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Pump Parts — When To Replace Them

Updated: Feb 3

To all my part-time, once in a while and exclusive pumpers out there: this one's for you.

Did anyone ever tell you that pump parts should be replaced periodically (and definitely if warped, damaged, moldy, discolored) because of general wear and tear? Over time, certain parts to your pump will wear down, potentially causing a decrease in milk production.

Listing below is a general guideline of when to replace your breast pump parts. I will also be including a brand-specific list of when certain manufacturers reccomend replacing their product's parts as it's best to check those for more accurate suggestions.

Types of Replacement Parts:

Flanges - also known as breast shields are the parts that attach to your breasts. Some pumps (like Spectra) just have one piece that is both a breast shield and connector. Other pumps (like Medela) have separate pieces. Connectors are the pieces that connect your breast shields to your valves, tubing, and backflow protectors.

Residue may build up on these pump parts, especially in the hard to reach spots in connectors. This buildup can reduce the effectiveness of your pump.

How often to replace flanges (breast shields): Every 6 months, or immediately if you notice tears or cracks in the flange or on your nipples.

Duck bills (valves) - Duck valves, also known as duck bills are made of silicone. 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, the valves are one of the first things that you should replace.

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.

Valve Membranes - Valve membranes serve the same purpose as duck bills but they have two pieces – the yellow piece (valve) and the white piece, (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 - Backflow protectors prevent breast milk and moisture from entering your tubing.

Note: Not all pumps have separate backflow protectors. For example, Medela pumps do not have backflow protectors 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.

Tubing - The tubes connect your pump motor to your pump parts and bottles. Tubing should be treated on the guidelines from the pump manufacturer. Spectra tubing, for example, should be replaced if breast milk or moisture gets into the pump because it can damage the motor. Medela tubing can be washed 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.

Replacement schedules suggested by breast pump manufacturers

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 great start, your specific pump parts may require a different timeline.

To find out what your pump requires, check the instruction manual. (If you can't find it or threw it away, you can usually find it online.)

Below are what manufacturers recommend for some popular breast pumps.

Spectra replacement recommendations:

Below are Spectra's recommendations 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

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

Medela replacement guidelines:

In their FAQ chatbot, Medela says that their new breast pump parts should be replaced when damaged/as needed. They do not need to be replaced in a certain timeframe. (Older models should probably follow general guidelines though.)

Elvie replacement recommendations:

Elvie says that the “expected operating life of the replaceable washable components is six months.”

Willow Replacement Recommendations:

Willow suggests replacing their pump parts every 3 months

Momcozy Replacement Recommendations:

Momcozy says "breast pump accessories do need replacing regularly to maintain performance. If you notice that your pump seems to have lost suction, the first thing you should do is take a look at your parts, particularly the valves, and inspect for wear, fraying, or stretching and replace if needed.

1. Silicone accessories are recommended to replace your parts every 1-3 months;

2. Other accessories are recommended to be replaced according to usage"

I hope y'all found this helpful and please send this to someone who may need it. Love, light and a beautiful birth and postpartum to you all!

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