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Manual vs Electric Breast Pump: Which Is Better?

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If you have decided to breastfeed your baby there’s a good chance you are also thinking about pumping breastmilk to give yourself more flexibility.

But what type of pump should you choose?

The question of manual vs electric is a common one among new moms, and it’s important to make the right choice given the big differences in cost, flexibility and power.

So in this article we’ve taken a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both manual and electric breast pumps, so you can be confident of making the best choice for your particular needs.

Let’s jump in.

Manual Brest Pump: Pros & Cons

Advantages

  • Cheaper. The cost of a manual breast pump is typically much cheaper than an electric one. Manual pumps can start from around $15, which is significantly less than you would spend on an electric pump (more on this later).
  • More portable. Another advantage of going manual is the added portability. Because there’s no need for a power source or for batteries, manual pumps are good choice from women who are on the move a lot. They can also be a better option when you’re on a vacation or traveling for business.
  • Quieter. Manual pumps are typically quieter than their electric cousins, which means you can pump more discreetly if you wish.

Disadvantages

  • Not hands free. Perhaps one of the biggest disadvantages of a manual breast pump is that multitasking becomes very challenging, and depending on the task, impossible. This makes them a less suitable option for moms who are returning back to work.
  • Slower. The suction on a manual pump tends to be less powerful, which means it will take longer to express milk.
  • Can only pump one breast at a time. If you are looking for a time saving device, then this is another area where a manual pump falls short compared to an electric one. Electric pumps provide the ability to double pump (more on this below), whereas a manual pump can only be used on one breast at a time.

Electric Breast Pump: Pros & Cons

Advantages

  • Hands free. Many moms report that one of the best, if not the best, advantage of using an electric pump is that it frees up your hands so you can get on with other things. From getting on with household chores to tending to your little one or sitting at a desk working, the flexibility that comes from hand free pumping is a big selling point.
  • Faster. Another key feature of an electric pump is that you can typically finish pumping more quickly compared to using a manual pump. With their electric motors and stronger suction, along with the ability to double pump (pump both breasts at the same time), electric pumps are generally a time saver vs a manual breast pump.
  • Easier to build up your supply. If one of your breast is producing less milk than the other and you’re looking for ways to increase your milk supply, then a electric pump could be the better option as it will allow you to pump and store more milk in a shorter time.

Disadvantages

  • More expensive. Perhaps the most significant disadvantage of an electric pump is the higher cost. Prices can range from $40 to over $500, with the “average” pump costing around $150. As you would expect, the more features it comes with (think suction power, leak proof and accompanying app), the more it will cost.
  • Needs a power source. Another thing to consider, which could be a big disadvantage for some women, is that an electric pump needs a power source. Depending on the model you’ll need to use batteries or plug the pump into a wall socket, and this can be challenging if you are traveling or on the move frequently.
  • Bulkier. Although it does vary, many electric pumps can be fairly bulky once you take into account the control unit and any other accessories.
  • Noisy. All this extra power and suction comes at another cost that should be considered, and that’s the noise the pump makes when in operation. Again, it can vary quite a lot between models, but some electric pumps can be noisier than you might expect, and this makes discreet pumping more challenging.

Conclusion: Which Is Better?

So in conclusion which is the better option, and electric or a manual breast pump?

The answer really depends on your individual circumstances, because as we saw above, both have their own pros and cons.

Think about factors like your budget, how often you will pump and whether portability and discretion are important to you before deciding which one to buy or put on your baby registry.

If you only plan on pumping now and again, aren’t in a big hurry and don’t want to spend too much money, then a manual pump might be the better option.

On the other hand, if you plan on pumping often, are looking to save time and are planning to return to work, then you might want to invest in an electric breast pump.

Whichever option you go for, it’s worth mentioning that if you are having difficulty pumping or producing enough breast milk, it might be a good to speak to a lactation consultant, as these certified health professional specialize in breastfeeding issues and can help with things like sore nipples, breastfeeding positions and of course your overall milk production.

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