How Does a Manual Breast Pump Work?

breast pump

Every mom has a reason for wanting to express milk. Those with other responsibilities, for example, returning to work after the maternity break often will express milk so that their babies are not deprived of their privilege—the mother milk.

A simple manual breast pump comes in handy any time when you want to express milk. But how does a manual breast pump works? We have put together an article that purely explains how manual breast pumps works. Read on to learn more.

What is a manual breast pump?

breast pump

As the name suggests, a manual breast pump is operated manually in order to extract breast milk. The entire process starts with a breast cup or shield (that goes around the breast) been placed over your nipple. The lever or handle is then operated manually, and milk is collected in a container.

Compared to an electric pump, a manual pump is a lot more affordable and gives you more control over the pumping motion when expressing. Most manual breast pumps are usually small and handy, meaning you can carry them anywhere. If you plan to express milk even when not at home (or on the go), we recommend choosing a pump you can pack comfortably. 

How to use a manual breast pump

breast pump

To get the most out of your pump, it is a good idea first to familiarize yourself with a set of instructions (manual)that come with it. That way, you will know what you are required to do to operate the pump well and what to avoid when expressing milk.

Once you familiarize yourself with the pump and before placing the breast cup onto your breast, find a private room where you can feel relaxed about the entire process. It is normal to feel uncomfortable at first (most new starters do), so be prepared for a bumpy experience when getting started.

It may take up to five minutes before any milk start to expressing. So be patient and make sure to switch breasts every 5 minutes so that you get the most milk out of them. For the best experience when expressing, consider thinking about your baby and the pump mimicking your baby’s sucking action.

Once done, store the milk well. If you have a fridge, you can store the milk for around 3-5 days. If you don’t have one, you can leave the milk sitting at the room temperature for about 6 hours.

Pros and cons of using a manual breast pump

breast pump


  1. Affordable compared to electric breast pumps
  2. Lightweight and portable 
  3. Less noisy


  1. They aren’t that user-friendly in terms of ease of use.
  2. You require more time to express milk. Electric pumps get the job done fast.
  3. More effort. You have to express the milk manually.

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