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Learning How To Use a Breast Pump Manually: The Basics

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 28, 2022

Learning How To Use a Breast Pump Manually: The Basics

One of the main concerns after giving birth is being able to breastfeed your baby. Apart from knowing how to breastfeed the skin-to-skin way, some mothers also seek different ways on how to do it. This article gives you an idea of how to use a breast pump manually. 

What Is a Breast Pump?

While direct breastfeeding is still best, some mothers may also consider using a breast pump. Some say pumping breastmilk is beneficial as it allows you to have more control of your time. It also allows you to store breastmilk for a good number of days, ensuring that your child has access to breastmilk when other caregivers are taking of your baby.

Breast pumps consist of the three main parts:

  • Breast shield that fits over the nipple
  • Pump that creates a vacuum to express milk 
  • Detachable container for collecting milk
  • There are two different types of breast pumps depending on the mother’s preference:

    • Manual breast pumps. These are hand-operated small but inexpensive pumps that you can use to express and store milk. Many mothers have this as a backup in case they don’t have access to an outlet for their electric pump. 
    • Electric breast pumps. Electric breast pumps can either be battery-operated or plugged into a power outlet. It is relatively easier to use this type of pump as it doesn’t require any physical effort for mothers. However, they are significantly more expensive. 

    There are many reasons why a mother may want to use a breast pump. For some mothers, it can help relieve discomfort if they are producing excess milk. Other times, mother and child may have difficulty latching. Many mothers consider a breast pump when they return to work. Or mothers may want to express and store milk if they have to be away from their child for a number of days. 

    Whatever the reason, learning how to use a breast pump can simply empower a mother with more options — while still providing the benefits of breastmilk for babies. 

    How To Use a Breast Pump Manually

    Before becoming accustomed to using an electric pump, it is best to learn the basics from a regular handheld pump. 

    Read the guide and the instruction leaflet that came with the pump. Make sure you understand how to assemble it and how frequently you will need to clean and sanitize the parts. It may also help if you choose a good and comfortable location for pumping. 

    Here are some tips that could help you on how to use a breast pump. 

    • Before using the device, ensure that your pump, bottle, and parts are clean and sterile. Don’t forget to wash your hands, too. 
    • Begin by massaging your breasts for a few minutes. This will aid in the let-down reflex.
    • Place the breast shield or funnel over your nipple and begin pumping slowly. It might take a couple of minutes before your milk starts flowing. 
    • When your milk production begins to slow, switch breasts. Then switch back because you might have more milk to express. It is natural for one breast to produce more milk than the other.
    • After emptying both of your breasts, it is now time to remove the breast shield. Tighten the bottle’s lid to make sure it is properly screwed on. 

    You have the option to either immediately refrigerate breastmilk or leave it out at room temperature for no more than 4 to 6 hours. Do not forget to wash and sterilize the pump and its components after every use.

    Key Takeaways

    There are a variety of types of breast pumps available. Make sure to take into account your lifestyle and budget when selecting a breast pump for you. 

    Learn more about Breastfeeding here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 28, 2022

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