Top 10 Breast Pump Suction Issues

Categories: Breastfeeding, Pumping, Working Mamas
June 25, 2021

You sit down, get your pump station and supplies ready, and turn on your pump only to find out there’s no suction! Maybe you still have some suction, but you notice a definite difference in the amount and strength of suction.

Panic starts to set in. What should you do? Take a deep breath. Here are the top 10 most common reasons why your pump has no suction and how to troubleshoot.

 

Top 10 Ways to Troubleshoot a Pump with Reduced or No Suction

 

Hand holding breast pump valve

1. Valve isn’t in place

One of the first and easiest things to check is and membrane. While air may look like it’s moving from the backflow protector, if the valve isn’t in place, there will not be suction.

 

2. Valve has a tear

If you’ve confirmed the valve is in place, look to see if there is a tear somewhere in it. Even just a small tear or disformed piece of the valve can cause you to lose suction. To prevent this issue, replace valves every 3 – 6 months.

 

Breast pump backflow protector with water on it

 

3. Water in one of the components

Since the CDC recommends washing pump parts after each use, it’s easy for water to stay on the components. To help prevent this from being an issue, keep a spare set of pumping parts to switch back and forth between with each pump session.

Breast pump backflow protector with condensation on it

4. Condensation in the backflow protector

Even just a small amount of condensation is enough to affect suction. After each pumping session, be sure to take apart all components, including the backflow protectors. Clean and allow to air dry according to the manufacturer recommendations. This is another example where having a spare set of pumping parts can be extremely helpful.

Breast pump tubing that is pinched

5. Tubing is pinched or has a hole

If the tubing is pinched, something is placed on the tube, or the tube is at an extreme angle, suction can be reduced or diminished. The same is the case if there is a hole or any tears in it. Slowly run your hands along the tubing to look for these issues.

Breast pump with tubing port cover opened

6. Tubing is not attached or cap is not in place

This can be common when single pumping with a double electric pump. If the cap that closes one of the suction ports is not in place, there will be no suction. The same rule applies if one of the tubes is not in place correctly when double pumping.

Breast pump tubing with milk in it

7. Tubing has condensation or milk in it

This is less likely to happen with a closed system breast pump, but still something to look for when troubleshooting. Any type of liquid in the tube will reduce or eliminate suction. If there is milk in the tubing, be sure to thoroughly wash and air dry it or replace depending on manufacturer recommendations.

Lansinoh breast pump collection kit

8. Pump or collection kit assembly issue

If you are unable to determine where the issue is, take apart all the components, put your thumb over the airports, and turn the pump on. If you feel suction, the issue probably lies with collection kit assembly or one of the components.

Breast pump flange fitting properly against skin

9. Flange is not flush with the skin

Often a result of clothing in the way, if the flange is not flush with the skin, a seal will not be created, and suction will not happen. Check to make sure the flange is firmly against the skin and there is nothing between the shield and breast. It’s possible for your flange size to change during your breastfeeding and pumping journey. If this continues to be an issue, consider changing flange sizes.

 

10. Check the battery/batteries

The amount of suction can also be affected by the power source. If you are using a rechargeable pump, it may be time to plug in. If you are using a pump that is using standard batteries, try replacing them.

 

Use the manufacturer as a resource

What if none of these corrected the issue? All breast pump manufacturers have a warranty. If you received your pump through Acelleron, the manufacturer contact information can be found here. You can reach out to the manufacturer directly for additional troubleshooting and warranty information.

Thankfully, in most cases, a simple walk through of the steps above will help you determine the issue and get back on your pumping journey. If by chance you find yourself talking with the manufacturer and in need of a replacement, learn how to hand express breastmilk and look to use a manual pump like the Haakaa Gen 2 Silicone Pump in the meantime.

 

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