Before I had my baby I learned all I could about breastfeeding, but nothing about how to pump.
The week before I started back at work, I busted out my breast pump and gave it shot, going off the directions in the packaging and a few memories from my breast feeding class. I didn’t know that you can’t combine cold and warm milk. I didn’t know that you have to store milk in the back of the refrigerator, and I didn’t know that you have to thoroughly clean all of the pump parts EVERY SINGLE TIME. I just assumed as long as the bottles and the parts that touch my breasts have been recently sudsed, I’m ready to rock. Well, according to the new CDC guidelines for breast pumping, that’s not enough.
In 2016, a Pennsylvania preterm infant contracted a bacterial infection through her mother’s expressed breast milk.
The infection, Cronobacter sakazakii, developed in the baby at just 21 days old. With an already compromised immune system, the premature baby developed meningitis, spastic cerebral palsy, and global developmental delay. Though she was treated with antibiotics, parts of her brain were already damaged, leaving her alive but severely disabled.
While in the NICU, the mother used a pump to provide breastmilk for her baby. After an investigation by local officials, the FDA, and the CDC, the baby’s mother reported that she cleaned her pump parts by leaving them to soak for several hours in soapy water, then rinsed the parts without scrubbing, left them to air dry, and stored the parts in a plastic zip-top bag. Upon testing of the mother’s expressed milk and pump parts, it was determined that the pump became contaminated with the Cronobacter, and because the parts were not properly cleaned and sanitized, the bacteria was then passed into the milk provided to the infant.
What you can do to safely pump and store your milk.
- Wash your hands before handling pump parts and milk.
- Inspect all parts for wear, residue, and mold, replacing pieces as needed.
- Clean all parts immediately after use, either in a dishwasher, or by hand in a separate basin used only for infant feeding items. Do NOT place items directly into the sink.
- If washing by hand, use soap and hot water, scrub all parts, and allow to air dry on a clean towel. Do NOT use a towel to dry items.
- Store dry items in a clean, protected bag or other container.
- If clean facilities are not available, duplicate parts are another option.
For full guidelines, visit the CDC’s website.
Even the healthiest infants have very new, and easily compromised immune systems.
It may seem like a chore in the moment, but updating your pumping routine means your baby will be served up the cleanest meal possible. After all, breast is best, but safety first.