Breastfeeding is one of the most special bonding experiences that you can do with your baby. You are also providing your child all the right nutrients that he/she needs including antibodies that protect him/her from viral or bacterial infections.
But sometimes it isn’t possible for us mothers to be there at every feeding especially when we have to travel or have to work in an office setting where we need to follow strict schedules. Because of these reasons, a device called the breast pump was invented. This device is used to extract milk from lactating mothers allowing us to collect and save our breast milk for our child.
There are a lot of models out there making it hard to choose, that is why we have reviewed our top 7 manual breast pump picks this 2021 so that you can weigh your options. We also wrote extra information in our buyer’s guide including the factors to consider to help you decide which model is suitable for you.
Best Manual Breast Pump Comparison Table
|Medela Harmony||Levered Pump||14.4 oz||3.1 x 4.2 x 8.1|
|Philips Avent||Levered Pump||10.4 oz||3.5 x 7.7 x 8.9|
|Lansinoh||Levered Pump||13.1 oz||19.1 x 19.6 x 10.2|
|NatureBond||Milk Catcher||8 oz.||6.5 x 3.6 x 2.8|
|Bumblebee||Levered Pump & |
|4.2 oz||6.1 x 0.4 x 6.2|
|Haakaa||Milk Catcher||5.6 oz||6 x 3 x 3|
|NUK Expressive||Levered Pump||11.4 oz||10.2 x 7.2 x 3.6|
Read Also: Best Electric Breast Pump
Best Manual Breast Pump Reviews
Medela Harmony – Editor’s Choice
There are two basic types of a manual breast pump, and we will discuss that in our buyer’s guide. Our first pick, and happens to be our top choice, is the Medela Harmony. This device is a great example of a levered pump type.
Upon buying this unit, you will get a pump, two 5 oz. bottles with lids, a bottle stand, a nipple, a collar, a cap, and two white membranes. Medela offers this product with a 24mm breast shield that is comfortable and helps for the efficient flow of milk. The manufacturer included this medium size, and you can buy different sizes separately. The sizes you can choose from are 21mm for the smallest, 27mm, 30mm, and 36mm as the largest.
We love that every part of this unit that touches the breast milk is BPA-free so that you can be sure that it is safe for your baby. Compared to all other products in this review, the model from Medela is the most expensive, but we think that you’re getting great value in exchange.
This gadget is easy to use. You attach the suction cup on your nipple, then use the swivel handle to pump the milk out. Once the milk starts to flow, you can switch to using the longer side of the handle to create a slower sucking cycle to express the majority of your milk. It sounds like it needs effort but the pump of this unit feels sturdy, and it only requires very little pressure when pressing it. The pump can owe this easy usage to the ergonomic soft-touch swivel handle design and its two-phase handle.
We mentioned earlier that this is our top pick for mothers with low milk supply, and the reason for this is because of the two-phase handle of this unit. It has two compression points for expressing milk; to start the milk flow and for collecting the let-down.
Original 2-Phase Option
Medela patented this feature which according to them, is also based on their research. It allows the mother to pump more milk in less time and resembles the baby’s natural nursing rhythm to improve efficiency and comfort.
The second phase is the expression phase that resembles slow sucking once the let-down begins. This phase requires a slower sucking rate to have a more efficient removal of milk.
Besides the 2-phase feature, this device is also easy to assemble and is small enough for travel. The provided stand also helps in preventing the bottle from tipping over when you need to pause pumping. Another reason that makes this our top pick is that it doesn’t make any noise, perfect for discrete usage. You can also wash this pump by hand or place it the dishwasher after each use.
Philips Avent – Best for Everyday Use
We’ve mentioned our first manual breast pump that has some amazing features, but our next product is something that you could use for every day. The Philips Avent Manual Pump is the device for you if everyday use is an important factor.
Upon purchasing this unit, the manufacturer has included a classic bottle with a nipple top. This is a good addition because the nipple’s shape and feel mimic the breast. These qualities help in the transition from breastfeeding to bottle in babies.
This product is best suited for mothers with small nipples because its soft, textured, massage flange is cushioned. The cushion provides tighter suction that helps in milk expression without causing too much pain.
You Can Sit Upright During Usage Because of the Pump’s Angled Neck
We called this unit best for everyday use because its unique design (angled neck) for pumping position is comfortable. You do not need to lean forward to express milk. The massage petals on the massage cushions of the flange also help in stimulating milk flow as it mimics your baby’s suckling action.
You can also use this unit easily because it has an ergonomic handle that allows you to pump using one hand without the risk of having hand cramps. We mentioned the included nipple top earlier, and you can use that directly with the milk collection container of the pump. There is no stand included with this unit but the bottle is squat-shaped anyway so having it tip over is not something to be worried about.
Some similarities this unit have with our mentioned unit are that it is lightweight, very easy to clean (dishwasher or hand washing), and BPA-free. This device has few parts that are easy to disassemble and assemble, and the lightweight and compact design make the positioning of this pump in your breast more relaxed and comfortable.
All in all, we think this model is comfortable to use every day especially for moms with small nipples. However, this pump only fits on wide-mouthed bottles and not on the standard-size bottles.
Lansinoh – Best for Moms with Large Nipples
The next device that we will review is the breast pump from Lansinoh. This unit costs less than the one from Medela but has comparable features. First is that it has an ergonomically designed lever and second is the dual-mode pumping. The ergonomic positioning of the lever is easy to press for expressing the milk without the expense of getting hand cramps.
Lansinoh also features dual-mode pumping: the stimulation phase which mimics a baby’s suction pattern to stimulate the let-down, and the expression phase that uses slower suction patterns to efficiently express the milk.
Let-down/Stimulation Mode and Expression Mode
The unit uses a 2-phase technology similar to Medela:
- The first phase is the let-down mode which you can start by putting the pump’s stem in the top notch of the handle then squeeze it to stimulate let-down.
- The second phase is the expression mode which you can begin once the breast milk starts flowing. You can start the expression mode by pushing the tip of the handle so that it will be placed on the bottom notch of the pump’s stem.
The device comes in two sizes of its flange suction cup; the standard 25 mm and the large 30.5 mm. The soft rim on the flange provides a better seal while pumping and added comfort. The large-size flange is suitable for covering large nipples to allow efficient expression of milk without the pain. It also comes with a NaturalWave nipple, a cap, two bottles, a stand, and samples of milk storage bag upon purchasing which are all useful for the baby because she/he can be fed directly from the same bottle.
Just like our mentioned models, this product from Lansinoh is easy to clean (dishwasher or hand wash) and assemble. It is also safe to use because it is BPA free.
NatureBond – Best Value Portable Breast Milk Saver
The unit from NatureBond is our best value product. You will get an FDA-approved manual breast pump made from food-grade silicone. Quality wise, NatureBond packaged it inside an airtight packaging. They also include the silicone stopper, a dust cover lid, and a carrying pouch to keep everything neat.
Because the NatureBond made their product from food-grade silicone, it only weighs 8 ounces. This built makes it easily portable and comfortable to use by attaching it and just letting it do its thing, yes, hands-free! Because it is lightweight, you can use this breast pump simultaneously when you are breastfeeding your baby to collect the milk from the other breast thus avoiding waste of milk. You can also take advantage of NatureBond’s natural suction pressure to collect let-down and relieve yourself from engorgement comfortably and painlessly.
Looking at the device from NatureBond, you can notice that there is varying thickness with its overall built. NatureBond calls this the dual ring design that works well with the breast pump’s circular flap shape both aiding in comfort during usage. The dual ring design allows you to adjust and choose the pump’s suction force (gentle, medium, and strong) according to what makes you feel comfortable.
There are also no pouring spouts in the pump which is a design advised by lactation consultants to avoid the feeling of “piercing” on the skin that makes moms uncomfortable. We think that these tweaks in the pump design that NatureBond offers will make pumping and let-down collection more personalized and really comfortable for every mom.
When it comes to usage, as we have discussed, there is no doubt about the comfort with the NatureBond. But apart from it being lightweight and designed to fit you comfortably, Naturebond is also free from BPA, PVC, phthalate, and lead. Freedom from these chemicals gives you a peace of mind, especially that this unit comes in contact with your baby’s milk.
And to make you feel safer, this unit is also laboratory tested and certified by Bureau Veritas. This is an international certification agency that tests, inspects, and certifies consumer products. According to NatureBond, the lactation nurses in the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital also recommend their device.
Moms, No More Crying Over Spilled Milk!
This NatureBond’s product has a silicone stopper to prevent the breast milk from spilling out of the pump if you accidentally tip the pump. The stopper is also designed to fit perfectly into the device without obstructing the opening of the pump, so it doesn’t interfere with milk catching. NatureBond’s silicone stopper also utilizes scallop hem (called “smart edges” by the manufacturer) that expand and contract according to the current temperature. This adaptability to temperature is useful so that the stopper is consistently in an airtight fit to the pump.
And just like our units from earlier, this pump is incredibly easy to clean and has no parts that need assembling.
BumbleBee – Best Lightweight Manual Pump for Milk Let-Down
Another unit that we’ll review is the model from Bumblebee. It costs less than the unit from NatureBond but a good option nonetheless. The manufacturer also made this pump from food-grade silicone, and they packaged it in one-carry which is excellent for traveling and portability.
You can use the Bumblebee Manual Breast pump for collecting breast milk simultaneously when you’re feeding your baby on the other breast just like NatureBond’s. Another similarity this unit has with NatureBond’s unit is that it also utilizes a stopper to prevent spills and it comes with a lid and a carrying bag as well. Design-wise, Bumblebee looks very simple and straightforward, a common trend in silicone milk catchers.
Unlike the silicone breast pump from NatureBond where you flip its flap to create suction, with Bumblebee, it is more similar with most manual breast pumps. What we mean by this is placing the pump close to your nipple and squeezing the middle base of the pump to create suction. However, we noticed that you could flip Bumblebee’s flange down as well before creating a suction with the middle base, this extra step of flipping results to a better suction fit.
Lightweight and Hands-Free
We called Bumblebee as our best lightweight manual pump for milk let-down because it only weighs 4.2 ounces. This model also does not require further manual interaction once you have achieved suction and steady milk flow. This effortless suction means you can avoid wasting milk and stop ruining your t-shirts from milk let-downs.
The Bumblebee Manual Breast Pump is easy to clean. You can wash it manually using a bottle brush, some mild soap, and warm water. If you’re in a rush, you can opt to wash it in the dishwasher too. Another option recommended by Bumblebee is placing the breast pump inside your microwave under 120 degrees although they haven’t specified for how long.
In regards to safety, this pump is free from BPA, PVC, and phthalate, so you don’t have to worry about contamination and toxicity. However, a negative feature we found in this device is the bottle’s inaccurate measurements.
Haakaa – Best for Milk Let-Down and Passive Pumping
If you can still recall the first unit that we’ve reviewed from Medela, that unit is a levered type of manual breast pump. On the other hand, this device from Haakaa is an example of another type of device; the silicone model/milk catcher. You can check our buyer’s guide to be enlightened about this type. The units from NatureBond and BumbleBee are also silicone models.
The more affordable device from Haakaa is worth mentioning when it comes to simplicity of usage. In regards to safety, it is made from food-grade silicone and like our previous silicone models, it is free from BPA, PVC, and phthalate. The product is also dishwasher safe, or you can choose to sterilize it via steam or boiling water.
No Effort Pump
Back to the simplicity of usage, creating suction is similar to the models we reviewed from NatureBond and Bumblebee. You set the neck of the pump comfortably on your nipple and apply suction to start milk flow. Note that with Haakaa, you might need to adjust a couple of times to make sure the pump is attached securely when you squeeze the pump’s base. Once the milk starts flowing, you can leave the pump to collect the milk for you hands-free.
Because Haakaa is soft, you can pinch it to form a spout for emptying the collected milk in a glass storage bottle. After transfer, you can reposition the pump and start collecting again.
Avoid Wasted Spilled Milk
Another way that you can use this device from Haakaa, just like with other silicone models, is while you are simultaneously feeding your child on your other breast; you could use this pump to catch the milk for you. You can also use this pump to relieve yourself from engorgement. Haakaa works silently too, so you don’t have to worry with discretion during usage.
Because it is compact (6 x 3 x 3 inches) with no need for additional assembly, and at the same time, pumps quietly, the Haakaa product is the best option for those moms who travel a lot and are looking for a more affordable yet discrete alternative to NatureBond.
We also recommend that you use the unit from Haakaa as a passive milk catcher for let-down or as an occasional relief rather than using it as a pump. However, we are disappointed that Haakaa sells the caps for this unit separately. Caps are useful accessories to keep the pump sterile after using and are usually included with most manual pumps.
NUK Expressive – Most Affordable
If you’re looking for a device that gives you control over suction and speed, the product from NUK is an affordable pump you can start with. Upon purchasing the unit, you will get a pump with silicone breast shield (one size only), a 5 oz. breast milk container, a collar, a cap, a seal disk for storage, a container stand, and an extra silicone valve.
Design-wise, the handle of NUK Expressive is ergonomically aligned closer to the milk collection bottle which makes one-hand pumping possible. This ergonomic handle also prevents your hand from fatiguing. Speaking of comfort, NUK Expressive’s breast shield, although only available in one size, is comfortably soft to touch; but more on that later. We also appreciate that this unit isn’t composed of a lot of parts that need assembling which makes this device easy to clean.
Customized Suction and Speed
You can customize the suction and speed during pumping using NUK Expressive’s handle. First, you have to press down the handle faster when you start pumping to promote milk let-down. Afterward, you can press the handle slower once the milk starts flowing. This change in suction and speed by pressing the handle mimics a baby’s natural deep suckling.
The soft silicone breast shield of this pump also has massaging rings that aids in comfort as you pump. It is also shaped to fit your breast to help with the stimulation of let-down and efficiency of milk flow while pumping.
Some drawbacks we have with this model is it produces a loud squeaking noise during pumping. We also managed to collect less milk compared to the pricier units that we reviewed, and you have to make sure that the silicone breast shield and valve are securely attached to the milk collection bottle as you pump.
Best Manual Breast Pump Buyer’s Guide
Types of Manual Breast Pump
Manual devices are simpler and more straightforward compared to their electric counterparts. But to understand more about their usage, let us define what these two types are.
You can distinguish this type of manual breast pump easily because they look like air horns. It is made out of a nipple shield attached to a valve that opens into a bottle/milk catcher. It is a pretty common type of breast pump that mothers use by pumping the lever to create suction at the breast for drawing the milk out.
Like the first unit we’ve reviewed from Medela, there are levered manual breast pumps that go two ways: a small pump for encouraging milk let-down and a larger pump after the milk starts flowing. There are also units that you can use using one hand to pump, and units that have a cushioned part that is designed to go between the breast and the cup.
Milk Catcher/ Silicone Model
An example of this type is the unit we’ve reviewed from Haakaa. This type of pump is suited for passive pumping and relieving of the engorged breast. You can also use this model to avoid waste of milk when you’re feeding your child on the other breast.
This type is made out of a single-piece of food-grade silicone that fits around your nipple. To use this type as a passive milk catcher, you could fit the pump on the breast while you are feeding your child on the other. You can also manually squeeze the milk reservoir to create suction and pump milk out.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Manual Breast Pump
A breast pump is indeed reliable and gives mothers freedom while making sure their child gets their “superfood.” However, choosing which exact unit is not easy because you have to consider factors as well.
Ease of Usage
You’ve seen this trait a lot in our reviews, and that is because it is an essential factor to consider. Manual breast pumps already require “manual” effort compared to their electric counterparts and if you are going to use this device, might as well go with the unit that will not cramp your hands. You can revisit our reviews, and check the units with ergonomic handles.
Using a breast pump is quite intimate, and if you don’t feel comfortable while using this device, it can hinder milk production. It can also make a very simple task stressful, and you might end up dreading when you know it’s time to use it. You can quickly get used to the feeling, and a lot of models have adjustable suction and speed settings to suit every woman. There are also varying sizes of cups to make the experience not painful.
There are also models like the device we’ve reviewed from Philips Avent that has an angled neck so that you can sit up straight while pumping.
Noise and Portability
There are a lot of models that make squeaking sound while using. The noise is not a big deal, but if you’re traveling or if you’re using it somewhere, it might feel uncomfortable. For discretion, the sound produced, and the size/weight of the device are equally important. You can check our comparison table to see which unit has the ideal dimensions for you especially if you’re going to travel with your breast pump.
Ease of Cleaning
Hygiene is essential, and you can achieve this easily by proper cleaning and sterilization of your breast pump. Manual pumps can harbor bacteria if they are not cleaned properly and this can be detrimental for you and your baby. Be sure to sterilize before and after usage.
Even though breast pumps are pretty straightforward, having too many parts can be difficult especially when it comes to cleaning them. That is why all the units we’ve reviewed are easy to assemble and disassemble. You can also check the units in our review that includes carrying pouches, stands, and even extra bottles.
In conclusion, having a manual breast pump is the solution for busy moms to provide the best food for their child. Breast milk is abundant in nutritional components, antioxidants, enzymes, immune properties, and live antibodies from mother. These lead to a stronger immune system, and fewer illnesses and infection contracted by the baby.
Mother can also benefit from having this device because she can relieve the pain caused by engorgement due to failure of milk removal. Having the milk stored will also allow family members to bond with the child without having to settle for formula.
Our top pick is the Medela Harmony because of its easy-to-use 2-phase technology and discrete usage. If you’re looking for a passive pump for milk catching, we recommend the NatureBond for its overall great value.
At the end of the day, you have to consider your personal preferences when choosing your manual breast pump. Do you require the levered pump type or the milk catcher type? You can reread the factors to consider in our buyer’s guide so that you can tailor the unit according to your needs and wants. You can also revisit our reviews to weigh the pros and cons of each unit.
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