Review Of The Medela Manual Breast Pump: Everything You Need To Know

product photo of medela manual breast pump

When you’re a new parent, you naturally want the very best for yourself and your baby. This includes getting the best breast pump: one that is easy to use, light to carry around, and offers you some control when it comes to pumping and storage. The Medela manual breast pump might check all the important boxes when it comes to the ideal breast pump.

The Medela manual breast pump is easy to transport, comfortable to use, and allows you precise control so you can get just the amount of pressure you want. It is compatible with all the other items in the Medela line, which gives you a lot of flexibility to build the system that’s right for you. Read on to learn more about this great pump and breast pumps in general.

Type of Breast Pumps

photo of a manual breast pump

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Broadly speaking, there are two types of pumps: manual and electric. Some manual pumps are activated by hand and others by foot, while the electric models may be battery powered or use main power.

Manual Pumps

Manual pumps like the Medela manual breast pump are typically lighter and more portable than electric models. They also give the user more personalized control over milk expression and the amount of pressure the pump exerts. The downside of these pumps is that some of them are not able to provide enough pressure to stimulate and empty the breast as needed.

Electric Pumps

Personal-use electric pumps often allow the user to pump both breasts at the same time. They are also larger and provide more pressure than manual pumps meaning that they usually pump more quickly but are less convenient to carry around.

The Medela Manual Breast Pump

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This is one of the most popular breast pumps on the market, either electric or manual. It has a sleek profile and is very light, making it easy to take with you wherever you go. Despite how light it is, it’s a sturdy machine that won’t let you down and is surprisingly powerful for a manual pump.


The pump also comes with two bottles for collecting milk, which means you never have to worry about having forgotten to clean the bottle. It also means you can pump, leave a bottle at home for the baby, take the pump with you to work to fill later, and come home with everything your baby needs.

What Do You Get?

When you buy the Medela manual breast pump, you get the body of the pump and its handle, a breast shield that is very easy to clean, two interchangeable 150mL bottles, a stand, three membranes, one valve, and an instruction manual. The standard breast shield is 24mm, but other sizes can be acquired separately if you need them.

What’s Great about It?

There’s a lot to love about the Medela manual breast pump. Having the two bottles can save you a lot of time, and the whole system is fully compatible with all other items in the Medela system. This means there’s plenty of room to branch out and combine the manual pump with an electric one if you need.


The bottle stand is a nice plus as well and will probably save you quite a few spills, especially early morning or late night. The different breast shield sizes ensure you’ll be able to find the right fit, and since the pump has two modes of expression—one to stimulate the breast and the other to actually express the milk—most people find it does a better job than other, cheaper manual pumps.


Finally, Medela designs and produces all their pumps in coordination with the lactation program at the University of Western Australia. The upshot of this relationship is that you can count on their pumps to closely mimic the action of a baby’s suckling motions.

What Could Be Better?

The Medela manual breast pump does have a lot of small parts that can be a bit of a pain to clean. Since hygiene is of the utmost importance when it comes to breast pumps, this is something you may want to consider.


Additionally, you will have to replace the membranes on a fairly regular basis, so the pump keeps working efficiently. The rougher you are with these in washing, the faster they’ll wear out, but they are easy to find. Replacing them regularly also means everything stays clean and in good working order.

How to Use It

Relax

When you use your Medela manual breast pump, you should always start by looking for a private and comfortable place where you can relax. Don’t pump when you’re under stress, or you’ll just make it harder for yourself.

Clean

Always wash your hands and make sure all the parts of your Medela manual breast pump are clean. Anything that touches the milk your baby will drink should be sterilized. Always wash the pump and all its parts immediately after each use, so the milk does not sit.

​Position

Make sure that the breast shields are positioned with your nipples right in the center. As with any pump, if your nipples are off center, there’s a chance you could damage breast tissue from tugging in the wrong place.

​Support

Use your thumb and index finger to support the shield against your breast, so it doesn’t slip while pumping. You know the breast shield fits if just your nipple goes into the shield tunnel. If the nipple does not go fully into the tunnel, the tunnel is too small. If some of your areolae is pulled into the tunnel, it is too large.

​Stimulate

The Medela manual breast pump comes with two pumping stages. The stimulation stage is meant to mimic the initial frantic sucking action a baby exerts when they begin feeding. This stimulates milk flow and is activated by pressing the small part of the handle.

​Express

When milk begins flowing, begin pressing the longer part of the Medela manual breast pump handle. This expresses milk into the bottle. By changing how often and how hard you press, you can control the pressure to your comfort level.

​Stop

When milk does not seem to be flowing smoothly any longer, stop pumping and place the bottle on the accompanying stand. Then remove the pump and put the lid on the bottle. At this point, you may choose to feed your baby or store your milk.

Other Manual Pumps

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The Medela manual breast pump is a great option, even when compared to other popular manual pumps on the market.

Haakaa Silicone

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The Haakaa is another popular manual pump. It has won several awards and is popular in particular because of its comfort. It is very easy to clean and transport. The Haakaa isn’t as powerful as the Medela manual breast pump, however. It also only has one pumping stage. Some users also complain that it doesn’t provide accurate measures and can easily be kicked off by an energetic baby.

Lansinoh Manual Pump

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The Haakaa is another popular manual pump. It has won several awards and is popular in particular because of its comfort. It is very easy to clean and transport. The Haakaa isn’t as powerful as the Medela manual breast pump, however. It also only has one pumping stage. Some users also complain that it doesn’t provide accurate measures and can easily be kicked off by an energetic baby.

Philips Avent

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This manual pump is from a big name and is compatible with other Philips Avent products and containers. Because of the design, many users find it comfortable, sturdy, and lightweight. The Philips does have some issues, however, that make it less desirable than the Medela for many people. Some people with larger breasts find it more uncomfortable to use, and even those otherwise satisfied don’t like using it on a regular basis because it has a tendency to cause soreness.

Electric Pumps

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If you’re in the market for a good electric pump, there are some excellent choices out there.

Medela Breast Pump In Style

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This is comfortable to use multiple times a day, is compatible with all the Medela line of products, and even comes with an insulated bag and an ice pack, so you don’t have to keep your milk in the office fridge. This unit works quickly and quietly and allows you to pump both breasts at once. The carrying case is convenient and reasonably stylish.

Spectra Baby S2

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This cordless electric pump has a closed system that is easy to keep clean. It has a built-in nightlight so you can use it in the baby’s room if necessary. Users report it is quite comfortable. This is a cheaper model, however. It doesn’t hold up to the same amount of use as other electric models, and the bottles it comes with aren’t the best quality you can find.

Philips AVENT Double Electric

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While the Philips manual gets a lot of flack for being uncomfortable, its electric counterpart actually has more of a reputation for comfort. It’s also designed so users can sit up straight instead of having to lean forward to get the milk to flow. The suction cup does wear out over time, however, and the unit is pretty expensive. You also need to use Philips AVENT products with it.

Choosing Between Manual and Electric

This choice really boils down to your particular lifestyle, but the short answer is that everyone should have a manual pump like the Medela manual breast pump. Whether or not you also need an electric pump is a personal choice and depends on your answer to the following questions:

​How Often Will You Pump?

If you plan to nurse your baby the majority of the time, you can probably be satisfied with just the Medela manual breast pump. You will likely only use your pump once in a while when you want to go out or for some other reason cannot be with your baby for the occasional nursing time.

How Fast Will You Need to Pump?

Electric breast pumps are slightly quicker than manual ones, and many allow you to express both breasts at once. This can really speed up the process of pumping, though it may make it more likely you’ll feel sore. Since it takes between 10 and 15 minutes to do each breast, a double electric model can turn a 30-minute job into a 15 minute one, which could be important if you will often be in a hurry.

Will You Go to Work Soon?

If you want to go back to work soon after giving birth, you should have both the Medela manual breast pump and an electric model. The electric model will save you a lot of time and hassle for regular pumping. However, you’ll still want a good manual pump for occasional use, for travel, and when you want something quieter or that doesn’t have such an enormous profile. Manual pumps are also typically easier to clean, so they’re a good, discreet choice for the office.

​How Much Can You Afford to Spend?

Electric pumps are obviously going to be significantly more expensive than the Medela manual breast pump. While nearly anyone can afford a manual pump, not everyone needs to invest in an electric one. Most health insurance plans will cover at least the rental of an electric breast pump, but it’s worth checking out before you go to buy.

Storing Breast Milk

Whatever pump you use, it is essential that you store your breast milk in a way that is safe for your baby. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Room temperature (66 to 78 °F): four-to-six hours
  • Refrigerator (<40 °F): three-to-eight days
  • Freezer (0–4 °F): six-to-twelve months
  • Thawed: keep in a refrigerator for no more than 10 hours

The best way to thaw breast milk is to put it in the refrigerator overnight. You can also put it in warm (never hot) water for a few hours. Be sure to never put breast milk in the microwave or in boiling water to avoid destroying the necessary nutrients it contains.

The Wrap-Up

The Medela manual breast pump really is the queen of manual pumps. It’s easy to use and transport, works quickly and efficiently, and is very comfortable. It comes with different sized shields so you can get the fit that works perfectly for you. Every mother of a newborn needs to at least have a manual breast pump, and the Medela is the one we most recommend.

Featured Image Source: Amazon

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