This week I returned back to work after spending three months with my baby boy. I am aiming to feed him breast milk exclusively for the first six months of his life since he seems to be thriving on breast milk. In order to make this happen I am pumping my milk at work, and I have both a manual and an electric pump. Here are some pros and cons of the two different types of pumps.

When I first brought my baby home, I was not sure if I would breastfeed long term since my milk did not come in yet. At that time I did not want to invest in an expensive electric pump and end up not breastfeeding so I first bought the manual breast pump called Medela Harmony for around $30 just to try out pumping my milk and build up my milk supply. This pump is very easy to use and clean, and worked quite well for me. There were no complicated parts and the pump itself is very sturdy. At that time my baby was not very good at breastfeeding. He was not sucking very hard so my breasts did not produce that much milk, and it took a very long time to pump a small bottle of milk. These bottles were eaten by the baby very quickly and my hand cramped from all the pumping.

Eventually my milk supply increased with more pumping and feeding, and it became much easier to breastfeed my baby directly and freeze the extra milk that I pumped out. I also got a little better at using the manual pump so I was able to pump faster. However, I got a bit tired of the manual pumping and decided to purchase an electric pump to do the work for me. I bought the Medela Pump in Style Advanced since it was recommended by my breastfeeding class. This pump is definitely a great product since it has 10 different suction settings and it emptied my breasts extremely quickly. I am able to get five ounces of milk in about five minutes when I hook up both breasts at the same time. It definitely made my late night pumping sessions a lot shorter, and I had more time to sleep.

Now back at work I decided to bring my manual Medela Harmony because it is a lot easier to carry. I simply put the entire pump in a ziplock bag, but I am using the neat small cooler from the Pump in Style system to store my milk bottles. I am able to pump a three to four ounce bottle in less than 10 minutes at work, and my coworkers do not really notice that I am pumping because the pump is small and fairly quiet. The electric pump makes a very distinct whooshing noise and is not as discreet. Also I did not want to haul it to work everyday and possibly break it.

In hindsight, I probably did not need to buy the electric pump, but it definitely saved me quite a bit of time and I can see it being extremely useful to those who want to empty their breasts quickly. For now I am still using that pump at home for the extra milk for later use. If you do not mind taking a little extra time and manually pump your milk, then you could save a couple hundred dollars by skipping the electric pump all together. I highly recommend getting a manual pump first just to build up or maintain your milk supply when you are away from your baby because you can use it anywhere. Also, it does not cost much and if you do decide to stop breastfeeding early you will not be stuck with a barely used $300 machine.

Here is a summary of the pros and cons of electric and manual pumps from my experience:

Manual pump pros:

* Much more cost effective
* More discreet than an electric pump
* Easy to use anywhere
* More comfortable to use

Manual pump cons:

* Takes manual labor
* Takes a bit more time than an electric pump
* Pumping is not as consistent since it is manual

Electric pump pros:

* Pumps milk very quickly automatically
* Pumps out more milk without too much effort

Electric pump cons:

* Machine and replacement parts can be expensive
* Needs electricity
* Tugs at nipples more than manual pump

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