Manual Breast Pump Vs Electric: Which One Is Better For You?

Manual Breast Pump Vs Electric: Which One Is Better For You? 

You need a breast pump whether you intend to breastfeed or formula feed. So what should you choose between a manual breast pump vs electric one?

You can quickly notice these tools differ in how they work: one runs electrically while the other works manually. 

Besides, there are other factors to consider when comparing them. We will break these pumps into different sessions and compare them side by side.

Let’s have a look to find your favorite! 

What Is A Manual Breast Pump? 

A manual pump allows nursing mothers to extract and collect breast milk without the need of a battery or a power source.

The convenience of this pump is undeniable. You may express milk anywhere it is most comfortable and convenient for you.


Although manual pumps are still relatively basic, they have progressed a long way over the years. Yet, the ease of use remains the same. Here is how to work with it: 

  • Make sure that your hands are clean. 
  • Begin hand-expressing by softly massaging the breast in a pumping pattern, pressing and drawing it out, then relaxing as it returns to its original shape.
  • After stimulating your breasts, place a nipple in the flange of the manual pump and press it flat against the breast.
  • Push the pump handle gently in a smooth, rhythmical motion to mimic your child’s feeding patterns.
  • Repeat steps 3 and 4 on your other breast. To stimulate milk production, shift between the breasts repeatedly. 
  • Finally, express by hand.


There are two main types of manual breast pumps:

Active pumps

An active pump is a suction device that you physically operate using a lever to activate suction power. It features a breast shield to link to the pump body. 

There is a diaphragm in the pump body. It produces the suction pressure that draws milk from the breasts, past the flange, and then into the storage container through a valve. 

Passive pumps

The passive tool is quite new. It employs natural suction to form a barrier that can trigger a moderate release and collect milk flow. 

You can use this product separately or with other pumps or when your baby is breastfeeding. 

The tool works manually to extract milk 

What Is An Electric Breast Pump? 

Electric breast pumps are perfect for parents who are often away from their newborns due to school or work. 

These tools can also work well for those who only pump to nurse their infants with breast milk from a bottle.

These pumps appear to be the most productive at extracting milk, and they don’t require any physical work.


You can adjust the pressure speed and power using these breast pumps. Many products, such as the Medela breast pump, feature a mechanism that imitates a child’s suckling by triggering release with quick suction.

The instructions for using this tool are as follows: 

  • Make sure that your hands are clean. 
  • Check that the breast shield, tubing, milk container, and pump are all in place.
  • Place the breast shield on top of the breast.
  • Center the tunnel and gently press it down on your nipple. The tunnel should be three to four millimeters bigger than your nipple. 
  • Switch on the pump to a low-intensity mode. Remember to care for your child when stimulating the let-down impulse. 
  • Gradually raise the pressure. Continue adjusting until breastmilk starts flowing.
  • Cleanse the breast shield and all components that come into touch with milk after every usage. Check the handbook for detailed cleaning methods. 


You can choose one from these three electric pumps:


A double electric breast pump is the most popular option. It has two bodies: one with flanges that adhere to the nipple and the other with a diaphragm that extracts milk.

Double electric pumps help you work with both breasts, making them so favorable among mothers. 


This product is of high quality with a lot of suction, making it the most powerful in releasing milk. 


This option fits right into your breast, helping you pump hands-free and without the need for an outlet. 

The electrically-operated tools can work powerfully 

Differences Between Manual Breast Pump Vs Electric 

An electric breast pump uses an electric motor to pump milk automatically.

Meanwhile, a manual breast pump does not use a motor but uses a hand muscle to pump milk.

Electric breast pumps are usually larger and consist of one or two pump bodies (single pump and double pump). Its cost is higher than electric pumps.

When comparing these pumps, there are many things to look at, including design, feeling, cost, noise, and cleaning. 


The design of manual breast bumps is quite simple due to its operation. Meanwhile, the electric pumps have more parts. 

Manual breast pumps

The number and design of the components may change depending on the model. Yet, most of these devices have three main parts:

  • Flange

The pump features a silicone flange (also known as a breast shield). It also has a comfortable and secure fit.

  • Expression modes

The majority of models offer two modes of phase expression. The grip has two sides that can imitate the sucking motion of your child.

  • Collection bottle

The handle rests on top of the collecting bottle. Hence, manual pumps are often heavy. 

Some pumps come with a bottle holder that makes it easy to lay the pump down without the risk of it sliding off.

Electric breast pumps

Electric breast pumps come with more parts, including:

  • Power source 

Some pumps are battery-powered and rechargeable, so you don’t have to plug them all the time. A car outlet adaptor is also available for other pumps.

  • Expression modes

The speed of your device and the volume of suction it requires depend on the expression modes. 

Customizing the expression modes will allow you to collect the most breastmilk while being as pleasant as possible. 

  • Hands-free pump

Some of the latest units feature flanges and milk storage bottles that fit inside your bra. 

You don’t need any tubes, power source, or wire. Hence, you can do everything you want while pumping.

  • Carrying-case

Some of the greatest electric breast pump makers now sell carrying bags made for their products.

They are compatible with the motor, but many offer additional features such as insulated bags for bringing extracted milk back.

The electric model has more components 


Because all breast pumps operate toward the same objective, they might all feel the same. 

However, there are some minor differences. You’ll have to test them all to find out the best match for you.

You can control the strength and speed of each manual pump because you’ll be operating it yourself. Hence, you can adjust it to your comfort. 

On the other hand, electric breast pumps offer a steady and consistent milk supply. They also provide more suction power than manual breast pumps.

The electric pump usually alternates between release and suction, which is unlike breastfeeding your child.

Some models allow you to control completely 


It’s critical to have a breast pump that you can work with wherever you go. Some pumps are noisy and clumsy, while others are quiet and discreet.

Manual breast pumps are often silent because they do not employ a motor to express the milk. With specific models, though, you may notice a squeak while pressing.

Electric breast pumps, particularly those certified for use in hospitals, are loud. As the pumps operate, you’ll constantly hear the engine humming.


Although you will repeatedly pump a day, mothers on a tight budget may not be able to purchase an electric pump.

Manual pumps are substantially less costly than electric models, primarily single electric ones. 

Even if you can’t afford a luxury device, you should strive to buy the best one or opt for a manual product. 

Although some excellent, inexpensive options are available, some of the less expensive devices are prone to cracking or do not have powerful enough suction to extract a sufficient volume of milk.

Models that run electrically cost more 


Due to the numerous components involved, cleaning a breast pump is challenging.

Cleaning an electric breast pump is significantly more difficult. They include additional components, and the leaky water might destroy the entire machine if you don’t clean it correctly.

You should thoroughly wash all of these components between usage for the safest and best results.

Cleaning may be challenging

We have checked some significant differences between the pumps. This comparison table will help you sum up. 

Manual Breast Pump Electric Breast Pump
Design Simple design and components  More complicated with extra features 
Feeling Depending on your adjustment More steady and less dependable 
Noise Silent  Quite loud 
Cost Cost-effective  Expensive
Cleaning  Easy Arduous 


Pros And Cons Of Electric Breast Pump vs. Manual Breast Pump

Every product has advantages and disadvantages. Before buying, you should consider both sides. 

Manual pumps


  • Size: Compact enough to be portable and easily fit in a diaper bag.
  • Simple design: Fewer parts to clean and replace the parts are simpler.
  • Complete control: You have complete control over the suction volume and speed.


  • Time-consuming: You need more time to express milk using this unit.
  • Less productive: This product is less potent than its competitor.

Electric pumps


  • Technology: You will be using advanced technology to boost your milk production.
  • Time-saving: If you need to pump a lot of breast milk, this tool can save you time.
  • Hands-free pumping: There is less labor required while pumping.
  • Options: The device comes with numerous settings for suction and speed.


  • Noisy: You should expect unpleasant noise when you run this unit.
  • Components: There are more parts in an electric pump, asking you to care more about them.
  • Less control: The unit can be less comfortable since you can’t control everything.
  • Power source needed: You have to supply the tool with enough power to run. 

Buying Guides 

The buying guides of a breast pump are not the same if you opt for a different type of model. Here are some tips for getting the ideal product. 

Manual pump

Although a manual pump is cheaper than an electric pump, it’s also necessary to invest in a decent product. Here are some factors to consider for this section. 

Ease of use

The pumps can work in several ways. Some use suction and be hands-free, while others need you to hold in place and squeeze.


The mobility of a manual pump is one of its most outstanding characteristics. Pumps come in various sizes and weights. 

It’s critical to select one that is comfortable to grip for the duration of the pumping session.

Ease of cleaning

Choose a device made of food-grade silicone, which is simple to clean, does not leach toxic materials, and is mold-resistant.

Electric pump  

When selecting an electric breast pump, it’s critical to undertake your research and consider these factors:


Some electric pumps are pretty loud. Search for a model that is gentle to use.

Suction modes

The suction and settings supplied by electric pumps will vary substantially. It’s excellent to buy a hospital-grade suction with different expression settings for the most productive performance.


Different models often require various sources. Some can only run when hooked in, while others include a battery pack.


A lightweight, compact unit will make things much more straightforward, particularly while you travel often. 

Consider carefully to feed your baby in the best way

How To Choose Between A Manual Breast Pump And Electric Breast Pump? 

We’ve mentioned the advantages and disadvantages of both breast pumps. So which type suits you more? The following guides can help. 

How often do you use it? 

An electric pump is necessary for parents who pump continuously or multiple times per day while they are not around their baby. 

Manual units are a good option for parents who pump on the move because they are inexpensive, portable, and easier to clean.

Your body

Consider your body and how it produces milk. A manual unit is sufficient for some people since they can extract milk without difficulty. For some, the amount of power in this unit was not enough. 

Where you pump

Your selection of breast pumps to buy may also depend on where you pump, such as at home or in the office. 

Electric devices that use tubing to connect the motor to pump bodies are not as discreet as the in-bra models.

Your insurance coverage

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) claims that you can get a double electric breast pump from your insurance company for free. 

Patience level 

Manual products require much more time and patience to run. An electric system is ideal if you don’t want to sit for half an hour to express milk.

Choose the best breast pump to give your baby the best meals 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the manual and electric breast pump. Let’s check! 

1. Is a manual pump better than an electric one?

In general, the manual unit is cheaper and easier to use. However, it offers less power to adapt to the high demand of some parents. 

2. Do you get more milk with a manual pump?

The electric models can work more productively due to their strong motor. Hence, if you want to boost your milk supply, go for these options. 

3. How long should I manually pump my breast?

Only use the pumps for 15 to 20 minutes to get a good volume of breast milk supply. Some mothers, particularly at the start, may take 30 minutes or more.

4. Does pumping make nipples bigger?

Nipples getting bigger after pumping is a typical case. The video below will explain the reasons in detail. You can also learn how to solve the problem. 


The breast pump that works manually is easier to use and clean. However, when it comes to productivity, the electrically-operated model is superior. 

Before choosing what to buy, consider your feeding plan, body, insurance, and patience level. 

Hopefully, the comparison in this post will help you determine the more suitable product for your needs. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. 

Thank you for reading!

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