The backflow protectors or Seal Diaphragms (if you are using the Liquid Shields) are there to prevent milk from getting into the tubing and pump motor, but should you be worried when milk actually enters the backflow protector?
Milk in the back flow protector is completely normal
If milk is getting into your back flow protector, that’s completely normal! It’s the backflow protector’s job to keep milk from entering the tubing, protecting the pump motor from damage from moisture, mold and bacteria. Some women find milk in their backflow protectors on a regular basis, and that’s a good thing – it means you have a powerful letdown and that’s fantastic.
What do I do if there’s milk in my backflow protectors
If there’s milk or condensation in your backflow protector, simply pop it apart and wash it as you normally do your other pumping parts (just don't forget you can't wash your Seal Caps if using the Liquid Shields). Make sure it’s had time to completely air dry prior to reassembling it. If you’re someone who frequently finds milk in the backflow protector, you may consider getting a second set so you will always have a clean, dry set to use while pumping.
It’s important that if there is milk or moisture in your backflow protector, that it’s on the bottom side of the silicone diaphragms. If you’re noticing milk on the top side of the diaphragm, it’s a good indication that you need to replace your backflow protector diaphragms.
How often do I need to replace the backflow protector?
You need to replace your backflow protectors regularly. Over time, the elasticity of the silicone diaphragm wears down which impacts suction, and that can have a negative impact on your milk supply. When the elasticity is worn down, the pump motor has to work harder than it normally does to maintain the same level of suction, which reduces the overall life of the motor. The worn out silicone diaphragm also loses its airtight and watertight seal. If you don’t replace the backflow protectors, you’re risking moisture or milk entering the tubing and the pump motor. It’s impossible to safely clean and sterilise the tubing, so once it’s wet it will need to be replaced. Once milk or moisture get into your pump motor, you’re risking frying the motor and creating a nice moist and dark environment for bacteria and mold to fester. If you’re exclusively pumping or pumping 4 or more times per day, plan on replacing the diaphragms every month. If you pump less frequently than that, plan on replacing the diaphragms every 3-4 months. Check our complete guide for details on which parts need to be replaced, and how frequently.