If you’re committed to using a breast pump, you must make up your mind to clean it regularly. It’s your responsibility as a mother. Breast pumps like most other things need regular maintenance to continue to perform optimally.
You have to regularly clean the parts and sterilize it as directed by the manufacturer. This is to reduce the risk of having germs in the milk that your child will take.
One of the important parts of your breast pump is your tubing. Without the tubing in the machine, then there is no way the pump can suction breast to draw milk from the breasts.
Except you’re using a manual breast pump which can be a lot of stress if you don’t have the luxury of time or need to do something else while pumping breast milk.
There are many problems you can have with your pump tubing. Your tubing can expand or stretch out over time which can affect its suction power. In such cases, you need to change your tubing.
However, another issue you can have with your tubing is mold. It looks dirty and you need to clean it off your tube as soon as possible.
Types of breast pumps
There are two types of breast pumps based on their protective measures for the tubing and the pump itself. The two types are:
- The closed (sealed) and
- Open (non-sealed) systems.
The major difference between the closed and open system is that the closed system has a backflow protector, which is absent in an open system. The main function of the backflow protector is to create a barrier between breast pump parts like the bottle, breastshield, flange, etc. that can be sterilized and breast pump parts like the pump itself that cannot be sterilized.
If you’re using a closed breast pump, it is almost impossible for you to have moisture or milk in your tubing. But there are still devices like Medela Pump in Style that uses the open system.
In an open system, there is no backflow protector. This can lead to having condensation of moisture and milk in your tubing. There are many effects that this can have on your milk and even the breast pump.
Most importantly, you must know that mold contains bacteria and this can contaminate your breast milk. Even if it can’t, it looks uncomfortable looking at the dirt in your pump. That is the more reason you should always clean your tubing when you see signs of condensation in it or even mold.
When you start having condensation on your tubing, very soon it leads to mold in your tubing. Having mold in your tubing means moisture is entering it which can also lead to moisture entering your breast pump. This can compromise the suction of your device or even its general functioning.
How to clean breast pump tubing
- The first step to take is to turn off the breast pump and unplug it from the power source.
- Dismantle the parts. It is advisable to clean other parts while cleaning your tubing to save time. All of the parts like the tubing, container, breastshield, flange, etc. are separated.
- While detaching the tubing from the breast pump and the breast shield, you must pay attention to pull out straight out of the ports and not twist it as that can destroy the tube.
- Prepare warm soapy water and soak your tubing in it for about five minutes. After this, rinse the tubing with clean drinkable water. Rinse properly so that you leave no soap residue on the tubing.
- Also, you can use the Quick Clean Breastmilk Removal Soap as it removes stubborn breastmilk residues up to 3 days old. Rinse the tubing after washing.
- You can also use your dishwasher to wash your tubing but this may leave watermarks on your tube. If the sight of watermarks on your tube will leave you uncomfortable, then don’t try this method.
- You can dip your tubing in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and remove it some minutes later. Rubbing alcohol can help to dissolve sticky, gummy residues that water may be unable to remove.
- Alternatively, you can hold your tubing upright in your sink and allow cold water to flow through the tubes. But this method may only be effective if you observe condensation at its early stages. When the mold has fully developed in the tube, running cold water will have no effect on it. And most of the bacteria will still be present in the tube. This is only advisable when you notice condensation on your tubing that has not fully developed into a mold.
- You can also soak your tubing in hot water but this is a bit risky depending on how strong your tubing is. For weak tubings, hot water may end up melting the tubing and render it useless. But if you feel your tubing is strong enough, dip it in hot water to kill the bacteria off and clean the mold.
- After cleaning your tubing, hang the tubing out to dry. This is a very important step that must be carried out. Because if you don’t get your tubing dry, before installing it back in your pump, then you have just wasted your cleaning efforts. If there is even a tiny bit of moisture on your tubing, that could be the foundation of setting up mold in your tubing.
- An alternative way of getting your tubing dry is to connect your tubing to the pump without connecting the other end to the breast shield. Then put on the breast pump. This will remove the moisture in your tubing.
- Another way your can remove moisture from your tubing is to run compressed air through it.
- When your tubing is dry, install it back into your pump and you’re good to go. Now your child can continue to enjoy your breast milk without any risk of your child consuming germs.
Check your breast pump
When you clean off mold from your tubing, don’t stop there. You must check your breast pump to ascertain that the mold has not entered into it. In most cases where you have mold in your tubing, you’ll find that you have mold in your breast pump, too.
Or at least moisture.
When you clean your tubing, always take note to check your breast pump too.
Having mold in your pump may not only affect your milk but also affect the functioning of the machine.
The benefits of Breastfeeding you may not know
Breastfeeding has many benefits for your baby. It is recommended that you breastfeed your baby for at least the first 6 months of their life and if possible, the first year. Breast milk has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, fat, and every other thing your child needs to grow in a healthy manner. It is also easily digested than infant formula. It contains antibodies that help your baby fight viruses and bacteria.
It has been found that babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without infant formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations.
Wrapping it Up
As a loving and caring mother, you want to make sure your child gains all these benefits. You don’t want to give your kid infant formula as they may lose the benefits of breastfeeding.
As much as you would want to do this all the time, you’re starved of time. So to create a compromise, you pump breast for your child. So that even when you can’t be with your baby, they can still enjoy the benefits that come with breastfeeding.
The challenge with pumping breast is that your breast milk can’t go directly from your breast into your child. It has to go into external containers before your baby can take it. This leaves enough room for contamination.
You don’t want your child to consume germs. This means you have to clean your breast pump and its accessories every day and sterilize parts that should be sterilized.
Even though your milk is usually not passing through your tubing, you must always pay attention to any sign of condensation or mold in it.