Breast pumps tend to be one of the products most thoroughly researched by expectant mothers. The sea of information out there can, however, inundate new moms. Everything from blogs, to consumer reviews, to the all important advice from girlfriends who have been there before offers advice. But one basic thing to keep in mind when researching is that breast pumps fall into two distinct categories: sealed and non-sealed systems.
Pumps with sealed systems (also knows as closed systems) have barriers between the milk collection kit and the pumping mechanism. A non-sealed or open system, however, does not have a barrier of any kind between the milk collection kit and the pumping mechanism. A major problem with non-sealed systems is that they can allow air into the milk, something that can encourage mold growth in the system’s tubing. Specifically, the open system means breast milk is exposed to the outside air as it is drawn through the pump, allowing for the possibility of milk particles being sucked into the pump tubing and even into the pump motor. If the tubing is not cleaned and dried thoroughly, mold growth can occur. Manufacturers provide recommendations on how to clean the machines and their parts, offering several methods for sterilizing tubing. So, particularly with non-sealed systems, it is always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and caring for your pump.
The closed system has a barrier in between the milk collection kit and tubing which prevents breast milk from being exposed to outside air. In addition, the barrier ensures the milk will not enter the tubing or motor, eliminating the need to wash or sterilize the tubing thus preventing the problem of mold growth in tubing. This type pump, obviously, is less hassle for most moms.
So, feel free to surf the net and consider all the alternatives—but while you’re looking, keep these two major differences in mind to ensure that you get the best pump possible.