Breast Pumps: Electric vs. Manual

Archived Q&A and Reviews

March 2004

I am going to be a first time mom. I am planning to return to work 2 to 3 months after my baby is born but would like to continue feeding my baby breast milk as long as I can. Is it better to purchase a manual or electric breast pump for expressing breast milk at work? Any sharing of experiences would be appreciated. Mom-to-be

Hi, Definately go with an electric pump. My pump of choice was the Ameda - see the link given by the moderator. If you are pumping in work, chances are that time will be an issue, so the pump must be efficient, quiet, able to duel pump and run on batteries as well as plugged in. Unless you are very lucky, a manual just won't cut it. Also, duel pumping means that you take advantage of the letdown. The gentle whoosh, whir of the motor can even be soothing - really! Generally buying an electric pump means that you get an insulated bag, freezer packs and other assorted goodies too - all things to make your pumping life easier. To further aid your pumping life, consider getting 2 or 3 sets of shields, valves etc..., so you don't need to try to wash them in work. Good luck. KB
Here is my two cents. I pumped a year for each of my two daughters while I was at work. I recommend a good double electric breastpump such as the Medela Pump in Style or the equivalent. Double pumping increases the lactation stimulation, which helps you keep your supply up while you are away from your baby. It is also quicker and you don't have to worry about your hand or wrist getting sore. A less strong electric pump or a hand pump is fine for shorter periods of time of being away from baby. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any more detailed questions about pumping and where to buy. Good luck. Hannah
For work, I highly recommend electric, and it's worth it to spend the money for a good pump. I went back to work when my daughter was 4.5 months and pumped 'til she was 7.5 months (then my supply started to dwindle too much, so she just nursed morning and evening). I bought the Medela Pump in Style and was very happy with it! An electric pump is much faster than manual and (with some) you can do both sides at once. The Pump in Style is also fairly discreet and easy to take to work and back to home every day. While I found nursing to be a wonderful experience, pumping wasn't my favorite thing to do; however, the electric double pump and a good book made the time pass quickly. Beth
Hi there- I would definetly recommnd buying an electric pump... while a hand pump is nice to have when you only occasionally will be pumping, if you are pumping on a regular schedule, you should have an electric pump. As far as recommendations for an actual brand, i would have to say GET A MEDELA! If possible, get one of the hospital grade ones- they are very quick! Don't fall into the trap of buying the Target kind thats not Medela... they aren't manufactured as well and seem to have a lot of problems. If you are planning on breastfeeding for awhile as well as having other children who you will breastfeed, paying the couple hundred for a great quality pump is a wonderful investment. Good luck new mama! Shaana
Definitely electric. It's already a hassle to have to pump at work every few hours without adding the extra task of manually pumping! The Medela Pump N Style is a really good one that is often sold used on the UCB Parents network. Its very quick to set up, easy to use, and faily quiet. I pumped at work with both my kids, and could not have done it with a manual pump. I tried a manual pump early on, and got a very small amount of milk as compared to the electric pump. Another plus: It's often difficult to keep it up (pumping at work) after a few weeks, and I think one would be much more apt to keep it up for a longer period with an electric pump. anon
I think a good-quality double electric pump is the only way to go if you're starting back at FT work at 2-3 months and hope to continue BFing. I can pump as much with my Avent Isis (manual) as I can with my Medela PIS (double electric), but it takes twice as long. Pumping at work 3 times a day, a time difference like that is really significant. Plus, I can use the PIS hands- free, and continue to work while I pump. The Isis is a great pump, but I wouldn't still be doing this at 11 months if the Isis is all I had. pumpin' mama
I pumped at work for 11 months, so I think I know a little about it! I would HIGHLY recommend both types of pumps, but for work I would definately go with an electric. Not only does it save you time you can do both breasts at once. If your company is not the most supportive about this it will be a benefit as well since you will be taking less time away from your work schedule to accomodate this. I used the Medela pump-in-style, and I was able to borrow it from a mom/friend of mine (avoiding the $250 cost) but you will have to provide your own tubes and bottles and such as it is not sanitary to use someone elses. But if you give birth at Alta Bates, all these things will be supplied to you! They also include a manual pump, but I didn't much care for it. I bought the Avent ISIS which is wonderful and attached directly to the avent bottles which are really the best in my opinion. Target has the best price on all Avent products. The manual is good for when you are not in a hurry, traveling (I often pumped in the car on long drives! while my husband drove, of course) and to give your breasts a break from the electric. Good luck! anon
I recommend electric! (as long as you have access to an electrical outlet where you plan on pumping)Buy a used Medela Pump In Style from someone on the Network. They are sturdy and there's no need to drop $300 on a new one. anon
By all means, get an electric double pump. They are more expensive (at about $150 for the Ameda Purely Yours) but soooo much more effective. With an electric pump you can get much more milk in a shorter period of time. anon
My suggestion to you is to borrow or rent an electric pump for a month or so to make sure it works for you. So many womyn make the huge purchase only to find out that it doesn't work for them and you won't make your money back if you try to turn around and sell it ''barely used!'' Someone loaned me a Medela Pump in Style and I had big problems with it. I ended up purchasing Ameda Purely Yours and have been happy ever since (going on 20 months!!) I work hard to pump and do a bit of manual expression but I couldn't imagine relying solely on a manual pump b/c it is a lot of work! Try different ones if you can before biting the bullet and making the purchase but I would definitely recommend electric over manual! LogicalMama
I went back to work when my baby was 5 months old and can tell you that you DEFINITELY want to not only get an electric pump, but you want to make sure it's a DUAL electric pump (meaning that you can pump both sides at the same time). I have the Medela Pump-n-Style and have been very happy with it. It costs about $300 new, but has been worth every penny for me. It takes me about 15 minutes altogether to set it up and then pump. If you were to do this with a single electric or manual pump it would take much longer - I'd say at least 30 to 40 minutes each time you pumped (I work a 6 hour day and pump twice when I'm at work, for a total of only 30 minutes or less). Good luck! Abby