Manual or Electric Breast Pump: Which One is Better and How to Choose?

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While you are still pregnant it is worth learning how to choose breast pump in a right way, so that you won’t have to buy the first model that comes your way in a hurry with a child already in hands. It’s good to learn all the advantages and disadvantages of mechanical and electric devices to choose the one that performs its functions the best.

The Variety of Devices

A lot of future mothers, especially those that are expecting their first child, don’t know which breast pump to choose. Especially when there are so many models and they all have their pros and cons. They also differ in price that directly depends on the device’s mode of operation. So which is better – manual or electric breast pump? Let’s carry out a precise analysis of each model.

1. The simplest and the cheapest breast pump is a model with a rubber bulb. But it has no advantages except for a cheap price. Such a model is ineffective, and if frequently used can provoke nipple fissures. Breast pump with a rubber bulb is also hard to wash. It should be used only in cases of urgency if the breast is really overfilled.

2. Vacuum breast pump made of glass is one of the cheap models as well. It’s not much better than models with bulbs but requires using only one hand. But if the woman has weak hands, such a model will be completely uncomfortable for her. Even compacted manual breast pump Avent will be ineffective if the mother won’t learn how to pump out breast milk with one hand. All this should be thought over before purchase.

3. If you are seriously considering which manual breast pump to choose, it’s worth paying attention to the model with a syringe. This device consists of two cylinders where the smaller one is placed in the bigger one. «Syringe» transition creates a vacuum, under the pressure of which milk is pumped. A syringe breast pump can also be used as a feeding bottle.

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4. Mechanical breast pump with a cylinder piston allows to pump milk quickly, silently and without pain. Such a device has a silicone shutter and a petal massager which allow controlling pressure force on the breast to avoid traumas.

5. The best breast pump is an electric one. It doesn’t require any efforts, saves time and allows to combine pumping with breastfeeding or other activities. Such a device isn’t cheap, but if there is a necessity for frequent milk pumping, it is irreplaceable. Electric breast pump doesn’t harm the breasts, provides effective pumping and is easy to use.

6. Studying breast pumps types, take your time to look at the models that work on batteries. They are irreplaceable when traveling, as a mechanical breast pump is not comfortable to use everywhere. But the constant change of batteries makes this device, not a cheap one. You can buy a model with a rechargeable battery or use such a breast pump only outdoors.

7. If you can’t decide which device is better – mechanical or electric, take cross-functional one. When necessary it can be plugged in which speeds up the pumping process. If there is no socket around, it can be used manually.

In conclusion: there are two fundamentally different types of breast pumps – mechanical and electronic. The advantage of manual ones is in quietness, affordable price and the ability to control pumping intensity. At the same time, milk pumping isn’t performed as fast as you’d like it to be. There is also a risk of traumatizing breasts.

The advantage of electric models is in a notable saving of time and energy required for pumping. The disadvantage is a high price, a bit of noise and inability of full sterilization of the device.

Mode of Action

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To understand how to choose a breast pump you first have to learn how it works. Both manual and electric models pump milk from breasts by creating vacuum near the parapapillary area. But this effect is created in different ways.

Devices with a bulb «suck in» lacteal gland when squeezing the pomp. In syringe models, a vacuum is created with cylinder piston movement. When using mechanical breast pumps it is necessary to tightly fit the cup on the breast and squeeze the pomp, cylinder piston or lever. Manual pumping requires skills that will develop with time.

In electric devices, a vacuum is created with the help of a motor, so hands stay free. Avent or another breast pump will quickly pump milk without pain. All you have to do is correctly put on the cup so that the nipple is strictly in the middle, and touch the ON button.

Models Reviews

One of the most popular mechanic devices is the Avent manual breast pump. It’s easy to assemble and wash. Easy usage is based on a petal cap designed for the nipple. The set consists of a lid, soft pacifier, and two containers – for pacifiers and for milk. A breast pump is also equipped with additional parts. The device is relatively cheap and effective.

Still, electric breast pump Avent is the most comfortable in usage. It allows pumping milk while standing or sitting with the level position of the spine. It not only pumps but also stimulates lactation with three rhythm levels. Such a model doesn’t require purchasing the additional mechanic device, as it is equipped with a wide range of parts. The disadvantages are the price and noise that it makes when working.

Pay attention to the Medela manual device. It has a two-phase pumping system, which allows making the process faster and less sensitive. Cylinder piston moves smoothly and without noise, so hands don’t get tired. Medela mechanical breast pump is the best among such devices. Apart from that, it is quite affordable. But there is no pacifier in the set, so you’ll have to buy it separately.

According to CuteLittleDarling, Medela company also produces some of the best electric breast pumps.  Moms especially love Mini Electric and Swing Maxi models. The first one endears with its portability, cheap price and the ability to control pumping smoothness. Also, the device is made out of high-quality material which is safe for health. The disadvantage is noisiness.

Swing Maxi model costs twice as much but has more advantages. The first is the ability to pump from both breasts at once. The second is protection against milk leakage into the motor. The third is quietness which allows breastfeeding the baby with the second gland right during milk pumping. Another pro is rhythm type regulation. Breastfeeding experts recommend starting with a low speed.

Affordable breast pumps can be searched among Tommee Tippee products. Mechanical model of this brand is very simple to use and maintain. It is equipped with a silicone cup which easily adapts to any breast size. The set has a container for sterilizing milk in a microwave oven and a storage container. The special valve helps to avoid reverse milk suction. Its only disadvantage is not enough spacious container for expressed milk.

Tommee Tippee brand also has electronic models equipped with several speeds and made out of a safe material. They are easy to disassemble and sterilize. Bra inserts are an additional bonus.

What to Take into Account Before Purchase

Before choosing a breast pump, think about how often are you going to use it. If you need to pump from time to time, it’s better to buy a manual device. For frequent use, it’s worth spending money on an electric one. If your financial status allows, buy both – one for using at home, another one for traveling. Moreover, it is possible to buy a used breast pump or even rent it.

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Choosing a mechanical model, remember this:

  1. Cylinder piston and syringe devices are more effective than the pomp ones (with a bulb) and don’t harm breasts. Pomp models can provoke engorgement.
  2. Silicone, or even better – anatomic cup is much better than a plastic one. Firstly, it’s more hygienic. Secondly, it doesn’t make women feel discomfort while pumping. Thirdly, it doesn’t allow the milk to leak.
  3. It is necessary to choose a breast pump with all the details and additional accessories: containers, pacifiers, cups. It saves time.

Choosing an electric model, remember this:

  1. It’s better to instantly purchase a set of silicone cups than search for a suitable size later.
  2. The best breast pump is those that work both on batteries and from mains. It makes it more functional. If you chose such a model, remember, that batteries are sold separately. It’s better to purchase a device with an accumulator and a charger.
  3. In order not to buy two devices at one – mechanical and electronic – choose a cross-functional model with a detachable motor. Plug it in when using at home, and take to work or on a trip as a manual breast pump.
  4. Always pay attention to the material which the device is made of. Sometimes the price may be low only because it is made out of cheap plastic. Such material is of short duration and can harm the mother’s and child’s health.
  5. Two-phased pumping system delicately prepares the breast for the procedure, massaging on the first step. On the second step, breast empties up completely. It’s even better if the device has more than two modes.

Choosing a breast pump, be it either mechanical or electric model, check if it will be easy to wash. If the device is hard to disassemble, full sterilization won’t be possible. Also, pay attention to which parts can be sterilized and which can’t. Think about buying a breast pump beforehand to have time to calmly compare different models and choose the most suitable for you.

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