Over time, breast pump parts experience wear and tear. This can affect your pump’s suction, potentially causing a decrease in milk production. Here’s how often you should replace your breast pump parts to avoid issues with your milk supply.
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The frequency with which you’ll need to replace your pump parts depends on the piece as well as how often you pump. Below is a breakdown of how often each individual pump part should be replaced.
How often to replace pump parts
Below are general timeframes for replacing each pump part.
However, it’s a good idea to check with your breast pump manufacturer to confirm how frequently they suggest replacement, as this can differ from brand to brand. (Specific recommendations for some of the popular breast pump manufacturers are included at the bottom of this post.)
Duckbills (duck valves)
Duck valves (also called duckbills) are made of silicone, and 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 your breast pump is starting to lose suction, replacing the valves is one of the first things that you should try.
How often to replace duck valves: If you pump 3 or more times per day, replace duck valves every month. If you pump less than 3 times per day, replace every 2-3 months.
Note: To extend the life of your valves, Spectra recommends avoiding washing valves in the dishwasher. Instead, duck valves should be washed in hot, soapy water with a clean brush.
Valve membranes serve the same purpose as duck values. (Spectra pumps generally come with duck valves and some Medela pumps come with valve membranes.)
Valve membranes have two pieces – the yellow piece, which is the valve, and the white piece, which is the membrane.
How often to replace valve membranes: If you pump 3 or more times per day, replace valve membranes every 2-4 weeks. If you pump less than 3 times per day, replace every 2 months.
Backflow protectors prevent breast milk and moisture from entering your tubing.
Not all pumps have separate backflow protectors. Medela pumps, for example, do not have them, while Spectra pumps do.
How often to replace backflow protectors: If you pump 3 or more times per day, replace backflow protectors every 3 months. If you pump less than 3 times per day, replace every 6 months.
Breast Shields and Connectors
Breast shields are also called flanges, and are the parts that attach to your breasts. (Note that you may need a different size than the one that comes with your pump. More info on how to find the correct size here.)
Connectors are the pieces that connect your breast shields to your valves, tubing, and backflow protectors.
Some pumps (like Spectra) just have one piece that is both a breast shield and connector. Other pumps (like Medela) have separate pieces.
Sometimes residue builds up on these pump parts, especially in hard to reach spots on connectors. This buildup can reduce the effectiveness of the pump.
How often to replace breast shields: Every 6 months, or immediately if you notice tears or cracks.
Tubing connects your pump motor to your pump parts and bottles.
How tubing should be treated varies depending on the pump manufacturer. Spectra tubing, for example, should be replaced immediately if breast milk or moisture gets into the pump because it can damage the motor. Medela tubing can be washed if this happens.
How often to replace tubing: If tubing slides on and off easily when you’re not moving around, or when milk or moisture gets into the tubing of a closed system pump.
Below is a quick reference guide to when to replace pump parts:
Replacement schedules suggested by breast pump manufacturers
As noted above, it’s a good idea to check what your breast pump manufacturer recommends in terms of when to replace pump parts.
While the guidelines above are a good start, your pump parts may require a different timeline, depending on the brand.
To find out what your pump requires, check the instruction manual. (If you don’t have yours any more, you can usually find it online if you search.)
Below are what manufacturers recommend for some popular breast pumps.
Spectra replacement recommendations
Below are Spectra’s guidelines for how frequently their pump parts should be replaced:
- Duckbills: Pumping more than 3 times per day – every 2 months / Pumping 1-3 times per day – every 3 months
- Backflow protectors: Pumping more than 3 times per day – every 3 months / Pumping 1-3 times per day – every 6 months
- Tubing: Replace as needed
- Breast shields: Pumping more than 3 times per day – every 6 months / Pumping 1-3 times per day – as needed
Medela replacement guidelines
In their FAQ chatbot, Medela says that their new breast pump parts (shown below) should be replaced when damaged/as needed. They do not need to be replaced in a certain timeframe.
(For the older Medela Pump in Style Advanced parts, I would use the general guidelines as described above.)
Motif replacement recommendations
Below are Motif’s guidelines for how frequently their pump parts should be replaced:
- Duckbills: Every 1-3 months, or when torn, warped, discolored, or they no longer close
- Backflow protectors: When they lose elasticity or become torn, warped, or discolored
- Tubing: Every 1-3 months
- Breast shields: Every 6 months, or when they become cracked or warped
Ameda breast pump part replacement guidelines
Ameda recommends replacing the valve every 8-12 weeks, but this can depend based on cleaning and use. Flanges should be replaced when damaged.
Elvie replacement recommendations
Elvie says that the “expected operating life of the replaceable washable components is six months.”
What is your experience? Do you regularly replace breast pump parts? Do you notice a difference in suction and milk supply when you do?References
- Medela. “Frequently Asked Questions.” http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/faqs
- Spectra Baby Australia. “Complete Guide to Replacing your Breast Pump Parts.” https://spectra-baby.com.au/complete-guide-replacing-breast-pump-parts/
- Spectra Baby Australia. “How often should you replace breast pump valves?” https://spectra-baby.com.au/how-often-should-you-replace-breast-pump-valves/
- Spectra Baby Australia. “Milk in your Backflow Protector?” https://spectra-baby.com.au/milk-backflow-protector/