Suction issues with Ameda Platinum breast pump
June 17, 2016 11:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm using a rented Ameda Platinum hospital-grade breast pump to pump very frequently. Within the last day, it's started to gradually lose suction on both sides equally within a few minutes of the start of each session, and I can't figure out why.

I start each session at the same percent suction. It feels strong, and turning it up higher definitely increases suction significantly. But within a few minutes of steady pumping, the suction almost imperceptibly decreases, and I think it continues to decrease over time. At this point, I can turn it up all the way to 100% and the suction doesn't increase from where it had declined to.

If I turn the machine off and back on, suction stays weak regardless of which percent I select – even if I leave it turned off for a few minutes, when I turn it back on, the suction is still weak. The only thing that returns the suction to normal is leaving it turned off for the hour and a half between sessions and washing the pump parts -- and then it's only normal for a few minutes, like I said.

It's not the machine, even though it's doing the same thing on both sides. I took my first pump back to the hospital and exchanged it for a different one, and the new one does the same thing.

The parts – valves and membranes and everything – are only a week old. They look fine to me.

I'm confident I have the machine and parts set up correctly – it worked just fine until about midnight last night.

Any ideas? I don't have access to new parts (all the new parts kits I can find online wouldn't be delivered until the middle of next week, and that's way too late).
posted by liet to Grab Bag (13 answers total)
This is running off a plug, right? Because a pump will do that if the battery is low.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:29 PM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, running off a plug.
posted by liet at 1:04 AM on June 18, 2016

Maybe the motor is burning out. It's a rental so it may be near the end of its life. That happened with the breast pump i had which was a passed down pump from a friend. It got me through my first baby but then died like you're describing.
posted by biggreenplant at 5:12 AM on June 18, 2016

Are you using lubrication in the flanges? Is it possible you're using too much such that you aren't getting a good seal, particularly as the lubrication warms up, making the flanges slide away from a good seal? This could explain the "cooling off" period needed.
posted by devinemissk at 6:01 AM on June 18, 2016

Thanks for the ideas so far.

I thought the pump was going bad, which was why I exchanged it for a new one and still had the same problem.

No, I'm not using lubrication in the flanges. Should I be? It seems weird that everything would have worked fine without it until recently.
posted by liet at 7:27 AM on June 18, 2016

Can you take it back to the hospital, and have a lactation consultant there watch you during a pumping session to determine the priblem? Or have one come to your home?

Alternatively, it may be a current/power thing in your house that is causing the motors to burn out. Not sure how to test for that, but do other plugged in things burn out quickly in your home? Maybe call an electrician?
posted by Jaclyn at 7:53 AM on June 18, 2016

Replace the white flappy things. That's the problem 99% of the time when you lose suction, and they're cheap. They wear out very quickly, especially if you put them through the dishwasher.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:26 AM on June 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

No, I'm not using lubrication in the flanges. Should I be?

No. Some women find pumping uncomfortable without it, and it can affect suction, but you don't need to.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:28 AM on June 18, 2016

Does this type of pump have an automatic letdown cycle (my Medela pump does)? Could what you are describing be how it is supposed to function to mimic nursing behavior?
posted by vunder at 12:30 PM on June 18, 2016

It's about a different type of Ameda pump, but perhaps one of the troubleshooting tips on this page might turn out to be helpful?
posted by Ms. Next at 2:27 PM on June 18, 2016

Change the white membranes. They are consumable and even a tiny little tear or hole can affect suction a lot. If I remember right, if one side of the Ameda isn't working right, neither side will, so it could be a single tiny pinhole causing the problem.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:53 PM on June 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just tossing out some ideas:
Change membranes if you have any extras.
Call Ameda! They'll help trouble shoot.
Call a local La Leche League leader.
posted by pecanpies at 6:05 PM on June 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Might be an obvious question, but is your total output actually lower because of this issue or does the sensation of the suction just feel different? Three months into exclusive pumping myself, I've either gotten calloused or acclimated or resigned to my fate or something because I just don't feel the pain/pressure of the pump as much anymore, especially after the first few minutes and the most intense part of the letdown are over. Sometimes it's to the point where I look down thinking the pump is off, but it's still there chugging away. Nthing also the possibility of an automatic letdown cycle. Most of the nicer pumps have that feature.
posted by dissolvedgirl22 at 7:31 AM on June 19, 2016

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