Over time, breast pump parts experience wear and tear. They can become torn and overstretched, which can potentially cause a decrease in milk production if they aren’t regularly replaced. Here’s how often you should replace breast pump parts to avoid issues with your milk supply.
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 needs to be replaced.
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, so you would just need to replace whichever you are using with your pump. (Spectra pumps generally come with duck valves and many, but not all, 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 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 backflow protectors. Medela pumps, for example, do not have them, while Spectra pumps do. If your pump comes with a backflow protector, it is critical that you use it as using your pump without it may void your warranty.
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.
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.
I put together a picture of how everything can look assembled for anyone that’s new to pumping:
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/