Reasons Why you might need a Manual Breast Pump?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema 

Breastfeeding and pumping milk out both are great ways to feed the most essential nutrients to your baby. Doctors always encourage breastfeeding rather than formula feeding. 

It is said that mother’s milk has got all the essential components required to meet a baby’s nutritional needs. No formula can substitute breastmilk. But you can always choose how you want to feed the breastmilk, from the breast directly or by pumping milk out & bottle feed.

It's true that breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to all. I used to feel ashamed when I was struggling to feed my child. I realized on the very first day that though the baby was latching on my breast but she did not get a single drop of milk. 

Later I got to know that milk did not come in and it happens with some moms for various reasons like traumatic delivery, pre-mature birth, illness, obesity, cesarean delivery, medication, thyroid, etc. 

Every parent wants to make sure their baby gets everything that they need. And in case you are not able to do so, that can leave you in anxiety, stress, and shame.

When I was struggling to breastfeed my child, I somewhere felt alone in the journey and thought something was wrong with my body that initially it was not making milk and when it did it was not sufficient for my child.

I was pretty determined initially that I will exclusively breastfeed because I read multiple times that breast milk is the customized food for babies and there are endless benefits of breastfeeding for the baby as well as for the mom.

But my struggle for feeding the baby seemed endless and then I read somewhere about pumping milk at home using manual breast pumps. Nothing was working for me so I thought why not to give the manual pump a try. And you know what? I was glad that I got a manual pump for myself. 

Some moms exclusively pump, some breastfeed and then pump to increase their supply, and some top it up with formula after breastfeeding (combine feed). But you can always choose what works for you. 

Main Reasons for pumping breast milk

Breast milk is a biologically designed and customized food for the babies ideal to fulfill their nutritional needs. Pumping can also provide almost the same benefits to the child if not identical. 

It is absolutely not at all necessary to choose between exclusively pumping and breastfeeding. Moms can do both. While breastfeeding from one breast you can choose to pump the other. 

Before we discuss the advantages of using the manual pump for breastfeeding let’s look at the main reasons for pumping:

1. Uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding:

Feeling scared and uncomfortable to breastfeed initially is normal. While establishing breastfeeding many moms might experience pain and sore nipples too. 

And some moms don’t want their freedom to be snatched as they get tied down to home to care for children. Concerns about looks and lack of confidence also can also stop a mother from breastfeeding.   

2. Latching problems & Sore nipples:

A good latch is the key success of successful breastfeeding. An agitated, overtired, and badly positioned baby on breast can stop the baby from getting the right latch. 

Sore breasts are common in the early days of breastfeeding which could be because of wrong latch and engorgement. 

Sore nipples, breast pain, engorgement are the most common breastfeeding complications and reasons for new mothers to include pumping in their schedule. 

Some women also get mastitis (infection) caused due to cracked and damaged nipples stopping women to breastfeed. 

3. Leaks here and there:

Leaking is common especially in the first few weeks as it takes time to adjust the supply of milk. 

Leaking is caused by the let-down reflex, which happens when the nerves get triggered when the baby sucks on the breast. 

Moms experience sudden leaks upon hearing a baby cry, while in the shower, sleeping, delay in feeding, talking about the baby. 

Some mothers like to pump from one breast while baby nurses on the other breast. It is one of the time-saving and efficient ways to build a stock of milk. 

4. Returning to work: 

Returning to work doesn’t mean a mon need to stop. Moms who need to get back to work can pump and store milk for their babies so that in her absence the baby still can get the goodness of breastmilk. 

These days moms can choose to work flexible hours which suits their schedules. 

Some large organizations also provide a separate private room for expressing while others may use first aid rooms/ spare office rooms so that women can still take care of their babies by proving breast milk. 

5. Prefer to see how much milk child is getting:

Most mothers worry if their baby is getting enough to eat or not. 

When breastfeeding you can’t tell the amount of milk your baby has swallowed. 

So, mothers are turning to pump to keep track of how much they are feeding. 

Pumping helps the mothers to measure the amount of milk that the baby needs to have per feeding.

6. Like to increase milk supply:

The more you remove milk from your breast more signals will be passed to the body to make more milk. 

If you can then breastfeed the baby first and then pump the extra milk to empty your breast. 

The further stimulation on the breast by pumping after breastfeeding will tell the body that you need to make more breast milk. 

Mothers can hand express or pump to get rid of extra milk in the breast, later is much easier to do to empty the breast. 

7. If you have a premature baby in hospital:

Premature babies need extra care and attention because they are likely to have chronic health issues. That’s why they are kept in a special care nursery or unit. 

Breastmilk protects premature babies from infections and helps them to grow and develop. 

Many hospitals allow private areas for nursing or they can arrange to have expressed breast milk. 

Even if your baby cannot breastfeed yet, expressing milk or pumping makes sure your milk supply is maintained.

8. Embarrassed to feed the baby in public:

Some mothers may be confident about breastfeeding in public while others feel embarrassed. 

Mothers usually use burp cloths, swaddling wraps, breastfeeding covers to breastfeed the baby in a discreet & modest way in public place. 

Whereas some mothers are fearful of disapproving stares and remarks from people and that is the reason why some mothers bottle-feed when out and about with baby.

9. Share feeding:

Mothers may feel too tired taking care of the baby throughout the day. Pumping helps moms to share their responsibility of feeding the baby with others. 

Let the dads lend a hand by bottle feeding breast milk to the baby while moms take some required rest. Share feeding allows dads to bond with the little one. 

10. Baby doesn’t need to struggle for hours:

Babies need to suckle initially on the breast for the let-down. A baby needs to do a lot of sucking to empty a breast. 

Especially newborns and younger babies take more time to empty a breast than an older baby. 

In case the baby gets tired or falls asleep or loses interest you can always pump some milk and give it to the baby to make sure they get enough nutrition for enhanced health, growth, and development. 

Types of breast pump:

Nursing mothers can’t always be with babies or use electric breast pumps if they resume work or need to travel or out and about.

Breast pumps are basically used to remove milk from milk and collect it in the bottle to feed your child. One can also choose to hand express the breast milk but pumping milk is a more convenient way to remove milk from breasts. 

In market, there are usually 3 main types of breast pumps available

1. Manual breast pump:

(Hand breast pump)

A manual pump can be used to remove the milk from the breast that is operated by hand. If you want to use it once or twice a day then go for it. In case you have decided to exclusively pump or use it often than using a manual pump can be tiring and time-consuming too. 

Nursing mothers place the breast shield to the nipple and use the hand to pump.

It is not an automatic process so needs some squeezing and releasing of handle with the hand. 

Pump the handle with rhythmic actions as if your baby is sucking on your breast.

Empty each breast to improve and maintain the milk supply.

After each use you need to clean all the parts and if you can sterilize it for the next use. 

2. Electric breast pump:

The electric breast pumps are more efficient and time-saving but they require a power source to function. You can also choose to pump out milk from both breasts at the same time. These pumps are quite powerful and help to establish, maintain or increase the milk supply. This is the go-to product for all the moms who decide to pump often. 

A cord connects the motor to the power source helping to pump out milk completely from the breasts at the same time in lesser time. 

The user can also set the suction rhythm according to their preference. 

A hospital graded pump is considered quite powerful and efficient which are available on rent if needed.

3. Battery Operated breast pumps:

By the name itself you can understand that these breast pumps are Battery operated. These are basically portable and can be easily used if you don't have access to an electrical outlet. 

It requires batteries which can be costly to be replaced over time. Because the pump runs on batteries you always need to keep extra batteries with you. 


Why you need Manual breast pumps?

Some say they couldn’t have done without an electric breast pump whereas some say the economical manual breast pumps are worth every penny. 

Different people different opinions. I got a chance to use a hospital-graded pump for a few days in the hospital itself and got a manual breast pump to use at home. 

For me, manual pumps worked better. Be it the convenience, size, price value, comfort- manual breast pumps check all the boxes. You don’t need to find electricity mains or carry cords or heavy motor. 

Advantages of using a manual breast pump:


1. Portable:

Manual breast pumps are designed in such a way that it does not require a lot of space, basically, they are a lot smaller in size compared to electric pumps. It has a few components that could be attached together to set up the pump. 

The manual pumps are light in weight so a lactating mother can easily carry them in their handbag. Because the manual breast pump is small, lightweight is detachable it really needs not much storage space and fit into a drawer or a shelf.

(I have used Philips Avent and Tommy Tippy Manual breast pumps and both were quite useful)

2. Not costly at all:

I promise you don’t have to think too much about investing in a manual breast pump because they are quite economical in general. 

You can choose to buy a good low-cost manual breast pump starting from £15 whereas the price for electric breast pumps starts from £50 approximately.

So, if you think to give pumping a try, get a cheaper manual version. I am sure you won’t regret it. 

3. Easy setup Easy dissemble:

Manual breast pumps are compact, lightweight, and detachable which makes it easy to set up, use and clean or sterilize unlike electric pumps. It has a simple mechanism. 

A manual breast pump consists of a few components such as the flange (section cup), flange cover, silicon diaphragm, stem, valve, handle and bottle. 

The flange body needs to be attached with the valve, stem, diaphragm and handle on one end and bottle at another. 

When you start squeezing and releasing in a pace it creates suction. It is quite easy to assemble and dissemble the manual breast pump by your own.

4. Set your own pumping pace:

Because you are pumping manually you got full control over the pumping handle. You can choose to pump in a rhythmic action as if the baby is sucking on your breast. 

5. Express at your comfort:

Many mothers choose manual breast pumps because they are simple and silent. That means it does not require electricity, cables, batteries, or a motor.

The suction created by pumping mimics the baby’s suction action and stimulates the nipples for the let-down. Make sure it doesn’t hurt. Use the right size of breast shield with a cushioned silicon-made flange cover/ breast cap.  

Once the milk starts flowing it directly gets stored in the bottle attached to the pump without creating any noise. 

One of the great advantages of using a manual breast pump that you can discreetly pump sitting anywhere and anytime. 

So, here are a few reasons why you might need a manual breast pump. 

If expressing by hand or electrical breast pumps are not what works for you then don't think that you cannot express. 

Give manual breast pump a try, you won't be disappointed. 

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