How Does a Manual Breast Pump Work

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

As an impending parent and mom, you might be wondering the best ways to feed your child in the first few months of its life.

While the whole bottled milk versus breast milk debate carries on, we’ve decided to put together an article dedicated purely on how manual breast pumps work.

Remember that whatever you feel most comfortable with will always be your best option; it might seem adventurous to go for something you have never tried before and while this could be good in terms of experience, choosing what you feel appropriate is best.

Some people choose to spend money on an electric breast pump, but others would rather save the money and put a little more effort into expressing their milk.

What is a Manual Breast Pump?

Essentially, they are the lighter, smaller, and more efficient way of expressing your milk through a breast pump. Compared to electric pumps they are a lot more affordable and they mimic the way an electric pump would work; however, they are used manually.

There is often a breast shield or cup that goes around the breast and is placed over your nipple, then a hand pumping motion is needed to create a vacuum over the breast and allow the milk to flow. The milk is then naturally caught into the container that is attached to the breast cup.

Whereas a manual breast pump may seem like a lot more effort as you manually have to express your milk, when it comes to reviews, a lot of people suggest getting a manual breast pump if it’s your first baby as they’re cheaper and if you decide to switch over to formula then it won’t be as much of a loss in terms of money.

The basics of a manual breast pump are all pretty standard and consistent throughout all of the different brands or make you will come across; however, size can vary. This is very useful to know if you want to start expressing your milk when you’re not at home or you’re traveling.

Many models offer a smaller size that is more discreet in terms of expressing milk when you’re not in the comfort of your own home. A lot of new-time mothers even get two breast pumps: one for their home (which is naturally and understandably bigger) and then one for whenever they’re not (which can be smaller and a lot more lightweight so it’s easier to carry around). As a new parent (or a parent who is trying breastfeeding for the first time), you have to think of all eventualities that may arise during the day.

How Does a Manual Breast Pump Work 1

The Best Way to Use a Manual Breast Pump

There are a simple set of instructions that many people find helpful if they’ve never used a manual breast pump before or are new to trying it. This method is regularly used by many mothers and is probably easiest for any new starters that are unsure of how the whole manually pumping breast milk actually works.

It’s best to always read the manual first and wash your heads, familiarize yourself with the breast pump and find a private place where you can feel relaxed about the whole process as it may be scary at first. After the breast cup is assembled and placed onto your breast then you can begin pumping. Beware though that it can take up to 5 minutes before any milk starts expressing through the breasts and this is totally normal.

It is advised to switch breasts every 5 minutes to ensure that you get the most milk out of them. The best way you’re going to get milk expressed is if you think about your baby and the pump is pumping in a suction-like way. Once you feel there is no more breast milk to pump you can remove the breast shield and place the new cap on the bottle of breast milk.

While breast milk is still great and feedable to your baby for around 6 hours while sitting at room temperature, many advise that you refrigerate the milk and it can then be stored for up to around 3 to 5 days (if the refrigerator is cool enough).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Manual Breast Pump

Although we love manual breast pumps, there are always disadvantages with products and that’s why we thought it was only fair to share the good and the bad elements that come when using a manual breast pump.


  • They’re often a lot cheaper than other electric breast pumps as they typically sell for around $15 to $30.
  • They’re lightweight and easy to travel with
  • They’re a lot quieter than electric breast pumps.


  • It can often take a little longer to express milk than if you use an electric breast pump
  • It requires a lot more manual labor in terms of keeping a regular pumping motion on your breast while expressing milk.
  • They aren’t always what parents want in terms of ease of use.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Special offer for our visitors

Get your Pregnancy and Baby Free Guide

We will never send you spam. By signing up for this you agree with our privacy policy and to receive regular updates via email in regards to industry news and promotions