pump suction Tag

breast pump with tubing

What’s the difference between open and closed system breast pumps?

The first breast pumps were pretty simple devices to help mothers who were having trouble nursing for one reason or another. These early pumps looked radically different from our high-tech versions, but there’s one thing that most pumps have in common. Whether you’re looking at a 19th century manual pump or a 21st century double electric pump, you’ll find tubes on most models.

What does pump tubing have to do with open and closed systems?

At first glance, you might assume that milk travels through these tubes. However, tubing actually connects the breast pump motor with the pump’s connector and breast shield, and it plays a critical role in producing suction. If there’s a puncture or tear in the pump, it can affect suction. If moisture infiltrates tubing, it can quickly become moldy. That mold can potentially create a health hazard for your newborn if it comes in contact with breast milk.

Open system pumps create opportunity for overflow and contamination.

You may have seen the terms “open system” and “closed system” breast pumps in your search for the perfect pump. An open system breast pump doesn’t provide a barrier, or media separation, between the breast pump and your milk. There is a small chance of overflow in an open system pump and an even smaller chance that the milk can become contaminated as a result.

Closed system pumps reduce the risk of contaminated tubing.

A closed system pump provides media separation that prevents milk from overflowing into the pump mechanism. By ensuring your milk travels through the pump by the most hygienic passage, a closed system pump reduces the risk of contamination.

How do I know if my tubing needs to be cleaned?

Even closed system pumps must allow some air passage in order for the suction to work, so a completely closed system pump doesn’t exist. While milk is less likely to pass into the tubing, natural condensation can still cause moisture buildup. That means you’ve got to check the tubing of a closed system pump just like you would an open system pump. If you see water droplets building up in the tubing, you can disconnect the tubing from the pump kit and run the pump for a few minutes to encourage the tubing to dry.

Do I ever need to replace the tubing of a closed system breast pump?

Yes. If your tubing has mold or milk in it, the CDC says throw it away immediately and replace it with new tubing. Often, this may also indicate that the valves or membranes need to be replaced, too. It may also mean that the tubing has become compromised, creating an opportunity for milk infiltration. You may also need to replace tubing if you notice suction has become impaired. A loose or frayed tube takes a toll on breast pump performance.

Open or closed system is only one feature to consider when purchasing a breast pump.

At Milk N Mamas Baby, we’ve got breast pumps with dozens of features and benefits that make breast milk expression easier. We’ve got hands-free pumps for moms who want to pump discreetly at work, and we’ve got pumps without any tubing at all. If you need help choosing the best pump for you, give us a call or email us. We’re happy to provide guidance and support as you make your decision.

woman wearing Elvie double breast pump

What is double pumping breastmilk and how do I do it?

What is double-pumping?

Double-pumping is exactly what it sounds like: using a breast pump that allows you to express milk from both breasts at the same time.

What are the benefits of double-pumping?

The most obvious benefit to double-pumping is the time savings. Rather than pumping one breast and then the other, you can pump both at once. Using a bra like the Medela Easy Expression™ bustier frees up your hands for other tasks, saving even more time. According to research conducted by Medela, double-pumping can save up to two hours per day compared to single-pumping.

In addition to saving time, double-pumping can boost the volume and nutritional value of your milk supply. Medela’s research showed that mothers who double-pumped produced on average 18% more milk volume than those who single-pumped each breast, and the milk from double-pumping had a higher energy content at 8.3% fat content compared with 7.3% fat content for single-pumping.

Double-pumping tips

  1. Stay relaxed. Stress inhibits the production of oxytocin, the key hormone for milk production, so try to maintain manageable expectations around breastfeeding and pumping. Worrying too much about milk production can actually harm milk production, so stay relaxed. We recommend meditation as a way to turn double-pumping sessions into a more calming experience.
  2. Massage your breasts before and after pumping. Speaking of relaxing, try using your fingertips to gently massage your breasts. You can lightly move from the top down to your nipples as well as in circular motions to loosen clogged ducts, soften firm areas, and encourage milk flow.
  3. Use a warm compress. Dampen a soft cloth with warm water and apply it to your breasts to further stimulate letdown and encourage milk flow.
  4. Adjust your breast pump to your own personal maximum comfort vacuum. Not too long ago, we wrote on the affect of suction intensity on milk supply. The main takeaway was the value in experimenting to find the optimal pump suction for your body. Finding that setting can lead to increased milk flow and higher cream content in your milk.
  5. Choose a strong, comfortable electric breast pump. Ideally, the pump you choose for double-pumping will have a strong suction and a comfortable fit as the combination of those two factors is critical to milk production.

Elvie Stride: the ultimate double-pumping time saver

Elvie, the woman-owned company that produces very cool femtech to make women’s lives easier, recently released their newest double breast pump The Stride. This lightweight, wearable pump fits into any standard nursing bra, and you can control it with a small remote. You can also pair The Stride with your smart phone using The Elvie Pump App, which allows you to track milk production and create setting preferences once you’ve found your personal maximum comfort vacuum. We love the Elvie Stride for double-pumping, and we think you will too.

Call or email us if you want more information on The Elvie Stride or double-pumping in particular. We’re always happy to hear from nursing moms.

How does suction intensity affect my milk supply?

How does suction intensity affect my milk supply?

How is breast pump suction measured?

If you check the product description of your favorite breast pump, you’ll see the suction documented as mmHG, or millimeters of mercury. The more mmHG, the more intense the suction. At Milk N Mamas Baby, we carry breast pumps with a range of suction intensity, from the Medela at a maximum strength of 240 mmHG to the BabyBuddha at a whopping 320 mmHG of maximum strength. In between, are Luna at 280 mmHG and Spectra at a maximum strength of 270 mmHG.

Main Takeaway: Breast pump suction, or vacuum, usually falls between 220 and 350 mmHG.

Is a breast pump with a stronger suction intensity better?

Suction does play a role in milk production. A study published in Breastfeeding Medicine analyzed the effect of strength of suction on the flow rate and volume of breastmilk using an electric breast pump. Mothers participating in the study expressed breastmilk for 15 minutes using a pump set at their own maximum comfortable vacuum. Then, they expressed at softer vacuums. The study found that milk flow was greater at the maximum comfortable vacuum, and cream content was higher.

Main takeaway: Pumping at the highest intensity you’re comfortable with is likely to lead to increased milk flow and cream content.

Maximum comfortable vacuum may vary from one mother to another (or even from one feeding session to another)

It hardly needs to be said that every mother is different and, therefore, every mother’s maximum comfortable vacuum will also be different. However, your maximum comfort vacuum may change from day to day and even from feeding session to feeding session. While pumping at your maximum comfort vacuum can increase flow, pumping at an uncomfortable suction can hinder milk flow. If a suction level is set too high, it can cause breast tissue to compress, which can block the flow of milk ducts and potentially irritate them. Furthermore, if the suction level is uncomfortable, your body is less likely to produce the oxytocin that helps stimulate letdown.

Main takeaway: Increase your suction intensity until it is just slightly uncomfortable, and then back it down to find your own, personal maximum comfort vacuum.

Talk to our consultants to learn more about the breast pump most likely to meet your needs

At Milk N Mamas Baby, we know that different moms need different pumping solutions. We’ve had years of experience helping all kids of moms find the best breast pump for their circumstances. Give us a call today to learn how we can help you find a breast pump that meets your needs and your budget. Many of our pumps are 100% covered by insurance.