How to Care for Your Breast Pump and Accessories
As a mom, one of your biggest concerns is keeping your baby safe and healthy. You might not realize that one of the easiest ways to do this is by making sure you are properly cleaning your breast pump. We have some answers for you. In fact, the CDC has issued specific guidelines about how to keep your breast pump clean, and your baby safe from any harmful germs. The complete guide can be found here and is based on what you should do for a healthy full term baby. If you have a premature newborn or your baby has any other health concerns, please seek the advice of your health care providers for tips to safely pump.
It is recommended you print and hang the easy-to-follow guide somewhere in your kitchen, but we’ve summarized the key points below.
It’s also important to note that before you start your pumping process, you should always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, then assemble your breast pump kit and clean your pump dials, power switch, and countertop with a disinfectant wipe.
Quick Steps: How to Clean Your Breast Pump Kit
- All parts should not be washed in your sink, but rather in a separate wash basin that is only used for washing pump parts to ensure that no food bacteria can get onto your pump parts.
- Use a brush that is only used for cleaning infant feeding items, like this one.
- Once the parts have air dried completely on an unused dish towel or paper towel, place them in a bin with lid.
- Remember to wash your basin and brush every few days to ensure proper cleaning measures. If your basin and brush are dishwasher safe, it is recommended to use that washing method.
When to Sterilize Breast Pump Parts
Luckily, for moms who pump close to 12 times a day the CDC guidelines do not call for pump parts to be sterilized after each session on top of being carefully cleaned as stated above, unless your baby has health conditions. Focus on these two key factors when it comes to sterilizing your pump parts:
- Sterilize daily if your baby is under 3 months old, preemie, or is sick.
- Sterilize every few days if your baby is full term, healthy, and older than 3 months.
When to Change your Breast Pump Parts
When you replace your breast pump parts will vary depending upon on how often you pump throughout your day. However, a good rule of thumb is to replace your pump parts every 90 days. With that said, keep in mind that worn-out breast pump parts are one of the main causes of low milk supply. This is because parts can wear down over time, which can result in a loss of suction when pumping. A loss of suction over time can then impact your supply, given that you are not releasing as much breast milk. If this happens, understand this is not your fault, and you can simply replace your parts right away to resolve the issue.
Average Timeline to Replace Breast Pump Parts
- Valve Membranes need to be replaced every 2 weeks to 2 months depending on how much you pump.
-Pumping once per day = replace every 2 months.
-Pumping multiple times per day = replace every 2-4 weeks
- Duckbill Valves need to be replaced every 1 to 3 months.
-Pumping once per day = replace every 2-3 months
-Pumping more frequently = replace every month
- Backflow Protector Diaphragms should be replaced every 1-3 months
-Pumping once per day = Replace around 2-3 months
-Pumping more frequently = 1.5-2 months
- Tubing should be replaced every 6 months or:
-If there are tears/cracks/leaks
-If there is any indication of mold/condensation/mildew
-When the tubing easily slides on and off the motor and backflow protector
- Breast Shields/Flanges should be replaced every 6 months
-It is important to keep an eye out for cracks or tears suggesting you need to replace your flanges ASAP.
*** Please note that regardless of suggested timeline, if any mold or mildew appears, you should replace the entire pumping kit immediately.
What should you do with your breast pump parts when you are done with each?
- Tubing – Dispose in trash can, not to be recycled
- Ducks Valve – Dispose in trash can, not to be recycled
- Backflow Protectors- The exterior clear plastic part can be placed in a recycling bin; the white membrane portion should be thrown away
- Plastic parts like flanges, collection bottles, and milk storage containers can all go in your recycling bin.
If you own a Medela pump, you can participate in the Medela Recycles breast pump recycling program. Through Medela’s website, you can arrange to ship your breast pump motor and power cord to a third-party processing center where the unit will be broken down.
If you own a pump by another manufacturer, contact your local recycling center or electronics recycling site to see if they will accept your pump.
You’ve Got This!
Understanding how to safely maintain and care for your breast pump kit is the first step toward healthy breast pumping and feeding for your newborn. We know you’ll do great, and if you need help along the way, we’re here for you.
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