Bacteria Can Hide in Breast Pumps, Researchers Warn. Here’s How to Clean Yours

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A recent study by the University of Manitoba, Canada has found that breast milk from breast pumps contains higher levels of bacteria than milk straight from the breast. As a result, a baby who has increased exposure to pathogens also has a risk of developing a respiratory infection.

Since busy moms feed babies in a variety of ways, it’s important to know how to clean your breast pump to keep your breast milk as liquid gold as possible. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of cleaning, let’s explore what the study discovered.

photo: Courtesy of Lansinoh

In short, researchers studied breast milk samples from 393 healthy mothers and found that those taken from a breast pump contain higher levels of potential pathogens. It compared those samples to those taken from the infant’s gut from direct breastfeeding without a pump, and studied the microbes and bacteria present.

While the research did not yield definitive information on how exactly the bacteria arrived in the gut, there was a sizable difference in the pathogens present between breastfed babies and those fed breastmilk from a bottle.

photo: Courtesy of Medela

So, what does all that mean? You need to clean your pump! We culled the best information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on keeping your breast pump clean and bacteria free:

1. Always check your manual for the best method of removing parts and understanding which pieces can be cleaned.

2. Every piece of your pump that touches breast milk should be rinsed in cool water as soon as possible after pumping. Rinse each piece that comes into contact with breast milk in cool water as soon as possible after pumping.

3. Use liquid dishwashing soap and warm water to wash each piece separately, then rinse in hot water for at least 10-15 seconds.

4. Place parts on a clean paper towel or in a clean drying rack and allow to air dry. (Don’t use fabric cloths––they carry bacteria!)

5. Re-assemble dry parts before you store it or use it.

6. Avoid touching the inside of any parts that will come in contact with your breast milk.

You got this, mama!

––Karly Wood



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