Intro To Your Breast Pump
Breast pumps hold the important task of expressing milk from your breasts to use to feed your baby and to help to stimulate milk production and maintain a healthy supply.
While babies make feeding seem easy, breast pumps are a little more complicated. To effectively mimic a suckling baby, and properly store and extract milk, they have different parts, functions, and features.
Getting to know your breast pump and all its parts will help you keep it working effectively and efficiently, and also help you understand when a part needs replacing.
These are the different parts that are found in an electric breast pump:
Tubing – The tubing is the simple clear plastic pipe or tube that connects the flanges to the pump motor.
Flanges – Flanges are also known as breast shields. They are cone-shaped, plastic horns which fit over the breast, with the nipple in the center.
Valves – The valve is a small plastic piece or pieces which sit at the bottom of the flange, fitted in with a membrane. The membrane lets pumped milk fall into the storage bottle.
Membranes – The membrane is a flexible little piece of plastic that is attached to the valve. It helps to create suction, and it is the part of the pump which will need replacing the most. A worn out membrane can negatively affect the performance and effectiveness of your pump, and can even cause you to pump less.
Milk Collection / Storage Bottles – Milk storage bottles connect to the flanges. They collect milk as you pump.
Some items in an electric breast pump are fixed, but there are others that would need to be replaced regularly.
- Tubing should be replaced every once in a while.
- Extra valves and membranes should be kept on hand. These need to be replaced quite often, depending on how frequently you pump. If these wear, they can affect how much milk you express by decreasing suction. They are also quite hard to wash, so it is best to replace them for hygienic purposes as well.
- Keep some extra storage bottles to stop you having to wash and sterilize the same bottle numerous times a day.
Cleaning Your Breast Pump
It is so incredibly important to properly wash and sterilize your breast pump after each use. This stops the spread of germs and cleans leftover or residue milk from different parts of the breast pump.
Which parts should I clean?
You should clean every part of your breast pump, especially those that come into contact with your breast or milk. This includes breast shields, bottle lids, valves, membranes, connectors, and breast milk bottles. You only need to wash the tubing if there is visible residue or condensation.
You can wash your breast pump either in a sink or in the dishwasher. Try to keep the parts away from other dishes and try not let them touch the sink if possible. Once you have washed your breast pump thoroughly, you can sanitize it either by placing it in boiling water on the stove or by using a steam bag.
Knowing Your Breast Pump
The best way to take care of your breast pump, and to ensure it works as well as it can, is to know the different parts that go into making a breast pump. Keep some extras on hand and hopefully, you will have some easy, enjoyable pumping!