Post # 1
Busted out my shiny new breast milk pump yesterday so I could read the manual and figure out how it works before baby comes (since everyone said that was the smart move — once baby is born, if I can’t figure it out within .01 seconds I will probably become enraged and throw it under the wheels of a bus). And of course the manual recommends that you completely take it apart and wash it in soapy water after every use. Of course the manual has to say that.
So now I look for realistic advice from those who actually use the damn thing every day: how well do you clean it between each use? I completely understand giving it a thorough hot-water rinse after each use, to get all the milk residue off it, but is it really necessary to soap and water WASH it every three hours while I’m at the office? It’s not that I’m too lazy to do that, but rather that I don’t really trust our kitchen here. And I don’t think anyone would appreciate walking into the shared office kitchen to find me merrily washing breast milk pump parts four times a day.
Gimme the straight dope, pumpers of the world!
Post # 3
I pump 4x a day, two of those are usually at work:
First thing in the morning- I steam my parts in a Medela microwave sterilizer bag thingy.
First pump at work- I rinse & dry my parts and leave them in the fridge in a zip loc baggie.
Second pump at work (or my lunch pump- whenever I can get it in!)- steam parts in the medela bag again
Last pump of the night- soak in hot soapy water & clean thoroughly. I take the little valves off for this one. The rest of the day I leave them attached.
**I have an Ameda, so my pieces and parts might be a little different from yours.
Post # 4
@DaneLady: ah, the sterilizer bag — I need to get one of those! That would probably be my best bet, since I can just do that in the microwave instead of having to actually hand-wash everything in the sink.
I was thinking of getting a little cube fridge on Craigslist for like $40 to just keep in my office for milk storage purposes, and I think you just convinced me on that one too — I can keep the pump parts in it to prevent bacteria growth and also my coworkers won’t have to go for their lunches and be like “oh awesome, iarebridezilla’s NIPPLE FLANGES are atop my sandwich.”
Post # 5
I don’t pump anymore but when I did I would just wash with hot water and dish soap, rinse well and let air dry on paper towel. THen put in zip lock bag. Did it this way with all 3 of my kids and they survived. I did run it through dishwasher each night though.
Post # 6
@iarebridezilla: LOL, no I don’t think anyone would appreciate a nice garden salad topped with pump valves! I am lucky enough to have access to a small unused office in our building so I can let my parts air dry between uses. I do put my milk & parts in the fridge with everyone’s food, HOWEVER I put it all in my insulated lunch pack (thank you, ThirtyOne I love you!) so it’s not like anyone could accidentally consume my breast milk. It’s also labeled.
Post # 7
No baby yet, but I’ll echo DaneLady and definitely plan to use the Medela steam bags (assuming all goes well with my supply). The reviews on them are really good. Just wanted to point out that each bag can be used up to 20 times, so don’t forget that otherwise they are way.too.expensive.
There’s also the wipes that I plan to use maybe in between. My friend uses those (and only those) and she’s had no problems with her little one.
Post # 8
@DaneLady: our communal office fridge is so full that I would literally have to set my bag of pump parts on top of someone’s lunch if I wanted to store them in there. Oh lord. It’s no good. NO GOOD.
Plus I’m super skittish about accidentally forcing my coworkers to think about my boobs. I don’t even want them to know that I own boobs. A bunch of Teamster truck drivers + boobs = tres awkward for all of us!!
@MadTownGirl: There was a little ad for those wipe things too in the breast milk pump box — I’ll have to look into those as well! I’ll definitely wash all the parts PROPERLY whenever I’m at home, so I’m glad to know there are some easy solutions to get me through the day without having to do anything weird or gross in the office kitchen!
Post # 9
I pump 3x a day at work. I wash the parts with soap and water after each use, and between uses I store them (along with the milk) in an insulated cooler bag with ice packs.
I’m not keen on leaving the milk or the pump parts out for all to see. No room to put the whole cooler bag in the office fridge and my coworkers shouldn’t have to reach past my bodily fluids to grab their sandwich and nor do I need everyone to know what size nipple flanges I use.
Post # 10
I only wash my pump parts once a day. When I worked, I just rinsed all the parts with hot water after each use, shook the water off, put them back together (yes they were still wet), and put them in my bag. I didn’t have a reliable fridge and I kept my milk in a cooler. Now that I stay at home, I just put my pump bottles with flanges in the fridge after each use without rinsing them or anything. I pump 2 or 3 times a day, I take them apart and wash them every night. It has worked perfectly fine.
You could put them in a big tupperware and put the tupperware in a paper or cloth bag in the fridge so nobody can see what’s inside.
Post # 11
Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding echoes the same advice caritas gave you: about once a day is frequent enough. From p. 161,
“Practicing good hygiene is very important in pumping and storing your milk. Dried milk left on your breast shields or any of your pump parts can be a medium for bacterial growth, which could infect you or your baby. Wash your hands with soap and hot water each time before handling the breast shields and the pump … If you are pumping multiple times in a day, studies have show that, due to special live properties in human milk, it’s not necessary to wash the parts of your pump each time. Once every eight to ten hours is sufficient. Washing your pump parts when you return home will save you time at work.”
So, she’s definitely not advocating being lax on hygiene, and she says waiting until the end of the workday is fine. (She unfortunately doesn’t give citations for the studies, which I would have preferred, but Ina May is a pretty reputable source of information on these matters.)
Post # 12
My friend at work who pumps has multiple sets of parts that she presterilizes every night at home. Makes it less time consuming at work :-).
Post # 13
@KCKnd2: you had me at “Ina May” 🙂 I didn’t realize she had a Guide to Breastfeeding — so of course I just ordered it, haha.
@crayfish: I definitely think I’m going to spring for a second set of parts and pieces, for that exact reason! Between having my own little mini fridge in my office, plus the wipes, plus the sterilizer bags, plus a backup set of parts … hopefully I can pull this whole “pumping” thing off without too much trouble. Famous last words, of course …