Basically, anything that touches your boob or has your milk flowing through it needs to be properly sterilized. That’s pretty obvious, I guess. What’s not obvious is that even hospitals that rent out this equipment regularly may not be able to ensure proper sterilization. The FDA advises all women who use rented or second-hand pumps to buy an accessory kit with new breast shields and tubing. Even if your pump looks clean, it may have lingering harmful bacteria. Gross.
Babycenter reports on the FDA findings:
Potentially infectious particles may linger in a breast pump or its accessories for a long time after a woman finishes using it. These germs can infect the baby or the next woman who uses that pump, said Dr. Michael Cummings, an obstetrician and gynecologist with the FDA.
The report, published on the Consumer Updates page of the FDA’s website, offers the following tips to ensure that a breast pump is clean:
- Rinse each accessory that comes into contact with breast milk in cool water immediately after pumping.
- Wash each accessory separately using liquid dishwashing soap and warm water, and rinse each piece in hot water for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Allow each accessory to air-dry completely on a clean towel or drying rack.
The FDA noted that women who rent breast pumps should request that all parts of their pump be cleaned, disinfected and sterilized according to the manufacturer’s directions. Women need to follow these safety guidelines even if they decide to use a pump considered “hospital grade.”
Renting a pump, borrowing one from a friend, or buying one second-hand is still fine. But since your saving money on the purchase, drop the extra $20 to buy a new accessory kit that includes new breast shields and tubing. You can find them on Amazon – the parts are really pretty affordable. I have a breast pump from my first child, but after reading this I may just buy some new parts before my second is born this Spring.
If you’re not one of those women who is eligible for a free pump, this is definitely the way to go.