One thing that most mothers look for when choosing a breast pump is weather it has an open or closed system, but what do you really need to know? It should be noted that while most moms prefer a closed system, it has no relation to the amount of suction that a pump has. It also has no effect on how safe the pump is to use. There is a misconception that an open system motor is not safe for you and baby. However, all breast pumps are regulated by the FDA, some just take a little more care than others.

Open System

Having an open system pump means that there is no barrier that stops your breast milk from going into the tubing during a pumping session. Sometimes this can create an issue when the pumping kit is not cleaned and dried properly. If there is any retained moisture this can cause a build-up of mold or bacteria in the motor or tubing. Medela is the only well-known brand that still carries an open system pump.

The Medela Pump In Style has been around for a very long time and has been trusted by millions of mothers for many years. The fact that this pump is an open system does not stop most moms from choosing it! Medela recommends running the motor for a few minutes when you are done pumping to help clear out the tubing. The pump tubing also needs to be cleaned and thoroughly dried after use. Medela offers steam bags to make this process even easier for you. Just be sure to dry your parts completely before use!

Closed System

Many brands of breast pumps now offer what is referred to as a closed system pump. This means that there is a barrier that does not allow the milk to come in contact with the tubing in your pumping kit, allowing it to go straight from breast to bottle.

Closed system pumps

  • Spectra
  • Ameda
  • Motif

Having a pump with a closed system may save you some time when it comes to keeping your parts clean, although it’s still recommended that you clean them out periodically and make sure that they stay dry. It should be noted that just because a pump has a closed system, this does NOT mean that it should be shared with other moms. The only pumps that are safe to share are hospital grade pumps like the Medela Symphony and can only be shared using your own pumping kit.

So What Do You Choose?

Only you can make that decision mama! Choosing a reliable pump that you can trust is a big decision, and you have to decide for yourself if having a closed system pump is an important feature for you. Some moms find it to be a huge factor in their decision making, and others still choose a Medela pump because it’s such a trusted brand. In the end, we know that you will always do what’s right for you and your family!


Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.


Sarah Powers

About the Author

I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere (most people call it Missouri). I moved to Asheville, NC almost a decade ago and I love it! I have a five-year-old little boy named Jackson who is equal parts exhausting and hilarious.

Learn more about Sarah!