Hand pumps

How do I choose a hand pump?

If mothers are thinking of obtaining a hand pump, they need to understand the reasons for expressing and choose which one is best for them. Hand pumps vary in size, shape, design, and the size and style of breast shield they offer, and in their effectiveness. Some hand pumps allow you to adjust the speed and suction strength. A hand pump should be the right size for the mother’s hands, easy to use, and effective.

A) Describing hand pumps

Pumps may be expensive or ineffective. Review your reasons for expressing and pump choices if you are considering using one. 

There are various hand pumps. They vary in:

  • Size
  • Shape
  • Breast shield size and style
  • Design
  • Options 
  • Effectiveness

Most are fairly light.

B) Choosing and buying a hand pump


  • Function buttons
    • Suction strength
    • Cycle speed
    • Quick express
  • Standard breast shield size
    • Options for using different shield sizes

Some hand pumps allow you to adjust the cycle speed. Ideally suction strength is adjustable in order to optimize the amount of milk and avoid pain.  

Make sure your hand pump is:

  • Not too big for your hands.
  • Not too hard to use.
  • Well made.
  • Effective for you.
  • Not painful.

C) How to use a hand pump

Operating a hand pump can vary between manufacturers. Consult the manufacturer's directions or website for more information.

Hand pumps can be used instead of breastfeeding or on one breast while the baby is breastfeeding on the other side. If you find a hand pump very effective, you can use two pumps at the same time to double express. This shortens the pumping time and may increase the amount pumped.

Hand pumps must be supported when they are operated. If you have weaker hands, you may benefit from a constant-suction or an electric pump instead. Do not use this pump if it is not effective or cannot be used without pain.