Using a Medela Breast Pump

If you are using a Symphony Rental Pump:

  • Place the pump on a hard surface, such as a table or a nightstand, not on a soft chair or sofa.
  • Plug the short cord into the back of the pump and the long cord into an electrical outlet. Do not overload the electrical circuit or the pump may not function correctly.
  • Assemble the kit parts per directions. Attach the small white membrane to the yellow valve so it is secure and flat. Position the yellow valves so that the white membranes face the same direction as the breast shields. The dome caps should be securely attached under the pump lid. You may pump only one breast if desired.
  • The pump control settings are all on the front of the pump. The left button turns the pump on and off. The knob in the middle controls the suction, or pressure. Turn the middle knob clockwise to increase the suction. The right button (with the milk drop symbol) allows you to switch between the stimulation phase (which is faster) and the expression phase (which is slower). It is programmed to automatically switch from stimulation to expression after 2 minutes.

The following also applies to the Pump In Style Advanced and the Freestyle Personal Use Pumps:

  • Place the breast shields against your breasts with your nipples centered in the openings. Turn the pump on.
  • The suction rate for the first 2 minutes is faster and lighter to encourage your milk to flow. Adjust the suction to the highest comfortable setting for you. If it feels uncomfortable, decrease the suction until it is comfortable. After 2 minutes, the suction automatically changes to a slower, stronger rate. If necessary, adjust the suction knob to a level that feels strong, but not uncomfortable. This change in suction mimics how a baby suckles after the milk “lets down.” If your milk starts to squirt before two minutes, push the “milk drop” button to change the suction to the expression phase.
  • Pumping should not hurt. Increasing the suction to the point of discomfort may make you sore, and may keep your breasts from releasing milk (“letting down”).
  • Medela breast shields come in 5 sizes (21, 24, 27, 30 and 36 mm). You may find that pumping is most comfortable when only your nipple (not your areola) enters the tunnel. If your nipples rub on the side of the tunnel and pumping is painful, you may want to try a larger size breast shield. For more information, see Correct Fit of a Breast Shield.
  • If you want to pump only one breast, you will need to close off the second tubing.
  • The assembly and use videos on the Freestyle or Pump In Style pages on the Medela website demonstrate how to put the pump kit together and how to clean the parts. If you are using a Symphony, the set up for the kit is the same as the Pump In Style, except that the tubing attaches to the dome caps under the pump lid.

Cleaning your Pump Parts:

Before first use:

  • Medela recommends boiling all pump parts, except for the tubing and the Symphony dome caps. Fill a pot with enough water to cover all the parts. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, allow the water to cool, and remove your pump parts. Place parts on a clean surface to air dry. Do not store your pump parts if they are still wet.

After each use:

  • Separate all your pumps parts and rinse off any milk with cool water. 
  • Do not wash tubing.
  • Wash parts in hot, soapy water and rinse with clear water, OR,
  • Wash separated parts on the top rack of a dishwasher.
  • Allow parts to air dry on a clean surface. You may store your parts once they are dry.
  • You may also clean your pump parts in Medela microwave bags, or with Medela wipes that are designed for cleaning pump parts.
  • Note: if you are unable to rinse and wash your parts thoroughly after each use, store your parts in a refrigerator between use, and wash thoroughly at least once a day.

When using your pump:

  • Make sure the white membrane is clean, dry and securely in place when you re-assemble your parts. The membranes may need to be replaced every several months, or more often if you use your pump frequently. You may find that your pump removes milk better when the membranes are replaced.
  • You may wipe down the outside of the tubing periodically with a clean cloth. If you notice condensation (moisture) inside the tubing after you use your pump, leave your pump on for several minutes after pumping. This will dry the inside of the tubing. If condensation builds up, you may squirt isopropyl alcohol through the tubing and hang to dry. If you notice any residue in your tubing, discard and purchase new tubing.

Please note: The above guidelines are for healthy babies. If your baby was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system due to illness or medical treatments, extra protection is recommended. You may want to boil your pump parts, or place them in a dishwasher on a sanitize setting, once a day.

How often should you pump?

If your baby is not going to breast:

  • Pump at least every 2-3 hours during the day and every 3-4 hours at night, or at least 8 times in 24 hours. You may pump more often if you need to increase your supply.

If you are going to be separated from your baby temporarily:

  • Pump whenever you would be feeding your baby, or whenever your baby gets fed from a bottle in your absence.

If baby is going to breast, but is not gaining well, and you need milk for supplementation:

  • If you think that your supply is low, pump about 30 minutes after your baby nurses. This break before additional removal may stimulate more milk production. If you think that your supply is good, but your baby may not be removing milk well and is not gaining weight, pump after your baby feeds at the breast and schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant.

How long should you pump?

  •  We recommend that you pump for ~10-15 minutes. Pumping for more than 15 minutes may result in nipple pain. Pumping more frequently, rather than for a longer time period, may help to build your milk supply.

If you have any questions about using a breast pump, OR, to renew your rental pump by your renewal date, please call MilkWorks at 402-423-6402 (LINCOLN) or 402-502-0617 (OMAHA).

Reviewed: copyright January 2018