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Top 5 Best Manual Breast Pumps | 2017 Reviews

May 31, 2016
Top 5 Best Manual Breast Pumps

Top 5 Best Manual Breast Pumps | 2017 Reviews

Today’s society is built on speed. Fast food, fast Internet service, “fast lanes” on highways – we’re always in a hurry and always looking for the alternative which will save us hours, minutes or even seconds. That’s why many new mothers who decide to breast feed opt for electric breast pumps. They can express more milk, more quickly, than any manual pump could ever produce.

Yet there are still millions of women who decide against electric pumps in favor of more traditional manual breast pumps. Some may just be reluctant to put an electrically-powered device onto one of the most sensitive and private areas of their bodies and some are just inclined toward doing things naturally. Others, though, look at the many advantages of the slow-but-steady approach. Manual pumps are easy to assemble, easy to use and easy to tuck into a purse or backpack. In most cases, they’re more hygienic and more comfortable because you control the pumping action instead of a machine. Naturally, they’re quiet and therefore much more discrete than electric models. And they’re considerably less expensive.

Even a product as “simple” as a manual breast pump can have – or lack – many features which make the process of expressing and storing milk an easier task. Some will let you use virtually any size of bottle while others can only be used with one brand or size. Some will include extras to make the pumping process more comfortable, such as cushioned or different-sized shields. The physical size and shape of the pump is also important, since it can be terribly uncomfortable to hold a poorly-designed unit with one hand for ten, fifteen or twenty minutes.

We’ve done all the work of sorting through hundreds of available models, so that all you’ll have to do is choose between them. You may also check our comprehensive manual breast pump buying guide.

Here’s our list of the top 5 best manual breast pumps.

Quick Comparison Table

Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump

Ameda One Hand Breast Pump

Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump

Tommee Tippee Manual Breast Pump

Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump
Ameda One Hand Breast Pump
Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump
Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump
Tommee Tippee Manual Breast Pump

$$$

$$$

$$$

$$$

$$$

14.4 ounces

4.5 ounces

12 ounces

12.8 ounces

1.1 pounds

9 x 4 x 8 in.

10 x 7 x 3 in.

4 x 8 x 9 in.

7 x 8 x 4 in.

6 x 5 x 9 in.

Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump

Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump

Medela is justifiably well-known for its electric breast pumps. This is the only manual model it offers – and it’s a good one. What really sets the Harmony apart from most of its competitors is that Medela has found a way to implement the same computer-controlled “two-phase expression” approach that makes its electric models so effective, in a manual pump.

The two phases are designed to simulate the nursing process, to make expression easier and more comfortable. At first, the pump creates a short, fast sucking motion to stimulate what’s known as “let down,” which is when milk first begins to flow. Then, it provides slower, stronger suction to actually express the milk. On Medela’s electric pumps, this is handled by the machine (with controls to adjust the settings). The Harmony’s lower-tech approach is to provide two separate pumping levers, one for let down and one for expression; you simply use the first, shorter lever to start, and switch to the longer lever when the milk is flowing. This may sound like “poor man’s engineering” – but it works, and works very well.

The Harmony is as easy to use as any manual pump can be. As long as you have the hand strength to keep pumping, you’ll find that you can express milk as quickly and efficiently as with an electric pump. If not, this (or any other manual pump) is best used for spot duty when you’re on the road or somewhere that you want to stay “under the radar.” Putting the unit together is a piece of cake; the pump and swivel handle (remember, it has two levers on it) attach to the collection bottle, the collection flange attaches to the pump, and you’re set to go. It comes apart in seconds, too, and is very easy to clean and dishwasher-safe. All of the parts will fit easily in a diaper or tote bag.

The breast shields aren’t padded, but this is still a very comfortable pump to use since you control the speed at which it expresses milk, and the two-stage design lessens stress and breast soreness. Another thing this Medela pump has going for it is how quiet it is. All manual units are going to be much quieter than electric ones, but the Harmony isn’t just quiet, it’s q-u-i-e-t. You truly can use it anywhere and not worry about the noise attracting attention.

Along with the pump, the set comes with two five-ounce bottles (with lids) and a stand to hold one full bottle while you’re using the second. We couldn’t find anything to argue against this as the #1 entrant on our list of top 5 best manual breast pumps, other than the fact that it’s slightly more expensive than a few of its competitors, at around $30. We think it’s well worth it.

Details of the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump

Special Features

Two-stage pumping including let down mode

Breast Shields

One 24mm, other sizes sold separately

Accessories

Two 5-ounce bottles with lids, bottle stand

BPA-free

Yes

Weight

14.4 ounces

Size

9 x 4 x 8 inches

Warranty

Thirty days, limited

Ameda One Hand Breast Pump

Ameda One Hand Breast Pump

The Harmony is convenient because of its simplicity and weight, but the Ameda manual pump is just as simple and only one-third the weight – making this the best choice if your overwhelming desire is for a compact pump. It’s also the most versatile when it comes to collection bottles; it can pump directly into most standard baby bottles and not just branded collection bottles (although it does come with a four-ounce Ameda bottle and cap).

Assembling this unit is even easier than with the Medela manual pump, even though that didn’t seem possible at first; the reason is that the breast shield is already attached to the pump. The handle is set at a very different angle than with most pumps so it takes some getting used to if you’ve tried other models before, but it works fine once you’ve gotten the hang of it. Since this unit doesn’t have two-stage pumping (only the Medela and the Lansinoh we’ll review later do) it will be somewhat less comfortable to use over the long term, but putting that aside, it’s comfortable enough so that you don’t feel like you’ve gone through an ordeal after the milk has been expressed. Cleaning is a snap as well.

There’s one big drawback to this pump: after a bit of use, the handle begins squeaking – loudly. The issue is easily corrected, though, by applying a bit of Vaseline to the pump joints. (There’s not much that Vaseline won’t take care of, when there’s a baby in the house.) This is a “bare-bones” model, but when you’re looking for simple and light, bare-bones can be a very good thing. The Ameda sells for about $35.

Details of the Ameda One Hand Breast Pump

Special Features

None

Breast Shields

One 25mm, other sizes sold separately

Accessories

One 4-ounce bottle with lid

BPA-free

Yes

Weight

4.5 ounces

Size

10 x 7 x 3 inches

Warranty

None

Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump

Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump

There’s nothing wrong with the Avent manual pump, and some would find that one of its advantages is a difference-maker: the rubber cushioning that’s inside the breast shield which has five textured petals (sort of like a flower) that’s supposed to help with let down to encourage the flow of milk. We’ve found that for some women it makes the pumping experience more comfortable, while others complain that it makes things more difficult when you’re trying to settle the shield comfortably and end up removing the cushion completely. We score this one “personal preference.”

The angle of this pump’s handle makes it difficult to use with just one hand, so we don’t think the overall user experience is quite as comfortable or convenient. But it doesn’t leave your breast sore after use, and it’s right near the top of the list when it comes to completeness; unlike most competitors, you’ll find there’s very little milk left to express once you’ve finished pumping.

The Avent is a bit more difficult to put together and take apart than our first two selections but it’s not anything to be afraid of. All of the parts go into the dishwasher once you’ve hand-cleaned all the nooks and crannies inside the pump mechanism. There are two negatives to be aware of, though. One is that the pump only accommodates Avent wide-mouth bottles (one is included, along with a cap and breast-shaped nipple), and the other is that there’s a squeaking issue with the handle, often caused by stuck milk solids – meaning it’s time for a good cleaning. This wasn’t our favorite manual pump, but it does the job for less than $30.

Details of the Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump

Special Features

Rubber massage cushion inside shield

Breast Shields

One 28mm, other sizes sold separately

Accessories

One 4-ounce bottle with breast-shaped nipple

BPA-free

Yes

Weight

12 ounces

Size

4 x 8 x 9 inches

Warranty

Two years

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump

Here’s the other manual pump that has two-stage expression, a new feature for Lansinoh manual breast pumps. Unfortunately, when they released this new version they removed several other nice features which had been pluses on their previous models – which is why this one is only at #4 on our list.

We’ll look at the two-stage function first. It’s easier to use than on the Medela Harmony because you just flip a switch right on top of the pump to change modes (as opposed to the two separate handles on the Harmony). It does a good job of stimulating the let down to get things flowing before stronger pumping expresses the milk. This works best for most women, and is a more comfortable process overall. There’s a different comfort issue connected with the redesign, though; Lansinoh replaced the breast shield padding that was standard on the previous model with a purple ring that aids in expressing milk but isn’t as soft. Some with smaller hands may also find the curved handle problematic, because pumping can get tiring very quickly when you can’t fully wrap your hand around the handle.

A feature of the Lansinoh that we wish more manufacturers would copy is the inclusion of two different-sized flanges, a standard 25mm shield and a larger 30.5mm one. This is a common sense idea which doesn’t cost the company much, but saves customers a lot of time searching for the right sized flange. An Ameda feature that we wish Lansinoh had copied, or at least kept from its previous model, is compatibility with an assortment of bottles. This pump is designed to only fit wide-mouth “Lansinoh Momma’s Bottles” although a few other brands may work with it.

The output of this manual pump is right around average, as is the noise level (although like most, it can squeak – that’s a sign it needs to be cleaned well). The Lansinoh is fairly easy to assemble and take apart but the small pieces are quite delicate, so you have to be careful. Expect to pay around $25 for this pump.​

Details of the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump

Special Features

Two-stage pumping including let down mode

Breast Shields

One 25mm, one 30.5mm

Accessories

Two wide-neck bottles, nipple and cap, bottle stand

BPA-free

Yes

Weight

12.8 ounces

Size

7 x 8 x 4 inches

Warranty

None specified

Tommee Tippee Manual Breast Pump

Tommee Tippee Manual Breast Pump

There are some definite benefits to the Tommee Tippee pump. It only has three parts, so it’s a snap to assemble, disassemble and clean. It comes with a microwave sterilizer case, so you can just drop it into the case for quick sterilization, as well as two milk storage pods. It’s quiet (with occasional squeaking issues after a while), comfortable and cute-looking.

You knew there was a “but…” coming, didn’t you? Here’s the issue: the flange is extremely large, so unless you have breasts to match, you’ll find that you may have more milk leaking down your body than collecting in the bottle. This is also the most expensive model on our list at around $45, probably because of the microwave case, and it’s only compatible with Tommee Tippee bottles – but they do make a great bottle.

If you have the breast size to match the extra-large shield, this is a good choice. Otherwise, you’d do better looking higher on our list.

Details of the Tommee Tippee Manual Breast Pump

Special Features

None

Breast Shields

One XL (exact size not specified)

Accessories

One 5-ounce bottle with lid and nipple, two milk storage pods, microwave sterilizer box

BPA-free

Yes

Weight

1.1 pounds

Size

6 x 5 x 9 inches

Warranty

None specified



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