Even if you’ve read your breast pump manual thoroughly, you may find conflicting information about how often to replace your pump parts. This is because everyone uses their pumps differently. Someone who is exclusively pumping will need to replace parts much more frequently than someone who just pumps when they want to go out for date night and want to give their baby a bottle (If your baby is refusing a bottle, I have tips for that).
That being said, there are some general rules of thumb that you can follow. If you ever notice a change in output for seemingly no reason, checking parts is one of the first things you can do.
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Why do you need to replace parts?
Over time, there is wear and tear on parts. This can reduce the suction and make your pump less effective. If your pump is less effective, you’ll remove less milk.
Which parts need to be replaced?
Luckily, it’s rare for the pump itself to break. It’s usually the smaller pieces, like the duckbills/membranes, backflow protectors, breast shields/flanges, and tubing.
If you notice any visible damage to a piece, you’ll need to replace it sooner than recommended. As a rule if you pump more than 3 times per day, use the pump frequently guidelines. If you pump < 3 times per day, use the pump less often guideline. If you only pump sporadically, you’ll need to check your parts manually and monitor output.
These are usually made of a silicone material and are pulled and stretched with each pull of the breast pump. They tend to wear sooner than other parts of the pump. Replace these first if you notice a decrease in suction with your pump.
If you are pumping frequently, replace these monthly. If you are pumping less often, replace every 2-3 months (1).
If your pump doesn’t have a duckbill, it probably has a valve membrane. The yellow part is the valve and the white part is the membrane.
If you pump frequently, replace these every 2-4 weeks. If you pump less often, replace every 2 months (2).
These help prevent milk and moisture from entering your tubing. Not all pumps have these.
If you pump frequently, replace every 3 months. If you pump less often, replace every 6 months (1).
Flanges, or breast shields, are the plastic parts that you actually put against your breast. Some pumps use a shield that is also a connector as one piece. Some have a shield and connector that are multiple pieces. Residue can build up on these pieces, making them work less effectively.
Make sure that your flange is the correct size for you. This is one of the most common issues parents have with pumping.
Replace these every 6 months or sooner if you notice any visible issues.
The tubing connects your pump to the other parts and bottles. If you are using a spectra pump, replace the tubing if any moisture gets into the tubing, because it can damage the motor (this is why they have the backflow protectors). Other pumps have instructions on how to clean the tubing if milk or moisture gets into the tubing.
If you notice that the tubing is not fitting snugly anymore, it is time to replace it.
|Part||Pumping > 3 times/day||Pumping < 3 times per day|
|Duckbill||once/month||every 2-3 months|
|Valve Membrane||every 2-4 weeks||every 2 months|
|Backflow Protectors||every 3 months||every 6 months|
|Flanges||every 6 months||every 6 months|
|Tubing||as needed||as needed|
Krystyn Parks is a Registered Dietitian and Lactation Consultant who specializes in feeding children. She has a Master’s Degree in Nutritional Science from California State University Long Beach. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and has been registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration since 2013.