Medela Manual Hand Pump: Product Review, Pros & Cons and FAQ

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The Medela Manual Hand Pump is a small, convenient pump that prioritizes comfort, discretion, and portability.

The pump is simple to use, extracts milk efficiently and painlessly, and is easy to clean. It’s perfect to use when on the go or as a backup to your electric pump.

When I was in the hospital after giving birth to my twins, the lactation consultant gave me a Medela Harmony manual pump and told me to keep it close if I planned on continuing to breastfeed my twins. 

I already had an electric pump at home, but I threw it in my bag to bring home from the hospital, and there it stayed until I rediscovered it a few weeks later and learned that the consultant was absolutely right!

I NEEDED this! 

What is the Medela Harmony, why is it so great, and what makes it different from other pumps?

In the following, I’ll tell you more about the specifics of the pump, why I love it, what I dislike about it, and why I think it is an important item to keep in your diaper bag.  

Key Takeaways 

  • Extremely convenient and easy to clean
  • Quiet and discreet
  • Closed system to protect the milk
  • Fits nicely in purse or diaper bag
  • Creates strong suction for efficient milk removal

Why Buy the Medela Harmony Breast Pump? 

In my opinion, every breastfeeding mother (especially those who pump exclusively or do a lot of pumping) should have a hand pump in addition to their primary electric pump.

Hand pumps are extremely convenient when you need to pump on the go or need a backup if your electric pump isn’t working.

Hand pumps are also very helpful when it comes to removing clogs because of their strong suction and pull. 

Medela Harmony Pros & Cons

Small, lightweight, and portableCan only pump one breast at a time
Strong pull for removing milk and emptying the breast efficientlyMay require a longer time for a full pump session
More convenient than an electric pump while on the go
Easy to wash

Medela Harmony Breast Pump Overview

The Medela Harmony is a manual breast pump that is small, portable, and very convenient for breastfeeding mothers to use on the go when they need to remove milk quickly and easily. 

Product Size & Weight

The Medela Harmony breast pump is a compact and lightweight manual breast pump designed to offer convenience and efficiency for breastfeeding mothers.

Its thoughtful design ensures portability, making it easy to fit into a purse or diaper bag.

Weighing just under a pound, the Harmony breast pump won’t add unnecessary bulk to your already-packed bag, allowing you to discreetly express breast milk whenever and wherever you need to.

Key Features

Don’t let the size and simplicity of this pump fool you. Despite its small size, the Medela Harmony breast pump boasts impressive features.

  • The pump features Medela’s signature 2-Phase Expression technology that mimics the baby’s natural sucking rhythm to optimize milk flow.
  • It comes with a PersonalFit Flex breast shield that adapts to the shape and size of your breast for a comfortable and efficient pumping experience.
  • Additionally, the pump’s ergonomic handle ensures effortless pumping, reducing hand fatigue and strain.

Ease of Use

The Medela Harmony breast pump is known for its user-friendly design.

As a manual pump, it doesn’t require batteries or a power source, allowing mothers to express milk discreetly without any noise.

The simple assembly and intuitive operation make it a breeze to use, and it is an excellent choice for first-time pump users and experienced mothers alike.

Its manual operation also provides mothers with full control over suction strength and speed, ensuring personalized comfort during expressing sessions.

Suction Power

Despite being a manual pump, the Medela Harmony does an excellent job of creating a strong and consistent suction.

Its 2-Phase Expression technology allows mothers to start with a gentle stimulation phase before transitioning to a deeper, more intense expression phase.

This feature effectively stimulates milk letdown and encourages efficient milk extraction, helping mothers maximize their milk supply.

As a mother who exclusively pumped for twins for an entire year, I feel like my manual pump always emptied me better than any of my electric pumps.

I carried it with me everywhere and used it whenever I was feeling engorged when on the go.

The suction is strong enough to release clogs effectively as well. 

Comfort During Use

Comfort is a top priority for breastfeeding mothers, and the Medela Harmony breast pump delivers on this aspect.

The PersonalFit Flex breast shield provides a soft and gentle fit, preventing discomfort and nipple irritation during pumping sessions.

The ergonomic handle and smooth pumping action also contribute to a comfortable and pain-free experience.


Sanitation is a huge thing to consider because cleaning multiple pump parts is a nightmare!

Fortunately, the Harmony breast pump is designed with easy cleaning in mind.

It has few parts, making assembly and disassembly hassle-free.

All components that come into contact with breast milk are made from BPA-free materials and are safe for the dishwasher’s top rack.


Medela is known for its high-quality products, and the Harmony breast pump is no exception.

It is built to withstand frequent use, making it a durable and reliable breastfeeding companion for an extended period.

I used my Medela hand pump multiple times per day for a year, and it is still in great shape. 

Advantages & Disadvantages of a Manual Hand Pump

Since I love my manual pump and think that it is something every breastfeeding mother should own, I am going to start by telling you all of the reasons it is nice to have one on hand: 

  • Convenience: It is so easy to throw this pump in your diaper bag and use it in the car, in a restroom, or anywhere you go without the need to find an outlet. 
  • Effectiveness: The suction on this pump is so good that I always felt empty after just a quick pump session. 
  • Removing Clogs: Milk clogs are such a pain (literally and metaphorically)! I always found that the strong pull of my manual pump helped me to remove clogs more easily than when using an electric pump. 

A few disadvantages or things to keep in mind about a manual pump include: 

  • You can only pump one breast at a time, so it may take a little longer than when you use your electric pump (if you are doing a full pump session and not just a quick on-the-go session).
  • The bottle is smaller, so you may need to stop and pour milk into a larger bottle if you plan to pump a lot of milk.
A smiling mother playing with her baby's foot while he drinks a bottle.

How Harmony Compares to Similar Manual Pumps

The Harmony is very similar in design and function to other manual pumps such as the Lansinoh and Philips Avent hand pumps.

In fact, they are all very similar in price and nearly identical in function.

I personally have not used either the Lansinoh or Philips hand pump, so I cannot attest to how their suction compares to the Harmony.

I imagine they would be pretty similar, however.

The Harmony is very different from the Haakaa manual pump.

The Haakaa pump relies on suction and creating a vacuum to pull milk out of the breast while the Harmony relies on manual power/squeezing.

In my experience, the Haakaa is more of a “milk catcher” rather than a pump.

I would only use the Haakaa to squeeze out any extra milk or use it on one breast while I was pumping/nursing on the other.

You will not be able to remove as much milk with the Haakaa as you will with the Harmony Manual pump. 

Why I Love the Medela Manual Hand Pump

I love this pump for so many reasons! 

First of all, its portability is unmatched, and it is a total life-saver in on-the-go or emergency situations.

If I was ever in a place without an outlet or didn’t have time to sit down with my electric pump, I didn’t have to worry because I could use my hand pump to express milk very quickly and efficiently.

I would always bring a hand pump to work as a backup in case I forgot a pump part or something happened to my electric pump. 

Secondly, this pump gave me peace of mind that I could pump no matter where I was. With twins, I was so busy, and we were on the go a lot!

I had to pump a lot; however, even with our busy schedule, I rarely worried if I would have time or space to pump because I knew I could do it on the go with my hand pump if I was in a pinch. 

Thirdly, this pump was a lifesaver for me when it came to painful milk clogs. I was very prone to clogs and would get them frequently.

The strong pull of this hand pump combined with a little massage always seemed to do the trick and removed the clog faster than an electric pump. 

What I Would Change

Honestly, the only thing I would change about this pump is a bigger bottle! I produced A LOT of milk and always pumped a ton of milk.

If I relied on this pump for a full session, I would have to pause, empty the milk into a bigger bottle, and then continue until I filled it up again.

It would have been nice to have a bigger bottle option in order to eliminate the need for emptying the bottle once it was full. 

How To Use Medela Harmony Breast Pump

Using a Medela manual pump is very simple! 

First, ensure the pump is assembled correctly by screwing the handle onto the bottle, like a lid. 

Then, you position the pump on your breast and begin to stimulate a letdown by tapping the smaller lever on the front of the handle.

Push it down in short, fast bursts for a few minutes until you get a letdown or a constant stream of milk flowing. 

Once you get a letdown, you can begin doing longer pulls by pressing down the big handle. Push it down, and then hold it down until the milk stream stops.

Then, release the handle, and push it down again. Continue pumping until you get the desired amount of milk or until your milk flow stops.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Medela Harmony an Open or Closed System?

The Medela Harmony breast pump is a closed system.

In a closed-system breast pump, a barrier separates the breast milk from the pump’s internal parts, preventing any possibility of milk backflow into the tubing or motor.

This design ensures that the expressed breast milk remains hygienic and free from potential contaminants.

Closed systems are considered more sanitary and easier to clean than open systems, making the Medela Harmony a safe and reliable option for breastfeeding mothers.

When Should I Replace Medela Harmony Parts?

It’s essential to replace the parts of your Medela Harmony breast pump regularly to ensure optimal performance, efficiency, and hygiene.

The replacement schedule may vary based on usage and wear, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Medela recommends replacing breast shields and connectors every few months, especially if you use the pump frequently. If you notice any signs of wear, cracks, or discoloration, replace them immediately.
  • Valves and membranes should be replaced every 2 to 8 weeks, depending on usage. These small components are crucial in maintaining suction power, so keeping them in good condition is essential for efficient pumping.
  • Inspect the tubing regularly for mold, wear, or damage. Replace the tubing if you notice any issues, and it’s a good idea to change it every few months to maintain hygiene.

Always refer to the specific user manual or guidelines provided by Medela for your Harmony breast pump model.

By adhering to these recommendations, you can ensure that your Medela Harmony breast pump continues to function optimally and safely throughout its life span.

Can Milk Be Stored in the Collection Bottle?

Yes, you can use the collection bottle to store milk. You can place a lid on the collection bottle and stick it in the refrigerator for future use. 

Can I Use Other Bottles With This Pump?

Yes, you can use other bottles with the Medela Harmony breast pump.

The Harmony pump is compatible with standard-neck bottles, which means you can attach the breast pump to various brands of bottles with a standard-neck opening.

This allows you to express milk directly into your preferred bottles, making it convenient for storage and feeding and reducing the need for transferring milk between containers.

To use other bottles with the Medela Harmony pump, you will need a breast shield connector that fits your chosen bottle’s standard-neck opening.

Some third-party companies also produce adapters that allow you to connect Medela breast shields to different bottle brands.

Ensure that the bottle you choose is appropriate for storing breast milk and is made from safe materials, such as BPA-free plastic or glass.

Using non-Medela bottles with the Harmony pump may not provide the same perfect fit as Medela bottles, but with the right connector or adapter, you should be able to use a variety of standard-neck bottles with the pump.

Can You Change the Breast Shields?

Although the Medela Manual Pump only comes with one breast shield (24 mm), the company does offer PersonalFit breast shields in other sizes (21, 27, 30, and 36 mm) should you need them.  

According to Medela, all PersonalFit breast shields are compatible with all Medela pumps.