My Philips Avent electric was so top heavy and used to fall over too- terrible design flaw. I express a LOT to I hired a Medela Symphony- the one they give you in hospital- thoroughly recommend. Costs £45/month direct from Medela.
hmm can get a new valve for about £5...from singapore. Hmm ebay (dangerous teritory). Do you think they're all designed to stop working so that we have to go out and buy different ones every few months?
If you've lost suction then it probably is the valve, but I would definitely recommend an electric pump - ebay is great for 2nd hand ones with lots of life left in them. I've used Medela ones both times and they're pretty good.
Have you tried replacing the flappy valve thing? Mine lost suction, so I got a new rubber valve and it started working really well. Mind, I agree your boobs do change their reaction to the pump. In the early days I could express quite happily with the tommee tippee hand pump but by 4 months I couldn't get a drop out with it. I got a medela mini electric an that worked great until about 2 months ago (DS is 13 months), and now I can't express a thing unless I do it by hand and even then can only get about an ounce out
I love my pump but at the cost of the thing, I ought to! Manual pumps do my nut in, and since you've also tried hand expressing, maybe it's worth hiring an electric pump from somewhere to see if you like it enough to buy one? Ask your HV if she knows where you might hire one from, or I've also heard that the NCT hires them out sometimes.
I would try a different pump, although I've found that your boob's reaction to a pump can change. I'd try eBay for a bargain if you don't have the money for a new one.
I started off using a hand-pump (Tommee Tippee, an old one, called a Nuby), it was ace, I loved it. Used it alot for the first 2 months. Then, since I was expressing a lot, I thought I'd buy an electric Medela Swing (recommended by every mum, including my own, and the best selling I believe!) and I HATED it. Hated the noise etc. So I learnt to hand-express, and now at 7 months, I can express a good 4oz in about 15/20 minutes. The Tommee Tippee hand-pump doesn't work for me at all any more. It's really weird.
Keep going with the hand-expressing, you will get better at it. Just type 'hand expressing' into Google for loads of links and videos. The videos are ace.
(Also, I know the feeling of spilt milk....I was expressing once when the bottle just fell off the bottom, all 6 oz. I cried.)
DD is 4 mo, total bottle refuser so have given up on that but having moderate success with sippy and doidy cups. I want to build on this so trying to get in the routine of giving her a cup in the bath every evening (she's pretty messy). I'm crap at hand expressing and have an avent isis manual pump which I've borrowed. When I started using it it was fine - could get about 3oz off in a few minutes, esp if feeding on the other side. I found it a faff but fine to get the job done. The last week or so however it just won't bloody work! Loses suction, or even when it doesn't only get about 1/2oz. Tried taking apart and putting back together, DH has tried too. Hate that even when I do get something out I have to tip forward to get it in the bottle (not ideal when feeding on other) and it's v messy. Completely lost my rag with it this evening when as well as all of the above when I tried to put it down it overbalanced, fell in the floor spilling what little I had managed to pump! Aaarrggh. Have now managed to hand express just enough to put in a cup (couldn't be arsed to start again) but now wondering what to do. Don't want to give up cup, dont really want to give formula. Has anyone else had the same problem? Is it worth trying a different pump? Don't mind buying one but only if it works. Sorry for rambling but stupid piece of equipment is driving me nuts!