Editor's Note: Last week, the CDC released a very sad report of a premature infant who developed sepsis and meningitis from milk contamination. Because we understand that this is a potentially scary and confusing topic, and you may have questions about this case and how it may impact your pumping routine, our IBCLC, Victoria Facelli, offers her insight on safe pump and bottle washing, today on the blog.
One case of rare food contamination is no need to panic. It is, however, a very good reminder for all of us to brush up on good pump and bottle washing practices.
One of my cardinal rules of pumping is: It’s food prep, not surgery. What I mean is that good food preparation habits are a must, but sterilizing often distracts us from the really important stuff.
First, let's be very clear: breastmilk isn't sterile.
Neither is most infant formula; only formula that is premixed, sealed and labeled sterile can claim that title. In fact, breast milk isn’t supposed to be sterile, because building good gut flora is an important part of infant feeding. That being said, babies who are at higher risk for infection (for example, like preemies or other immune compromised babies) may need stronger precautions and you should consult with your doctor about special milk handling guidelines.
If your baby is full term and healthy, you should mind best practices for food preparation.
What do I mean by that?
- Wash your hards or use hand sanitizer before pumping, after changing diapers, or using the bathroom, yourself.
- Wash your pump parts in warm, soapy water.
- Let them thoroughly air dry on a clean surface.
Sounds simple enough, right? But, lets break those down a little more into detail:
- Hand washing: This one is pretty simple, and just a good idea in general, right? Wash using warm water, soap, (Think back to preschool days and remind yourself to wash while singing Happy Birthday, twice), then rinse.
Even if you aren’t a hand sanitizer kind of person, keep some hand sanitizer on the changing table and in your pumping bag for when you are in a pinch.
- Wash your pump parts in warm soapy water: Our postpartum doulas have a great system of using a big washing basin that is just for pump parts and bottles. Go through your day just plopping stuff that is ready for washing into this bowl, instead of the sink (It's like a hamper, but for your baby dishes.). Then, when you are ready to do the washing up: go ahead and fill it with warm water and soap.
Do not leave it full of water all day, and only add water when you're ready for washing. Use a basin or wash your sink before doing these dishes; sinks are gross.
Take all of the pieces apart (all of them!) and wash everything but the tubing. Make sure you are removing valves, untwisting bottles and removing the flanges.
Do the same thing with bottles: take nipples out of the collar, disassemble any internal bottle parts. (If you use Dr. Brown’s bottles make sure to check all areas for mold and build up. There are some sneaky spots on that brand that tend to hold bacteria.)
Note: If you are the kind of person who runs the dishwasher every day, you can just rinse everything from your basin and put it in the top rack of your dishwasher. Do still double check to make sure you've taken everything apart, and occasionally inspect for mold in nooks and crannies of bottles and pump parts.
- Air dry parts on a clean surface: This means, lay it all out on a clean towel. The preferred method here is to put a paper towel on a clean dish towel and lay everything out to dry.
But what about my cute green grass drying rack? We hear you. Drying racks are okay, but they need to be cleaned regularly. Especially ones that hold water in the bottom, especially the brands with the green grass.
If you are using a drying rack, plan to wash it every week with warm soapy water and and let it air dry completely as well.
Now... Go forth, and use my second cardinal rule of pumping: Pump what you need. Donate what you don’t. Live your life.
Have questions? Want more info? Leave them in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll address them LIVE on our Facebook Page, on Thursday, Aug 3 at 11 a.m.