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Quick & Easy Tips to Clean Your Breast Pump & The Important Rule of "6"

The CDC put out new guidelines in June 2017 concerning the care and cleaning of breastmilk pumps, bottles and tubing. 

Why?

In April 2016, a premature baby was born at 29 weeks, weighing 3 pounds. When she was 21 days old she developed a serious infection that was linked to bacteria called Cronobacter sakazakii. This rare case of C. sakazakii infection was found to be caused by the mother’s contaminated expressed breastmilk, related to cleaning techniques at home. This is one microorganism that can multiply rapidly in expressed human milk with devastating effects on newborns.

Your breast pump kit has got to be adequately cleaned to avoid contamination of your expressed milk. The CDC has developed an easy to understand chart with excellent graphics, displaying the new guidelines.  

Read it and follow it: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/hygiene/breast-pump-fact-sheet.pdf

If you are using a pump in the hospital, ask your pediatric care providers for detailed recommendations about the best methods for expressing and handling your milk. Whether you plan to pump at home and feed expressed breast milk to your baby or pump while you are at work, you will require a clean setting for pumping, a sink area with soap for washing and drying your pump parts, refrigeration, and in an office setting... you must demand the respect owed to you during this time. Be an advocate for future breastfeeding executives...

Breast milk storage:                                                                                                      

I recommend using breast milk storage bags, filled with 2-4 ounce portions. Limit the number of times you pour your milk off into another container. Every time you decant, you will lose the fat that adheres to the walls of the bag. Label them with the date and whether it’s daytime or nighttime milk. Did you know that milk produced during periods of darkness will have higher levels of melatonin, which is known to influence sleep? It’s not yet clear if this influences infant’s sleep rhythms but it’s worth trying while the research continues. Give milk you produced in the P.M., in the P.M.

A good way to streamline all those recommendations out there about how long your freshly pumped milk is “safe” is the Rule of 6. There is some leeway here (especially the fridge number) but it’s easiest to remember... 6 hours at room temperature, 6 days in the fridge in your MKB cooler bag, and 6 months in a deep freezer. 

Freezer compartments within the refrigerator itself may have only a 2-week shelf life owing to frequent temperature changes. Freezers with a separate door will likely give you 2 months, as they usually have a frost-free feature that thaws and re-cools... those temperature changes again. 

Defrost your milk in the fridge overnight if you have the time and then reheat under running warm water, a warm water bath or a bottle warmer, as per manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to swirl to distribute the heat and the fat evenly, don't microwave (to protect living immune cells)

Taste it, if it tastes bad, don’t feed it to your baby. It is often a simple protein breakdown that causes a bad flavor. Your breastmilk should taste good, sweet, almost like melted ice cream. 

Always check with your pediatric health care providers for their recommendations as well.

Paula Zindler

RN IBCLC

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