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Hand vs. Electric Breast Pumps: Which Should You Use?


The choice between a hand pump and an electric breast pump is a tough one for mothers who have never pumped before. While both will express milk, the differences between them make each appropriate in specific situations. Those who plan to pump often and those who keep a pump around for occasional use need different types of pumps.

Using an Electric Breast Pump

An electric breast pump is generally recommended when a mother needs to pump regularly. This includes those who need daily pumping while at work and those who need to pump out large quantities. An electric breast pump is a faster pump, creating its own rhythmic suction. This speed is what many working mothers count on to get the pumping done during working breaks.

Within the electric breast pump category, there are single and double pumps. A double pump can pump both breasts at once, and these are often chosen by working mothers because it takes half the time of a single pump.

An electric pump has a small electric motor to create the rhythmic suction, so these pumps do make some noise. Some others prefer not to use them because the noise can make them hard to use in the same room with a sleeping infant. Some mothers also prefer a hand pump because the suction of an electric pump can be harsh and difficult to get used to. However, with a few uses, an electric breast pump can become a quick and easy way to express milk quickly. These pumps are automatic, so they are not tiring to use. And because they create the suction, busy mothers can do other things, such as read, while using them.

Using a Hand Pump

A hand pump is a less expensive type of pump, which is often what attracts mothers to it. It also has fewer parts and is generally less complicated to use than an electric pump. However, using a hand pump means manually creating the suction, and this can be extremely tiring after a few minutes of use. Mothers who don't need to pump very often or don't anticipate a need to pump and just want to have one for emergencies often choose a hand pump.

If you aren't sure how often you will need to use a breast pump and you haven't made the final decisions about working hours or whether anyone else will be feeding the baby, buying a hand pump may be a good first step. With this pump, you won't be out a lot of money if you decide not to pump regularly. But, if you do decide to pump often, the hand pump is a good primer for discovering how to pump and how to stay comfortable while doing so. You can then move on to buying an electric one in order to make the pumping process go faster. You may also decide to keep both, using the electric when you have a lot to pump and using the manual on the go when you want to relieve a little bit of milk pressure.

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