Small Changes, Big Difference: Pump Parts and Milk Expression

Judy, our resident breast pump expert, asked me if I would test out some new valves that Ameda has released to improve their pump efficiency. I currently don’t own an Ameda pump, so she lent me the store’s demo pump, parts, and valves. Why would a store owner go to such trouble for a blog post about tiny valves? Because pump parts can drastically affect a pump’s efficiency.¬†breastpump flange

We wrote last week about testing the efficiency of the pump and parts with a device A Mother’s Boutique keeps in-house. Using the machine, the pump efficiency increased 15% with the new valves.

As Judy mentioned, much like we frequently change the oil in our car, we need to change the valves and tubes on our breastpumps every few months to optimize performance.

So how did that work out for me at home?

I generally produce 2.5 ounces of milk during a pumping session. My baby is 12 weeks old and we aren’t separated, so this is my output during his nap. I found this output consistent when I used the old, white version of the Ameda valves.

I also found this output consistent when I switched to the new, clear valves. Ameda suggests that the new valves’ true improvements aren’t noticeable until the pump has been in use for some time–the clear valves stand up better to normal wear and tear from using and washing. I might have to test the valves for a few weeks to really notice anything significant.

BUT! And this is exciting. The FLANGES made a world of difference for my pumping output.

The pump comes with a standard, 25mm flange. I have a large, large bust and suspected these flanges were the incorrect size. When I switched to a 28.5mm flange, I got 4.5 ounces per pumping session (with both old and new valves).

Do you see how that’s almost double the milk output?

So.

The takeaway here is that the small parts of a breastpump make a huge difference in its performance.

I thought I would notice a small difference, but had no idea how significant a change I’d see when I switched flanges.

If you suspect your flanges are the incorrect size for your breasts, a good first step would be to consult the manufacturer to see how the flanges should fit for that brand of pump. Ameda offers up to 7 sizes of flanges for moms and A Mother’s Boutique sells several different products to help with flange fit and comfort.

Just as a poor latch can drastically affect milk transfer from breast to baby, a poor flange fit can clearly affect milk output from a breastpump. Many mothers jump to conclusions about their own milk supply when really, their breastpump or parts might be in need of a tuneup or custom fitting.

Did you switch pump parts and notice a drastic change in your milk output? Leave us a comment to share your experience!

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