerits. You should choose the one that suits your needs. Make sure you do your research about the different breast pumps available before making a purchase. 

More Read: 25 Essential Parenting Tips for All New Moms

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