So, you’ve FINALLY hit your stride with breast pumping. You have the schedule just right, and you’ve selected the ideal breast shield and power setting for your needs. But out of the blue, you start losing suction when it matters most. So, what’s the problem?
Well, it turns out that the various components of your breast pump need to be replaced regularly. Breast pump parts can get damaged by wear and tear, and membranes can get torn or stretched out. Depending on how often you pump and what power settings you select, some breast pump parts will need to be replaced regularly.
Here’s a simple guide on when to replace your breast pump parts.
Duck valves, or duckbills, are a single piece made of silicone, that look a bit like a duck’s beak. They stretch and release each time the pump motor pulls at the valve, creating the suction necessary to remove breast milk from your breasts.
If you pump three or more times per day, you should replace duck valves every four weeks. If you pump fewer than three times per day, replace every eight to 12 weeks.
Spectra breast pumps usually use duck valves. Spectra recommends washing duck valves with hot, soapy water and a clean brush to extend the life of the valve. Washing duck valves in a dishwasher is not recommended by Spectra.
The second most-commonly used valve, simply known as a valve, comes in two parts: the plastic valve and the round white valve membrane. These valves are commonly used in Medela breast pumps. Again, depending on frequency of use, the plastic valve and the white membrane should both be replaced every two to eight weeks. Replace as needed if the valve is damaged or cracked.
Tubing connects your breast pump motor to the other components and the collection bottle. Generally, all tubing should be replaced every three to six months, but replace immediately if there are any signs of mold. Don’t bother trying to clean your tubing. As soon as you notice black spots in it, just throw it out.
Spectra recommends replacing tubing immediately if breast milk or other moisture gets into the pump because it can damage the motor, or if it easily slides off when not in use. However, Medela says that tubing can be washed or dried if moisture threatens the pump. Otherwise, replace every three to six months.
The backflow protector is a round piece of soft (usually white) silicone that prevents milk from the breast shield from backing up into the tubing to the pump. If you pump three or more times a day, the backflow protector should be replaced every three months. If you pump fewer than three times a day, replace every six months. Replace backflow protectors immediately if they become torn or stretched out.
Replacement Backflow Protectors
Spectra Breastshield Set (includes backflow protector)
The breast shield, or flange, is the hard, plastic cone that connects to your breast. Breast shields should be replaced every six months, or sooner if you notice cracks or tears on the shield.
As with all breast pump components, inspect all parts closely during the regular cleaning process. Cleaning is a good time to take note of any damage, or wear and tear to the components. Also, sudden loss of suction can be caused by damage to any one of the components, so check each part thoroughly to find the culprit.
Replacement breast shields
Medela PersonalFit Breast Shields