Electric Vs Manual Breast Pump – Which is Best?

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Breast pumps are the best option for new moms who wish to continue breastfeeding after they went to work or leave their baby with someone else for some time.

A breast pump is designed to imitate the natural baby’s suckling action to have normal milk flow. Here the suction created for milk flow can be either electric or manual. The working mechanism will make all the difference, and you can choose any one as per your convenience.

However, there are various factors like budget, power source, single or double pump, portability, time availability to pump, easy to clean or adjustable suction that help you decide which is your best option.

Let’s have a look at electric VS manual breast pumps.

Manual Breast Pumps:

This device will manually express the milk from breasts. It is considered as the best option for those who use breast pumps occasionally. Here, one can control the suction power while pumping milk and thereby experience comfort, as it is similar to baby suckling.

Features of Manual Breast Pump:

Irrespective of its brand, one has to consider these features while purchasing the manual breast pump. So, let’s know about its pros.

  • Noise Level – The manual breast pumps are relatively quiet to operate when compared with electric breast pumps. But it is essential to consider for pumping discreetly anywhere.
  • Suction Adjustment – It allows you to adjust the suction force to make yourself comfortable, especially when the breasts and nipples are sore and sensitive. Start pumping with a lower suction force and then gradually increase the suction to higher, whenever needed.
  • Portability & Power Source – They won’t require any power source to operate. All you need is a strong hand to express milk anytime anywhere. These are lightweight, compact, and portable.
  • Easy to Clean – Mostly manual pumps are easier to clean, as they come with fewer parts, which are quick and easy to sterilize. So, it is comfortable to use, clean and maintain.
  • Silicone Massage Cushion – They imitate the suckling of your baby by massaging the breast and thus stimulate to let down your milk.
  • Handle Operation – The handle should be smooth to provide a painless and convenient milk expression with minimum effort of your hands.
  • Cost – If you have a budget constraint, then opt for this manual breast pumps. These are cost affordable than an electric one.


  • Comes with less suction and not as effective when compared with an electric pump.
  • Time-consuming, as it is a bit slow process.
  • Unable to remain handsfree while expressing the milk.
  • Cause tiresome for your hands while using it for a longer time.

Electric Breast Pumps:

An electric breast pump can be operated on either battery power or electricity. This device suits perfect for working moms and for those who have twins. Here, the milk can be expressed without much effort and can easily change painful & stressful breastfeeding into a happy & painless journey.

Based on their working mechanism, the electric breast pumps are divided into two types – Single (used to express milk from one breast) & Double (can express milk from both breasts at a time) electric breast pumps.

Features of an Electric Breast Pump:

  • Overcome Lactation Problems – It is the best option for most moms who suffer from lactation problems like nipple pain, poor milk production or breast engorgement.
  • Quick & Effective Expression of Breast Milk – There is less time for most of the working moms to pump their milk. So, an electric pump will enable fast, efficient, and effortless expression of breast milk.
  • Sound Level – Most moms think that electric pump is noisy to operate due to their built-in motor, but the modern ones come with silent operation mode that allows you to pump quietly.
  • Two-Phase Milk Expression – They has a stimulation or massage setting, which mimics a baby suckling and thus let down milk. Whereas it also offers a deeper suction to imitate the baby’s natural feeding pattern. With this phase, it aids in higher milk output.
  • Power Source – Most experts suggest choosing an electric pump that offers both mains and battery operated. These are portable and can be used to pump anywhere.
  • Suction Power – One can easily control the suction speed and pressure as per their comfortability to express their breast milk.
  • Ease of Use – With its memory settings, you can store the custom program as per your convenience.
  • Easy to Clean – It come with a few more pieces but it won’t take more time to clean, strip and rebuild. It comes with few parts, which can be stripped, sterilized, and rebuilt quickly without any cross-contamination from dirty tubing.
  • Hand-Free Pumping – It aids in hand-free pumping, in which you can hold the baby or perform your work while operating this device.


  • Works only on power supply – battery or electricity.
  • Most of the models operate by making some noise due to its built-in motor.
  • Expensive when compared with manual breast pumps.
  • Heavyweight, not compact and difficult to carry around.
  • May comes with a lot of parts, which are somewhat difficult to re-arrange them.

Manual Vs Electric Breast Pump – Which one to Choose:

Maybe it is an electric or manual breast pump, choosing the best one is difficult, as it all depends on one’s personal preference and requirements. So, here’s the table which distinguishes between the electric and manual pumps in some common factors. Pick up your best-suited option.

FactorsElectric Breast PumpsManual Breast Pumps
Ease of operationAutomatically express milkProvided handle for expressing milk with your hands.
PortabilityHeavier and unable to carry aroundLightweight, compact and easy to carry around
Time for Expressing MilkQuickly & EffectiveTime consuming
FrequencyCan be used for regularly/frequentlyOccasional Use
Noise LevelA bit noisy than manual pumpsSilent operation

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What are the open and closed systems of an electric breast pump?

A closed system offers a hygienic and convenient barrier, where the milk is prevented from getting contact with tubing and motor. Thus, it allows easy sterilization without any cross-contamination from dirty tubing. An open system refers to not having such barrier and milk gets into cracks and nooks in the unit. Thus, it encourages bacterial growth.

So, instead of sterilizing individual pieces, it’s always better to purchase an electric breast pump with a closed system rather than an open system.


Both electric and manual are the best breast pumps, finding the right pump is a personal preference. So, you have to analyze your lifestyle, budget, what you need and how frequently you use them before investing in a breast pump.

If you have a low budget, or travel frequently, then opt for a manual pump which is lightweight, portable, affordable and best option for occasional pumping.

If you have lactation problems or planning to get back to work, then choose an electric pump. This allows you to pump a maximum amount of milk quickly without much efforts.

Also, it is best to get advice from your experts, family, and friends, who used the pumps before. It definitely adds some valve to your decision. Feel free to share your queries or experience with us in the below comments section.

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