The Pros and Cons of Mechanical Breast Pumps vs Manual Breast Pumps and Their Environmental Impact

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It’s interesting to see how quickly technology progresses today. If you watch this video with kids trying to figure out rotary phones, you’ll realize how far we’ve come along in just the past 50 years.

While technology improves our standard of living and brings greater efficiency to our daily lives, occasionally they cause more harm than good. And in some cases, they’re completely unnecessary!

Here’s my 17 minute video rant on my experience with a mechanical vs. manual breast pump. 

Call me crazy, but I find my manual breast pump to be WAY better on so many levels than my mechanical pump. (Why do I have both? I got a hand-me down mechanical pump that was used only once). Call me crunchy, hippy, or whatever, but I swear, my hand pump is by far better than my mechanical pump. This youtube mom of 4 agrees!

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of the two different types of pumps I use:

  Medela Pump In Style Advanced Mechanical Double Breast Pump

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Lasinoh Manual Hand Pump



Weight & Bulk 7 lbs and is so heavy and large it comes in its own bag that I need to carry separately from my work bag. So light I can’t weigh it…it’s several ounces. So small and light I can slip it into my purse.
Convenience & Comfort Convenient with the hands free bra because I can type, eat, do anything with my hands while pumping. However, it’s big, heavy, and bulky so it’s inconvenient to carry around. I also need a power source—to plug it in or always have AA batteries ready to go.

The suction is controlled via the power source and if on too high of a setting can make it very for the nipples. It is also a little confusing in the beginning because it looks like a laboratory experiment with all the wires, tubing, bottles, and flanges. Had tender nipples when I first started using it.

Requires my hands—one to express the boob, and the other to pump. Does not require any additional power source other than the hand! Very easy and not difficult to squeeze. Super light and fits into my purse.

The suction is controlled with your hand and so you have no way of sucking too hard. It’s much easier and theres an additional little comfort padding that makes it softer and more cushion-y on the breast. Never had a problem with tender nipples.

Loud Factor Pretty loud! Requires me to find a place I feel comfortable with the machine going for 10-15 minutes. Super quiet, I could pump in a library without anyone noticing.
Efficiency in Pumping I pump 6 oz in 10-13 minutes


I pump 6 oz in 8-11 minutes

I break down in the video why manual pumping is quicker for me.

Cost Retails $299.99 but can be subsidized through insurance or varying different types and versions can be free thanks to the Affordable Care Act 2014 Retails $34.99
Environmental Impact Requires manufacturing of the mechanical component of the breast pump, extra plastic for the tubing, and additional pump, additional manufacturing of cloth, zippers, synthetic materials for the backpack, also requires energy to power the pump, uses AA batteries when on the go, and is much heavier and larger in trucking/shipping/transportation costs which in combination create more emissions. Then…it gets thrown away at the end! Simple pump with one flange and minimal plastic manufacturing.

It’s weird to me that I don’t know a single mom who uses a hand pump. I get weird looks and “omygosh I can’t believe you use a hand pump. That must be so hard.” Well, nope, actually my hand pump is amazing, so simple to use, and doesn’t sound like a heaving cat. It’s just another one of those goddamn MUST HAVE baby items that I find to be a ridiculous marketing ploy by baby companies. I mean, they call the pump, “Pump in style.”

Aside from the manual pump being so easy and compact to use, it has a significantly  smaller foot print on mother earth. And yes, some parents don’t give a rat’s ass about the environment as long as their baby has THE BEST OF THE BEST. But maybe this item that costs 10x more is really NOT the best of the best. It is my belief that if we want to help protect the future of our children, we must help protect mother earth as well.  As a working mom away from my exclusively breastfed baby anywhere from 30-40 hours a week, I can safely conclude that the manual hand pump is more than sufficient and is not only easier to use, it’s a lot less bulk and a hell of a lot simpler. SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. GOT GETCHYOSELF A HAND PUMP!!!

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Founder at Dymin Collective
Mindy Song is a mother of one, a video artist, and musician from Orange, CA. She is an advocate of social justice with interests in globalization, socio-economics, and the history of women’s rights in developing nations. By day she is a marketing specialist for a dental imaging company, milk pumper, and wannabe supermom. By night she is an asian fusion chef, art critic, and blogger.
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