Best forMoms who don't have especially large or small breasts who are looking for a budget-friendly manual pump
Top BenefitsSmall number of parts makes cleaning and assembly simple, handle swivels from side to side for hand and wrist comfort, budget-friendly price point
ConsiderationsBreast shield size can't be adjusted, milk could spill if the pump tips over
Bottom lineThe First Years My Expression Manual Breast Pump is a simply designed and affordable pump to have on hand as a back-up to an electric pump
The First Years My Expression Manual Breast Pump is a lightweight, easy-to-use manual breast pump, and it has the lowest price point of any of the manual pumps we tested. Even if you regularly pump with an electric pump, manual pumps are nice to have on hand—if the power goes out, or if you're travelling or camping, they can be a great back-up option. Breastfeeding moms who are extra coordinated might even be able to keep their supply up by pumping one breast while baby feeds from the other (assuming baby gets full after feeding from one side). The My Expression pump has a handle that swivels from side to side so you can find a comfortable hand position, which might make it easier to actually pull that off.
Before you use any breast pump, you should sterilize it, either by boiling the parts that can be boiled (only the pump handle on the My Expression cannot), or by using a steam sterilizer bag in the microwave. (Note: Safe sterilizing methods vary from pump to pump, so be sure to read your instruction manual.) With only three parts making up the pump mechanism and three more making up the bottle, this pump has fewer parts than most of the manual pumps we tested. All of our parent testers strongly agreed that the pump was easy to put together and take apart, and they were all able to start using the pump quickly. One thing to note: The My Expression's instructions suggest that when you're reinserting the valve, you should run your finger around the rim to get a strong seal.
All of the moms who tested The First Years My Expression Manual Breast Pump said they were able to pump without any discomfort to their breasts, and none experienced any new nipple pain or blocked ducts while they were testing. For the most part, our at-home testers were able to sit comfortably while pumping. One mom especially appreciated the ability to swivel the handle from side to side, which gives pumpers extra flexibility to find a comfortable hand position and angle. Another mom reported some fatigue in her hands after a pumping session, but that isn't entirely surprising for a manual pump. The breast shield size fit comfortably for the majority of our mom testers. However, the breast shield can't be removed from the pump body and there isn't an option to try a shield in a different size, so if you have especially small or large breasts, this may not be the pump for you.
It's no surprise that manual pumps require a lot more physical effort than electric pumps, but some moms feel that manual pumping gives them more control over the pressure and suction strength. The My Expression pump can definitely be used one-handed, and the swivelling handle makes it extra easy for each mom to find her most comfortable hand position. They also said it was no problem to use this pump in a dark or dimly lit room.
The majority of testers agreed they didn’t have any trouble getting an airtight seal between the breast shield and their breasts, although a few did report some occasional light leaking. Most felt they were able to fully drain their breasts during a pumping session.
At the end of their pumping sessions, most of our parent testers found it easy to detach bottles from the pump without spilling breastmilk. The pump doesn't form an airtight seal with the bottle, so you'll want to be careful not to tilt the bottle too much while pumping.
The My Expression also comes with a simple, black storage bag, and all of our testers said it's easy to toss in a diaper bag or purse when they need to, and easy to use while away from home.
While manual pumps are obviously quieter than electric breast pumps, the handles can be squeaky—which can quickly get old as you're pumping for several minutes at a time. In our lab tests, The First Years My Expression Manual Breast Pump was in the middle of the pack in terms of noise levels, but the majority of our parent testers reported no noise at all coming from the pump during use. All of our testers felt that they could comfortably use this pump in the same room as a sleeping baby or a partner without waking them.
Since The First Years My Expression Manual Breast Pump is made up of only three pieces, it cleans up by hand or in the dishwasher fairly quickly. You have to be a bit gentle when cleaning the valve, but it's large and sturdy enough that you shouldn't have any issues with it tearing or getting lost. The handle can only be wiped down, though, and the bottom of the bottle has a two-piece venting system that will also need to be taken apart to be cleaned. But if your baby is happy with the nipple on the Gumdrop bottle that's included, then you really only need to screw on the nipple and travel lid, and your baby's bottle is ready for feeding or storage.
Parent testers felt that this pump was lightweight and compact, and we agree. We also really like that the handle can be adjusted side to side, so you have more options for getting a comfortable hand position for pumping. Another plus: Because this pump was designed with so few parts, cleaning and assembly is that much quicker.
The majority of our parent testers rated the quality, ease of use and value of The First Years My Expression Manual Breast Pump as very good, and they were overall very satisfied with the pump. Most of our testers said they wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to other parents, and that the product was worthy of the Today's Parent Approved seal. We think the budget-friendly price point of this pump, combined with its simple design, makes it a great option for someone who generally finds it easy to pump and wants an affordable back-up to their electric pump.
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