After an infant died recently from a rare infection contracted by contaminated breast pump parts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidelines (printable handout) for mothers who use a breast pump. Le Bonheur Lactation Consultant Ruth Munday explains the new guidelines in this post.

The CDC recommendations serve as an important reminder to us all about the value of keeping pumping equipment safe and clean for ongoing use.There is risk for bacteria or other germs to grow on improperly washed pump parts. If the pump parts have bacteria on them, then there is a chance the breastmilk may become contaminated and make the baby sick.The mother may also be at risk for getting mastitis. So, we all need to advocate for the highest of standards when it comes to how breastmilk is collected and stored. 

The recommended CDC guidelines include tips for washing, sanitizing and storing breastpump equipment.  Here are some of the main points to put into practice:

Before You Pump

  • Wash your hands with soap and water
  • As you assemble your clean pump parts, inspect each piece for mold or buildup of milk residue
  • If any parts are found to be moldy, discard them and purchase new
  • Clean pump dials, power switch and pumping area with disinfectant wipes, especially if using a shared pump/pump space (such as at work or in a hospital setting).

After Each Pump Session

  • Store milk safely in storage bottle or bag. Label the container with the date and time you pumped the milk. If you are in a hospital setting, the staff will provide labels with your baby’s name to be included on the collected milk. If not using the collected milk right way, place the milk in a refrigerator, freezer, or cooler bag with ice packs.
  • Clean pump dials, power switch and pumping area with disinfectant wipes, especially if using a shared pump /pump space (such as at work or in a hospital setting).
  • Disconnect the tubing from the breastpump attachments.
  1. If the tubing has water droplets or a foggy condensation appearance, leave the tubing attached to the breastpump and run the pump for a few more minutes until the tubing is clear and dry.
  2. If the outside of your tubing is soiled, wipe it with a damp cloth or disinfectant wipe.
  3. When used correctly, breastpump tubing does not touch the expressed milk and does not need to be cleaned routinely.
  • Take apart breastpump attachments and separate all parts that come in contact with the breast/breastmilk (this includes the flanges, valves, membranes, connectors, and milk collection bottles). Rinse all of these parts under running water to remove any remaining milk.
  • As soon as possible after pumping, clean parts that come in contact with breast/breastmilk either by hand or in the dishwasher (if they are dishwasher safe).

 

How to clean pump parts:

  • Clean by hand.
  1. Use a wash basin. Place pump parts in a clean wash basin used only for washing infant feeding equipment. Do not place pump parts directly in the sink, because germs in sinks or drains could contaminate the pump.
  2. Add soap and water. Fill wash basin with hot water and add soap.
  3. Scrub items using a clean brush that is used only to clean infant feeding items.
  4. Rinse by holding items under running water, or by submerging in fresh water in a separate basin that is used only for cleaning infant feeding items.
  5. Allow to air-dry thoroughly. Place pump parts, wash basin, and bottle brush on a clean, unused dish towel or paper towel in an area protected from dirt and dust. Do not use a dish towel to rub or pat items dry because doing so may transfer germs to the items.
  6. Once dry, store in a clean protected area, such as an unused, sealable food storage bag.
  • Clean in a dishwasher (if recommended by pump kit manufacturer).
  1. Place disassembled pump parts in dishwasher. Be sure to place small items into a closed-top basket or mesh laundry bag so they don’t end up in the dishwasher filter. If possible, run the dishwasher using hot water and a heated drying cycle (or sanitizing setting); this can help kill more germs.
  2. Remove from dishwasher. Wash your hands with soap and water before removing and storing cleaned items. If items are not completely dry, place items on a clean, unused dish towel or paper towel to air-dry thoroughly before storing. Do not use a dish towel to rub or pat items dry because doing so may transfer germs to the items.
  • Clean wash basin and bottle brush. If you use a wash basin or bottle brush when cleaning your pump parts, rinse them well and allow them to air-dry after each use. Consider washing them every few days, either in a dishwasher with hot water and a heated drying cycle if they are dishwasher-safe, or by hand with soap and warm water.