The breastfeeding saga continues…
The first few weeks of breastfeeding were very difficult, but it has slowly become easier. In addition to breastfeeding, I have also started pumping milk so Grayson would be adjusted to a bottle when I return to work. When I opened my breast pump, my first thought was “how the heck do I clean this thing?” A quick google search led to some eye-opening information with new breast pump care guidelines from the CDC.
Until recently, there weren’t clear guidelines on breast pump care and an unfortunate case in April 2016 changed this. A premature infant being fed expressed breast milk from her mother and donors contracted a severe bacterial infection that tragically led to her death. An investigation led to the finding of a contaminated breast pump. During the investigation, they learned how the pump was cleaned and it really did seem like it was being taken care of properly; the pump parts were soaked in soapy hot water then left to air dry. The case is very tragic and I cannot begin to imagine this mother’s grief. As a result of this case and the lack of clear pump care guidelines, the CDC has released detailed information on what you should do each use that you can read here.
Here the some Highlights on Breast Pump Care:
- Never put pump parts in the sink. This is actually a logical place to put them, you need to wash them so into the sink they go. But the food contaminates in the sink can get into the parts and allow bacteria and mold to grow.
- Never use your dish sponge to clean your parts. Use a designated brush to keep contamination low.
- Don’t just rinse the parts after use, scrub the parts that come into contact with milk (using that designated brush).
- Sanitize once per day.
- You also need to wash the brush and basin that you clean the parts in. Wash them with soap and hot water every 2-3 days. Always allow them to dry completely after each use.
*What to do about that tubing?
- That tubing bugged me when I first pulled it out because I wanted to clean it (I had no idea how a breast pump worked). You can’t put those tubes in a sterilizer so I washed them in warm soapy water. The water was then trapped in the tubes… I ended up purchasing new ones ($8 on amazon) but quickly learned with one use that the tubes do not come into contact with any milk. This means you do not need to worry about cleaning them. If you notice any milk or mold in the tubes, throw them out immediately. You will need to figure out how the milk got into the tubing before pumping again. If condensation builds up, see your pump manual on how to remove it.
My Favorite Breast Pump Care Products
My favorite brush is the OXO bottle brush. It has soft bristles that can fit into all the small areas of the pump parts. It also has a smaller brush hidden inside that cleans the bottle nipples very well. The brush comes with a stand so it always stays away from the dishes and sink.
The sterilizer I use is the Steam Wabi. I chose this one because of its large size and drying function. It has two levels so I can get a lot of products in it, plus a removable bottle holder. The drying function means I don’t have to worry about the water sitting on the parts and mold growing. 15 minutes for sterilizing and 30-60 min for drying mean I can get everything clean and dry during one nap.
*Since I purchased my Wabi, the company has released a new product. The new sterilizer is a UV sterilizer that can also sterilize phones, remotes, and any other items your baby may stick in their mouth or grab with their hands.
For the Working Mom
These guidelines are great if you are pumping at home or have access to a private sink where you can store your basin and brush. However, most pumping moms are at work and don’t have the ability to have all this equipment with them. One of the best ways around this is to buy enough parts to get you through the day. Even if you do this, make sure you still rinse the parts with hot water immediately after use and allow to air dry. You don’t want to store the wet parts in a bag as this increases the risk of mold and bacteria growing. Another useful tip is to buy the steam bags sold by the breast pump manufacturers. You can rinse your parts then throw them in the bag and sterilize in the microwave.