Understanding Breast Pumps and Pump Parts

If you need to spend extended time away from your baby, you’ll probably need to pump. But before you purchase your breast pump, it’s important to know more about its functionality. How exactly does a breast pump work? What are the key parts and features? What’s optional? And what happens when part of your pump needs replaced?

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Additional Resources

Caring for your breast pump


Once you’ve picked out your pump and purchased it, how do you properly maintain it? Is it ok to always keep it stored in your pump bag? How should you clean it and how often? And what do you do when there’s no soap or water in sight? Watch our special Google Hangout On-Air with our friends at Ameda!


  • Ameda

    Ameda has been the first name in breast pumps for 70 years. First developed to mimic a baby’s natural nursing rhythm and intensity, Ameda used this innovative technology to create a breast pump that was simple, comfortable, and efficient. Today, Ameda breast pumps continue to utilize their breakthrough technology—along with advanced features today’s mothers expect.

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  • Breastfeeding Headlines

    What are the top news headlines involving breastfeeding, pumping and parenting? We’ll comb through all the articles and discuss the main issues impacting mothers around the world.

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    Our team of experts are here to help you throughout your breastfeeding journey. Send your questions through email or voicemail sent through our website, and allow our experts to ease your concerns and quench your curiosity!

Episode Transcript

The Boob Group
Understanding Breast Pumps and Pump Parts

Please be advised, this transcription was performed by a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: If you need to spend extended time away from your baby you’ll probably need to pump. But before you purchase you breast pump, it’s important to know more about its functionality. How exactly does a breast pump work? What are the key parts and features? What’s optional? And what happens when part of your pump needs replace? We are The Boob Group.

[Intro/Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Welcome to The Boob Group! We are here to support all moms who want to give their babies breast milk and to respect moms who have chosen to feed their babies other ways. I am Sunny Gault. Thanks so much to all of our listeners who take the time to e-mail us or leave us a voicemail. Your feedback is so important! And we do believe that this is your show. And we’ll always try to do what we believe is in the best interest of the moms who listen. So your input is very important to us. If you ever have a comment or a question for us, you can send us a voicemail or e-mail through our website at www.newmommymedia.com, or you can reach out to us through Facebook. Have you downloaded our free app? It’s a great way to stream all of our episodes and even download them to listen to later. We have a Boob Group app, as well as our network app for New Mommy Media. So if you want one app to access all of the New Mommy Media shows, that’s probably your best option there. And you can download them wherever you get apps. Alright, so let’s go ahead and meet some of the mammas that are joining our conversation today. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family, and your experience with today’s topic. So let’s go ahead and start with Gayle.

GAYLE JOHNSON: Hi! My name is Gayle Johnson. I am a mom of three boys. There are all six years apart. So I got amnesia every five years and have another baby, and I breastfed all three of them with varying degrees of success. With my first one I assumed that, since I wanted to breastfeed that it would be easy, and it wasn’t. So I have experienced pretty much all of the breastfeeding challenges that you can experience between the three of them. But we made a through, and it was absolutely wonderful, and I wouldn’t change a bit, even the part of crying on my baby which has happened before too. I was home with my first one, and then I worked full time with my second and third. So I did a lot of pumping. So I am eager to talk about that, because it is a lot of work and as well as rewarding. And I am also a breastfeeding peer counselor for WICmoms in Kentucky. So a lot of these moms, some of them have to go back to work at two weeks. So we have a lot of moms who are learning to pump really quickly and heading back to work with their new babies.

SUNNY GAULT: Alright! Well, thanks so much for being with us today! And Vicki, tell us a little bit about yourself.

VICKI TWOMEY: My name is Vicki Twomey and I actually work for AMEDA. We are a breastfeeding company. And I am not a mom. I’ve never breastfed, but I’ve worked within mom issues and mom industries for the last fifteen years. I’ve worked closely with WIC in the past too, so I am excited to talk to Gayle.


VICKI TWOMEY: Oh, and I am also a certified lactation consultant.

SUNNY GAULT: Awesome! Yup, and our expert for today, so we are excited to chat with you as well. And I can tell a little bit more about my pump experience. So I have four kids of my own. And I did a little bit of pumping with my first two kids. Not too much to be honest, because I was fortunate enough to able to work from home for most of the time and kind of breastfeed on demand. But my last two kids are my twins, and they are now about two and half years old. And when they were first born, they were premies, they were born at 35weeks, and so their latch was really kind of weak, and so for the first about two months I exclusively pumped for them. And it was nice because I had a big old hospital grade pump, those are really nice. So I did that for about the first two months and then once they could latch we pretty much just tandem breastfed after that. And I am currently still tandem breastfeeding them most of the time. So that’s a little bit about my experience.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so before we get going with our episode here, we have a headline, a news headline that I wanted to share with you. I’ve been seeing a lot of really interesting headlines come out of the UK, and even though I know this isn’t right here in the US, I still think that they are really interesting and worth sharing, and just talking about to get the conversation going. So this headline comes from The Telegraph which is a UK online periodical, I am not sure if it’s something that they give out, you know, if there are hardcopy versions in the UK, but for us it’s online. And the headline is: Mother ordered to stop “sexual” and that’s in quotes, “sexual" breastfeeding in hospital. So there is a young mom, 18 actually, very young mom, Darcy Pennington, and she was visiting her grandmother at Royal Liverpool Hospital, and she needed to feed her baby Vincent, and she was approached by a female nurse, and she was told to go to a private room, so that other hospital visitors didn’t feel quote on quote “uncomfortable”.

And she was really upset by that. And I believe when she went into this other room the nurse even drew more shades to kind of shield her off a little bit more. And the mom asked the nurse you know what’s going on here. I guess she really expected a hospital to be a little bit more supportive of breastfeeding. And the nurse basically said that she was protecting this mom’s dignity. Apparently she was a floor that had nothing to do with moms or babies, and so the nurse felt that you know people coming on to that floor wouldn’t be expecting to see a woman breastfeeding and therefore may feel really uncomfortable. And so it actually had the opposite effect. It made the mom feel very uncomfortable and she eventually ended up leaving and she posted some stuff to Facebook to say: hey, I really don’t think this is right; this is what happened to me. And I will say on behalf of the hospital that they did come out and apologies and said that they were sorry that the mom was treated that way basically. So just kind of wanted to throw this out to both of you ladies. You know, I know we don’t have all the details here as far as the story is concerned. But I would expect… I know here in the US where we talk a lot about baby-friendly hospitals, and hospitals being more supportive of encouraging moms to breastfeed. And I am not sure what the case is exactly in the UK. But what do you think of this story and what was done? So Gayle, let’s start with you?

GAYLE JOHNSON: I have found that even baby-friendly hospitals varies from person to person as far as the staff who is more baby-friendly or less baby-friendly, or breastfeeding friendly. It’s such a shame for that mom because it’s so hurtful to me from that point forward. Is she always going to wonder: Am I going to be insulted, corrected, scudded somewhere else, every time she feeds her baby? And it’s such a shame that medical professionals can’t say: that’s wonderful or at least not be negative. So hard for me to understand! I always make eye contact with moms that are breastfeeding and smile, and I kind of pat my chest to let them know that I am acknowledging their work and their love for their baby, and that I had that too.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, and it is tough too. And this could have been an isolated incident, I am not saying this hospital always does this or anything like that, we certainly don’t have that information available. Vicki, what do you think about this? Just hearing this in general with information we do have?

VICKI TWOMEY: I agree with Gayle. I literally can't understand. I just don’t know where this nurse was coming from! I don’t know how she can have that mindset at all being a healthcare professional, and a professional in general! It just always flabbergasts me!

SUNNY GAULT: Well, I know. It was an unfortunate situation. Hopefully, some lessons were learned and hopefully that mom, you know, continues to do what she needs to do for her baby. I know, it’s a tough situation all around. But at least I’m of the camp that if more people see it and, you know, inappropriate way of course, that it will help normalize it. I will post the link to our Facebook page, so if you guys want to check out the article, that’s where you need to go.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so today we are breaking down the anatomy of a breast pump and Vicki Twomey as a certified lactation educator with AMEDA, company who makes breast pump and also helps educate moms about breastfeeding and pumping. And, I love this part, Vicki is also a self-professed fan of podcast in general. We love that, Vicki! Welcome to The Book Group!

VICKI TWOMEY: Thank you! I am excited to be here!

SUNNY GAULT: Alright! So in addition to today’s episode, I wanted to promote the fact that Vicki is also going to be joining us for a Google hangout on air. We are going to record that a little bit later. And we are going to break down how to properly clean your pump. And I know a lot of you moms may have questions about this. So be sure to check that out and we’ll be sure to link that video on the episode page for this podcast. So I also want to say that our discussion today was inspired by one of our listeners. Which is awesome! I love hearing from our listeners! And we really do take your input very seriously! And Lea, she was originally hoping to donate her breast pump to another mom and she posted this to our Facebook page.

Actually I think she send us an internal message. And she said: “I have a single-user electric pump that I want to donate or give away to a mom who could use it. I prefer to do this as opposed to throwing it in the landfill. If you are interested, you know, send me a message, so, you know, we can help out other moms.” So Lea later learned that you shouldn’t share single-user pumps, we are going to talk about that in a second, and that’s really one of the main reasons we wanted to do this episode. Because we know you moms want to help and if don’t have… We know pumps can be expensive. And you may have this interest in helping another mom. And there are just some things we need to know about how pumps work so we know, you know, what we can and can’t do with them. So that’s the reason we want to do this episode and help educate other moms out there.
Ok, so let’s get into this. Vicki, not all breast pumps are created equal, right? So what are some of the main categories when we talk about breast pumps?

VICKI TWOMEY: Well, to me, there are really two main categories. There’s a manual breast pump where you kind of just using your hand to create the suction you need to get the milk out of the breast. And the second is an electric breast pump. Then within electric breast pumps there’s a couple of different kinds. You can have a single breast pump, which is taking milk out of one breast at a time. You can have a double breast pump that does both breasts at the same time and saves time. And then within this electric breast pump there’s also a multiuser pump and a single-user pump. A multiuser pump is designated to be used by more than one mom. Often time is called a hospital-grade pump. Versus the single-user pump which is more of a personal pump. It’s designated to be used by one mom usually for one baby, maybe sometimes longer depending on how long you breastfeed or use it.

SUNNY GAULT: Ok, so it’s mainly the hospital-grade pumps that you could share between moms. To your knowledge are there any more personal kind of pumps that you could still share or is that a no/no?

VICKI TWOMEY: It’s a no/no. And the reason it’s a no/no is that… And you know, we are going to talk a little bit about opening closed systems. And so the reason it’s a no/no is that it’s only been tested and certified to be used with one mom. So even though a pump may be a closed system pump, it’s not intended to be used more than one mom.

SUNNY GAULT: Gotcha! Ok, so how do we, as moms, know what type of pump to get? Because there’s a lot of options out there. So what would be some of the criteria? What questions should we really be asking ourselves as we start to explore these pumps and figure out what might work best for us?

VICKI TWOMEY: I think the biggest question how often do you have to pump? A mom that’s lucky enough or the situation is that she can kind of feed on demand and just needs to pump every once in a while if the baby is not there, or sleeping, or whatever, you know, can get away with just a manual pump. If she’s using it just a couple times a week, she doesn’t need anything that’s any bigger than that. Versus a mom who, like you said earlier with the twins, you know, if it’s a NICU baby and she’s trying to actually establish her milk supply, that’s the opposite end. That means you need a hospital-grade pump. Because you need to help, you know, really stimulate the milk and have it come in and establish things. And then in between, there’s the single versus the double, which just kind of, I think, depends on what you are looking for. Some moms they just want to do one breast at a time, but usually if you are going to get an electric pump, you might as well get a double one, so that you can do both breasts at the same time.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, I think that was probably one of the best pieces of advice one of my friends gave me. I was one of the last of my friends, you know, to have my first baby, and so I was asking all my friends, you know: hey tell me what I need, tell me what I need. And I remember one of my friends said: just do the double pump! It’s going to cost a little bit more, but seriously you will get it done a fraction of the time and you know, you’ll be more productive overall. So that was definitely helpful advice.

VICKI TWOMEY: Yeah, I agree.

SUNNY GAULT: So, Gayle, I know you have experience pumping, as well as working with pumps, you know, within WIC. Tell us a little bit on a personal level. What types of pumps have you used in the past and how did it fit your needs?

GAYLE JOHNSON: The only thing that I had with my first child was a single-hand pump and I had all this milk dripping of the bottom of my sweatshirt from the one side, I didn’t have any nursing pants, it was a mess. But it got us through. I was home with my son. It was gap sort of a… You know, it helped reweave in engorgement. I was very appreciative of that. I always check with the moms that I work with from WIC because sometimes they don’t get a manual pump from the hospital and if they are engorged it’s really… There are so uncomfortable and they kind of can’t get the pressure off. And then I used like probably a single-user pump that my cousin lend me with my second child. And it didn’t really get a whole lot of milk, even though I was working full time and I had to supplement a lot more with my second son, probably because I didn’t have the right equipment to establish my supply while I was at work. And then I had a wonderful double hospital grade with my third son and he had exclusive breast milk for six months, and you know, I pumped lots and lots of milk and it didn’t hurt, and it wasn’t nearly so stressful. So I’ve kind of done all of the extremes and made the mistakes with the pumps.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, absolutely! And my experience… I have a little bit of experience with all of them too. So I had just, like I mentioned before, that I got the double pump, I was still single user, but a double pump, personal pump. So I had that and I got that part of my baby registry before my first son was born, so I was all set to go. But I have to say-I didn’t really benefit from the hands-free. They kind of promote this: hey, hook this to your bra and you know, you can kind of go hands free, and that part didn’t really work for me. I am one of those moms that I really like pumping to be as productive as possible. I think there’s probably a lot of moms out there that feel that way. So if I’m not feeling like there’s enough suction, or I am not pumping out enough during the 10/15/20 minutes that I am pumping, I like maneuver the breast and try to get as much out of it as I can. And I am not one of that kind of “said it and forget it” pumpers. I’m like: no, we are going to make every moment count of this pumping session. So I used that intermittently really with my two boys, and then I decided that listen, you know, this really isn’t working for me, I kind of don’t remember what I actually did with that pump.

But I just quit using that pump. And then when my twins came, like I said, it was really nice, because it was through insurance and I was able to get a double pump, and they literally sent me home. They had the same pump in the hospital, right next to the hospital bed, so they could show me, and that I can kind of use it a little bit, and it was, you know, like I said, right next to me. And then, you know, I think they just swopped it out. And this is actually a very good example of being able to, you know, use different…the pumps between moms, because they wanted to keep that pump that I was using right there in the hospital, and I just took the part, you know, the part that actually attached to me and that went into the pump, that’s the part that I took home with me. And then I think I was sent…Maybe they me go home with a different pump. So that was kind of my situation. It was really nice and was able to take everything home with me. And then to just continue what I was doing in the hospital, you know, continue doing that at home and that was really nice. But then, when insurance kind of ran out, I had to give up my double pump. And that’s when I went: oh, my God! I am not prepared to get another pump! And I actually got a manual pump at that point because I was pretty much just tandem to breastfeeding my twins. But I wanted to have a pump because I wanted to start building a little bit of a supply in the freezer, so I could spend more than three hours away from my twins, you know.

So I would start to pump… It was like the late-night sessions like after they were asleep, so maybe like a 10pm o'clock session and you know, I don’t know, maybe midnight, if I happened to be up that late or something like that. But it was like one extra session a day. And then when I was doing that it wasn’t really important that I had, you know, an electric pump. So that was really, really helpful for me. Alright, so when we come back we are going to break down the anatomy of most breast pumps so you know exactly how they work and we’ll talk about what you can do when any of your parts needs to be replaced. We’ll be right back.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, welcome back everyone! We are continuing our discussion about breast pumps and how they work. Vicki Twomey, a certified lactation educator with AMEDA is our expert. So Vicki, let’s go ahead and let’s breakdown the anatomy of these breast pumps. Let’s go through the parts and then kind of explain how things work. And just a little note for everyone that’s listening: I know it is kind of difficult because we are explaining to you these parts as opposed to you actually seeing them, but on the episode page for this website we’ll include a link that actually breaks everything down, so if you need… If you are like me and you’re a visual person, and you kind of need to see these parts, that will be hopefully a good resource for you. But Vicki, let’s go through and kind of explain each part.

VICKI TWOMEY: Sure! So the main two parts are the pump itself, which has electronics in it, and it has a little piston in there, and it’s the actual pump that you put your speed and your suction, and things like that. So that’s the part that kind of sits down. And then the whole other side is the part that connects to you. You know, that includes the tubing that comes from the base, and then the plastic parts that connect to you and have the flinch systems. And so this is a little hard to imagine, but what you are basically doing is the little tubes are creating a suction and they are pulling milk from your breast into the bottles. And it uses a negative pressure versus when a baby is drinking, when a baby is eating it’s using compression on the sides versus the pumps that we use today are using negative pressure and pulling the milk from your breasts.

SUNNY GAULT: What is a negative pressure? When you say that what do you mean by that?

VICKI TWOMEY: Well, that’s what … when you were saying earlier that you thought that you really wanted the pumps to work well so that’s like the suction so it’s like when you are pumping and you know, your breasts are kind of come off a little bit and then it doesn’t seem to be working for a few seconds, it’s that negative pressure so you want to make sure there is a really good seal around it. And it is pulling because when it is suctioning out, it is using negative pressure to pull through the tubing and then it is pulling milk out of your breast. Versus a baby eating, it is using negative pressure so is sucking but it is also using compressions with the side of its mouth and with its tongue. So you need to make sure that there is that really good seal which is why some moms when they are trying to use the hands-free, like you said, they don’t get the results they are looking for because as they are moving and typing and doing things, the seal keeps breaking a tiny bit because our breasts are not shaped like flanges, you know, I mean they are not hard, plastic things. So that is basically how the pump is working is it is taking the air going through the tube and that is pulling through the flange and pulling milk down into the bottle.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay and the flange part is what is actually on the breast, that’s the plastic pieces that are covering the breast, right?

VICKI TWOMEY: Yes, those are by far the most important piece of pumping. You know, when you are looking at it, we have some great videos on www.ameda.com where you are looking down and as you are seeing your nipple, it should be pulling in and out so the flange has the plastic part that is going over like your areola and your breast and then your nipple should be pulling in and out of that tunnel. But it needs to be free moving so it doesn’t want to touch the sides but if it is too big or too small, you end up getting less milk than you want.
So that’s a really important part and it is not intuitive sometimes, like you will be like “oh, this is too big” but it is not – it is too small because what you are looking to see is that the nipple is going smoothly in and out but that you are not pulling too much of the rest of the breast down into that tube either because then you are actually in danger of hurting some of your tissue too. So that is really important, getting the right size of the flange.

SUNNY GAULT: And it is so interesting because when I was doing all this pumping, I didn’t even realize that there were different flange sizes so can you tell a little bit more about the different sizes and what is … I mean, is there a size that comes standard with most pumps?

VICKI TWOMEY: Most pumps sizes are 25mm but a third of moms actually need a bigger size. And it is interesting because it is not the size of your breast, it is not the size of your areola, it is the size of your nipple itself. And so when you are looking and you are trying to figure out … you know, some women that are small breasted need a larger flange because it is the size of the nipple and I think that’s where people get confused because you are like “well, I am a D so I must need a bigger flange” but that has nothing to do with it.

SUNNY GAULT: Interesting! So the actual nipple, not the areola, not the rest of the breast tissue – just the nipple. Okay, so that maybe something that moms need to consider if they know they have larger nipples, they may need to ever proactively get a bigger flange size when they order their pump?

VICKI TWOMEY: Yes and I think most companies but I know Ameda for sure, if you call, we have IBCLC that can kind of talk you through looking and say “okay, what’s your nipple doing, what is this doing, can you see this?” Then they can really help you do a flange fit pretty easily.

SUNNY GAULT: A flange fit – I like that. Alliteration right there – flange fit. Okay, so we have talked kind of about the anatomy of an electric pump. Is it different at all for single pumps versus double pumps? Obviously, you have got more than one pump attached to you but besides that is the process any different?



VICKI TWOMEY: Same thing.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay. And then what about with hand pump? Like, obviously we don’t have the motor attached or it doesn’t need to be plugged in. Are there any other real differences between having a manual pump?

VICKI TWOMEY: Not really, I mean it is the same … you don’t have any tubing, you don’t have the base or anything and basically in lieu of the air being pulled through the tubing which is coming out of the base, it is your hand going in and out that is causing that pressure. So it is the same bottle setup, it is just a different motor mechanism I guess, you know, like your hand is the motor basically.

SUNNY GAULT: And it is a nice workout for your hand, anyone want to work out their hand – there you go.

VICKI TWOMEY: I was wondering when you said that you pumped for your twins I was like “gosh, did your hand get tired?”

SUNNY GAULT: Well like I said, it was just at night but actually we should ask Gayle on that because she used a manual pump so yeah, Gayle do you have anything to add as far as manual pumps are concerned.

GAYLE JOHNSON: As I was not exhausted enough being a new mommy, yes, I built up quite the arm muscles, fortunately on both sides.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah that was probably smart, you know, change sides there so you can give each side equal workout.


SUNNY GAULT: Okay, so Vicki let’s talk a little bit more about other features that might be on the pump and I know this varies and obviously there are a lot of different pumps out there so my understanding would be that’s because they have different features. So, can you kind of give us an overview … I know we can’t go through every pump that’s out there and whatever but what are some of the extra amenities, let’s just call them, that moms might see on a pump?

VICKI TWOMEY: Well, most of it … you know, some pumps have a recording where you can record your baby so that while you are pumping you can hear your baby smiling or coughing or even crying because sometimes that helps with a let-down. And so Ameda pump has a separate speed and suction where you control either the … you know the fast, in the beginning when a baby is feeding it goes very fast and then when you get a let-down, the baby does long slow draws. Other pumps though actually have a button so when you turn it on, it starts off at that high speed and then there is like a button that says “okay, let’s go ahead and do our let-down”. So different pumps have ways of accomplishing the same thing, I guess, which is either you doing it manually for yourself and getting exactly the way you want versus some pumps have kind of a button that does it for you.

SUNNY GAULT: It is so interesting that you mention that. So I have a little confession to make and that is I always just wanted to skip the let-down portion, you know how it is like very … it is like slower in the beginning, I am having hard time remembering.

VICKI TWOMEY: So it is faster … so in the beginning, you think about your baby when your baby is feeding in the beginning, he or she does really quick but very shallow draws and it is kind of like pumping and getting priming I guess the breast for lack of a better term and then when the milk comes in you will see and you can watch them swallowing, it is really long, slow draws because they are kind of pulling that milk out and drinking at the same time. And so usually you want your pump to be like the baby, you know, because it is kind of simulating the same thing. So when you start you want to do really low suction but high speed and that is the baby going [baby sound] and then when you see milk coming into your bottle, then you are like “okay, now I need to switch like that my baby is drinking milk”. So then you go to a lower speed and a higher suction though, so now it is like baby is sucking milk out of your breast and like you said, a lot of moms just want to leave it on really fast because they are like “I want to get the milk out really fast”. But that is not simulating how a baby drinks so then it turns to a can … some moms are fine with it but the can have the opposite effect and get less milk.

SUNNY GAULT: Now, does it matter about the frequency that you are pumping because I know with my twins especially in the beginning when I was doing the exclusive pumping that I literally pumped every three hours, it didn’t matter the time of day, it really didn’t matter, I was through the night and everything. Even if you are pumping a lot like that, do you still need to go through the whole process of the let-down portion and then the long, you know, longer portions at the end.

VICKI TWOMEY: I don’t know the answer to that. I think that it would be best to do that because you are trying to empty breast as much as possible because empty breast make milk faster so and that is the best way to empty your breast so I would think you would need to but I do know some moms that like I said are just perfectly fine just leaving it on high speed, high suction and they just get tons of milk. So I think everybody is a little different but I am not sure.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, it is interesting; I am now wondering, you know, because [inaudible 29:16] 20/20 and I am now wondering if I didn’t like when I was using my double … my personal pump with my boys, I got so frustrated with pumping because I just didn’t feel like I was getting enough out and I wasn’t doing it frequently enough to really build up the supply and for it to always be there and so now I am wondering if my body really needed that beginning let-down portion that I would seriously just skip through.
Honestly, I was like “this is boring me, I am not even getting milk out, it is wasting my time” – that is literally what I thought of it.

VICKI TWOMEY: Well yeah, that is the biggest call we get all the time … as moms like “this doesn’t work, it is not doing what it is supposed to be doing” and then you walk them through all the steps and they are like “ooooh”.

SUNNY GAULT: Right, exactly. Now, the automatic shut off, is there an automatic shut off with all pumps or is that an extra optional feature?

VICKI TWOMEY: That’s extra optional so some pumps you can add … especially the hospital-grade pumps, some of them you can kind of program and say start here, go here, do this and then turn off after twenty minutes kind of thing.

SUNNY GAULT: It is like choreographing your pump.

VICKI TWOMEY: Well yeah, I mean, yeah – absolutely.

SUNNY GAULT: And it was so funny, we got a comment from one of our listeners a while back and she … it was part of a segment that we do called “Boob Oops” so we share funny breastfeeding and pumping stories and she said she was at work and she fell asleep pumping, I guess she got there early because she was just so dog tired. She fell asleep pumping and she was there with her pump attached for three hours, it was like from 7am to 10am, which you know by 10am people were coming in and she was like … you know and one of the comments made in the episode was well I hope it had an automatic shut off. I was like yeah, that would be kind of crazy. A lot of stimulation, hopefully her milk supply went through the roof after that. Okay, so what about replacing parts, you know, if you are using your pump a lot odds are you are going to have to replace parts at some point at least. So give us an idea of what are some of the common parts that typically need to be replaced?

VICKI TWOMEY: So on an Ameda pump and actually most pumps, there’s only two parts that should ever have to be replaced. One is called the valve and this looks different on different pumps so on an Ameda pump it kind of looks like a little duckbill, it is like yeah, I describe it like a little duckbill. So it goes on the inside of the flange on the bottom so it is facing down into the bottle and when you take it on and off, this is super delicate and it is really, really thin silicone that needs to come together and be very tight at the bottom. So when you are taking it on and off to wash it, you want to hold it on kind of on the end of the bill so you want to take it on the fat side and pull it straight down because if you take it on the thin side you could rip it … that really delicate spot. And so when you are looking at this, you want to make sure there are no tears, no nicks, no nothing so this needs to be … this is a very delicate piece so when you are washing this, you don’t want to put stuff through it, you don’t want to put a bottle brush or anything; this just needs hot, soapy water and then rinsed with cool water.

This is the most common thing that needs to be replaced, probably every two to three months depending on how often you are using it and how well you are cleaning it and how it is being treated. So this is the most common thing and really most of the time the only thing that needs to be replaced as opposed to the diaphragm. So Ameda has a diaphragm that fits in the top of the breast flange so there is like a big top hat maybe when you put it upside down. And so it fits down there and that item, it is actually a barrier that stops milk, mould, viruses, everything getting through.
So this you just want to make sure that it is not torn, not hurt, not anything but this generally is really, really sturdy but this would be the second most common thing that you would have to replace. Everything else is pretty good, you know, our tubing doesn’t get any milk in it so it should never ever have any water, vapor or anything. If it does, you want to replace it. Though I can tell you a lot of times, we do get calls where people are like my cat or my dog ate my tubing.

SUNNY GAULT: Ooh, or chewed it up.

VICKI TWOMEY: So oftentimes the only reason the tubing has to be replaced is that something goes terribly wrong with it.

SUNNY GAULT: You know, it is funny, I remember with my personal pump seeing some condensation on the inside of the tubing so if that is happening, any idea what could cause it because it wasn’t … I don’t think it was milk, I don’t know, maybe it was milk.

VICKI TWOMEY: Well, we haven’t talked really about an open and a closed system so a closed system is where the milk can’t back up into the tubing so if milk or water backs up into the tubing and then can back up into the base of the machine. And when that is happening, that can cause moisture, can lead to mold and things like that so you want to keep your tubing very dry just because you don’t want it to back up into the system and even though in a closed system, anything that’s in the tubing should never be able to get into your milk, you still want to be careful. But if you are using an open system, then milk can back up into that tubing. But if it was a closed system and there was moisture in there, then I would call and just get new tubing. I would call the company and just say “hey, there is moisture in my tubing and there shouldn’t be” because there shouldn’t really be a way that that could happen in a closed system.

SUNNY GAULT: In a closed system. But if it is an open system, then milk … did you say milk will be flowing through in an open system?

VICKI TWOMEY: Yeah, milk can back up into it. I mean, it is not designed to happen or anything but there is just no barrier stopping it and so it can happen and so when you see milk in your tubing or moisture in your tubing, you do have to be careful to clean it with hot soapy water but it is a little tube so then how do you dry it. I mean there are those kinds of issues with the tubing, yeah and so that’s just the difference between open and closed.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay. Now, would you say most pumps because I don’t even know if I have ever seen an open system … most closed systems and how would moms know what they have just kind of going on the company’s website and seeing what it says?

VICKI TWOMEY: We love KellyMom and she talks about open and closed systems and she goes through it and will say “here are all the open systems, here are all the closed systems” and I don’t really say “go through every single brand and say who is open who is closed. And so there is some open systems where it can back up into the tubing and therefore can back up into the machine and so … and when you are looking … but they do say it because when you are looking at their IFU or their directions, it will say once every month or once every two months, try to open the front of the pump and clean inside it in case anything got in there. Whereas with ours, you just never have to worry about that because it never backs up so.

SUNNY GAULT: Got it. And I will be sure … I will go ahead and find out what that KellyMom link is and that way we can kind of include that. So Gayle, I know … Vicki and I have been talking our heads off here. Have you ever had to replace any part of your pumps you’ve had in the past or did you not get to that point yet?

GAYLE JOHNSON: I did not have to replace any parts. I have had moms call me to tell me that well-meaning daddies have failed their tubes and they are now shriveled then can’t be used. So that was a big thing that we had to educate was that you know, they don’t need to be sterilized in boiling water because it is all plastic – hot, soapy water and rinsing.

SUNNY GAULT: And then are you … I know, you know, through WIC moms can get pumps … do parents ever come to you, moms ever come to you and say they need any kind of replacements or is WIC not usually involved with that?

GAYLE JOHNSON: WIC is involved with that to some extent; we have interesting circumstances with our pumps; we just switched to all [inaudible37:07] pumps so we are still learning how to teach moms how to use those pumps. And when they have a problem with the pumps, they generally just bring the whole thing back in and then we hand them a new one with all new parts.

SUNNY GAULT: That’s an easy way to do it, right? Just get a replacement for the whole thing.

GAYLE JOHNSON: Because then when you have time to troubleshoot, we can figure out what is going on and they can get back to pumping. It is so critical with some of our moms, if they get the least bit frustrated, they stop pumping.

SUNNY GAULT: So Vicki, for moms who can’t have their whole thing replaced, what typically is the process? Is it easy as calling a number and getting some replacement parts and how does that process work?

VICKI TWOMEY: So it depends on the pump. We are in certain stores but it is a little bit harder to find our products and some of our competitors are easier but for sure Amazon, of course, has everything you need and often times calling the company’s 1/800 number or toll-free number is a really good way to get what you need.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay. I think I just called like the 1/800 number from the company because I didn’t really know what my problem was. I was more like diagnosing like “hey, this is kind of the problem I am having with the pump. Does that mean this need to be replaced?” Do most companies have some support there where the people that you could buy the parts from can actually help you troubleshoot that a little bit?

VICKI TWOMEY: Yeah, that is actually one of the – in my opinion – the one least known fact is that I think every pump company, you can just call them and there is amazing, amazing women that are there to help you figure this out. And that is their job because, you know, what we want is for you to be able to feed your baby. You know what I mean? So, of course we want to help and of course we want to figure that out. So calling and talking to our parent care team is an awesome way you get tons of help, you get tons of support, there is IBCLC and I don’t think everybody knows that; they are just “well, I can’t figure that out” and they just don’t think that they can get the support they need because it just seems like calling to say “I need a new one” versus “Hey, this just doesn’t seem to be right; can you help me”.

SUNNY GAULT: Right, exactly. Good to know. Alright ladies, well that wraps up our conversation. Thanks so much both for Vicki and Gayle for being part of our show today and for everyone for listening; we really do appreciate your support. If you are a member of The Boob Group Club then please be sure to check out our bonus content for this episode. If you are going to be pumping a lot, we will talk about what parts you may need the most so for more information on that and our club, you can visit our website at www.newmommymedia.com.

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SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so we have a question from one of our listeners for an expert and this comes from Sarah and Sarah posted that on our Facebook page. She says: Hi, I love this page and I need some help. My son is 7-months-old and has thrush. In turn, I got it and my nipple has cracked so badly on the underside. When he latches, it burns and hurts. I am in no way stopping breastfeeding so my question is what can I do to ease or heal this nipple pain? I have used coconut oil, lanolin and thieve oil. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much in advance.

MICHELE STOLEBERGER: Hi, this is Michele Stoleberger. I am an IBCLC in the Washington DC area. Hi Sarah, thanks for your question. I am sorry to hear that you have been dealing with thrush; it can definitely be persistent because you and baby will pass it back and forth. Make sure you have washed bras really well and you are not leaving any bra pads against your skin for too long while they are wet.You want to keep your area nice and dry so that you don’t continue to gather bacteria. I think it is time to call in the big guns and break out all-purpose nipple ointment. This is a prescription cream that includes an antifungal and it will help heal the cracks and prevent reoccurrence of thrush. You can find the ingredients on Dr. Jack Newman’s website and contact your OB about getting a prescription. Make sure that you and your baby are both getting treated to prevent further transmission of the thrush. And as always, contact an IBCLC if you have further questions. I hope this helps.

SUNNY GAULT: That wraps up our show for today. Thanks so much for listening to The Boob Group.
Don’t forget to check out our sister show:
∞ Preggie Pals for expecting parents
∞ Newbies for newly postpartum moms
∞ Parent Savers for moms and dads with infants and toddlers and
∞ Twin Talks for parents with multiples.

This is The Boob Group where moms know breast.

This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.

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