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Using a Breastpump
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Advice about Breastfeeding >
Using a Breastpump
- Breast Pumps: Electric vs. Manual
- Mildew in breast pump tubing
- Borrowing a Breast Pump
- Hands-free Operation
- Working while breastfeeding
- Pumping while travelling
- Breastpump Recommendations
Kind of a nasty question -- I recently found mildew in the
plastic tubing for my Pump In Style. I will replace it with
fishtank tubing, that's not the problem. What I'm wondering is,
does anyone have any thoughts about how to keep it from
happening again? I have had real trouble getting water out of
the tubes, which I'm sure is why I've got mildew (eeyuch).
Hi there! I had the exact same problem with the Pump In Style
tubing and this is what you do: After you finished pumping,
detach the suction cups off of the tubes and keep the motor
running with just the tubes on. The motor will basically suck
fresh air into the tube and that will dry off any condensation
left inside the tubes. It works like wonders!
When this happened to us we called Medela. They said that we
could boil the tubing to make it usable again and shake it out
to get out as much water as we could. Then, run the pump with
just the tubing to run air through it to dry it out. If you do
this second part occasionally it should keep them dry and
prevent future problems.
I had the same problem, so Im very interested to hear the reason
I ordered new tubing from www.bosombuddies.com ($4.50 +
shipping--look under ''spare parts'') After that I got in the habit
of running the pump for 2-3 minutes with just the tubes on it
while I cleaned up. This cleared any accumulated moisture, and I
never had the problem again.
To let the tubes ''dry out'', after pumping, I leave my pump on,
with tubes in place, while I'm cleaning the attachments and
dealing with the milk. The air that sucks into the tubes
eliminates all of the condensation. This has worked well for me.
I'm on my second child with the same breast pump and I haven't
had to replace the tubes.
I use an eyedropper with rubbing alcohol into each opening of the
pump tubing, then hang dry. Also - Medela now makes a microwave
steralization kit with directions for tubing. I used the
microwave kit while on vacation - very handy! -Wendy Bell
I used my blow dryer on low setting. Seemed to work fine.
A rep from one of the breastpump companies gives this suggestion
gor cleaning tubing: pour a bit of rubbing alcohol into the
tubing and then swing the tubing around to flush out the
I had the same problem. Now I just leave the pump going for a
few minutes after disconnecting the tubes from the sheilds -- it
circulates some air thru the tubes and dries out the
Here are the methods I have used for successfully getting rid of
moisture and water in the tubing.
1. For the condensation that builds up during use - After you
are done pumping open the suction up to the lowest and flip the
speed up the the highest and run the pump with the horns
disconected. For me, doing this whild I was packing up was long
enough to get rid of the condensation.
2. For water in the tubes if you decide to wash out your old
ones instead of tossing them - Hold your tubes at one and an
swirl them around like a lasso... the water will move down to
the ends and be flung out.
You can get mildew out of the tubes through washing with a
bleach solution. You can also boil them for a few minutes to
sterilize them. If you bought your pump new, you might not want
to use fish tank tubing... Medela is pretty fussy about fixing
pump parts if non-Medela parts are used with it. They say it
voids the warranty. New tubes are pretty inexpensive. You can
get them at local stores or buy them on line.
I've heard of conflicting advice about borrowing someone's
breastpump. I have a Medala pump in style and my sister in law
was going to buy the kit to have her own tubing & bottles, etc.
but she was told that the milk actually goes into the pump and
there is no way to clean it out. It looks like the ''pump'' is
just a suction mechanism and the milk stays in the tubing.
When my daughter was born, the price of a new breast pump was
prohibitive. I spoke with a lactation consultant about re-using a
Medela pump-in-style, and she told me that the concern is that
milk sometimes does back up through the tubes into the suction
mechanism. And since milk is a bodily fluid, there is reason to
worry about contamination. When I explained my financial
situation, she told me, in an off-the-record way, that I would
probably be fine if I removed the plastic cap that covers the
suction mechanism, sterilized it (boiling water) and used alcohol
to thoroughly clean the rubber suction thingy. There definitely
was dried milk on that part and I would not have known to clean it
had she not told me. I also sterilized the tubing, pump shields,
and milk containers. (If you can afford it, you can buy all the
removable pieces -- even the plastic shield -- new.)
Moral of my story: I took the calculated risk of my home-done
sterilization job, and all is well with my baby, who is now almost
two. You might just want to know that the person you're borrowing
the pump from doesn't have Hepatitis or HIV or whatever else can
be transmitted through bodily fluids.
I don't have a Pump in Style but I seriously doubt that the
milk goes up the tubing and into the pump. Have you ever
seen the milk do that? If she has her own horns and tubing
it should be fine. Get the most out of the pump that you can.
If she is uncomfortable with just your word, she can contact
a lactation consultant or Le Leche League and ask the
question. If she still is not convinced she may have to buy
her own pump. Another good resource is the Yahoo group
pumpingmoms. There are a lot of emails, but you can sign
up for web posting only. Great to hear that two more women
The breastmilk most definitely does NOT go into the pump or even
the tubes for the Medela Pump In Style. It goes right from the
breast into the suction cups where it drips into the bottles. I
have borrowed them before. On one occasion, I did soak the tubes
in a tub of water with some bleach, because the tubes had gotten
wet and there was some mold in them. If you are squeamish about
borrowing, you can always do that to the tubes, bottles etc.
Can't do it to the pump though! If you are further concerned,
contact Medela and they can assure you that the milk does not go
through the pump or tubes.
Regarding borrowing a breast pump, both the FDA and Medela
classify Pump in Styles as single user pumps. They are an ''open
loop'' system (unlike the rental pumps which are a closed loop
system). There are cases where milk can back up into the
tubing, and into the internal breast pump diaphram, which cannot
be removed and sterilized.
That being said, milk backing up into the tubes is pretty rare,
and the owner of the pump would likely know if this had
happened. In reality, many people borrow or buy used Pump in
Styles, and simply buy new tubing, horns, and bottles, etc.
It's all based on the risk of disease transmission the used pump
user is willing to bear (and the risk is very small).
If you are loaning the pump out, you might want to also consider
whether you will use it again. Although Pump in Styles last
quite a long time, they do eventually wear out, and you don't
want to be stuck with having to buy a new one.
Milk does not go into the pump. At most, you get a teeny tiny
bit of condensation in the tubing. I pumped for a year with my
first child, and am up to Month 5 with the second, both on the
same pump, and feel qualified as an expert here. There is
absolutely NO reason even to buy new bottles and tubing, because
one can boil the tubing and bottles and bits and pieces that you
already have and they'll be nice and sanitized for the next
user. That having been said, I think Medela advises against
using the same tubing, etc. but I view that as marketing
propaganda. If it were not, I would have had to buy new
bottles, tubing, cone-shaped thing, etc. for my second kid,
because surely there would have been a problem with Kid #2 using
milk from a pump contaminated with milk pumped for Kid #1 years
ago. Tell your sister-in-law to save her money, and to boil up
a pot of water.
You can loan out your Pump In Style with no fears of germs,
contamination, etc provided you do not supply the kit to your
sister-in-law as well, as you planned. Milk doesn't enter the
pump - you're right, it's just a pumping mechanism. I think
Medela instructs people not to share pumps for liablity reasons
for fear that they may share kits/tubes/bottles as well - AND to
make more sales, of course.
Signed, a mom who used a used pump!
The milk does not go through the pump or the tubing - the only
parts that touch the milk are the cups forward. Many people feel
that just sterilizing the tubes, cups, valves and bottles is
sufficient, but I personally have replaced all those parts after
I borrowed a pump from a friend. You can call Medella at 800-435-
8316, I have found them to be very informative.
I used the Pump In Style for 2 kids. Milk shouldn't go into
tubing unless you knock over your bottles while pumping. The
tubing just conveys the suction. When I knocked over the
bottles and milk was sucked into pump, I just ran machine
without tubing to dry it out. Machine works fine & no milk
It is not true that the milk enters the Medela pump. I have
lent my pump to two of my friends now (each bought their
own kit of supplies) and mixing of milk has never been an
I don't think there is anything wrong with borrowing a pump. I
borrowed a friends and knows lots of women who have done the
same. As long as you get your own kit it is fine.
My Pump-In-Style pump has been used by two of my friends and
with both of my children (5 kids in all!) We didn't share the
tubes or bottles.
I always thought that it was something of a scam by the company
and their representatives to tell new moms not to share.
Hospitals rent pumps...hmmm...
The medela breast pump has a suction mechanism which is separate
from the milk collecting mechanism. The tubes never come into
contact with the milk. She can buy her own set of bottles and
those cups that touch the breasts etc...and use yours with no
problem. I borrowed one for my first baby and fully intend to
buy a used one before I have a second child.
the breast pump manufacturers do not recommend using anyone
else's breast pump. however, i borrowed my friend's medela pump-
in-style, but i did purchase my own tubing, bottles, and breast
shields. then when there was a used one available from a
consignment store, i brought it. i used it for two babies and
then passed it on to my cousin who got new attachments. none
of us had any problems.
The PIS has an internal membrane that cannot be replaced (or so
Medela says, I suspect it could be if you knew how to
disassemble and reassemble the motor). If the milk backs up
during pumping and flows down the tubes it could get onto this
membrane. Therefore, Medela and the FDA warn about second-hand
pumps becoming vectors for the transmission of HIV and
Hepatitis. Personally, I think this makes no sense, as both of
those pathogens cannot live long outside a host. And for
transmission to occur, the milk would have to overflow again,
get down to the membrane, become infected with the microbe, and
then come into sufficient contact with an exposed mucous
membrane. At least that is how I imagine it would happen.
Frankly, it seems unlikely to me, but that is just my opinion.
If you never overflowed into the motor, I can't imagine what
could be the problem. Just my two cents.
I bought a medela pump from someone, bought new tubes,
valves, etc. and used it. I asked my lactation consultant
about it, she said there was a case of hepatitis transmitted
when mothers shared a kit a while ago so the official line
from the company has to be no sharing for liability reasons
but she did not think it risky.
Yes, it is rare for milk to back up into the Medela Pump in
Style but certainly possible. As my son's appetite grew, so did
my milk supply and if I did not watch carefully (I often read at
work while pumping) I would overflow into the tubes. So, milk
CAN get into the tubing and into the pump itself. This does not
happen to the hospital pumps or pumps you rent because those are
closed systems with a barrier to prevent milk from overflowing
into the pump mechanism itself.
Of course, you can sterilize tubes, bottles, horns etc. That is
not the problem (I used several friends' old Medela bottles and
horns so I could have a large number of sterilized bottles for
my own use and ready to go). It is difficult, however, to
sterilize the pump itself if milk has gone into it. One
previous poster to the parents website suggested how to
clean/sterilize the diaphragm membrance (and note she did find
dried milk in there !), and that would probably be good enough
IF YOU TRUSTED THAT THE PERSON YOU GOT IT FROM WAS A FRIEND WHO
WAS UNLIKELY TO HAVE HIV OR HEPATITUS. Perhaps I'm too cautious,
but I would never buy a used pump from Ebay or a consignment
As for accusing Medela of just trying to make more money ... If you
became infected with HIV or hepatitus because you weren't properly
warned about the risk -- even if it is so rare that you and your
infant were the only ones in the US to be so affected -- wouldn't you
be more than just a little bit upset ? Wouldn't you hit them with the
largest lawsuit you possibly could for not warning you ? So, while
they are indeed trying to avoid lawsuits, they are also giving you a
warning of a real potential risk, even if it is small.
Anyway, milk can get sucked up into the pumps, from my own
experience from pumping twice a day at work for 9 months. So I
would advise being cautious and knowing and trusting the person
you borrow or buy a used pump from.
I'm using a Pump N Style pump. Can someone advise me on how to pump
without holding the two bottles the whole time? If I don't press them
FOR CHARLOTTE: When I was at Rockridge Kids recently I saw a $10 packet of
attachments that allows one to use the PumpNstyle w/o hands. Iwonder if one
has to have a Medela nursing bra for the hooks, etc. to attach properly? I
didn't buy it because it looked fussy to use. I have been advised not to
pump for longer than 15 min, sothe time trade off didn't seem worth it.
My dear, you simply must get the Medela hands-free option. Essentially
it's two plastic cuffs with a number of little posts on them that fit
around the part of the pump that goes over the breast (I don't have the
manual here to tell me what all the parts are called - sorry). The
whole thing is then attached to your bra with a set of rubber bands (the
kit comes with a number of them, in different sizes) and voila, you have
your hands free. The down side is that, if you don't have Medela
nursing bras, you have to sew something onto your bras to fasten the
rubber bands to; I spent a happy morning sewing largish eyes from a set
of hooks and eyes onto my bras. If you do have Medela bras, of course,
you are home free. Although it means that you have rubber bands
dangling from your bra, I felt this was a small price to pay; it isn't
as if nursing bras are intrinsically attractive garments to start with.
The hands-free kit is available for about $11 at Rockridge Kids, and I
am sure you can get it at other places, such as the lactation center
behind Alta Bates on Regent, at Berkeley Baby, at Baby World. I have
been pumping at work 3-4 times a day for almost 4 months using this
setup, and find it vastly superior to sitting around holding the damn
things to my breasts; I can use the computer, the phone, etc. Also,
because you can somewhat adjust the tension, you can get a nice snug
fit, which should address your leaking concerns. I've called Medela to
tell them that I think the hands-free kit should be a standard component
of the pump at purchase. Hope this helps.
this page was last updated: May 11, 2004
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