Electric breast pumps are really a godsend for nursing and pumping moms. They help feed babies when mom has to be away from them or if nursing just isn’t working out.
Because of this you want to keep your breast pump and its parts in the best shape possible. Breast pumps are excellent for helping with milk production, and even better for preparing bottles in advance so that dad can do some night feeds.
In this article we will go over why it is important to replace breast pump parts, how often to replace breast pump parts, and what you can do with the ones you no longer need.
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Why Do You Need to Replace Breast Pump Parts?
When you use a breast pump you could be using it once or twice a week, or multiples times a day. For example if you are pumping at work on a set schedule or if you need to stick to a pumping schedule because you are pumping exclusively you will be pumping a lot.
This will inevitably lead to wear and tear, meaning your breast pump parts will need to be replaced. Over time, regular use can lead to the harder working parts of your breast pump being significantly worn out, stretched or frayed.
When the parts start to deteriorate breastfeeding moms may get the feeling that their milk supply is no longer optimal or even that the breast pump itself is broken or damaged. If you feel your breast pump is not working quite as well as it used to, the first step is to check whether it needs parts replaced.
Bacteria build up is also a real concern because overused parts can form crevices and cracks, making it a little more difficult to keep clean.
How Often Do You Need to Change or Replace Breast Pump Parts?
The answer to this question is that each part has a different lifespan due to its placement within the breast pump and the material it is made of. Let’s take a look at the most replaced parts below and how often each needs to be checked and possibly replaced.
These are the little white flaps that attach to the valves of the breast pump. Valve membranes will stretch over time and lose elasticity, which will affect suction power. Therefore, membranes should be replaced every 2 weeks to 2 months depending on usage.
One way to tell if a membrane is worn out is to feel how thick it feels compared to an unused membrane. I always knew it was time to replace the membrane because I could feel how much thinner it was than a new one.
Valves (Sometimes Called Duck Valves)
Breast pump valves or as some companies call them, duckbill valves are the plastic pieces the breast milk goes through before entering breast milk storage container. The valve membranes mentioned above, attach to the top of the valve.
Valves need to be replaced every 1 to 3 months. This time frame will depend on how often the device is used. Worn out duck valves can affect suction power.
Some breast pumps have backflow protectors. These can also stretch and degrade over time.
They lose elasticity and can greatly impact suction power and therefore milk flow. Backflow protectors should be replaced every 3 to 6 months, depending on how often you use the breast pump.
There are conflicting ideas as to when tubing should be replaced, but the general rule of thumb would be to replace tubing every 3-6 months. The reason is because when the tubing starts stretching and slipping off, it can leave the motor exposed and moisture could get inside and damage it.
Just be aware of how the tubing looks and try not to let any excess moisture enter it or the motor.
Breast Shields or Flanges
Breast shields are also referred to as flanges. They are the part that attach to your breasts.
Residue can easily build up on these parts as they are sometimes difficult to keep completely clean. Ideally you will be replacing breast shields every 6 months, or as soon as you see cracks or tears in the shield.
Electric Breast Pump Brands & Parts
We have now taken a look at how often to replace each breast pump part. But, which brands have which parts?
Breast pumps have come a long way over the years and there are many new brands on the market. Different breast pump brands generally have similar parts.
In this section we will discuss some of the most popular breast pump brands along with their associated parts. This will help you understand what you will need for your specific breast pump.
Medela is a trusted household name when it comes to everything breastfeeding and pumping. Their Double Electric Pump In Style Advanced Pump is extremely popular.
Medela makes a large variety of pumps including double electric, single electric, and manual pumps. They also have many accessories for their pumps, including breast milk storage options and bottle cleaning and sanitizing products.
Medela has the following spare breast pump parts and accessories available when needed.
- Replacement valves, membranes, and tubing sets
- Breast shields and connectors
- Breast milk bottles and storage bags
- Power adapters, including for the car
It is important to know that because there are various types of breast pumps, there are also various replacement parts available, so be sure to pick the right one for your device. Lastly, something I highly recommend doing is ordering a whole set of spare parts to have on hand when needed.
If you own a Spectra pump it would then you are going to want to have the right replacement parts available too. The main parts that usually need replacement first are the valves, tubes and actual breast flange.
Again, I would recommend having a whole set of replacement parts on hand. Then buy individual parts as time goes on and as you need them.
Lansinoh is another very well known brand and one of the most popular products is the Lansinoh SignaturePro Double Electric Breast Pump. Lansinoh, just like the other brands, has a variety of products available.
The variety of spare parts and accessories available for your Lansinoh Breast Pump are great and include the following.
- Replacement tubing with connector
- Pump valves
- Extra pumping sets
- Pump into bags pump adaptor
- 9V car adapter
Lansinoh really has thought of everything so that you can have peace of mind while you are breastfeeding. Lastly, start with a Lansinoh breast pump parts set, if this is the pump you have.
Elvie is a truly innovative breast pump. It is the world’s first silent, wearable breast pump. This incredible little device simply fits into your bra and you are set. No tubes and no wires.
So, you may be wondering, since it is so different to any of the other breast pumps, are replacement parts still necessary, and more importantly, are they available to purchase separately?
The answer is YES!
No one is selling a complete set of Elvie breast pump parts, but they can be purchased individually along with some helpful accessories, including the following.
The Willow breast pump is another innovative breast pump like Elvie. You can wear it in your bra and pump milk no matter where you are or what you may doing.
It’s light, discreet, spill-proof and silent, you really can get on with your day while pumping milk for your baby. This particular hands-free breast pump has no bottles, cords, wires or anything of the sort.
You simply have milk pumped straight into the self-sealing storage bag or you can get a container which is sold separately.
What spare parts are available for the Willow breast pump? These are the accessories you can get to maintain the longevity of your device.
- Breast pump flanges
- Flextubes (which are found inside the pump)
- Reusable breast milk containers
- Spill-proof breast milk bags
- Pump charger
BellaBaby has a fantastic (and very affordable) double electric breast pump which is pain-free and has a powerful suction. IT even comes with an display panel to show the working mode and suction level.
Replacement parts are readily available to keep your BellaBaby pump in optimal form, including:
They also have a detachable flange kit to get your started with a full set of replacement parts.
What Can You Do With Old Breast Pump Parts?
This is a good question and there are a few answers depending on the part.
- Valves or Duck Valves: can be recycled
- Backflow protectors: if it is hard plastic it can be recycled, but if it’s soft silicone it must be thrown away
- Membranes: must be thrown away
- Breast shields / flanges and connectors: can be recycled
- Breast pump: needs to be taken to an electronic recycling depot
Remember, you can also keep your pump for future babies, but make sure to replace all used parts beforehand.
As it turns out how often you change or replace breast pump parts is more important than you realized!
Sometimes we get so busy with life and it’s easy to forget about things like maintenance of our breast pump. But, replacing your breast pump parts means you get better pumping action, more breast milk when you pump, and less wear and tear on your pump.
Before we sign off, if you are just starting to learn the ins and outs of pumping or maybe you will be pumping at work. If so, there are actually some very affordable online pumping classes available that can be a huge help for moms.
If you need exclusive pumping help, then you should check out this class. For moms going back to work, the ultimate back to work pumping class is for you. Lastly, if you need help increasing your milk supply when you pump, this is the class for you.
With the various types of pumps available, there is something to suit every mothers needs. Good luck and happy pumping!