Manual breast pumps v. electric breast pumps: Which is better?

If you've never used a breast pump before, or you're just starting out on your motherhood journey, there's a lot of confusing information out there. We're here to clear it up and help you make an important decision!

Full disclosure: our Jellie Collect breast pump is a manual pump, but we're here to give you a fair breakdown so you can find what's best for you.

What is a manual breast pump?

These tend to be the simplest type of breast pump, and many people find them to be a more natural-feeling experience. There's no electricity involved, just good old-fashioned suction or hand pumping. Some, like the Jellie Collect, gently suction on to your breast and catch milk, and others have a lever you have to pump manually while holding them in place.

Some mums find manual pumps be more a more comfortable and relaxing option than electric pumps, while still being useful for collecting and storing milk, and boosting breastmilk production. They're also super quiet, which is nice when there's a sleeping baby nearby, or if you don't want to advertise to everyone around that you're pumping. 

They're also much cheaper than electric pumps!

You can use manual pumps in a few different ways:

  • Express milk and store for later, by manually squeezing the pump in a rhythm that simulates a baby feeding
  • Wear on the other breast while baby is feeding, to catch milk that is let down and relieve an engorged breast
  • Wear under your bra to discreetly collect milk as you go about your day

Pros and cons of manual breast pumps


  • Cheaper than electric pumps
  • Some types are discreet and can be worn under clothing
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Easy to use - no setup required
  • Lightweight and easy to keep in a handbag, nappy bag, stroller, or car
  • Easy to clean and sterilise
  • Quiet


  • Can cause sore hands if you need to regularly squeeze pump to stimulate milk flow
  • Slower than electric pumps
  • May extract less milk than electric pumps

What is an electric breast pump?

These are the pumps you've probably seen in the movies or on TV. It's what most people think of when they hear the words "breast pump". Electric pumps have a rechargeable or replaceable battery, or they plug into the wall. They have a small motor which creates a rhythmic suction designed to simulate a baby feeding. Most electric pumps collect milk in an attached bottle that you can unscrew and place directly in the fridge.

These are usually used when expressing milk to store, and many pumps come with two attachments so you can pump both breasts at once. You can also use just one attachment to pump the other breast while baby is feeding.

Electric pumps are often the best choice for mums who exclusively express, or who are going back to work and need to store a lot of milk, and regularly pump while away from baby.

Pros and cons of electric pumps


  • Faster than manual pumps
  • Hands-free operation
  • Low effort
  • Easy milk storage in bottles


  • Expensive
  • Often bulky and require a special carry bag
  • Lots of parts to clean and sterilise
  • May require a power socket
  • Takes time to set up
  • Often noisey



Simply: it's up to your personal preference.

We find that a good, comfortable manual pump is the best option for most mums. You will probably need an electric pump if you're using it regularly while apart from the baby to keep up supply and store expressed breastmilk.

Advantages of the Jellie Collect manual breast pump

The Jellie Collect manual breast pump is designed with mum's comfort and real-world use in mind. It's made of soft, comfortable silicone, and you can wear it under your bra or gently suctioned onto your breast.

There's also a measure on the side so you know how much breastmilk you've collected, and an easy-pour opening so you can easily store your milk in a bottle, freeze bag, or container of your choice.

You can use the Jellie Collect while feeding, or to collect milk and relieve engorged breasts while your baby is asleep or elsewhere. Give it a try, we think you'll love it.

It's completely hands-free, and super easy to clean and sterilise since it's just a single piece of food-grade silicone.

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