How To Fix Breast Pump: 6 Common Suction Issues

Has your pumping journey hit a snag because of poor suction from your breast pump? Don’t fret, you’re not alone! Find out how to fix your breast pump with our easy troubleshooting tips.

So you’ve purchased a new breast pump, memorized the breast milk storage guidelines by heart, stocked up on breast milk storage bags, started taking lactation drinks, and have started building quite the stash. But then, why are you suddenly not pumping enough milk?

Well, sometimes it’s not you. It’s your breast pump. In this article, we’ll unravel the common issues that might be causing your breast pump suction to glitch.

1. You’re using the wrong flange size

One of the first things to figure out when you notice your output is not at its optimal is if you’re using the correct flange size. Otherwise, it can greatly affect the suction and even comfort of your pumping experience.

Use a too-small flange and it may pinch your nipple and hinder milk flow. You’d know it’s too small if your nipple rubs against the sides of the flange or if part of the nipple isn’t fitting in the tunnel.

Use one that’s too big and it will not create a proper seal around your breast, reducing the suction because air leaks on the sides. You’d know the flange is too big for your nipple if a large part of your areola is being suctioned into the tunnel when you pump. 

How to measure your nipples to get correct flange

How do you know if the flange size you’re using is correct? You need to measure your nipple and choose the appropriate flange size!

Now, if only the nipple is pulled into the tunnel and fits snugly inside the tunnel – you’ve got the right flange. 


2. The valve is not assembled properly or has a tear

Since the valve maintains the vacuum for milk expression, it must be properly placed and not compromised. 

Ensure that the valve is in place. If it is indeed in the correct position, inspect if there are any tears or deformities as these affect your pump’s suction.

Additionally, be gentle when cleaning and sanitizing the valve as any small tear can lead to inconsistent and inefficient suction.

Ideally, duck valves should be replaced every two to three months or as soon as you notice a tear. 


3. Water has leaked into one of the components

Did you know that even a little bit of water in your components can affect suction?

So after you finish pumping, carefully take apart all the parts including those backflow protectors, and give them a good wash. Just remember not to wash the tubes. Remember, only the parts that come in contact with your breast milk should be regularly cleaned.

Don’t rush into assembling them again, mama. Let them air dry completely!


4. You did not assemble the pump properly

Another possibility for a malfunctioning or poor-performing pump is that you did not assemble it properly. Try to dismantle everything and put it back together, making sure every piece is nice and snug. If this works, the issue is indeed because of simply how it was assembled.

But if it doesn’t work, try a new set of pump parts. Ideally, this should solve your problem. However, if it still doesn’t, then the issue may lie with your pump motor. 

5. You’re not using the right pump setting

Are you making the most of your breast pump’s various settings? Most pumps come with two settings: massage and express setting. The massage setting helps to stimulate letdown while the express setting is used for more efficient expression of milk.

For beginners, it’s recommended to start with the massage down before switching to express mode. However, each mama may have different preferences.

Others find they yield more milk when they go straight to express mode at the highest suction level, while others prefer to dedicate the first five minutes to massage mode and the rest to express mode at only medium intensity. So long as you are satisfied with the milk you’re getting, then that’s fine.

Feel free to experiment with different approaches and different suction levels! 

6. Check the battery

Sometimes, suction strength is also influenced by the power source. If you’re using a rechargeable pump, it may be time to plug it in and charge it. But if your pump uses standard batteries, consider replacing them to maintain optimal suction.

But if you’ve tried everything but still doesn’t work…

If all else fails, it’s time to reach out to the manufacturer of your breast pump and seek assistance, especially if it’s still under warranty. And if you’re thinking of buying a new breast pump because your current one can no longer be fixed, consider checking out our breast pumps!

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Author Mama's Choice Team

Mama's Choice Team

A team of passionate writers, young mamas, and creative superheroes who help mamas face motherhood one educational article at a time!


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