Troubleshooting the Ameda Lactaline breast pump
The Ameda Lactaline, has proven to be a very reliable piece of equipment. Mechanical faults are rare.
The original green version is illustrated above, but this guide applied equally to the New Ameda Lactaline launched in 2009.
Any mechanical apparatus will inevitably wear out - how fast depends on the workload.
If the pump's performance deteriorates, there are a number of simple checks that one can perform.
In any event, a new Ameda Lactaline Personal Dual Electric Breast Pump is guaranteed to work efficiently for at least 12 months from date of purchase. The parts that attach to the pump are defined as 'consumables' and cannot be guaranteed not to 'wear out'.
If your pump is cycling normally and quietly, then the problem may not be the pump - you need to check the consumables.
Significantly increased noise/grinding combined with loss of suction or no suction.
The above combination is a symptom of a worn/worn out pump. Follow the 'loss-of-suction' guidelines below anyway, since opinions will vary on noise levels.
Pump is 'stuck' halfway through a cycle. The green power light is on, but nothing happens when either dial is turned.
The above is a symptom of a faulty pump. The pump will require immediate service or replacement. If your pump is out of warranty, it may be more economical to replace the whole kit, since a new kit is supplied with two collection sets and new spares.
If your pump is new and this is the first time you've switched it on, make sure that the AC adapter is plugged into the correct socket. With the pump dials facing you, the AC adapter socket is on the left side of the pump. The tip of a silver pin is visible in the centre of the AC adapter socket.
If the AC adapter is plugged into the correct socket, check the condition of the AC adapter and cable. Clean the silver coloured plug with a dry cloth. Reinsert the cable and try again. If there is still no power, try operating the pump on batteries. If the pump works on batteries, then this suggests that the AC adapter, or the wall socket has developed a fault.
Ameda AC adapters can be ordered here.
If you buy a new AC adapter from us, and the problem still isn't remedied, we can supply a new pump, without AC adapter at a discount equivalent to the price paid for the part (excluding postage).
If the pump will not work on batteries or AC adapter, then the pump will require attention or replacement.
Milk fails to drip into the bottle - but drops down when the breastshield is removed and refitted
The most likely cause is that a partial vacuum has been created inside the nipple tunnel and the cavity between the valve and the diaphragm.
This can happen if a diaphragm is damaged. Air passes through a hole or split in the diaphragm in the direction of the pump, but does not re-enter the breastshield cavity.
The vacuum will prevent the white valve from opening - milk will collect above it instead of falling into the bottle.
Discard punctured or torn diaphragms and finally, inspect the breastshield rim at the very top where the white cap is fitted. It should be smooth and undamaged to allow a good seal.
Remember, when in good condition, the Hygienikit diaphragm is a physical barrier which prevents the ingestion of milk and bacteria into the pump.
Loss of suction - The most commonly reported problem, and the easiest to rectify
Starting at the green breast pump base unit, follow through this simple checklist.
If both sides are affected......
- Remove the tubing from the socket at the side of the pump to reveal a small hole with a round black rubber seal. Is the rubber clean and free of debris?
If it's dirty, clean with a damp cloth, proceed to step 2. If the black seal is cracked or missing, then the pump will require attention (very rare fault).
- Plug in the pump, wet your finger (any finger will do - this isn't terribly scientific but play along with us!) and place it over the black rubber seal surrounding the socket on the side of the pump.
Activate the pump and you should feel the suction on your fingertip. If you have turned up the vacuum dial but cannot feel the surface of your fingertip being drawn into the hole, then there is a fault with the pump (rare). If however, your fingertip is being sucked into the pump body, switch it off and proceed to step 3.
- The next component to check is the little white dual adapter that fits into the socket mentioned above.
Is it clean and free of cracks? If it's dirty, clean it and move to step 4, if it's cracked or damaged, order a new one here (but follow this guide through to the end, in case there are any other obvious problems - it could save you a couple of days waiting time!).
If one side is affected a little more than the other......
- Inspect both pieces of clear tubing for dirt, cracks, kinks or other damage, proceed to next step.
- Inspect both white Hygienikit caps for dirt (especially inside the rim), cracks or other damage.
Proceed to next step.
- Inspect the breastshields for cracks or damage, especially at the union of tunnel and breastshield body, around the top rim where the white caps are placed and inside the lower screw threaded section where the triangular valves go.
The welds joining the funnel to the vertical section on the original clear polycarbonate breastshield (middle arrow below) can be degraded by prolonged immersion in high-strength sterilising fluid, or worse still, melted in a microwave steriliser. The best method is steam sterilisation. The new BPA-free Eco polypropylene breastshield is a more robust replacement part.
Proceed to next step.
- Check that the funnel breather hole. This is a small hole located above the screw thread, but directly below the nipple tunnel.
(click photo to enlarge)
It is important that this hole is free of debris, because it allows pressure to be released from the collection bottle as the bottle fills with milk. If the hole is blocked, then the diaphragm on the affected side will become gradually less efficient until suction ceases altogether.
It is worth mentioning that on the Eco breastshield, the breather hole is located to the left of the nipple tunnel (with the breastshield facing you). It is quite possible for a mum to cover the hole with her finger or thumb.
- Check the silicone diaphragms for cracks or damage.
Order replacements as necessary and proceed to next step.
- Finally, and most importantly, check the condition of the little white triangular valves and the area to which they are attached..
The valves wear out first - and their demise is severely hastened by microwaving! Are they clean? Are there any tears in the sides of the valves? A small gap at the valve tip (say under 1mm) will close once the pump is switched on - but if the valve tip has become warped or damaged, get some more valves here - 2 for £4.95 plus postage.
Additionally, if you are in a hard water area, and use a steam steriliser, check the breastshield for limescale build-up on the sockets where the valves are fitted.
Most of the potential problems outlined above can be remedied easily and economically by cleaning or replacing the collection set components. We supply the parts mentioned inividually, or as a complete collection set (Hygienikit).
We especially recommend the new Ameda BPA-free collection sets. This collection set is made from a robust plastic that is less prone to damage (by dropping/overtightening) than the original Ameda Hygienikit.
Component parts available to buy
Ameda 'New' Hygienikit 17111UKP (breastshield, larger breastshield, breastshield insert, tubing, cap, diaphragm, valve, dual adapter and bottle, i.e. ALL of the stuff that plugs into the pump, sterile and ready to go)
Ameda Eco Hygienikit (hospital version of above supplied with a single standard breastshield, some parts are autoclavable)
For advice or Ameda breast pump servicing, call us on 0121 580 9853 or email us here.
Expressed Breastmilk (EBM) Production
Of course, there are also many physiological factors which can affect breastmilk production.
We have assembled a brief guide here, and are updating the page continuosly as new research becomes available.
We especially welcome input from Health Professionals. Janette (our resident Health Professional) can be emailed here.
Related user guides, instructions and accessories:
Ameda "Hello Baby" 32 page colour illustrated catalogue. Breastfeeding tips and the Ameda range in detail. (Adobe® .pdf download, around 4.8MB) | Download |