It’s no secret that having a baby is expensive! With all the buzz around certain products, we thought it would be helpful to break down what is a must-have and what might not be necessary (at least at first).
A good quality, hospital strength, double electric breast pump – It’s true not every breastfeeding mom needs a pump, but it is estimated that 85% of breastfeeding mothers use a pump at some point in their breastfeeding journey. Even if you don’t plan to be separated from your baby for work, you may desire a night out or have to be separated due to other circumstances. If your baby has trouble latching or you need to boost your supply, already having your pump will help prevent added stress.
An extra set of pump accessories – Duckbill valves, backflow protectors, flanges, tubes, and collection bottles are essential to your pump’s function. Having an extra set can save you or your partner if one of your pieces gets lost or broken.
Hands-free pumping bra – If you plan to pump, even just occasionally, a hands-free bra can be a game-changer! Going hands-free gives you more freedom and allows for hands-on pumping to help increase pumping output. Buy from our accessories!
Nursing bras – Many moms find the support of a nursing bra to be comfortable once their milk production ramps up. The convenience of fold-down flaps can lead to reduced frustration when trying to get the little one to latch. Buy from our accessories!
Hydrogel pads – Your own breast milk can be helpful for soothing and healing sore nipples, but hydrogel pads offer an added soothing coolness that many moms love. Even if you don’t experience cracked nipples, hydrogel pads can be great to keep on hand for any nipple
soreness that might occur.
Breast Pads — To help protect you from leakage once milk comes in. These can be purchased from our website under accessories.
A FEW milk storage containers/bags – While it’s tempting to stock up when those nesting urges hit, we recommend only purchasing a few milk storage containers or bags. This gives you the opportunity to try different brands to find what you like before purchasing in bulk.
Water bottle – Staying hydrated is key when making milk! Having a cute water bottle that you enjoy drinking from can be extra helpful when you’re stuck on the couch nursing or pumping. Have a water bottle that you like also encourages you to take it with you to get your water in on the go!
While there are hundreds of products marketed to breastfeeding moms, the above list focuses on the basics to help get you started. With this list, you can avoid expensive purchases that end up going unused. If you find you desire extras like nursing tops, a pumping cart, breast massager, etc, there will be plenty of time to shop online while you’re nursing or pumping for your sweet bundle of joy!
Your breast shield size is important for your comfort and efficient pumping.
Your end goal of pumping for your little one is to get as much out of your sessions as possible. Therefore a breast shield that’s too large or too small can greatly impact the amount of milk you are able to pump.
Even if you are a pro and have been pumping for a while, keep in mind that your breast shield sizing can change during your breastfeeding journey. Your pumping routine might benefit from a re-evaluation and resizing. You might even find that each breast needs a different flange size.
Remember, pumping shouldn’t hurt!
The size of your nipples will determine your Breast Shield size, therefore it must be properly measured for best results.
Click here for our breast shield size guideline.
Exclusive pumping or EP, as it is often referred to, is a term for providing breast milk via expression rather than direct nursing. Many mothers choose to exclusively pump for a multitude of reasons. Most often, moms turn to EP because of latching or nursing difficulties which could include latching pain, milk transfer struggles, and weight gain concerns. Often, these difficulties are a result of NICU stays or medical obstacles. Other mothers choose exclusive pumping because it fits their lifestyle and goals best. Whatever the reason……PUMPING IS BREASTFEEDING! If you’re considering EP, this guide can help you get off to a great start!
Can I really make enough? Yes, you can! It’s a myth that exclusive pumpers can’t make a full milk supply like their nursing counterparts. In fact, many exclusive pumpers make MORE than enough milk for their babies. We also highly recommend reading up on Paced Bottle-Feeding. This feeding technique is essential for helping babies have more control of feedings and avoiding overfeeding. Babies take an average of 25oz of breastmilk per day from ages 1-6 months old. Typical pumping output for EP moms is 2-4 oz every 2-3 hours.
Get to know your pump. Having a high quality, hospital strength, double electric breast pump is a must! We highly recommend our Dual S, S1 and S2 models as they provide loads of customization, durability, and hospital grade suction. The S9+ and Q is a fantastic model for on the go or as a “travel pump”. No matter which pump you choose, it’s important to know the recommended settings, how to sterilize and clean the accessories, and which parts might need to be replaced at regular intervals.
How often and how long should I pump? If you’re pumping from the start, we recommend 8-12 sessions, of 15-20 minutes each, every 24 hours. Research tells us that new mothers need at least 120 minutes of good quality nipple/breast stimulation per day to establish and maintain a full milk supply. Most moms pump every 2-3 hours during the day and every 3-4 hours at night. Prolactin levels peak during our deep sleep hours, so don’t miss those middle of the night pumps! Frequently draining your breasts is key when building a supply. Full breasts result in the buildup of a polypeptide known as Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation (FIL). FIL does just what its name says and tells your breasts to slow down production if your breasts remain full too long. As time goes by and your supply becomes more established, you will very likely be able to reduce pumping sessions.
Check your flange size. This topic gets a lot of traffic on social media and for good reason! Having the right flange size means more comfortable and efficient pumping. Don’t suffer through weeks of pumping pain…..reach out! Check out our printable flange sizing guide and flange sizing blog post.
Set small goals. Though your overall goal may be to pump until the baby is at least one, setting smaller sub-goals can be super motivating! Your first goal might be to EP for two weeks, then 1 month, then 3 months, then 6 months, and so on. Every time you hit a goal, CELEBRATE!!! You’re giving your baby an amazing gift and that absolutely deserves a bit of fanfare!
Make it easier. Hands-free bras, all in one collection and feeding systems, hands free shield cups, tracker apps, extra pump parts, and more can make the pump life easier. Think about the most time consuming and inconvenient parts of pumping and consider ways to streamline. Connect with other EP moms for tips and hacks that can reduce frustration and time spent.
Make a plan for storing milk. The CDC has a printable handout listing the general milk storage recommendations. We highly recommend printing it out and keeping it handy! It’s also important to store milk in usable portion sizes. Storing milk in 2oz and 3 oz portions often works well. Consider how you will rotate your stash. Many moms pump and refrigerate milk for the next day’s feedings while others pump and freeze milk while pulling from their oldest freezer stash.
Connect with other EP moms! Exclusively pumping is tough, and having the right support can greatly influence your success! Consider finding an IBCLC to help customize a pumping plan and to provide guidance for any obstacles you make face. It’s 100% okay to vet your support system. Ask potential IBCLC’s if they have experience supporting exclusive pumpers. If a lactation or healthcare professional doesn’t seem supportive of your EP journey, switch to a new provider who does. Connecting with other EP moms is also essential. Look for local exclusive pumper support groups and consider joining our Exclusively Pumping SpectraMoms! Facebook group for tips, hacks, and tons of support.
Exclusive pumping is an amazing gift for your little one. We know that EP moms face unique challenges and we salute you!
When it’s time to buy a breast pump, one important thing to know is that you’ll need to wash your breast pump accessories regularly. There are a few different methods for washing and cleaning breast pump parts and many mamas do a combination of methods. Here’s what you need to know about washing and sterilising breast pump parts.
PREPARE YOUR BREAST PUMP FOR FIRST-TIME USE
Before you use your breast pump for the first time, you’ll need to prepare by sterilising all parts that come in contact with your baby’s milk. This includes the breast shield, backflow protector, valve, bottle, bottleneck, sealing disc, bottle cap, and teat. Make sure you fully disassemble the backflow protectors, valve + membrane sets, and remove the valve from the breast shield prior to sterilisation. Do not sterilise the tubing or pump motor. Getting the tubing wet can cause irreparable damage to the motor and allow moisture into the motor, creating a cosy environment for mould, mildew and bacteria to grow.
USING BOILING WATER TO STERILISE YOUR BREAST PUMP PARTS
There are a few different methods you can use to sterilise your breast pump parts. We recommend the boiling water method.
- Select a pot large enough to fit all the parts without them rubbing together, such as a stockpot.
- Fill it with plenty of water to fully saturate the parts and leave plenty of room for a rolling boil. Make sure parts have plenty of room to move around and aren’t nestled together as this can cause irreparable warping.
- Place on a stovetop and bring to a rolling boil.
- Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Allow to cool to a manageable temperature, then use a pair of tongues to carefully remove parts.
- Set them on a clean paper towel away from a high traffic area (don’t use a cloth towel as cloth can harbour bacteria).
- Allow to completely air dry prior to assembly.
Note: frequent sterilisation can cause your parts to deteriorate faster. If you follow a regular wash routine you shouldn’t need to sterilise more than just once. If your care provider has instructed you to sterilise your pump parts more frequently, you should do so. You may need to replace your parts more frequently.
HOW TO WASH YOUR BREAST PUMP PARTS
We recommend hand-washing your parts whenever possible. Frequently microwaving or running parts through the dishwasher will cause them to deteriorate faster, just as frequent sterilisation does. When cleaning, make sure parts are fully disassembled (e.g. membranes removed from valves, valves removed from breast shields, and backflow protectors taken apart).
To hand-wash parts in the sink, you’ll need a separate washbasin, a dedicated sponge or bottle brush, clean paper towels, standard dish soap, and access to warm, potable water.
- Fill up a washbasin with warm, soapy water.
- Add your pump parts and ‘swoosh’ them around.
- Wash each part thoroughly; be careful with the membranes.
- Rinse thoroughly in cool water.
- Set to air dry on a clean paper towel away from high traffic areas.
- Allow to completely dry prior to assembling.
Dishwasher, microwave, and cleaning solutions
Spectra breast shields, bottles, and other hard plastic accessories are BPA-free and can go through the dishwasher without worry of harmful residue – however, it will cause them to wear down more quickly. You should hand wash whenever possible.
Do not wash silicone parts like valves, membranes, teats, and backflow protector membranes in the dishwasher. These parts are delicate and should be hand washed whenever possible.
For microwave steam cleaners or cleaning solutions, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
PUMPING MULTIPLE TIMES PER DAY
If you’re pumping multiple times each day, you don’t have to wash your parts every time. Just put them in a sealed container like a snaplock bag and store them in the refrigerator between pumping sessions.
Note: This recommendation is assuming you have a healthy, full-term baby. For certain conditions your care provider might give alternative cleaning and sterilisation advise; always adhere to those.
HOW TO CLEAN BACKFLOW PROTECTORS
You don’t need to clean your backflow protectors each time you use them. You only need to clean them if you see milk or moisture in them – don’t worry, this is completely normal and it means your backflow protectors have worked the way they should and protected your pump motor from harmful moisture. If you never see moisture in them, cleaning them every once in a while just to be safe is encouraged.
It’s important to replace the backflow protectors regularly to maintain the proper performance of your breast pump. The silicone parts can wear down over time, causing the pump motor to work harder, a decrease in suction which can hurt your milk supply, or a loss in airtight seal allowing moisture into the tubing. Read our guide on replacing pump parts for how often you should replace your backflow protectors and other parts.
HOW TO CLEAN THE TUBING
The backflow protectors should prevent milk and condensation from entering the tubing when working properly. If for some reason you’ve gotten milk or moisture in your tubing, there is unfortunately no way to clean and sterilise it safely for future use. Tubing that has gotten wet needs to be replaced. That’s one reason why it’s really important to replace your backflow protectors regularly. Backflow protectors that have worn out can lose their moisture seal.
So you’ve just received your Spectra breast pump, and now you’re wondering how to get it clean and sterilized so you can get started pumping. This post is going to run through how to sterilize your pump parts and keep them clean. We’ll give you some quick pointers to start with and then go into more details.
STERILISE EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE TUBING (AND PUMP MOTOR)
Before you use your breast pump for the first time, sterilize all parts except for the tubing and obviously the pump motor. You do not need to sterilize the tubing because the Spectra backflow protector blocks breastmilk from ever being able to get into the tubing.
How to sterilize your breast pump parts
There are lots of different methods to sterilize breast pump parts. Choose whatever is your favourite method. Here’s how to get started with some of the most common methods.
STERILISE USING BOILING WATER
- Place all parts into a large saucepan and cover with water
- Make sure there are no bubbles inside the bottles or other parts
- Place lid on the saucepan and bring to the boil
- Boil for 5 minutes (making sure pot doesn’t boil dry)
- Turn off heat and allow it to cool.
- Make sure that your breast pumps parts aren’t too crowded in the pan, as if there are not enough room parts can end up becoming warped while being boiled.
You don’t need to sterilize parts after every use (assuming your baby is healthy & full-term)
If your baby is healthy and full-term, then it’s not necessary to sterilize parts after every use. Check with your healthcare provider if you’re not certain. For most babies, it’s okay to just give the parts a good wash in hot soapy water and air dry. The dishwasher is fine, but avoid putting delicate parts like the valve and diaphragm from the backflow protector in the dishwasher as it will cause them to fray and need replacing more often. If you are pumping frequently, it’s okay to put pump parts in a ziplock bag and store them in the fridge between every couple of uses.
Sterilizing silicone parts like valves and backflow diaphragms more than once, or putting them in the dishwasher, will cause them to wear faster. If you need to sterilize them plan on replacing them more frequently to maintain suction.
We hope this gets you up and running a little faster with your Spectra breast pump. If you have a great tip for cleaning and care for your breast pump parts, let us know!
DO I NEED TO REPLACE BREAST PUMP PARTS?
- Lots of mums are not aware that some breast pump parts do need to be replaced regularly to maintain performance. After a while, some parts wear down and can fray or become overstretched and this results in a loss of suction when you are using your pump. Unfortunately, lots of mums will notice that the pump isn’t working as well as it did and think there’s something wrong with their actual pump, or (even worse) that there’s a problem with the milk supply. Usually, these problems can be easily resolved with a new part. If you notice that your pump seems to have lost suction, the first thing you should do is take a look at your parts, particularly the valves, and inspect for wear, fraying or stretching and replace if needed. Here’s a rundown of the pump parts you will need to replace on a regular basis, and how often to do so:Duck valves need to be replaced every 1 to 3 monthsIf your milk collection kit has a silicone duck valve, it needs to be replaced frequently as well. Replace these every 2-3 months if you use your pump once a day, and every 4 weeks if you pump more than once a day. Duck valves last a little bit longer than valve membranes but still tend to be easily damaged or worn from use and washing. Sterilising also can make these wear a lot faster, so always have spare valves on hand to switch when you notice you have a suction problem.Backflow protector diaphragms need to be replaced every 3 to 6 monthsJust like the valve membranes, the diaphragms in the backflow protectors can stretch and degrade over time, impacting suction. Replace these every 2 to 3 months if you pump once a day, and replace them every 6 to 8 weeks if you pump more frequently. Inspect this part regularly before you pump because a torn or damaged backflow protector diaphragm can allow moisture into the pump motor, causing irreparable damage and the potential for mould and bacteria to fester. Wash it in hot soapy water and let it air dry and ensure it is completely dry before use again. The backflow protector is the heart of a closed system pump and protects your baby’s milk from contaminants and bacteria that could cause harm, so take great care of these. If not changed regularly, they will impact suction strength, and risk mould and bacteria in your pump, and possibly your milk.Tubing needs to be replaced occasionallyThe backflow protector should prevent moisture from entering the tubing. However, should moisture ever enter the tubing, we recommend replacing the tubing. There is no way to sterilise the tubing and it’s important to keep the tubing completely dry because moisture can cause damage to the motor. The ends of the tubing can also stretch out and degrade over time with use, which can impact the suction performance of the pump. If the tubing slides on and off the backflow protector or pump motor easily, then it’s time to replace it. Note that it is typical for the tubing to slip off if you are moving around while pumping, or if the tubing isn’t secured tightly onto the pump motor or backflow protector. This is how it’s supposed to work, therefore not a sign of needing replacement. Just take care to notice if the tubing slips on and off considerably easy, then it may be time to replace it.Replace breast shields every 6 months
Replace the breast shield every 6 months if you exclusively express, or as needed if you pump less frequently. Keep an eye out for buildup of residue in cracks and crevices of the shield – sometimes the most rigorous cleaning routine is no match for hard to reach places, and over time buildup does occur. For this reason, we recommend replacement every 6 months. And in general, always replace parts if you see they are torn, distorted, or cracked. It is worth noting that in plastic parts, sometimes discolouration can occur as resulting from the sterilisation process; this does not impact the usability of the parts and they do not need to be replaced when this occurs.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- I had another baby and I want to continue using my original breast pump. Is there anything I need to replace?
Milk collection kits, which include tubing, backflow protectors, valves and bottles should be replaced for a second baby. It’s best to start out with a brand new kit so you can better keep track of which parts need to be replaced regularly as recommended, and avoid gradually reduced suction over time which can occur in older parts – especially if they have been sitting unused for some time. As for the pump motor we recommend inspecting the functionality ahead of time by assembling and attaching the pump kit and visually inspecting that the backflow protectors are moving back and forth correctly. We recommend storing breast pumps in a cool closed off area free of moisture to prevent possible damage while not in use.
- I bought a second-hand pump. What parts should I replace?
When buying second-hand, never buy milk collection kits – only buy the pump. There is no way of sterilising milk collection kits to make them safe for multiple users, ever. If you’ve purchased a second-hand pump, be sure to purchase brand new breast shields, bottles and backflow protectors for yourself.
- I’m sharing a pump; how often should I replace parts?
When you’re sharing a pump, you need to have your own milk collection kit. No method of cleaning or sterilisation can make milk collection kits safe for use by multiple users. That being said, follow the same guidelines as above for when to replace parts based on how frequently you use them.
- I’m only pumping a couple of times per week – do I really need to replace parts as often as this?
Yes, to maintain your pump working correctly, and to ensure you are draining as much as you can each pumping session. The above guidelines are recommendations based on two types of pump users: those who exclusively express (mums who use their pumps 6-8 times per day), and those who pump 1-3 times a day (such as moms who pump and work and direct latch feed at home). If you pump less frequently than that, then you may find parts last a little bit longer – BUT, always pay close attention for signs of wear and tear including reduced suction, slurping noises, changes in shape, and tears.
QUICK GLANCE CHART FOR REPLACING BREAST PUMP PARTS
As a pumping mama, you might be wondering what’s the best way to store all that liquid gold. Here at Spectra, we’ve tried to make it easy as possible because we know there is a lot of conflicting information out there. We’ve done the research for you!
Store breastmilk at room temperature for up to 8 hours
At room temperature (26ºC or lower) you can store fresh breastmilk for up to 8 hours. Previously frozen breastmilk can be stored for up to 4 hours.
Store breastmilk in the refrigerator for up to 5 days
Fresh breastmilk can be stored ideally for 3 days and up to 5 days in the refrigerator (after 5 days, move fresh breastmilk to the freezer). Previously frozen milk can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Store breastmilk in the back of the refrigerator, where it is coldest.
Store breastmilk in an insulated cooler bag for up to 24 hours
If you have an insulated cooler bag, you can store freshly expressed breast milk in it for up to 24 hours provided you use frozen ice packs. We recommend keeping the ice packs in contact with your breastmilk at all times and limit the number of times you open the cooler bag. Transfer to a refrigerator as soon as possible. Buy our cooler kit here.
Store breastmilk in the freezer for up to 6 months
In a regular freezer (–18°C), which is separate from the refrigerator and has its own door, you can store fresh breastmilk for up to 6 months. Do not refreeze previously frozen breastmilk.
Tip: Has the power gone out? Breastmilk is still considered frozen if it contains any amount of ice crystals or frozen areas. If you find some of your breastmilk appears to be partially thawed, the presence of ice means it’s still below 0°C.
Store breastmilk in a deep freezer for up to 12 months
In a deep freezer (–20°C), such as a standalone freezer unit or chest freezer, you can store fresh breastmilk for up to 12 months. Make sure it is set at –20°C or below to obtain a deep freeze. Do not refreeze previously frozen breastmilk.
So you’ve built up a freezer stash – awesome! You might be wondering how to thaw breast milk from the freezer safely, and without damaging it. Here are several methods you can use to thaw breast milk from the freezer.
Thaw breast milk overnight in the refrigerator
If you know in advance when you’ll be using frozen breastmilk, you can put it in the refrigerator 24 hours ahead of time and thaw it overnight. Set the bags you wish to thaw in a clean food-safe container just in case there are any leaks. 24 hours should be sufficient to completely thaw your breastmilk; however, if you find it’s still frozen in the morning you can use one of the following methods to speed up the thawing process.
Thaw breast milk in a bowl of warm water
You can thaw breast milk from the freezer using a bowl of warm water. Place the frozen breast milk container into the bowl, and then fill with warm water. Your frozen container will float at the top of the water so you should plan to rotate it every so often. You will also need to periodically refresh the water. The water will cool down less quickly as the milk thaws more.
Thaw breast milk under warm running water
Rather than refreshing warm water in a bowl, you can thaw breast milk from the freezer by holding it under a continuous stream of warm tap water. Make sure the water you use is warm – not hot – to avoid scalding the breastmilk; or worse, melting the freezer bag!
You can use any combination of the methods mentioned to safely thaw breast milk from the freezer. Just be careful not to overheat the breast milk because that can damage the nutritional content and flavour.
Special tips when using freezer bags
If you’re using freezer bags to store your breastmilk there are some precautions you can take to make thawing easier. No matter what type of freezer bag you use you run the risk of tearing or holes during the freezing and thawing processes. There are things you can do to protect against this.
Freeze your breast milk storage bags flat
Freezing your breast milk storage bags flat will decrease the number of corners and crinkles your frozen breastmilk storage bags have. Crinkles and corners make bags more prone to tearing and holes during storage and the thawing process. Plus, it’s a lot easier to stack and store them! You can freeze them flat on a cookie sheet or directly on your freezer shelf. Then, once frozen you can stack and store them how you wish.
Thaw your breastmilk storage bags in a food-safe container
Just in case there has been any tearing of the bag you should thaw your breastmilk in a food-safe container. You’ll be able to keep any spilt milk contained in one spot avoiding a huge mess in the refrigerator – and, more importantly, your liquid gold won’t go to waste!
Do not thaw breastmilk in the microwave
Never thaw or heat breastmilk in the microwave! Heating breastmilk in the microwave is very unsafe for your baby. Have you ever noticed that most microwavable meals ask you to stir them during the heating process? This is because microwave heating, although fast, is not very efficient. You get hot spots – very hot spots – in the same container as ice. When you heat breastmilk, you risk scalding the milk and even bringing portions of the milk to the boil – all the while some areas can still remain frozen. This can burn your baby’s mouth and throat! l It also risks burning the milk or melting the container. You should never thaw or heat breastmilk in the microwave.
Do not thaw breastmilk on the counter
It is unsafe to thaw breastmilk on the counter. This is because during the thawing process portions of the breastmilk will thaw to room temperature, and remain at room temperature for an unsafe amount of time while the rest of the container thaws. You should always thaw breastmilk in the refrigerator, or under warm water if you need to do it more quickly.
Do not put frozen breastmilk into a bottle warmer
A bottle warmer is not a safe way to thaw breastmilk from the freezer, even if you freeze your breastmilk in a bottle. With a bottle warmer you risk having a layer of hot milk surrounding an interior core of ice. This is an inefficient way to thaw breastmilk because it will take a very long time, and you risk having hot pockets in the milk making it unsafe for your baby to drink.
Your Spectra breast pump comes with everything you need to double pump, including two sets of tubing, breast shields, valves, and bottles, but if you have bits and pieces already at home, then you may want to know what is compatible with what.
Bottles that fit Spectra breast shields
Spectra breast shields have a wide neck, so you should be able to use any bottles coming with a standard wide neck. This includes:
- Avent Classic
- Avent Natural
- Minbie glass and plastic
You can use narrow neck bottles like Medela bottles if you use Spectra’s wide neck to narrow neck adaptor.