The Best Manual Breast Pumps for Comfort and Control on the Go

Express yourself with the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best Manual Breast Pumps

Verywell Family / Chloe Jeong

As efficient as electric breast pumps are for allowing parents to express milk apart from their babies, having a manual breast pump on hand is also helpful for unexpected situations. This is especially the case when you need to pump to relieve engorged breasts, or you find yourself without a power source. Also, some people actually prefer a manual pump.

Reviewed & Approved

The Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump is a lightweight and compact pump with an oval-shaped shield and padded rim so the right fit is easy to find. For a pump and bottle set, we recommend the Philips Avent Breast SCF330/30 Pump Manual.

"[Manual breast pumps] don't have any motors or mechanical parts and rely on your hand power to work,” explains Ashley Blankenship, breastfeeding counselor, founder of Supported Season, and creator of Bump Up Birth Method. “They shouldn't be painful or too uncomfortable. You're in control of how much suction you create. You only need enough suction to get milk flowing. More suction will not make more milk, and can cause breast or nipple damage.”

Before heading out to buy a manual pump, research options that are ideal for your breast size to ensure that each pumping session is comfortable and efficient. Also, consider when you’ll be using your manual pump. If you plan on keeping it in your diaper bag or work purse, a compact option would be ideal.

Since it can be tricky to decipher what specific pump is best, we’ve rounded up the best options on the market to help you out.

Best Overall: Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump

5
New Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Two-phase stimulation technology

  • PersonalFit shield for better milk production

Cons
  • O-Ring may have to be replaced

The Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump is our top pick because it's lightweight and compact, making pumping on the go much easier. It has an oval-shaped shield with a padded rim and a 105-degree angle so that you can easily find the right fit for your body. It also uses “two-phase” technology to closely mimic a baby’s natural sucking so that it won’t interfere with your regular breastfeeding routine. The pump is designed with a handle, diaphragm, and stem with an O-ring to make manual pumping easier.

The soft and flexible rim of the PersonalFit shield is clinically proven to make every pumping session more efficient and produce more milk. The set comes with one 5-ounce bottle, a lid and stand, one harmony connector, one valve, and one membrane.

What Our Editors Say

"This manual pump was a must for me when I was on-the-go and didn't know if I could plug in. I've used this in the bathroom at weddings and even on an airplane. I always got the same amount of milk as I did with my electric pump, plus a hand workout." Dwyer Frame, VP of Commerce

Best for Letdown: Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump, Hand Pump for Breastfeeding

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump, Hand Pump

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Stimulation and expression modes

  • Two breast shields

Cons
  • Noisy

This pump has two different modes, stimulation and expression, so it is great for not only pumping but also for getting your milk to start flowing. It has an easy-to-use design with a handle for pumping and comes with two different-sized breast shields to help you find the one that fits you best.

You also get one pump, a NaturalWave nipple, cap, collar, wide-neck bottles that are compatible with Lansinoh’s electric pump, as well as a few non-leak milk storage bags.

What Our Editors Say

"The Lansinoh pump is easy to use and has two suction modes for letdown and the rest of your pumping session. I especially love that you can easily pump straight into the brand's milk storage bags—a game-changer for pumping on the go! I've used this on car rides and at a concert." Ashleigh Morley, Editorial Director of Verywell Family Commerce

Best for Travel: Tommee Tippee Made for Me Single Manual Breast Pump

Tommee Tippee Made for Me Manual Breast Pump

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • 5-ounce feeding bottle included

  • Quiet pump

Cons
  • Lot of parts to clean

If you’re looking for a small pump you can easily carry around with you, it’s this one. It has a silicone breast shield that gently and comfortably attaches to the breast and also allows the pump to be virtually silent.

The pump has an ergonomically designed squeeze handle to make the process of expressing milk easier on your hand. The set comes with one 5-ounce feeding bottle with a slow flow nipple.

Best for Large Nipples: Evenflo Advanced Manual Breast Pump

Evenflo Advanced Manual Breast Pump

Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Two flanges included

  • Pivoting pump

Cons
  • Many parts to clean and assemble

With this manual breast pump, you get both a 24.5-millimeter flange and a 30.5-millimeter flange, which is helpful for a person who needs something that will accommodate larger nipples. If those two sizes don't work, there are four additional size options you can purchase separately.

It has a lightweight, compact design with an easy-to-use handle pump that pivots, so it’s comfortable to hold on both the left and right sides. The pump also comes completely apart so that you can easily clean every crevice without worry.

Best for Small Nipples: Dr. Brown's Manual Breast Pump with Softshape Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's Manual Breast Pump with Softshape Silicone Shield

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Comes with 5-ounce bottle

  • Mimics baby's natural feeding

Cons
  • More expensive option

The 100% silicone breast shield on this pump conforms to your body and stays comfortable while you use it. It has an easy-to-use squeeze handle and two pumping modes to mimic a baby’s natural feeding. Plus, all of the parts are top-rack dishwasher safe.

Along with the pump, you get one 5-ounce Dr. Brown’s wide-neck bottle with a level-1 nipple, a wide neck cap, and a cleaning brush for when you need to hand-wash the pieces.

Best for Milk Catching: Elvie Curve

Elvie Curve Manual Wearable Breast Pump

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Hands-free

  • Catches milk

Cons
  • Expensive

By far one of the most unique designs, this silicone manual breast pump is worn directly on the breast inside the bra and allows for hands-free expression. It is able to collect up to 4 ounces of milk at a time and gives you the ability to control the level of suction it uses.

After you’ve pumped, it is designed to stably sit on its front to prevent spilling any milk. Finally, there are only two parts to this breast pump and they are both dishwasher-safe.

Best Budget: Haakaa Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump

Haakaa Silicone Breastfeeding Manual Breast Pump

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • One piece

  • Lightweight and portable

Cons
  • Initial learning curve

Not only is this a budget-friendly manual pump, but it’s also super easy to use because it’s one piece. It’s made from 100% soft silicone and all you have to do to attach it to the breast is squeeze the bottle at the bottom, rest your breast in the shield, and release the bottle to create suction, then you just repeat as needed until you’ve sufficiently pumped

"The Haakaa can be a great tool if used properly," Blakenship says. "It can also cause a lot of issues. Only use a Haakaa if recommended to you by a breastfeeding professional.”

It can hold up to 4 ounces of milk, is designed for comfort, and is dishwasher and hot water safe.

What Our Editors Say

"I used this in the morning on the opposite side than where my baby was feeding, and I was able to get a few ounces and build a stash of foremilk for when I went back to work. I would also keep this by my bed in case my baby slept longer and I needed to release some milk." —Dwyer Frame, VP of Commerce

Best Pump and Bottle Combo: Philips Avent Breast SCF330/30 Pump Manual, Clear

Philips Avent Breast SCF330/30 Pump Manual

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Comes with a bottle and nipple

  • Minimal parts for easy cleaning

Cons
  • Squeaky

This breast pump is designed for optimum comfort with an angled breast shield that has a soft, textured cushion to create a secure fit and stimulate the nipple for feeding. It has an easy-to-grip handle to do the pumping, and it comes with an Avent bottle.

Finally, there are only a few parts to this pump, making it simple to put together and to take apart to clean.

Final Verdict

All of these breast pumps have their advantages but the Medela Harmony Breast Pump ranks highest for us because of its ease of use and thoughtful design. The Elvie Curve has the most unique design for hands-free use.

How We Selected the Best Manual Breast Pumps

We chose the best manual breast pumps by studying the features of more than 20 products on the market after researching reviews from customers and competitors. We considered price, design, ease of use, ease of cleaning, and efficacy when deciding our picks. We also consulted with Ashley Blankenship, breastfeeding counselor, founder of Supported Season, and creator of Bump Up Birth Method for guidance on how manual breast pumps work and what parents should look for when buying one.

What to Look for When Buying a Manual Breast Pump

Comfortable Design

You want to have a pump that is as comfortable as possible, Blankenship tells Verywell Family. “Find one with a comfortable grip and easy action. If the handle is tough to press, it's going to really tire out your hands,” she says. “The pumps with a lever you press are generally considered easier to use than syringe types. Bulb types can be good for relief of discomfort, but aren't going to express as much as more complex pumps. 

Hygiene

To aid in killing possible bacteria, choosing a manual pump that is dishwasher safe can ensure that it is squeaky clean after each use. “Dishwasher-safe pump parts make cleanup easier,” Blankenship tells Verywell Family. “I also like the pumps that come apart to clean. It makes sanitization easier. It's always important to use clean pump parts and storage containers.”

You may also want a pump that has a cap or cover to keep it sanitary while it's in your bag.

Efficacy

Breast pumps are only good if they are able to express milk from your breast, so you’ll want to be sure to read through user reviews to get an idea of efficacy. Some pumps may have a slight learning curve while others may be straightforward and easy to use right out of the box. Either way, if you aren't able to use the pump properly, you won't get the full benefits. If possible, shop from retailers with flexible return policies in case the one you purchase doesn’t work for you.

Size 

Chances are high that you’ll be carrying this pump around with you so that you have it on hand in case you need it, so make sure it’s made of durable materials and is a size that is easy to tote around. Whether you're pumping at work, at a friend's house, or on the road, having a manual pump that is compact and lightweight is ideal.

You want to have a pump that is as comfortable as possible, so look for something that is either made for your breast size or that comes with different shield options so that you can find the best fit. The pump won’t work if it doesn’t create a strong suction/hold on your breast, so fit is extremely important. 

If you have larger breasts, it is a good idea to opt for a pump that is compatible with multiple flanges size options.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you use a manual pump?

    Exact instructions depend on the style of pump you get, but generally speaking, manual breast pumps work by creating suction through squeezing and releasing the pump while the breast shield is pressed up against the areola and nipple. If you only have one pump, you’ll want to switch breasts about every five minutes during your session. What’s more important, however, is ensuring you’re comfortable using a manual breast pump physically and mentally. 


    “Breastfeeding is a mental game," Blankenship says. "Sometimes pumping doesn't elicit the same emotions as feeding your baby straight from the breast. If you find the noise of an electric pump too distracting and are having a hard time relaxing, a manual pump can help express more milk than an electric pump. Keep in mind that just because it's a manual pump, doesn't mean you'll need to squeeze it the whole time. You'll squeeze until milk starts to flow, then you can rest until milk flow stops before squeezing again. I recommend speaking to a breastfeeding professional before starting a pumping routine. There are many things to think about when pumping, and it can save a lot of trouble down the road if you come up with a plan that works for your particular issues ahead of time. More milk is not always a good thing.”

  • How do you sterilize a manual breast pump?

    The CDC recommends taking the pump completely apart (if applicable) and thoroughly rinsing each individual piece. If your breast pump is dishwasher friendly, then you can pop it in there. If it isn't, you can wash it by hand using hot soapy water. If you’re hand-washing, make sure you’re using a brush that you only use for cleaning bottles, then rinse the pieces again and let them air dry.

    To further sterilize it, you can place the pump in a pot of boiling water for five minutes before letting it air dry (however, check your pump manufacturer’s guide before you do this).

  • Should I use a manual pump or an electric one?

    “If you're pumping often or solely pumping, an electric one may be better, because to use a manual pump, you need to squeeze a handle of some sort, and it can tire out your hands,” Blankenship explains. “Same goes for issues with carpal tunnel which is very common after having a baby. However, if you're using it only once a day or sporadically, a manual pump can be a great option! They're much less expensive than an electric pump and take up less room.”

Why Trust Verywell Family

Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer and mom to a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. She has personal experience in researching and purchasing products that are essential to motherhood. Key considerations she used when selecting these recommendations include functionality and purchaser reviews.

Was this page helpful?
1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to keep your breast pump kit clean: the essentials.