The 7 best manual breast pumps – tried and tested

Manual breast pumps

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

When breastfeeding, it can be extremely helpful having a best breast pump that works for you. A manual breast pump, in particular, is a great way to express milk while keeping you in control of the speed and intensity of suction. If you're wondering if a manual breast pump is right for you or how to use a manual breast pump, keep reading.

There are two types of breast pumps: manual and electric. A manual breast pump works to mimic a baby's suckling and allows you to control the speed and intensity of the suction. It is hand-operated and is often cheaper than electric breast pumps, which may be faster but offer less control. You can also buy a breast pump bra that can help to hold your pump in place. These are particularly handy if you struggle to find the best breast pumping position for you but depending on how often you need to pump breast milk, may not be suited for extensive pumping.

It can be difficult for mums who are returning to work, have multiple children or just want to share the load of breastfeeding by introducing bottles to involve their partner. A manual breast pump is also useful for pumping when out and about, as you don't have to worry about finding somewhere to plug in like some electric pumps require.

If you're looking for a manual breast pump that will work for you and your lifestyle, have a look at our carefully curated list of the best below.

The best manual breast pumps at a glance:

Best Manual Breast Pump overall: Lansinoh Manual Silicone Breast Pump - Buy now on Amazon

Best Manual Breast Pump for comfort: Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump - Buy now on Very
Best Wearable Manual Breast Pump: Elvie Curve - Buy now on Amazon
Best Silicone Manual Breast Pump: Haakaa Manual Silicone Breast pump - Buy now on Amazon

How we tested and chose these breast pumps

Our Mother&Baby awards are renowned in the industry for being one of the most highly respected product awards for baby and parenting products, and every year, we arrange for thousands of independent mum reviewers to test the latest products on the market.

We've tested over 60 of the best models available in the UK, with around 10 reviewers per product to ensure that we get a range of views on the product.

Once we’ve recruited our pool of testers we ask them to consider four areas while testing, including usability, design, quality and value for money. They also are asked to provide feedback on their experience with the product and whether they would make any changes to improve it.

Find out more about how we test and what considerations we take into account in our testing process.

Our independent mums review products based on their usability, design, quality, and value for money. Reviewers give us qualitative feedback on their experience with the product, which our team of journalists review to decide our recommended products.

From all this work, the best breast pumps are chosen and listed below, along with the review comments that we thought would be most useful to those looking themselves for the best breast pump.

Our editorial team is also constantly updating our best of articles and looking for new breast pumps to test so that we can help you find the best – be that a cheaper product that we want to test for value for money or the latest breast pump innovation.

The Best Manual Breast Pumps 2024

The Best Manual Breast Pump overall

Lansinoh Silicone Breast pumpLorna White
Price: $24.40

This manual pump won Bronze in the Mother&Baby 2023 awards.

This is a simply-designed breast pump that is particularly helpful for collecting leaked milk from the breast that is not in use when breastfeeding. The difference between this and other similar designs on the market is that the Lansinoh pump includes a neck strap and a suction pad on the bottom of the vessel to help prevent spillage - this is in recognition of the fact that mums are often operating one-handed as they are nursing baby with the other.

"During my breastfeeding experience, I’ve always needed to have a silicone pump on the breast I’m not feeding on due to oversupply, but I’ve really struggled to find one that will suction on and stay put - not losing suction really quickly," said our Mother&Baby reviewer Rai. "This one I found stayed on and was extremely comfortable to use too and didn’t cause any discomfort."

Another of our mum testers said: "I tended to use it in the mornings when my breasts were engorged. While baby fed on one breast, I would use the Lansinoh pump to collect leaking milk or lessen the engorgement from the other breast. As the collector fills and my breast reduced in size, I was able to fine-tune the suction by gently releasing and reattaching. By feeding my baby and using the collector at the same time, it saved me time in the mornings and provided me with some fresh milk to try with the bottle later on or freeze."

We also love that this pump is small enough to be carried around discretely with ease. It's a standout choice in our books and good value for money.

Read our full Lansinoh Silicone Breast Pump review

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Small and portable
  • Comes with neck strap and suction on the bottom of the vessel to help prevent spills
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Strong suction might be too much for some mums
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Catches excess breast milk

Best Manual Breast Pump for comfort

Medela Harmony Breast PumpImage: John Lewis

Medela is a trusted brand in the breast pump sphere so its Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump gets the overwhelmingly great reviews you'd expect. It has a wide 105-degree opening angle which means it puts less strain on your nipple and helps unblock milk ducts. Some mums have found that this leads to a more comfortable pumping experience. Reviewers also liked the stand it comes with to help prevent milk spillage.

Most mums found it was great at collecting a good supply of milk in just a few minutes and that it was good to be able to control the speed and rhythm via an easy-to-use handle. "This is the third manual pump I’ve used and by far the best one," said one tester. "It’s more effective in collecting milk as you can use the stimulation phase first using your thumb for short pumps and then change to longer pumps using the main lever." 

"Worked well for me, I even managed one handed feeding baby on one side and expressing on the other," said another mum. "It disassembles easily for sterilising. Only thing that could be better is that it has the bottle and a lid for storing but doesn't come with a teat to be able to feed from the bottle. So would need to purchase separately."

Read the full Medela Harmony Flex Manual Breast Pump review

Pros

  • Two-phase expression
  • Control the speed and flow of expressing via the handle
  • Comes with a stand to help prevent milk spillage
  • Discreet and quiet use

Cons

  • Sometimes requires repositioning when using
  • Requires a teat for feeding - to be bought separately
  • Oval shaped shield
  • Mimics instinctive rhythms
  • Compact design

Best Wearable Manual Breast Pump

elvie-breastfeeding-curve
Price: $37.48
Alternative retailers
Target$37.49View offer

The Elvie Curve is a neat little design that fits into your bra and is, in effect, a wearable manual breast pump. Clever, eh? We love the Elvie Curve because it makes pumping effortless - wear it with ease around the home or discreetly outside - and adjust the suction via a valve. It can be used in one of three ways. While you are breastfeeding on the other breast, pumping on the other breast, or whenever your breast feels full. 

"The wearability of the product alone is reason enough to recommend it," said our Mother&Baby tester Louise. "The fact that you can use it while doing other things around the house or feeding your baby is great. You don’t have to worry about wires, batteries or making sure it’s charged. All you need to do is get it in place set the desired level of suction then you are ready to go. It is good that you can adjust the level of suction by a button and most pumps like this do not have this function."

Reviewers did say the breast needed to be quite engorged in order to collect a good supply of milk, but it was very useful to collect leaking milk whilst simultaneously feeding baby on the other breast.

Read our full Elvie Curve Breast Pump review

Pros

  • Catches leaking milk as well as promoting milk supply via suction
  • Suction strength is adjustable
  • Extremely discreet, hands-free, wearable design

Cons

  • Some mums found expressions low or slow
  • Stores up to 4oz/120ml of milk
  • One press expression
  • Cord-free, portable and lightweight
  • Lays stably to avoid spills
  • Only two parts to clean
  • Dishwasher safe
  • BPA free

Best Silicone Manual Breast Pump

Haakaa Manual Breast Pump is perhaps the simplest and best hassle-free pump. It's designed to use on the alternate breast whilst breastfeeding to capture precious milk leaks, but it can also be useful to help unblock milk ducts.

Reviewers confirm it's a comfortable and useful piece of equipment but are mixed about how much milk the Haakaa Manual Pump captures - some rave about it, and others are lukewarm, depending largely on their own levels of milk production. If you're a mum who produces a lot of milk, or needs let-down relief on occasion, this is for you.

"This is such a genius product," confirms one mum. "It collects the milk from the breast that isn't expressing/feeding, so there’s no waste. But beyond that, because it applies a little bit of suction, it helps with milk production in the crucial first weeks."

This is one of the most popular manual breast pumps as it is easy to clean and requires very little effort - it's also very affordable. Some say the collection bottle is a top-heavy shape so not easy to put down after use whilst simultaneously holding baby. A silicone lid and suction base are supplied with the more expensive versions of the Haakaa manual breast pump to help prevent spillages, but don't come with the standard model.

Pros

  • Simple design and easy to use
  • One size fits all
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • The shape of the bottle could be improved for stability. A silicone lid and suction base don't come with the standard Haakaa manual breast pump, only the more expensive model.
  • Some mums found expressions low or slow.
  • Holds 4oz/100ml
  • BPA, PVC and phthalate free

The Best Manual Breast Pump with Bottle

Tommee Tippee Manual Breast PumpImage: Tommee Tippee

The lightweight Tommee Tippee manual breast pump is fitted with a soft, cushioned, silicone cup with comfort ion mind. It fits neatly around your breast to avoid leaks and has massaging petals designed to encourage flow. Like most manual pumps, it has no tubes or cords so it can easily be moved from room to room, place to place. It's designed to use one-handed and your milk can be caught directly into a Tommee Tippee bottle - one of which is supplied - for easy feeding, too.

"I really liked using a manual pump as you seem to have more control over the pressure on your breast when you first start to express the milk," said our mum tester Charlotte said. "This one worked well. It was also easy to use and clean. It's considerably cheaper than the electric versions, so it's also really good value for money."

Another of our reviewers felt the suction and fit wasn't great for her, but still recommended it based on design and build quality for other mums. Lightweight and small, it's nice and portable and deserves its spot in our round-up of the best manual breast pumps.

Read our full Tommee Tippee Made for Me Single Manual Breast Pump review

Pros

  • Has a soft, cushioned, silicone cup for comfort
  • Can be collected directly into a feeding bottle which is supplied - with teat
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Difficult to use at the same time as breastfeeding baby
  • Some felt the fit wasn't great for them and resulted in loss of suction
  • Ergonomic shape
  • Massaging petal features on cup
  • Compact and lightweight

The Best Manual Breast Pump for Compatibility with other kit

MAM manual breast pumpRobyn Cann

If you are a fan of MAM bottles, this MAM manual breast pump may be perfect for you. Your milk will be expressed directly into a MAM feeding bottle for immediate use or for safe and hygienic storage. You can adjust the funnel and suction intensity for maximum comfort when expressing, and even convert to the MAM electric system with additional kit if you decide to go down that route at a later date.

Our Mother&Baby mum reviewer Carla said: "I would recommend this product as it is comfortable on the breast. The MAM pump has a lovely design. The funnel is very soft and doesn't cause any marks on the skin. It is quite small so can fit in your bag if needed to pump on the go/at work. The parts can be taken apart so can be sterilised easily."

In fact, there are only four parts to put together, making cleaning and sterilising relatively simple. This is a pump that seems to get good results for most reviewers and gets bonus points for compatibility with other MAM kit.

Read our full MAM manual breast pump review

Pros

  • Compatible with MAM products, including the electric pump
  • Adjustable suction and 'one size fits all' suction cup
  • Easy to clean and assemble

Cons

  • Some mums struggled to see the milk coming through clearly
  • Four-part assembly
  • Adjustable funnel
  • Includes one Anti-Colic bottle
  • BPA free

The Best Manual Breast Pump with Accessories

Philips Avent Manual Breast PumpImage: Amazon

The silicone breast shield of this pump moulds to the nipple to give comfort when feeding, and the pump itself mimics the suckling action of a baby. The small, lightweight kit is easy to transport and clean. It also comes with a teat and the collection vessel doubles as a feeding bottle.

Our Mother&Baby mum reviewer said: "This pump is by far one of the best for reducing the amount of milk escaping from the sides (every drop matters to me). I no longer find myself bent over a pump with aching hands, I can actually sit further back without worrying all of my hard work is wasted on milk determined to flow every which way but inside the pump. Another great point is that it comes apart like a dream and cleans just as easily, I don't have any fiddly parts that require any extra brain power to navigate."

Another mum said it was a good product but that it did not cater well to all sizes of breast and nipple. "I would suggest that the company needs to make multiple sized flange inserts (aka the silicon part that fits on the breast) as this type of flange insert does not really adapt to the size of the user, especially with smaller nipple circumferences," she said.

Read our full Philips Avent manual breast pump review

Pros

  • Light, small and easily transportable
  • Easy to use and clean
  • ready shield moulds to the nipple
  • Comes with a feeding bottle - which you express directly into - and a teat

Cons

  • Some found the suction not as strong as other options
  • Some found the rest shield did not cater particularly well to different nipple sizes
  • Small and lightweight
  • Includes one 4oz bottle
  • Includes two disposable breast pads

Everything you need to know about a manual breast pump

A manual breast pump doesn't just refer to a pump that is squeezed by hand. Over the years, different types of manual breast pumps have made their way onto the market, all with the aim of making expressing milk easier for mums.

Breastmilk is often referred to as liquid gold, as it is packed full of vitamins and minerals which will help your baby grow into a healthy child. Breastfeeding is a labour of love and requires consistent feeding, so choosing to use a manual breast pump could help you and your baby.

Hand-held pumps: a hand-held is a classic style that typically has a handle or lever that you squeeze to create suction. This pull uses a vacuum pressure to draw out milk.

Collection shells: with no pumping required for these, they simply sit in your maternity nursing bra like a nursing pad and collect the milk that leaks between breastfeeds or when pumping.

Silicone pump: these are often used to collect milk from the opposite breast to the one you are feeding from. You don't need to continually hand pump and instead rely on vacuum suction which can be established from a squeeze once attached.

Woman with Tomme Tippee Manual Pump
©Tomme Tippee

How to choose a manual breast pump

Because a manual breast pump can feel like an intimate and important purchase, there are a few things to consider when picking one in order to make the right decision for you and your body.

Comfort - Take your breast size and what you think will feel comfortable into consideration.

Features - Does that breast pump perform in all the ways you need it to? Will it work with your routine?

Price - It can be easy to feel pressured into buying the most expensive gadgets, but definitely stick to your budget.

We have taken all of these elements into consideration when making our selections above.

How to use a manual breast pump

If you're wondering how to use a breast pump, follow these instructions for how to use the different manual pumps.

It's important to always start by washing your hands. Make sure your pump and bottle are clean and sterile before use. You might want to find a quiet space where you won't be disturbed to pump in peace.

Tip: begin by massaging your breast for a few minutes – this helps with the let-down reflex.

Hand-held pumps: with the bottle attached, place the breast shield over your nipple and make sure it's in the centre of the funnel. Gently press down on the handle to stimulate milk flow and repeat. Once your milk starts to flow, press the handle and hold for a few seconds before releasing.

Collection shells: as this doesn't require hand pumping, simply place in your nursing bra and ensure your nipple is aligned with the opening. The cup will then collect milk that leaks in between feeds or on the opposite breast while feeding.

Silicone pump: gently squeeze the pump to release air inside the pump and whilst still squeezing, attach it to your breast. When attached, release your grip on the pump, which will create a suction that starts to express the milk.

Tip: When your milk starts slowing down, switch breasts. Then swap back again as you may find you have more milk to express.

Once you've finished expressing, remove the breast shield and securely store your fresh breast milk.

After pumping, always clean and sterilise all of your feeding equipment.

Manual vs electric breast pumps:

Everyone is different, so many mums-to-be can easily feel on the fence about picking the right type of breast pump for them - here are some pros & cons to both manual and electric breast pumps, so you can make a more informed decision.

Manual breast pumps

Pros

• You don't need a power source which is more convenient (and can be quieter too)

• They're a great budget option compared to electric versions

• Can relieve pressure from the breast if you have any uncomfortable engorgement

Cons

• Manual breast pumps can be more time-consuming

Electric breast pumps

Pros

• They're more versatile, making it easier to double pump if you need to

• Designed to be a more hands-free option

• Gives you more control over the speed and intensity of pumping

Cons

• They're typically pricier, and not all are wireless

FAQs

Can I pump straight after birth?

Yes. If you are unable to breastfeed, you can pump straight after birth. This will help develop and maintain a good supply of breast milk. NHS recommend mothers wait six weeks to establish a breastfeeding routine. However, each parent's feeding journey will be different, and it is safe to pump straight away if you feel that is what is right for you and your baby.

How to store breast milk

• Breast milk should be stored in a clean sterilised container or milk storage bag.

• Milk can safely stay in the fridge for up to 8 days at 4C or lower

• If you're unsure of the temperature of the fridge or it is above 4C, use it within 3 days

• Breastmilk can be stored for up to 6 months in the freezer

• Milk that's been cooled or defrosted in the fridge can be carried in an ice-cool bag for up to 24 hours.

• It is best to store breast milk in small quantities using special storage bags to help avoid waste. It is important to label and date it.

How do I heat breastmilk?

You can warm breast milk by putting the bottle into hot water and checking the temperature to ensure it is not too hot for your baby. Ideally, it should be no hotter than body temperature. Never microwave milk. It may create hot spots and lead to your infant getting burnt.

What should you do if you are having difficulties feeding?

Visit the NHS website for more information about infant feeding or find your local breastfeeding support services.

Whether you're pregnant or have already welcomed your new baby into the world, you know you need a lot of stuff. The Amazon Baby Wishlist is the best way to keep track of everything you need for your baby - and it's easy to set up.

Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.

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