Maternal and breast pump factors associated with breast pump problems and injuries

J Hum Lact. 2014 Feb;30(1):62-72; quiz 110-2. doi: 10.1177/0890334413507499. Epub 2013 Oct 28.


Background: Benefits of using a breast pump are well documented, but pump-related problems and injuries and the associated risk factors have not been reported.

Objectives: This study aimed to describe breast pump-related problems and injuries and identify factors associated with these problems and injuries.

Methods: Data were from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II; mothers were recruited from a nationally distributed consumer opinion panel. Mothers were asked about breast pump use, problems, and injuries at infant ages 2, 5, and 7 months. Survival analysis was used to identify factors associated with pump-related problems and injuries.

Results: The sample included 1844 mothers. About 62% and 15% of mothers reported pump-related problems and injuries, respectively. The most commonly reported problem was that the pump did not extract enough milk and the most commonly reported injury was sore nipples. Using a battery-operated pump and intending to breastfeed less than 12 months were associated with higher risks of pump-related problems and injury. Learning from a friend to use the pump was associated with lower risk of pump-related problems, and using a manual pump and renting a pump were associated with a higher risk of problems.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that problems and injuries associated with breast pump use can happen to mothers of all socioeconomic characteristics. Breastfeeding mothers may reduce their risks of problems and injury by not using battery-operated pumps and may reduce breast pump problems by not using manual pumps and by learning breast pump skills from a person rather than following written or video instructions.

Keywords: breast pump; breast pump injuries; breast pump problems; breast pumping; breastfeeding; breastfeeding difficulties.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast / injuries*
  • Breast Milk Expression / adverse effects*
  • Breast Milk Expression / instrumentation
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires