7 Simple Tips To Use A Manual Breast Pump

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You may want to be with your baby and breastfeed them regularly, but that may not always be practical. This shouldn’t deprive your baby – of your gift — your milk. And thanks to breast pumps, they don’t have to miss it.

We share with you the best rated manual breast pumps you can choose from. Before that, we tell you what a breast pump is, their various types, the points to consider while buying them.

What is a breast pump?

Breast pumps are devices designed to extract (express) breast milk from a mother’s breasts and supplement or replace breastfeeding. Some pumps even mimic the suckling action of a baby.

[ Read: Best Electric Breast Pumps ]

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Why do you need a breast pump?

As a new mother, you might need a breast pump for several reasons. A few of them are:

  1. The baby is not able to breastfeed directly or has medical complications.
  1. The baby is born premature or cannot latch on to the breast.
  1. You have to return to work or study and do not have the chance to breastfeed several times in a day.
  1. You are unable to sit for long to breastfeed the baby.
  1. You need to relieve plugged milk ducts or pull out the flat or inverted nipples.
  1. Get relief from the pain and pressure of engorged breasts.

There are different types of breast pumps.

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What are the types of breast pumps?

There are three basic types of breast pumps:

1. Manual breast pumps:

Manual breast pumps usually have a lever or handle, which needs to be operated manually in order to express the breast milk. The milk is then collected in a container.
These pumps are usually small and handy and can be great to use on the go. Some of the disadvantages are being unable to express both breasts at the same time and the chance that your hands may hurt from constant manual effort required to work the pump.

2. Battery-powered breast pumps:

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A battery powered pump uses batteries to power a small motor that creates suction to express the breast milk. The powered pump can also control the degree of suction, hence varying the amount of milk collected. Depending on the model, battery-powered pumps may provide less suction than an electric pump with a power cord. Learning hands-on pumping can help express more milk.

3. Electric breast pumps:

Image: Shutterstock

An electric pump is similar to a battery powered pump except that it has a cord that plugs into an electrical outlet.

Breast pumps can also be classified based on the pumping type:

1. Single pumping:

Single pumping type devices can be used to express milk from only one breast at a time. Manual and most of the battery-powered pumps are single pumping types.

2. Double pumping:

Double pumping type devices are designed to express milk from both breasts simultaneously. These consist of two breast shields (also called flanges) with tubing connecting to the container. Most electric breast pumps are double pumping type.

Though all types of breast pumps might work, we will be focusing on manual breast pumps in this post.

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What are the parts of a manual breast pump?

Any basic manual breast pump consists of the following parts:

  1. Breast shield/flange: A cone-shaped cup meant for fitting over the nipple and the areola.
  1. Pump: The component that creates a vacuum to express or extract the milk from the nipple. The pump can either be directly attached to the breast shield or through a plastic tube.
  1. Container: Collects the extracted milk. It can be either a bottle or a bag.

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Things To Remember When Buying A Manual Breast Pump

You can rely on this checklist while buying a manual breast pump.

1. Usage of the pump

  • How many times you will be using the pump
  • If you want to use the pump in addition to breastfeeding or replace breastfeeding
  • How much milk you can pump in one session

2. Duration of each pumping session

  • If you do not have time constraints, then using a manual pump may be a good option for you.
  • If you plan to use the pump at work or do not have much time, look for a double electric or battery pump that extracts milk from both breasts, simultaneously.

3. The instructions on the manual pump

You need to understand the instructions to assemble, use, and clean the device. Review the instruction manuals of various pumps online or at the store to check their user-friendliness.

4. Place of use

Buy a smaller one if you intend to use it at your workplace. You can also consider exploring hands-free breast pumps that can be used while working or driving.

5. Portability

If you intend to carry the breast pump while traveling, look for ones that are portable, do not take up a lot of space, and are easy to assemble and handle. Manual and battery pumps are easier to carry than the electric ones.

6. Breast shields of the pump

Make sure the breast shields match your breast size. Check the manufacturer’s website for the breast shield sizes and pick the one that fits you. It is important to know, pumping should not hurt. Many times, when pumping hurts, it’s because the shield/flange is too large. Only the nipple should be pulled into the tunner of the shield, not the areola.

7. The suction of the pumps

The amount of suction of the breast pump should be just right for your milk supply. Excessive suction can leave you with sore and painful breasts after each pumping session and less suction will end up in engorged breasts even after a session. Begin at the lowest setting and increase based on your comfort level.

8. Design of the pump

You will want to look for a manual pump that is easy to hold and handle. Pumps with bulky designs can be difficult to use and transport.

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How To Use A Manual Breast Pump?

Here is how you can use a manual breast pump. You may also follow the instructions given on the product label.

  1. Place the breast shield on your nipple. Your nipple should easily go inside the breast shield.
  1. Hold the breast shield in place with one hand and hold the lever/handle with the other hand.
  1. Wipe off any nipple cream or ointment before applying pump.
  1. Move around the handle of the pump until you find an appropriate suction level. This will make the pumping easier.
  1. Keep yourself calm and be relaxed during the pumping session. Even consider looking at a picture or video of your baby. Time your session well so that you don’t have to rush through it.
  1. Gently insert your finger between your breast and the shield to break the vacuum seal and remove the shield from your breast.
  1. Shorter, more frequent pumping sessions are recommended over longer, infrequent session. This will help maintain your milk supply. Wash all the breast pump parts including the milk container, valves, and breast shields, after each use.

Note: Every manual breast pump is accompanied by a detailed instruction manual on how to use the pump. Follow the manual because detailed instructions change from pump to pump.

[ Read : How To Use Pigeon Breast Pump Pro? ]

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General tips on using a manual breast pump

Follow these tips when you are using a manual breast pump.

  1. Read through the entire instruction manual even if you have used a breast pump before.
  1. Wash your hands with soap and dry them thoroughly before using the pump.
  1. Wash your breasts before pumping, if you have been using any cream or ointment on them.
  1. Find a clean and comfortable place where you are not likely to be disturbed.
  1. Keep yourself calm and be relaxed during the pumping session. Time your session well so that you don’t have to rush through it.
  1. Pump as long as it feels comfortable and productive to you.
  1. Wash all the breast pump parts such as the tubing, container, and breast shields, after each use.

Next, let’s see the various breast pumps available in the market.

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Breast pumps are the best alternative to breastfeeding because breast milk is the best food your baby can get in the first year. But use the pumps only when breastfeeding is not possible or if you have to stay away from your baby for a long time.

What is your take on breast pumps? Let us know in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: MomJunction may earn a commission when products are purchased through affiliate links given in the article. However, this partnership does not influence the editorial content featuring in our list.


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Naiomi Catron

Naiomi is the founder and owner of Milk Diva Lactation Services, Austin, Texas. Her goal is to help parents feel confident about breastfeeding and bond with their babies. A labor and delivery nurse and Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Naiomi has over eight years of experience Perinatal Nurse. She completed her IBCLC Masterclass and TOTS training course.

Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate the latest advancements in the field of dentistry into her practice. Dr. Shah's deep interest in the well-being of babies and children... more