by Anne Eglash MD, IBCLC, FABM
A United States national survey of 1844 mothers thru the Infant Feeding Practices II Study asked subjects about their breast pump use, and specifically about breast pump problems and injuries related to breast pump use.
What do you think was the most common problem reported with pump use?
- The pump motor died.
- The pump did not extract enough milk.
- Milk entered the motor.
- Plugged ducts from pumping.
See the Answer
Journal of Human Lactation 2014 30(1) 62-72
Abstract Background: Benefits of using a breast pump are well documented, but breast pump-related problems and injuries and the associated risk factors have not been reported.
Objectives: This study aimed to describe breast pump-related problems and injuries and identify factors associated with these problems and injuries.
Methods: Data were from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II; mothers were recruited from a nationally distributed consumer opinion panel. Mothers were asked about breast pump use, problems, and injuries at infant ages 2, 5, and 7 months. Survival analysis was used to identify factors associated with pump-related problems and injuries.
Results: The sample included 1844 mothers. About 62% and 15% of mothers reported breast pump-related problems and injuries, respectively. The most commonly reported problem was that the pump did not extract enough milk and the most commonly reported injury was sore nipples. Using a battery-operated pump and intending to breastfeed less than 12 months were associated with higher risks of pump-related problems and injury. Learning from a friend to use the pump was associated with lower risk of pump-related problems, and using a manual pump and renting a pump were associated with a higher risk of problems.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that problems and injuries associated with breast pump use can happen to mothers of all socioeconomic characteristics. Breastfeeding mothers may reduce their risks of problems and injury by not using battery operated pumps and may reduce breast pump problems by not using manual pumps and by learning breast pump skills from a person rather than following written or video instructions.
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Milk Mob Comment
By Anne Eglash MD, IBCLC, FABM
Many mothers have problems with their breast pumps. Even though insufficient milk extraction was the #1 pump problem in this survey, 14 % of mothers had difficulty with sore nipples due to their breast pumps. It is common knowledge that many mothers do not nurse, and rely on breast pumps for their infants’ nutrition. Mothers in my clinical practice often report not receiving professional instruction on proper pump use, even if they receive breast pumps from home health companies who are distributing them for insurance companies.
Based on the % of mothers who have problems or injuries, it is clear that Breastfeeding Champions and lactation specialists need to teach and observe pump use. In addition, I encourage anyone to report problems with breast pumps to the United States Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting website.