If you are like me, then you likely have never heard of a closed system breast pump. What is it? Why didn’t I know about it? And how do I find one?
When I first heard of a closed system pump, I immediately took to the internet to find out what the heck was going on and why I had no idea if my pump was closed, open, or sideways…
What the heck does a closed system pump mean?
Well, let me assure you that it is quite simple to understand. When looking at most pumps, they appear very similar.
All of them have a pump motor and some form of tubing that connects the motor to the milk collection kit (flanges or breast shields and milk bottles). But not all pumps are made equal.
Some pumps are an open system and some are closed system.
A closed system pump has a barrier between the motor and the milk collection kit that keeps the milk from entering the tubing. An open system pump does not have a barrier which can allow some milk particles to enter the tubing and potentially lead to mold.
Open System Breast Pumps
In open system pumps, the end of the tubing that is attached to the milk collection kit is open and, therefore, can allow milk to pass into the tubing and ultimately into the pump motor. As stated above, the biggest issue with this design is that it can lead to mold growth within the tubing.
If the tubes are not properly cleaned, then the mold particles can be exposed to your breast milk.
The key phrase there was cleaned properly. Open system pumps are not as horrifying as they may sound. But, like all products that you use to feed your baby, they require proper cleaning and maintenance.
The tubing should be properly dried out after each pumping session. This can be done by letting the pump run for a few minutes after you have finished pumping. This “dry pumping” helps pull air through the tubing and dry it out. Isopropyl alcohol can be used by adding a few drops to the tubing but be careful to let it dry before pumping again as the vapors can be exposed to your milk.
Another option mothers opt to use is to boil the tubing parts to sanitized them. The only issue I have found with this method is after time the tubes become cloudy and that makes it hard to detect any moisture in the tubes.
I have owned a few open system pumps and have not had an issue with mold. I boiled my tubing two times a week along with other pump parts since I used my pump multiple times per day. I also opted to replace the tubing every 3-4 months.
With proper care, mold should not be an issue with an open system pump. If you neglect to clean your pump parts, then yes, you will likely get mold.
(Related: Click here to visit our Pump Part Replacement Page to get extra Tubing for your Medela Pump.)
Closed System Breast Pumps
A closed system pump has a barrier between the tubing and the milk collection kit. This barrier keeps outside air and milk from passing into the tubing. This means the tubing never requires cleaning and there is no possibility of mold growth.
Closed system pumps were originally created for hospital grade pumps because they had multiple users. The closed system pump ensured that no bacteria or viruses from one user could pass to another since the pump could be properly cleaned.
Even though the intent of a closed system pump was to allow multiple users, all personal pumps should be considered single user products unless directed by the manufacturer.
List of Closed System Pumps
If you are interested in a closed system pump, here is a list.
- Ameda Elite
- Ameda Purely Yours
- Playtex Embrace
- Bailey Medical Nurture III
- Evenflo Comfort Select Dual
- First Years Natural Comfort Double
- Lansinoh Double Electric
- Avent ISIS iQ Uno
- Avent ISIS iQ Uno Complete
- First Years Natural Comfort Single
- Medela Swing
- Hygeia EnDeare
- Hygeia EnJoye-LBI
- Hygeia EnJoye-EXT
- Hygeia EnJoye-EPS
- Spectra 9
- Spectra S1
- Spectra S2
To Closed System Pump, Or NOT to Closed System Pump?
So is a closed system pump better than an open system pump? In my opinion, no.
Really the only difference is the need to clean the tubing on an open system pump and when you are already washing 1,000 parts, what’s another two?
I would not select a pump based solely on it being a closed system pump. If it was a pump that I really liked and it also happened to be a closed system, then great! But there are many, many fantastic pumps on the market that are open system pumps that I would choose over many of the closed system pumps.
So, in the end, don’t let the talk of moldy open system pumps scare you. If you have bad hygiene, then yes, be concerned. But most of us have nothing to worry about. Wash your pump parts regularly and you will have a mold-free, squeaky clean pump!
Leave us a comment and share your thoughts on open versus closed system pumps!