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Electric Vs Manual Breast Pump – Which is Best?

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“Which one is better – an electric breast pump or a manual breast pump?”

While most mothers prefer a breast pump to feed their little ones, choosing the right one can be confusing for them. 

If you are a new mom who is a little sceptical about which one to use and why, this article is for you.

In this ultimate guide for a breast pump, we shall explore the differences between a manual and an electric pump. We will take you through their features, advantages, and disadvantages. 

Let us first try to learn what manual and electric breast pumps are and how they work.

What Is A Manual Breast Pump?

Manual breast pumps are that equipment that expresses milk manually without the need for battery or electricity. As the name says, these are hand-operated, and you could use them for only one breast at a time. This is how it works:

  • Place the breast pump on one breast. Ensure that the pump flange rests over the nipple to form a shield over it.
  • Now, use the other hand to press the flange gently. 
  • This creates a suction, and the milk starts flowing after a couple of minutes.
  • The milk gets collected into the bottle attached to the flange.
  • After you finish pumping the milk, remove the pump flange from the breast.
  • Unscrew the bottle from the flange and cover it with a lid.
  • You can use this bottle to feed your child immediately, or you can store it safely for later use.

The significant advantage of using a manual pump is that it is less expensive than electric pumps. In addition to that, it is lightweight and compact in size and design. It is a perfect option for those with budget or space constraints.

Let us learn about the advantages and disadvantages of a manual breast pump.

 Advantages of Manual Breast Pump

  • Manual breast pumps enable the discrete pumping of the milk.
  • These devices are easy to use as it does not have any wires.
  • They are easy to clean and sterilize. They are easy to maintain, as well.
  • Manual breast pumps are lightweight and compact-sized devices. You can carry them with you easily.
  • This equipment does not require any power source, and you can express milk anywhere and anytime effortlessly with your hand.
  • They come with a silicone massage cushion that allows a massage-like experience when pumping the milk. It further facilitates easy stimulation of milk from the breast.
  • They come with adjustable suction power, which allows you to adjust the pressure levels accordingly. You may increase or decrease the suction power based on your comfort.
  • The handle of the breast pump is so smooth that it provides a painless experience and minimum effort to the hands when expressing milk.
  • A manual breast pump is very cost-effective when compared to an electric pump.

Disadvantages of Manual Breast Pump

  • They have less suction power and are less effective when compared to an electric pump.
  • Expressing milk using a manual breast pump is often a time-consuming process.
  • One may feel tired and pain in the hands after using the manual breast pump for a long time.
  • You cannot remain hands-free when using the manual breast pump.

What Is An Electric Breast Pump?

An electric breast pump is that equipment that needs either a battery or a power outlet to operate. Fewer models from these devices allow for single or double breast expressing. This is an invaluable tool for working moms or those mothers who stay away from their babies for a certain period in the day. This is how it works:

  • Remove the cup from the breast pump kit and place it over the nipple. Ensure that it covers the nipple by forming a shield over it. Choose the suction speed and pressure from the settings before you start pumping.
  • Start the pumping by pressing the button. The motor of the equipment does the job for you, and you can remain hands-free throughout the pumping process.
  • You can use the equipment for a single breast or both breasts simultaneously.
  • The milk gets collected into the bottle attached to the cup.
  • After you finish pumping the milk, turn off the pump and remove the breast shields.
  • Unscrew the bottle from the pumping tube and cover it with a lid.
  • You can use this bottle to feed your child immediately, or you can store it safely for later use.

An electric breast pump helps you produce more milk in less time and at a quicker pace. Let us look at the advantages and disadvantages of using an electric breast pump.

Advantages of Electric Breast Pump

  • If you are a mother with lactation problems, then an electric breast pump is the most suitable option for you. IF you have nipple soreness or breast tenderness, or engorgement, this is the most preferable method to express milk for your baby.  
  • An electric breast pump facilitates the faster pumping of milk in a very short time.
  • Although these breast pumps are a little noisy when they operate, the newer models are comparatively quiet. They come with a silent mode operation when pumping milk.
  • Unlike manual breast pumps, these are not limited to a single breast. You can use these pumps for both breasts simultaneously.
  • An electric breast pump comes with multiple expression and massage modes that enhance the pumping experience.
  • The stimulation or massage setting helps in delivering higher milk output without any fuss or pain.
  • Electric breast pumps are battery-operated. They get their power source from the battery or a power outlet.
  • The battery-operated pumps are easily portable and you can use them anywhere.
  • An electric breast pump comes with adjustable suction settings to control the speed and pressure to express the breast milk. 
  • The electric breast pumps come with memory settings to store the custom program. It is easy to use.
  • An electric breast pump guarantees a hands-free pumping experience.
  • This device aids in power pumping to boost milk production in mothers.

Disadvantages of Electric Breast Pump

  • An electric breast pump does not work without a power source.
  • Electric breast pumps tend to make noise when operating.
  • These devices are heavy and do not have a compact design.
  • An electric pump is very expensive than a manual breast pump.

Manual Vs. Electric Breast Pump

Here is a table that shows a comparative analysis between the manual and electric breast pump.

FeaturesManual Breast PumpElectric Breast Pump
Mode of OperationManual breast pumps require hand operation.Electric breast pumps are battery-operated. You can even operate them using a power outlet.
Noise LevelThis equipment operates quietly.They tend to make noise when operating.
Weight and DesignLightweight and compact in design.Heavyweight and does not have a compact design.
PortabilityPortable and easy to carry around.Not easy to carry around.
Power SourceDoes not require any power source to operate.OccaRequires a battery and power outlet to operate.sional Use
Suction PowerIt comes with an adjustable suction power, which allows you to adjust the pressure levels accordingly.It comes with adjustable suction settings to control the speed and pressure to express the breast milk. It also has multiple expression and massage modes for an enhanced experience.
UsabilityEasy to use as it does not have any wires.Come with memory settings to store the custom program. It is easy to use.
Easy to CleanEasy to clean, sterilize and maintain.Since it comes with multiple parts, it is not that easy to clean and sterilize.
Pumping ExperienceUsing a manual breast pump, you cannot be hands-free.An electric breast pump guarantees a hands-free pumping experience.
Time TakenExpressing milk is often a time-consuming process.Facilitates the quick and easy expression of milk.
CostLess expensive when compared to an electric pump.Very expensive than a manual breast pump.
Ideal ForIdeal for occasional use or expression of milk.Ideal for the daily expression of milk or at least weekly once.

Which one to Choose? Manual or Electric Breast Pump?

We shall take you through each aspect in detail to help you get a fair idea of both the pumps. We will give you a thorough analysis of both the equipment and also give you the winner in each aspect. Here the basic characteristic features you need to look for before making a purchase:

1. Portability

Let us start our analysis with the portability feature first. Manual breast pumps are lightweight, smaller in size, and compact in design. As a result, you can carry them anywhere you want and use them anytime. 

You can pack the electric pump kit, as well, and carry it with you. However, they are not that easy to transport because of their heavy and bulky size and design. Moreover, you need a power source to operate an electric pump kit. If there is no power outlet nearby or if the battery is out of charge, you can use this equipment.

Contrary to the above, you can use a manual breast pump without any power source.

Winner: If you consider the weight, size, design, and portability factors, a manual breast pump is a clear winner.

2. Price

The next prominent considerable factor is the price. A manual breast pump is a cost-effective option when compared to an electric pump.

When it comes to electric equipment, even the single breast pump machines are very expensive than the manual devices. 

Manual breast pumps are always the best option to start with when using a pump. Later, you can upgrade to an electric one based on your comfort and frequency of usage.

Winner: If cost is your deciding factor, then better for a manual breast pump.

3. Ease of Use

Both manual and electric breast pumps look easy to use. Manual devices do not require any power source to operate. They come with a hand-held pump that works by suction. When you press the pump, it creates a suction-type action that helps in expressing milk. 

Coming to the electric pumps, these devices need battery support or a power outlet to operate. Moreover, they are quick enough that you can express more quantity of milk in a very short time. And the best part, you can use the equipment for both the breasts simultaneously.

Whereas, you can use manual equipment for one breast at a time.

Winner: Considering the speed, mode of operation, and versatility, an electric breast pump is your real-time saver.

4. Frequency of Expressing Milk

Let us talk about how often you pump. If you are a mother who relies on pumping occasionally, then manual equipment will do the needful.

Let us say you are a working mother who stays away from the child for a certain period. An electric device can help you ease your job by quick and effective expression of milk. You may use it on a daily basis or weekly once based on your child’s needs.

Winner: For occasional use, prefer a manual breast pump. If you plan to pump regularly, electric equipment is all you need. You can save your time while expressing milk more quickly.

5. Best Suitable For

Who is a manual or electric breast pump ideal for? Well, here is the answer. A manual breast pump is an ideal solution for those mothers who keep pumping occasionally. You can use this equipment to relieve your breasts every now and then. Moreover, you do not have to plug in the equipment to a power socket for expressing milk. 

Electric breast pumps are ideal for the daily expression of milk or at least weekly once. It is the best bet for working mothers who have to return to work every day. You can use this equipment for quick, comfortable, and effective expressing. Additionally, you can stay hands-free when using this appliance. 

Winner: An electric breast pump stays ahead in the race, becoming the sheer winner.

Frequently Asked Questions:

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

Ans: 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.

Conclusion:

I hope the manual vs. electric breast pump debate cleared the air for you and gave you a complete understanding of what you need. After a thorough analysis of the duo, you should now be able to choose the one that is best for you and your baby. Now that you are aware of everything make a wise decision in investing in effective equipment suitable for you.

Write to us in the comments section below, if you find the information in this article helpful and insightful. Let us know what would you choose and why by posting them in the comments. Please feel free to add your inputs to this article. Let us know if you have any questions or need more information on breast pumps.

We would love to hear from you.

Stay home, stay healthy and stay safe!!!

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