If you’ve been pumping breast milk for any amount of time, you may be wondering how often to replace your pump parts. This is an annoying yet very essential task to ensuring your breast pump remains effective, clean, and in tip top condition. Regularly replacing your pump parts is necessary no matter what type of breast pump you own. Breast pumps come in different types and models, but they all have some common parts that need to be replaced periodically to ensure maximum hygiene and functionality. In this article, we will discuss the breast pump parts you should replace and how often to do so.
Keep in mind that when you replace pump parts, they are HSA (Health Savings Account) eligible. Additionally, most insurance companies will provide your pump parts for free. Contact your insurance company via the same process you used for requesting your breast pump to find out if your insurance covers breast pump parts, or you can reach out to Aeroflow Breastpumps for help. Aeroflow is a durable medical equipment company meaning all you have to do is fill out a form with your insurance information and they’ll take care of seeing what items you are eligible to receive for free. Aeroflow is paid by your insurance company (with no added cost to you). I’ve used them several times when I’ve had to replace my pump parts.
Related article: Pumping Supplies: All the Essentials You Need (and What You Don’t!)
How Often to Replace Breast Pump Flanges
Breast pump flanges, or sometimes referred to as breast shields, are the funnel-shaped parts that fit over your nipple and areola. They come in different sizes to accommodate different nipple sizes. See our article on Determining Your Correct Flange Size (So Pumping Doesn’t Hurt!) if you think you need to replace with a different size. It is recommended that moms replace their pump flanges every six months or as soon as they notice signs of wear and tear.
Breast pump flanges can become discolored, cracked, or distorted over time, which can affect their suction power and comfort level. Replacing them regularly will help ensure that the suction is optimal, and the milk flows easily into the collection containers. It’s also important to replace breast pump flanges if you notice breast milk build up on the inner, hard to reach parts of the flange. This could lead to mold or bacteria growth over time.
How Often to Replace Breast Pump Valves and Membranes
Valves and membranes are small, rubbery parts that create the suction in the breast pump. They are responsible for pulling the milk from the breast and into the collection container. Valves and membranes can become worn out, stretched, or torn with frequent use, and this can affect the suction power of the pump. Though these smarts are very small and delicate, they are very powerful.
It is recommended that mothers replace these parts every three months, depending on how often they use their breast pump. If you only pump once a day, you can extend this to six months. If you are using your pump more than twice a day, it is essential you replace these parts every three months. Some pumps have a combined valve and membrane set, while others have separate valves and membranes.
Related article: The 5 Best Hands Free Pumping Bras According to Real Moms
How Often to Replace Breast Pump Tubing
Breast pump tubing is the part that connects the pump flange to the motor unit. During the pumping process, the motor unit creates a vacuum that sucks air through the tubing and into the breast flange. Tubing typically does not come into contact with breast milk, but it can become dirty, discolored, or damaged over time, which can affect the quality of the milk and the suction power of the pump. Condensation can also build up in the tubing and cause issues.
It is recommended that moms replace breast pump tubing every six months or as soon as they notice any signs of wear and tear. Some pumps have tubing that is not replaceable, in which case it is essential to clean it regularly with soap and water. Check your breast pump instruction manual for more information if you are unsure if your tubing is replaceable or not.
Related article: 10 Reasons You Need to Buy the Willow Breast Pump!
How Often to Replace Breast Pump Backflow Protector
Some breast pumps, such as the Spectra S2, have backflow protectors. A breast pump backflow protector is a small, one-way valve that is typically located between the breast pump flange and the tubing. It is designed to prevent milk from flowing back into the tubing and motor unit of the breast pump, which can cause contamination and damage to the pump. They are typically made of a hard plastic or silicone with a small membrane contained in the middle.
The membranes contained within the backflow protectors should be replaced every three months. It is recommended that moms replace breast pump backflow protectors every six months or as soon as they notice any signs of wear and tear.
Related article: The Best Breast Milk Storage Bags on the Market Today
How Often to Replace Breast Pump Bottles
Breast pump bottles or collection containers are used to store expressed milk. They come in different sizes and materials, such as glass, plastic, or silicone. It is essential to choose a container that is BPA-free and food-grade quality.
Collection containers should be cleaned and sterilized after each use. You should also inspect them for cracks, leaks, or discoloration and replace them as needed. It is recommended that mothers replace their collection containers as soon as they notice any signs of wear and tear.
Related article: The 5 Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies
What happens if I don’t replace breast pump pump parts often enough?
If breast pump parts are not replaced regularly, they can become less effective, less hygienic, and may even cause discomfort or pain during pumping. Additionally, here are some of the potential consequences of not replacing breast pump parts regularly:
1. Reduced Suction
Over time, the suction power of a breast pump may decrease due to wear and tear on the breast pump parts. This can make it more difficult to express milk and may also result in less milk being collected. All of the breast pump parts are necessary for the suction and expression of breast milk. The breast pump will only be as strong as it’s weakest part.
2. Poor Milk Quality
If collection containers or tubing are not replaced regularly, they can become contaminated with bacteria or other pathogens. This can lead to poor milk quality, which may not be safe for your baby to consume.
Related article: Pumping Hack: Storing Pump Parts in the Fridge
3. Discomfort or Pain
Worn-out breast shields or flanges can cause discomfort or pain during pumping. This is especially true if your flange has a crack or tear in it. Make sure to replace breast pump flanges if you notice this kind of wear and tear. Painful pumping can result in less breast milk output which leads us to our next point.
4. Lower Milk Output
If the valves and membranes are not replaced regularly, they can become stretched out or damaged. Oftentimes, this damage is hard to see with the naked eye as the membranes have micro-tears. This can cause them to lose their ability to create suction and result in inefficient pumping. This is why it’s essential to regularly replace pump parts–sometimes you can’t see the wear and tear!
5. Risk of Infection
If breast pump parts are not cleaned or replaced regularly, they can harbor bacteria, mold, or other pathogens. While this is rare, it can increase the risk of infection for both you and your baby.
Related article: How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding Without Affecting Milk Supply
Breast pumps are incredible and essential tools for breastfeeding moms. Working moms, in all likelihood, wouldn’t be able to breastfeed their babies if it wasn’t for these wonderful (and sometimes annoying) inventions. In order to keep those breast pumps in prime working order, moms should follow this guide to replace breast pump parts often. If you have any other questions about specific parts on your pump, reach out to the manufacturer or leave us a comment and we’ll help you figure it out!
This article contains affiliate links. See our affiliate disclaimer for more info.