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We should admire all moms, but breast pumping moms are definitely individuals that take commitment seriously. They are usually on the move, constantly thinking about their next pumping sessions, and, unfortunately, more often than not, they do not count on a correct and clean space where they can safely express themselves.
This is why they need to be extra careful when it comes to cleaning their breast pump and breast pump accessories. If you have decided to start pumping, then you need to be aware of the importance of having a correct hygiene routine as this is something essential in order to achieve a healthy and safe breast pumping experience, for you and your child.
You will constantly need to wash and sanitize your breast pump – and yourself!- in order to avoid any bacterias, germs or any other complications that may arise from incorrect use. You need to make sure you reach the highest level of cleanliness wherever you are, before, during and after using your breast pump.
Note: If you are going to use your breast pump for the first time (like, maybe you’re going to try and use your breast pump to induce labor, for example) then you need to sanitize it before that use. You should also do this if you already own a breast pump but haven’t used it in a while.
Sanitize vs Sterilize
Many individuals confuse these two terms – we know because we were the same! However, sanitizing means that all of your breast pump and accessories have been cleaned of germs and bacteria that could negatively affect your breast milk.
On the other hand, to sterilize a product or equipment is a very difficult thing to do at home because your house is not a sterile environment – and it doesn’t matter how many hours a day you spend cleaning it, it is still full of germs. (Sorry!)
Therefore, sanitizing is the correct word to use whenever you want to talk about cleaning your breast pump, but the truly important thing is that it is perfectly fine to sanitize your pump in order to obtain your baby’s milk.
Do remember that each product is very different from the other, so you will still need to read your pump’s manual in order to find out the correct way of sanitizing it.
You need to know that cleaning habits are not only for your breast pump. In fact, every time you are about to pump, you first need to wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, as you will be handling your child’s food.
Ideally you should sanitize your breast pump and its accessories after every single use, however, let’s get real, some of us are full-time moms, others are full-time moms who also work, while many others have other children to look after as well.
This is why Medela has come up with their breast pumps that are easy to wash off, meaning you don’t need to sanitize it completely after every single use, but you can do it whenever you feel like or have the time to do so.
You must wash every single part of the breast pump that has been in touch with either your breast or your milk, but the tubing part (which is usually the longest part) only need to be washed if you see that condensation has been formed in it or if you realize that there is milk that has been left out in it.
Where can you wash your breast pump?
One of the greatest things about the Medela breast pumps is that you could easily wash it off wherever you feel like:
● You could use your dishwasher: Simply separate all the parts of the breast pump, and place them on the top rack. Make sure the tube is not folded at all, as this will give more opportunity for the water to do its job.
● You could wash them in the sink: If you don’t have a dishwasher or if you don’t feel like mixing your breast pump and its accessories with the rest of the tableware (hey, no judging here!) then you could easily wash it all by hand in your sink. Do make sure that they don’t touch the sink completely, as this place can also be filled with bacteria. Separate the tube from the rest of the breast pump and rinse it with a lot of water. You could then let it soak in warm soapy water for about 10 minutes.
● You could use some special wipes: These wipes will help you clean your breast pump in no time, especially if you are always in a hurry. Even though you may not be able to clean your breast pump’s tube completely from the inside, you can still pass over a wipe on the outside. This will help reduce any stickiness that you may find.
● You could boil your breast pump: Place a pot with abundant water so it can cover all of your breast pump. You will need to wash all parts of the breast pump thoroughly in order to remove any leftover milk. Once the water has boiled, you can insert your breast pump and leave it there for 10 minutes. After this you can easily take it off, just make sure you are careful as the water can still be warm.
● You can steam off the breast pump: Medela has created some special bags that will help you steam your breast pump and its accessories if you don’t have much time to do a full cycle of the dishwasher or if you can’t boil water. You just have to put the tube -or any other parts – of the breast pump inside the bag and place them in the microwave, and you are done! Thank you Medela!
Note: It is very important to leave your breast pump and all of its parts in a dry and clean surface in order to let the air dry.
To keep in mind
Breast pumps – and more specifically Medela breast pumps, have been professionally designed to offer great quality. Thus, if you notice your tube is not working correctly and milk is going inside your tube, make sure these two things are not happening:
1. Your pumping bottles are not tilted over or almost upside down. In fact, the correct positioning of the bottles should always be upright.
2. Both the membranes and the valves are attached completely. Moreover, have a good look at them and make sure they are smooth, without any holes, cuts or dents.
How to clean the tubing
Can you imagine having a dirty tubing? That could mean you would have to throw away all of your expressed milk, as it will not be safe to give that to your child.
This is definitely the most important part of any breast pump and because of this you will need to make sure it is always, and we mean, ALWAYS, clean, as this part is responsible for your milk to flow smoothly from the breast shield onto the breast milk bottles.
Moreover, whenever you pump yourself then inevitably some milk will remain in some areas, but if you don’t go out of your way to clean it then bacteria and germs can start building up and you will – eventually – have a sick child.
On the other hand, if the tube has leftover milk in it them your breast pump could stop working at some point as the tubing will be blocked thus no more milk can run through it. This is the reason why Medela recommends you clean your tubing after every single use, that is if you pump a lot. If you only pump a couple of times a week, then you should only sanitize it a couple of times a week!
Cleaning your breast pump tubing, step by step
● Make sure your breast pump is turned off, and unplug it from the power source.
● The breast pump should be detached from the tubing. In order to do so, you must avoid pulling the tubing in a harsh manner, as this could damage your tubing.
● You can now detach the tubing from the breast shield. After doing all of this, you will only have the tubing left over.
● The first proper step to sanitize your tubing is to hold it upright and place it under cold water (soapy water will do wonders too). This will allow any leftover milk to start flowing through the tube.
● Remember to hang the tube out to dry completely, this way you will avoid having a mouldy tube.
● And if you do end up having a mouldy tube then change it immediately.
Note: Make sure you only use cold and soapy water when cleaning your breast pump tube, because you if use hot water you may have a burnt tube!
Cleaning is easy!
As you can see, cleaning your Medela breast pump tubing is a very simple thing to do, so no excuses. The more you do it, the more you will automatically operate whenever you need to clean either your breast pump or your breast pump tubing.
And now you know how to correctly clean your Medela breast pump tubing, you can be 100% sure your milk will be safe for your child to consume…and there is nothing better than this as your milk is definitely your child’s best source of food.
(Are you new to breastfeeding and breast pumping? Please have a look at our article Breastfeeding and Pumping Schedule: Sample Schedules for Nursing Newborns.)
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