The CDC Updated Its Guidelines on How to Clean a Breast Pump, and It’s Very Important!

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If you’re a breastfeeding mom who uses a pump, and you want to know how to clean a breast pump, take note of the latest guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC). After a baby contracted a devastating infection from an improperly cleaned breast pump, the CDC is taking action. This week, they released new breast pump cleaning guidelines to prevent something like this from happening again.

In April of 2016, a baby girl was born at 29 weeks gestation, weighing just three pounds. At three weeks old, she developed signs of sepsis. Cultures revealed the baby had the rare Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria, which unfortunately attacked her brain and caused extensive damage. After an investigation, health officials were able to track down the source of the infection: the mother’s improperly cleaned breast pump.

The mom, who I seriously want to cry for, was soaking her pump parts in soapy water for hours without scrubbing or sanitizing. She’d then rinse, air-dry, and store the kit in a plastic zip-top bag until the next use.

New Breast Pump Cleaning Guidelines released

Image: Amazon

“In response to the investigation, we reviewed existing resources for women about how to pump breast milk safely, but found little guidance that was detailed and based on the best available science,” Dr. Anna Bowen, CDC medical officer, told “As a result, CDC developed its own guidance.”

The new guidelines emphasize how important it is to wash breast pump parts after every use. Tricks like storing parts in the refrigerator between pumping sessions only work if the parts aren’t contaminated —and bacteria grows very quickly. Quick-clean wipes aren’t terribly reliable, either. “Quick-clean wipes cannot reach all surfaces of the pump kit, so thorough cleaning in a dishwasher or by hand is preferred,” Dr. Bowen explained.

Per the CDC, women who pump milk should do the following before and after pumping:

~Before each use, wash hands well with soap and water for 20 seconds.
~Inspect pump parts for mold or other bacteria.
~After pumping, store milk safely, being sure to mark the date on the outside of the storage container.
~Disassemble and clean pump parts in warm soapy water, or in a dishwasher. Use a brush or sponge that ONLY cleans pump parts.
~Rinse and air-dry thoroughly. Do not use a dish towel to rub or pat items dry because doing so may transfer germs to the items.

The CDC’s guidelines also outline sterilization procedures for moms who want to take extra precautions.

(Image: iStock / Pilin_Petunyia)