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Open System Pumps vs. Closed System Pumps

Are you having a hard time choosing the right breast pump for your needs? If so, you may want to read up on the differences between open and closed system breast pumps. At first glance, an open system breast pump may not appear any different from a closed system pump, but upon closer inspection, you will find that there is one major difference between the two.

The difference between these two pump types is that a closed system breast pump has a barrier in between the milk collection kit and the pump mechanism, while an open system does not have a barrier of any kind. This can cause many unwanted problems, including contamination of your precious breast milk.


Open Pumping Systems

Since an open system does not contain a barrier between the milk collection kit and the pump mechanism, your milk is exposed to the outside air, which is drawn through the pump system. This allows any impurities that may be found in the air such as dust, smoke, pet dander, pollution, airborne bacteria, and viruses to contaminate your breast milk.

There is also a possibility that milk particles can be sucked into the pump’s tubing, as well as parts of the pump that cannot be cleaned. Because of this contamination possibility the breast pump’s tubing may require cleaning and sterilizing after use.

To speed up the drying process some manufacturers suggest pouring a small amount of isopropyl alcohol in the tubing. Although this technique can help to dry out the tubes quickly, the alcohol vapors can be drawn into your milk as it is expressed. Because of this possible risk some mothers prefer to attach the tubes to the pump motor while running it for a few minutes to remove any moisture.

If milk particles in the tubing go unnoticed, mold can begin to develop in the tubes, as well as the pump motor. This puts your expressed breastmilk at risk of being contaminated, since it is exposed to the mold, even if the tubes are thoroughly cleaned or replaced. Repeatedly boiling your pump’s tubes for sterilization can also cause them to become opaque, which can make it particularly difficult to see milk or mold in the tubes.


Closed Pumping Systems

When using a closed system to express milk, the barrier in between the collection kit and the pump tubing prevents outside air from being exposed to your breastmilk. By keeping outside air out of the collection bottle, you are able to preserve the purity your breastmilk for your baby.

The barrier also ensures that milk particles will not enter the pump tubing or motor. This eliminates the need to wash the pump tubing, as well as the possibility of mold growing in the tubing.

The first closed system breast pump kit, the Ameda HygieniKit was introduced to the market over 12 years ago. Ameda uses this technology in their Purely Yours Breast Pump, and many other companies have since developed double electric breast pumps including this advanced closed system feature in their pump designs.

Return to: Choosing a Breast Pump