My husband and I were broker than anything when we were pregnant with our first. We bought all of our sons furniture used from a yard sale for under 100 bucks - we were blessed, because we had nothing, but still needed a breast pump and were so lost. We are both pretty thrifty and researched the best hand pumps (the cheapest pumps on the market) that you could get. It did it's job, not well, it was very frustrating and my milk ended up drying up by 6 or 7 weeks. Lesson learned, the hand pumps, even the best ones won't get the job done unless you are an uber milk supplier. My second son we went with the battery operated kind. It had the little carrying case, great for being at work and on the go, kept the milk refrigerated. The only down side, there was no regulation to the pressure really. If you were sensitive on a particular day you could just about cry your eyes out as it pumps. It did it's job, minutely frustrating, but once again at about 8 or 9 weeks my milk ran dry. From everything I've heard and everyone I've talked to, even from the beginning - the electric pumps are the way to go if you can afford it. All the pediatricians, consultants and even parents we have talked to have just about said the same thing, get an electric pump and the Medela ones are the best on the market and the best way to go. I don't know if we'll be following my own advice, this is the last one we are having, but I wish we had found a way to get it with our first one.