There is a reason that breastmilk is often referred to as liquid gold. Breastmilk is packed full of vitamins and minerals which will help your baby grow into a healthy child. Your breast milk is designed by nature to provide everything that your new baby needs and choosing to use a manual breast pump could help you and your baby.
There is no denying the benefits, but it can be difficult for mums who are returning to work, have multiple children or just want a little break from time to time. Breastfeeding is a labour of love and requires consistent feeding or pumping for your body to generate more milk.
What is a manual breast pump?
There are two types of breast pumps: manual and electric. Pumps are designed to mimic a baby’s suckling. A manual breast pump allows you to control the speed and intensity of the suction. It is hand-operated and is often cheaper than electric pumps. Electric breast pumps may be faster but offer less control.
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.
When should I pump?
The best time to pump is whenever feels right for you. Pick a time when you are comfortable. First thing in the morning can be a great time to pump because your body will have rested and will produce more milk. Lactating parents may opt to pump immediately after nursing their baby to encourage milk production.
How to use a manual breast pump
Firstly, always start by washing your hands. Make sure your pump and bottle are clean and sterile before use. Find a quiet space where you can spend up to an hour undisturbed. This space should be warm and comfortable.
Begin by massaging your breast for a few minutes – this helps with the let-down reflex.
Place the breast shield over your nipple, and slowly start to pump. It may take a few minutes before your milk starts flowing. If it is a wearable device, you may not have to manually pump as you can let the milk flow freely – it may be a good idea to look at a photograph of your baby and spend more time massaging your breasts.
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 emptied both breasts, remove the breast shield and securely store your fresh breast milk.
After pumping always clean and sterilise all of your feeding equipment.
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.
Best wearable manual breast pump
We love the Elvie Curve because it makes pumping effortless. 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. This breast pump can be popped into your bra so you can wear it with ease around your home or discreetly outside.
Tommee Tippee Manual Breast Pump
Best manual breast pump with bottle
The Tommee Tippee manual breast pump is a soft silicone cup pump. It fits comfortably around your breast to avoid leaks. The manual pump has no tubes or cords which means this lightweight pump can be moved from room to room. Your milk can be caught directly into a Tommee Tippee bottle. You can easily clean all parts by hand, in the dishwasher or in a steriliser.
Haakaa Manual Breast Pumps Silicone Breastpump
Best free flowing manual breast pump
Haakaa Manual Breast Pump is award-winning. It is hassle-free as all you have to do is put the suction onto your breast and collect all of the milk that would have otherwise been lost. This is one of the most popular manual breast pumps as it is easy to clean and requires very little effort.
MAM Manual Breast Pump
If you are a fan of MAM bottles this manual breast pump may be perfect for you. Your milk will be expressed directly into the bottle for immediate use or safe and hygienic storage.
Medela Harmony Flex Manual Breast Pump
Best manual breast pump with handle
Medela Harmony Flex Manual Breast Pump has a 105-degree opening angle which means it puts less strain on your nipple and milk ducts. Some mums have found that this leads to a more comfortable pumping experience. This hand-held pump is an easy to use handle.
Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump
Best manual breast bump with accessories
The silicone breast shield adapts to fit your nipple to give comfort when feeding. This kit includes one Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump expression kit with handle, one 4oz bottle with 0m+ nipple, two disposable breast pads, one sealing disc and a cushion cover.
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