Breast Pump Blues: Troubleshooting Tips and Solutions

Breast Pump Blues: Troubleshooting Tips and Solutions
June 19, 2016 Milkbar Breastpumps
Breast Pump Troubleshooting

In a perfect world our beautiful little babies would sleep softly the whole night through, breastfeeding and pumping would be a blissful experience of abundant milk flow and mothers would be revered as beacons of love and life…

…But since this isn’t a fantasy world, and since motherhood isn’t perfect, we’ve put together a few tips to help you navigate some of the common bumps of owning and operating a breast pump!

Has the pump been assembled correctly?

Yes I know it seems obvious but you’re probably sleep deprived, distracted and attempting to do three things at once – so double check the instructions.

Is the breast shield size correct?

In order to effectively draw milk from your breasts you need to have the correct size shield or flange.  You nipple should be pulled into the funnel and you’ll feel a tugging sensation but it shouldn’t hurt.  Your nipple should move freely within the funnel.  Your nipple can increase in size during the pumping session so use the size that feels most comfortable at the end of the session. If your nipples are sore after pumping (or during), your breast tissue is being pulled into the funnel or the breast shield is not sitting against your breast comfortably, then you may need a different size shield.  For more information refer to our guide to choosing the correct breast shield size.

Do you have a good seal between breast & breast shield?

In order for the suction mechanism of the breast pump to draw out milk, you need to make sure you have a tight vacuum around the areola.  Make sure there is no air or ‘sucking’ noises while you are pumping and that the shield is sitting comfortably against your breast.  Avoid pushing the flange into your breast tissue as this will restrict the flow of milk through the ducts.  The breast shield should sit firmly against your breast and create a rhythmic vacuum as your nipple moves backwards and forwards within the funnel.  It does take some practise to find the angle that is most comfortable for you to allow the milk to drain freely through the breast pump.

What suction and speed should you use?

Electric breast pumps will often allow you to adjust the speed and suction of the pumping action.  Begin on the lowest possible setting and gradually increase the speed or suction to your maximum comfort level.  Once you get used to your breast pump you can even create a multi phase pumping experience. You should not feel uncomfortable or sore during expressing so make sure the suction is not too weak or too strong for your breasts.

What are your pumping expectations?

Using a breast pump and learning to express milk can take time and practise.  Evaluate your needs as a mother – are you returning to work and pumping regularly? Will you be exclusively pumping? Will you be mixed feeding? Are you only pumping occasionally? Are you pumping to increase your supply?  Choosing the right breast pump for your needs will make expressing milk much easier.

It can help to time your pumping sessions between breastfeeds in order to give your milk supply time to regenerate.  If your baby has just fed then you are less likely to produce much milk.  Having a routine and pumping at a specific time each day can be beneficial, as your body will adjust to the greater demand for milk and naturally begin to produce more.

Many women find it helpful to pump in the morning after a hot shower, which is when they have the most milk and the warm water stimulates your let-down reflex.  But ultimately you need to choose a time that suits you, when you can relax and avoid distractions.

Remember that the hormonal response in your body is different when expressing to when you are breastfeeding.  It may take time for you to be able to relax enough to produce a greater volume of milk.  Persistence and relaxation are the keys to expressing, so make sure your arms and back are well supported, you have everything you need within easy reach and you can try some deep breathing or visualisation exercises.  For more helpful hints on expressing see our Top 10 Breast Pumping Tips.

What if the breast pump has lost suction?

If you suspect that your breast pump has lost suction then you can follow the guides below in order to test your specific breast pump.

Unimom Breast Pumps (Forte# and Allegro#)

(1) Test Breast Pump Body with the finger test. Can you feel air suction? Does the suction increase when the setting is increased? If yes your pump motor is working and you will need to inspect the non-electrical parts of your breast pump.

(2) Check your breast shield is undamaged.

(3) Do the valves need to be replaced? Look & test valves.

(4) Does the membrane need to be replaced? Look at & test membrane.

(5) Test Backflow protector unit.

The non-electrical Unimom Breast Pump components can be purchased individually or together in the breast shield kit or large breast shield kit.

Ameda (Ameda Purely Yours & Ameda Purely Yours ULTRA)

(1) Test Breast Pump Body with the finger test. Can you feel air suction? Does the suction increase when the setting is increased? If yes your pump motor is working and you will need to inspect the non-electrical parts of your breast pump.

(2) Inspect valve, silicone diaphragm and tubing adapter cap.

The non-electrical Ameda Breast Pump components can be purchased individually or together as part of a Hygienikit (Single, Dual & with or without a manual adaptor). View our range of Ameda products here.

To determine whether a valid warranty claim exists, Milkbar Breastpumps may be required to physically test the breast pump before sending to the manufacturer or distributor. Please contact us on 1300 781 275 or info@milkbarbreastpumps.com.au so that we can assist.

Comments (2)

  1. Sherzy 3 months ago

    My pigeon express pump machine wont work, i plug in the wire to the pump and it won’t turn on. I think i sparked the connection. Is there a way it can be fixed?

    • Author
      Milkbar Breastpumps 3 months ago

      Hi
      We currently don`t stock the Pigeon Electric Breast Pump. I recommend getting in touch with the retailer where purchase was made or Pigeon directly to see if your pump can be repaired or a replacement adaptor/part purchased separately.
      Kind Regards,
      MB

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