Medela’s Manual Breast Pump vs Mini Electric Breast Pump

Medela’s Manual Breast Pump vs Mini Electric Breast Pump

 As a breastfeeding stay-at-home mum, I needed a breast pump for occasional pumping. I started with the manual breast pump but pretty quickly got fed up and bought a mini electric pump. In hindsight, the electric one was all I needed.

Medela is a pretty common brand here in the Middle East, and its the brand of pumps that my hospital stocked as well. So choosing Medela was a no brainer for me.

I bought the manual pump while still pregnant, “just in case” I needed it. I started using it when baby was 2-3 weeks old, when we went to the consulate to have his passport made. Then, I used it daily to prepare a bottle for early evening walks with baby because he was hungry so often. It also came in handy while my mum was in town, she received a bottle of fresh breast milk for the little one and I received a rare night out with my husband.

Why the Medela Manual Pump was initially attractive

> It was cheap(er)
> It was fairly easy to use, and extremely easy to pump a quick 50ml which is all I needed in early weeks
> It didn’t make any noise, so I could use it comfortable next to a sleeping baby

I purchased the Medela Harmony Light Manual breast pump from Souq.com, and it’s also available on Amazon US (Medela Manual Breast Pump for $27), Amazon UK (Breastpump Manual Medela Harmony for £24) and Amazon India (Medela Harmony Manual Breastpump).

But then…

My hands were practically developing carpal tunnel syndrome from how often I was using the pump – once daily for the first two months (back when baby’s grandmums were in town and we went through a terrible month of “witching hour” where baby was a crying beast every night, and only settled down when given a bottle).

About that time, I realized that hand expression was a much faster way of filling a bottle. (TMI? Lol).

Note: I was fairly lucky in that baby accepted the bottle readily from 2-3 weeks on. I started with Nuk newborn nipples (this was what my hospital was using for newborns). I used the bottle sparingly for some time to avoid nipple confusion – and have been very fortunate to have a non fussy baby who is comfortable with both au naturale and bottles. I know of 1.5 year olds who never accepted a bottle.

With this in mind, I would recommend buying a more expensive, electric pump after baby is born and has proven they will accept a bottle.

By 4 months, I was struggling to fill a bottle. 

Little known fact – a few months into breastfeeding, some mums have trouble pumping. Baby is far more efficient at extracting milk after all. So, 4 months in, I found that the manual pump was not as effective anymore. With a holiday looming ahead of us, my husband encouraged me to buy an electric pump.

Note: Neither baby nor I enjoy breastfeeding in public. He hates it when I put on a nursing cover, go figure!

The Medela Mini Electric pump wasn’t any more effective, but it was a lot easier to use.

All I have to do with the electric pump is hold it in place (and technically, there are special bras that can do that. Or, you can hack an old sports bra to hold it in place). So much easier than having to manually pump!

But my biggest gripe with the Mini Electric pump is that it is LOUD. I cannot use it in the same room as baby when he is asleep. (Let alone using it on a plane, haha) So I use it in another room or when baby is awake. In terms of effectiveness, it’s equal to the hand pump. Which, unfortunately for me, means it is not very effective. (In numbers, I can extract about 40-50ml in 10 minutes of pumping. I know of friends who have much better luck and are able to electric pump several hundred ml in the mornings.)

Now that baby is older, he lasts much longer without milk and I barely have to pump anymore. He’s also better at breastfeeding in baby changing rooms / large restrooms.

On normal days, I use the electric pump to fill the first half of the bottle and then swap to hand expression when the electric pump ceases to work.

On days when I’m slightly engorged (because baby’s appetite decreased or because he slept longer at night), the electric pump comes in super handy in expressing all the milk and helping me prevent mastitis.

I bought the Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump at Souq.com (I think it was on sale, it was much cheaper in 2017!). It’s also available at Amazon UK (Medela Single Mini Electric Breastpump) and Amazon India (Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump); there’s a different model available at Amazon US (Medela Swing Single Electric Breast Pump).

As you can tell, breastfeeding is actually quite nuanced and its certainly different for every mum and baby – especially if you are stay at home vs. if you will be working and pumping at work! As a first time mum, I wasn’t aware of this at all!

If I could go back in time, I would have skipped the manual pump altogether and picked up the mini electric pump. It’s priced well for the value it delivers, and I could sit back and ‘relax’ while I used it.

The electric pump would have been especially handy in the first few months because we went out a lot more often at that time, when baby was less mobile and slept more often!

Left: Medela Harmony Manual pump / Right: Medela Mini Electric pump / Bottom: Banana for scale

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BabyCenter – Birth Club
For an online community of moms (join a birth club based on your baby’s birth month). (But note, the BabyCenter articles can be so off!)

KellyMom.com (Blog)
For information on parenting & breastfeeding, especially helpful in early months.

La Leche League (Organization)
For information on breastfeeding.

Your Baby Week by Week (Book)
A helpful breakdown of what to expect, from weeks 0 to 26. Take the advice with a pinch of salt – all babies are different.

The Wonder Weeks (Book/App)
A guide to baby’s mental development milestones and chart showing when baby will enter fussy periods (fairly accurate).

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