As a first-time mom, I remember being so overwhelmed when I opened the box to my breast pump. There is a lot to know about this new machine, from learning how to assemble the breast pump to making sure it’s properly cleaned after each use. When learning about your breast pump, it’s also crucial to know when to replace breast pump parts!
Many moms aren’t aware of the need to replace breast pump parts, but it’s vital for keeping your breast pump working correctly and efficiently.
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When To Replace Breast Pump Parts
The timing in when you need to replace your breast pump parts goes hand-in-hand with how often you pump.
If you exclusively pump, which is pumping four or more times a day, then you will need to change your breast pump parts more frequently than if you pump once or twice a day.
Here’s how often you should replace each breast pump part:
When To Replace Breast Shields
Breast shields, or flanges, are the part of your pump that attaches to your breast. Because breast shields come in multiple sizes, you will want to ensure you are using the correct size. This article from Medela is perfect for helping you determine what size you need!
If you are exclusively pumping, you will want to replace your breast shields about every 6 months. Otherwise, you can replace them as needed. You will want to replace your breast shields immediately if you notice any warping or cracking in the plastic.
When To Replace Shield Connectors
Shield connectors are the parts that connect your breast shields to your tubing, valves, and milk collection bottles.
Like breast shields, replace shield connectors about every 6 months if you are exclusively pumping. If you pump less than 4 times a day, you can replace them when needed.
Also, you will want to replace your shield connectors immediately if you notice any warping or cracking in the plastic.
When To Replace Breast Pump Valves
Valves are the part of your breast pump that helps create the suction that brings your breastmilk out.
There are a couple of different valves, depending on what type of breast pump you have. If you have a Medela pump, you will most likely have hard plastic valves that need membranes to create suction. If you have a Spectra pump, you will have soft silicone valves called duckbill valves.
Duckbill valves are made of silicone, which means they need to be replaced a little more often than other parts. You need to replace silicone parts more frequently because they are more prone to stretching out over time.
If you are exclusively pumping, you will want to replace your duckbill valves about every 4 weeks. However, if you aren’t exclusively pumping, you will want to replace these valves after 2-3 months of use.
If you notice your duckbill valves are visibly stretched out or warped, you will want to replace them immediately.
Because Medela valves are made out of hard plastic, you can replace them less frequently than the duckbill valves.
If you are exclusively pumping, you will want to replace your Medela valves about every 6 months. Although if you aren’t exclusively pumping, you can replace these valves as needed.
If you notice your Medela valves are starting to crack or warp, you will want to replace them immediately.
When To Replace Valve Membranes
Valve membranes are the little white flap that connects to the hard plastic valves. When you use your breast pump, the valve membranes act like duckbill valves, and they help create the suction that you feel.
If you are exclusively pumping, you will need to replace the valve membranes every 2-4 weeks. Otherwise, you can replace valve membranes around every 2 months.
Like the duckbill valves, if you notice your valve membranes are visibly stretched out or warped, you will want to replace them immediately.
When To Replace Tubing
Tubing is the part of your pump that attaches the motor to the shield connectors. Your breast pump tubing works with the valves to create the suction you need.
When using your breast pump, you may notice a little bit of condensation where the tubing attaches to the connector. This condensation should clear up when you disassemble your pump. However, you should not be getting a lot of water or breastmilk in your tubing. If this happens, or if you see mold or tears in the tubing, you will need to replace the tubing immediately.
Whether you are exclusively pumping or not, you will want to replace your breast pump tubing between 3-6 months of use.
When To Replace Backflow Protectors
Similar to duckbill valves, not all breast pumps use backflow protectors. If you have a Spectra pump, you’ll notice that you will have to use backflow protectors.
Backflow protectors are pretty much exactly how they sound; they prevent your breastmilk from backflowing into your tubing or breast pump.
If you are exclusively pumping, you will need to replace your backflow protectors every 3 months. If you pump less than 4 times a day, you will need to replace these parts every 6 months.
When To Replace Milk Collection Bottles
Milk collection bottles are a part of your breast pump that you can replace as needed. If you notice they are warping or cracked, it’s time to replace them!
Why do breast pump parts need to be replaced?
When learning when to replace breast pump parts, you might wonder why they even need to be replaced. There are two main reasons why you should replace your breast pump parts:
Loss Of Suction
An important reason you need to replace your breast pump parts is to maintain good care of your pump. Every time you use your pump, it creates a little wear and tear on your machine.
This standard wear and tear can contribute to a loss of suction while pumping. When you don’t have proper suction while pumping breastmilk, you will find that you are not pumping as much milk as you once did.
Realizing that you aren’t pumping as much breastmilk can be devastating, and it’s common for women to think that there has been a drop in their supply.
When you routinely replace your breast pump parts, you can have more peace of mind that your pump is doing the best that it can.
The second reason why you need to replace your breast pump parts is for hygienic reasons. Your breastmilk is likely a huge part of your baby’s nutrition, which means your breast pump parts need to be as clean as possible.
How many breast pump parts do I need?
An essential part of pumping breast milk is ensuring that you have enough breast pump parts available at all times.
When pumping, a good rule of thumb is to have at least two spares for each part of the breast pump.
Especially when exclusively pumping, you will want to have enough extra parts to reduce the stress of washing parts so frequently.
Also, when you have enough extra breast pump parts, you won’t have to worry about a part of your only set breaking and not having a backup.
How do I dispose of old breast pump parts?
It’s essential to dispose of breast pump parts properly. Not all breast pump parts are disposed of the same way; here’s what to do with each pump part:
You can recycle plastic parts, like breast shields and connectors, in your household recycling bin – remember to sanitize them first!
Tubing, membranes, and silicone valves can go straight to the garbage.
And lastly, you can recycle your breast pump motor anywhere that recycles small appliances. Also, some pump companies have a recycling program, so it’s worth looking into!
Can I use my original breast pump with a second baby?
Whether or not you can reuse your breast pump with a second baby depends on how much you used it with your first baby.
First, you should know that when reusing your breast pump for a second baby, you can only reuse the pump motor. All additional breast pump parts should be replaced with brand new parts.
Most pumps recommend replacing the motor after one year if you are exclusively pumping. This will ensure that the motor is still working strongly for you.
However, keep in mind is that most insurances will cover the cost of a new breast pump for each pregnancy. If you used your first breast pump frequently with your first baby, give your insurance a call to see if you can get a completely new one!
Learning how to use your breast pump may seem intimidating, but it will become second nature once you start using it more often. Soon, you will be able to assemble your pump in no time, and you will remember those feelings of intimidation when you first got your pump.
Before you go, check out these related posts:
- Everything You Need To Know About Pumping At Work
- How To Overcome Bottle Refusal
- Baby Feeding Essentials For Starting Solids
- Essential Items For Pumping Moms
- Free Printable Pumping in Progress Signs
I hope these tips for when to replace breast pump parts helped you! I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below!