If you're pumping breast milk, you know it's a time-consuming task, not just because you need to hook up parts and pump every two hours or so, but because of the cleanup involved. But it's better to clean it properly and meticulously because the last thing you want is your baby to contract an infection. It has happened.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a baby girl who was born prematurely, which made her more prone to infection, died after contracting Cronobacter sakazakii infection. It caused her to develop sepsis, spastic cerebral palsy, and global developmental delay.
After a thorough investigation, the CDC found traces of the bacteria in the breast pump, breast milk, and the kitchen sink. The mom reported that she would usually leave the breast pump parts soaking in soapy water in the sink and rinse them some five hours later without scrubbing or sanitizing them.
There have been similar cases, prompting the CDC to issue updated cleaning guidelines for breast pump kits. Here are some salient points from the CDC's new guidelines:
5. Any breast pump part that came in contact with your breasts or breast milk should be cleaned after use as soon as possible. Quick cleanups via disinfectant wipes are not enough. Here's the proper way to do it:
Place breast pump parts in a basin used only for cleaning the pump kit and infant feeding items. Add soap and water, and then scrub items using a clean brush used only for cleaning infant feeding items.
Rinse the parts by holding them under running water or submerging them in fresh, clean water in a separate clean basin that's used only for infant feeding items.
Air-dry the breast pump parts thoroughly. Place them on a clean, unused dish towel or paper towel in an area free from dirt and dust. Don't use a dish towel to rub or pat items dry.
6. Make sure the parts are completely dry before you store them in an air-dried container. Do the same with bottle brushes and wash basins uses for cleaning the parts and other infant feeding items.
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If you can, sanitize breast pump parts, wash basin, and bottle brush at least once daily after cleaning them with steam or boiling water. CDC medical officer Dr. Anna Bowen told Parentsthat it's also okay to refrigerate the container, as long as the pump kit is not contaminated.
"Cleaning the pump kit after each use is safest and is particularly important for babies who are younger than 2 to 3 months old, were born prematurely, or have weakened immune systems," Dr. Bowen tells Parents. The alternative to cleaning your breast pump parts properly and regularly is to buy duplicate parts, which could be expensive.
Moms, we know you already have a lot of things on your to-do list, and working moms may not have the facilities in the work place to clean their pumps. But it's a huge risk to do a shortcut on hygienic practices especially those that involve your child. Let's err on the side of caution!