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Ep. 20: Managing & Cleaning Breast Pump Equipment

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While editing today’s episode, I just kept thinking about the book, Love in the Time of Cholera, and how we’re all now breastfeeding and pumping in a time of COVID. It’s not always pretty. And we all just relearned how to wash our hands the right way. So maybe we should all have a refresher on how to clean our pumping equipment.

Yes, I do let you in on some dirty little mistakes that I made during my pumping journey. And I had a lactation consultant call me out. So I’m happy to share that story with you, even though I’m not proud of it. And we are also going to cover pump sharing as well as how that could actually hurt your supply.

You’re definitely going to want to tune into this episode if you’re an exclusive pumper or someone that pumps 15 times or more per week, because this is huge and blew my mind when I came across this research. And then I also just want to let you all know that Maureen and I are going to take a little mini vacation and we will see you back in podcast land in September.

We have some big things coming up that we will announce on air that we are super pumped about. So please be sure to subscribe to the show if you haven’t already so you’re notified when we’re back on the air. All right. Let’s get into today’s episode.

Welcome to The Milk Minute Podcast. This is Maureen Farrell and Heather O’Neal. We’re midwives and lactation consultants. But most importantly, we’re two breast friends on a mission to bring you accessible information about lactation, body positivity, boobs, relationships, and mental health with a few laughs along the way. Join us for another episode.

Good morning, Maureen. Is it a good morning for? You know, well, I mean, sort of.

Well, as you might have noticed, I got to your house at 2:00 AM last night, this morning. I didn’t notice which actually scares me and makes me realize I need to start locking my basement doors. Well I mean I didn’t like break in. You know, maybe if I had had to like break something to get in, you would have noticed, but I mean, probably not.

Anyway. I had a birth last night. It was good. Good birth. Just shot right out. Yeah. I left a placenta in your freezer. Don’t let me forget it. When I go home. I’ll make sure my husband doesn’t confuse it with the deer meat. Yeah. Or like a pot roast or something. Oh God. Some patient would be very upset that we ate all of her delicious stem cells.

She was going to eat that. And I see you’re eating Tums. Yeah. Yeah. A little heartburn going on here, pal. Well, yeah, it happens. It does. It does happen. We’ll leave that where it is. Well, wait, so, okay. What did, what did you do after I had to go to a birth yesterday? Nothing. Something. Yeah, I put together a closet organizer with my husband.

It’s still not done. We don’t really work great as a team. And I mean, you got a little further than when I saw. We hung up a shelf. I’m like the eyeball it and just kinda go for it, gal, you know. I like that about Heather. Time’s a wasting as June said, and he’s more of a measure five times, cut once kind of guy. And it really is frustrating for me cause I just want to be done with it.

So rarely do things get done in the timeframe that I want to get them done in. But, you know, it’s just the things that we give and take in relationships. I mean, I get it though. You’re like, it’s going in a fucking closet. We’re not looking at it. We’re covering it in our shit that we don’t want in the other parts of the house.

Exactly, exactly. And then every time we mess up something every time, but he gets like mortally offended that we mess something up and I’m like, yeah, these instructions are in Chinese. Right. The pictures do not actually show what’s going on. So lower your expectations. Don’t think that you’re going to nail it the first time, you know, or ever or ever who gives a shit.

I just want somewhere to put my clothes. All of my clothes are in my daughter’s closet and they’ve been there for years. And so that’s why I wear sweatpants all the time. Because by the time I think about getting dressed, she’s napping again, and it’s like, ah, okay. I just need a place to put my clothes, so it’s still not done.

But it will be eventually when I decide to do it while he’s working and then he’ll be like, why did you finish it without me? You know what listeners this is how you got us, sweatpants, no bras, were on it. I actually am wearing a bra. You’re wearing a bra? But it’s a nursing bra, even though I’m no longer nursing. Love it.

And it wasn’t cute when I first bought it. Heidi grabs my nipples just out of nowhere and it just creates a little barrier. My kid used to do that all the time. It was like a radar. You know, you’re walking by like, yeah. It’s like that. But also she likes to use them as handles to like heave herself up onto the couch.

And I’m like what? Those things have seen her through some tough times have they. They really have. So speaking of that, We’re going to talk about proper cleaning of pumping parts today. Oh yeah. Welcome to the episode everybody. So that’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to take the lead on this one cause Maureen really didn’t pump that much.

No. And I guarantee you, I did not ever clean my pump right. Once. No. Yeah. As it turns out, neither did I. So, you know, we like to make sure that this is all evidence-based, but as I’m getting into this, I’m like, oh shit. Like I definitely did not do that right.

And like, I, I actually, I don’t know a single person who’s ever done it right. Yeah. But guess what? Most of our babies have still made it. That’s true, but it’s good to have goals. Like, you know, goals are good. And we’re going to try and get there tonight. If you’re just looking to improve on something or, you know, if you’re just looking for a life hack, this is, we’re also going to throw some of those in there for you because pumping is annoying.

I mean, we’re just going to put it out there. Pumping’s annoying. Exclusive pumpers are warriors. We say that all the time. Some people have to exclusively pump. So this is really for you, you know, just to make sure that you’re getting everything you need out of cleaning your pumping parts and saving yourself a little bit of time.

So there’s that. But yeah, you know, I always tell people just remember that if people can survive the seventies with no car seats while sucking on their lead paint cribs, you’re probably, you’re probably doing an okay job. Or you’re just going to make it. We’re fine, mom. I’ll be home in 10 hours.

Lock the door. I was actually watching one of the original Little Rascals the other day, the ones in black and white. And the episode starts with the mom looking at her son and she says, make sure you take care of Weezer and rub the goose grease on his neck. He’s got a cough. I’m going to be at the market all day.

Don’t leave the yard. And this kid is like four, and he’s watching Weezer, who’s like a baby. Yeah. And I was like, oh. Not only was this a thing, but they were promoting it. Oh, yeah. So like, oh, this is normal. Yeah. And then sometimes I think like, man, I just want to go for a run, leave my four year old at home.

The dogs are there. He’s fine. Also, if my neighbors call the cops on me, I’m going to get arrested. But you won’t though, because okay, side note. My friend, Michelle has seven boys and you know, they’re older now. Like some of them are older now and can watch the other ones, but somebody, some, one of her neighbors is an asshole.

And one day they mentioned something like, I can’t believe you’re leaving your ten-year-old with your four-year-old. And she was like, Hmm, I’m going to call the police on myself and ask this serious question. Like, how old does your kid have to be? Because there’s like a myth going on around there.

Well, we don’t have one. There’s no actual age. It’s parent’s discretion. Because I mean, have you met a bunch of 12 year olds? They’re all different. Some are responsible and some are not. I, okay. So you’re reminding me, I had a conversation with someone once where I was like, what would happen if like a cop found my kid at home?

And I don’t know, maybe they were a lawyer or something. Some, some friend that seemed like they knew more than me anyway. And they were like, well, really they’d probably be like, does your kid know how to lock the door and call 9 11? Right. I’m like, oh, my four year old actually does know how to do those things.

Right then on the flip side, some bad shit can happen while you’re home, and if that happens, then it’s negligence. Right? So like my friends, my friend was visiting in New York, which is, you know, very liberal and her seven month old crawled over to something and pulled it down on his head. And she was standing right there, but you know, she wanted to be a good mother.

So she took him to the hospital and they called CPS on her and did a full report. And then they called her later and wanted the birth dates and social security numbers of her other children. They had several welfare checks that they called West Virginia to have the sheriff come and do welfare checks on her kid.

And she was like, you have got to be fucking kidding me. Like I was home. She’s like and the other bullshit part, I know we’re like totally off topic now. Her husband was also home, but they opened the case only on her. And he was actually closer in proximity to the child than she was at the time. Yeah.

She was like, what kind of bullshit is this? Well, no good deed goes unpunished. She was actually like yelling at her husband and he’s like, I didn’t do it. She’s like this paternalistic system is bullshit!

Anyway, cleaning your breast pump. That’s where we’re going. Yeah, cleaning your pumping equipment. Why is this important? Because of infection prevention and the growth of potentially dangerous bacteria. So you have your own microbiome and your baby’s microbiome is similar cause you’re living in the same environment, but the risk increases for these bacterial illnesses if you are in the NICU sharing microbiomes with 40 other families. Yes. And all the nursing staff. And of course your risk goes up if you’re in the NICU, because you’re around other medically unwell babies and all the hospital germs. And then also it’s risky sometimes for premature babies because their immune systems just are not as strong.

And also they have decreased stores of fat, which can make it more difficult for them to have the reserves to actually fight an illness if it happens. And then of course, medically unwell babies just in general, their immune systems are already taxed. So for those three groups, the NICU, the premature and medically unwell, this is going to be much more important than if you have an older, medically well, completely stable baby.

And we’re gonna cite those three groups of babies a lot. When we’re talking about the safety of medications and breastfeeding, the safety of, you know, how long you can store your breast milk and feed it to your baby, everything like that. You know, we’re always like, Hey, it’s your choice? Here’s the recommendations.

But like really, really, really follow the guidelines if your baby fits into these categories. Right. And as I was reading this, there were things that were surprising me. And I’ve worked in the NICU as a nurse before. And I can tell you one thing, the recommendation that you are supposed to discard a pacifier every 24 hours in the NICU, that doesn’t happen.

And you’re, I mean, the minute it touches the floor, you’re supposed to throw it away. Which most of the time I would say, most of the time that happened. But you know, I know they’re definitely not changing every 24 hours. No, absolutely not, but they are individually packaged. Okay. So that was one of the recommendations too, but yeah, there definitely not doing that.

So think about that. If you have a medically unwell baby and you’re out and about, and your Binky hits the floor, just throw that shit away, get a new one, buy them, buy them in bulk. If you have to. Okay. So we get a lot of questions about sharing pumps. And I know this actually happens a lot where people do share pumps cause they’re fucking expensive and not everybody has insurance that covers it.

And now that we don’t have the affordable care act anymore, right? The insurance companies are not providing the pumps. And also I discovered in my research that the actual equipment that goes with the pump, like the flanges and stuff, that’s not actually considered a medical device. That’s bullshit. Yeah.

The pump is a medical device, but the equipment is not. And because it’s not, the manufacturer is not required to put sanitization recommendations on the package. I’m just shaking my head here folks. So, I mean, the CDC has all kinds of recommendations as well, but you know, just in general it would be kind of nice if the manufacturer was like, this is exactly how to do it.

Or if every manufacturer, just at least like put the CDC guidelines in their package. Yeah. That’d be easy. Yeah. Maybe I don’t think they do. No, they definitely, definitely do not okay. So why you shouldn’t share a pump with somebody. So hypothetically organisms from one individual can be sucked back into the motor of the pumping unit and potentially transmitted to another parent’s milk.

Right. This is totally theoretically. Yes. And why is that? Same reason as always. Research is not done experimentally because it’s dangerous to experiment. Like if you were going to get a bunch of moms together or a bunch of parents together. Yeah. They’re like let’s share pumps and see whose babies die first.

They’re not doing experimental research on pregnant people and they’re not doing experimental research on babies to see who gets sick. Right. Literally, we’re going to say this, like every other episode. Everything we talk about with the safety of anything with pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s all either from retrospective data collection, which is pretty weak evidence.

Yeah. It kinda sucks because there’s no controls on those groups at all. Or it’s just from, you know, it’s hypothetical speculation based on things that we do know? Right. But I will say that I did find a meta-analysis, which is where they grab a bunch of different research from a bunch of different reputable sources and put it all together in one place. Those are pretty good. Yeah.

And so the journal of infection prevention did this and they combined a lot of different pieces of research and came up with some solid recommendations. So that’s what we’re going to go with now. Yeah. And again, as always, these are guidelines and if you, you know, it is your choice, how closely you follow them, but this is the recommendation.

And, you know, if you’re gonna give advice to anybody else that deviates from this, just make sure you say like, Hey, this isn’t the official recommendation, but like, this is what worked for me. Right. And then I just wanted to make a quick note for those of you that are still pregnant, or maybe you just had your baby like today.

Congratulations. You don’t need to pump to get your colostrum out because colostrum is actually a really small amount. It’s that first milk, that golden delicious milk. It might only be a couple of drops. And if you actually pump it could get stuck in the system because it’s such a small amount.

And then. Then, if you do get that little bit, you have to transfer it to another container and anytime you’re transferring your milk, you lose it and you lose the fat along the outside that gets stuck to the container. And then also every time you transfer, you increase the risk for contamination. Oh yeah.

That’s a really talking about today. Right? So if you need to get your colostrum out, I always recommend just to hand expressing directly into a sanitized cup or a sanitized medicine cup. Something you’re just going to feed your baby with. You can also use a little teaspoon that’s been sanitized. A teaspoon straight out of the dishwasher is fine, right?

No dishwashers. I mean, it depends. They say if, as long as you ran it on sanitize, right. If you run it on sanitize and it does that steam thing, where if you open it too fast, you get a burn on your face, that’s okay. But if you don’t have, if you have an old dishwasher, if you have one you don’t clean very often, like if your dishwasher’s kinda nasty, clearly sanitizing isn’t working. So I wouldn’t do that.

And I also don’t recommend putting a metal spoon in the microwave to sanitize it though either. No. How about a plastic one that’s individually wrapped? Or you can get little silicone baby spoons and use those.

I actually, when you’re talking about cup feeding, there’s a special kind of cup specifically for feeding a baby. Have you seen those? Yeah, I have one. Oh, they’re so cool guys. Google them, but they’re so cool. It’s like a little, it’s like a tiny little pitcher and it’s like a cup and it has like a little spout that kind of looks like a spoon on it.

They’re so fun. I don’t have that kind. I mean, there’s a bunch of kinds. Oh. But that was so cool. I love gimmicks. I know. I totally do. I’ll Google a picture while you talk and then bring it up when it’s not on topic again, we’ll put it on the show notes. Okay. So. What are the recommendations for cleaning your pumping parts?

So, first of all, wash your hands. I mean, that might seem a little counterintuitive to wash your hands prior to washing your pumping parts, but I think that’s the one we forget a lot of the time. And mostly this is for washing your hands first so when you’re done you don’t, recontaminate your equipment.

Get a clean basin. I really liked this one for people that are pumping often throughout the day, or at least a few times a day. Maureen just showed me the picture of that little cup. That is so good. Isn’t it? So freaking cute. It just like has a little spoon on it and I love that. Spoony! And they just lap it out of there.

Yeah. It’s called the nifty feeding cup. They don’t sponsor us, but they should. We will contact them shortly. Also the Doity cup are really fun. Literally also just a shot glass works. Yeah. Shot glass. I use that for my son. Perfect. We’re going to have the Milk Minute Podcast shot glasses for feeding. Maureen’s going to get on that immediately. Sorry.

Anyway, that was off topic. Go ahead. Anyway. So if you are pumping quite often throughout the day, I recommend getting a clean basin to soak your equipment in and warm, soapy water, just like some dish soap in there and just chuck them all in there. And I recommend having two different sets.

So while one is being soaked and air dried, you can use the other one. It’s just going to make your life a lot easier. You need to make sure that you’re dismantling all of the pieces. I mean, even the little white gasket membrane that’s on there. That needs to come off. If you’ve never taken that off, I’m not shaming you right now, but like go privately and do it.

Yeah. And just try not to be grossed out at whatever’s in the little part that like attached. Yeah. Let me tell you a little secret. So I used the Medela with my son and the little yellow part. I didn’t know that came off because when I first got it, it’s together. Like when you first get it it’s put together and it was really tight.

So I was like cool, glued on, yeah, it’s one piece. It’s not, and after like a month, it came off after I soaked at once and I was like, Oh, my God. Little chunks like ran out of there. Also I ran out of the storage bags and I was just pumping directly into Ziploc bags at one point.

And I took it to the hospital with me cause I was working there at the time and the lactation consultant happened to catch me walking down the hallway with a Ziploc bag full of milk. And she was like, what the fuck are you doing? And I was like, I’m putting my milk in the freezer. And she was like, No! He’s fine. My kid is totally fine. Yeah. Well, he wasn’t medically fragile. But I wasn’t a lactation consultant at that time, but I mean. But even if you were, let’s be honest, we all just do what needs to be done.

We can. Yup. Doing the best we can. So dismantle all the pieces and you’re going to wash them with a clean bottle brush. And you can, a lot of the time you can throw those bottle brushes in the top rack of your dishwasher and sanitize those as well. You don’t want to be using the same one for a year and you don’t want to use them all.

I mean, if you’ve already had another baby and you’re still using the same bottlebrush, get a new one. They’re like $3. They’re really cheap. And if you’re still pregnant and you’re working on your registry, register for 12 of them. That way you already have them. Honestly, like that’s what should be on your baby registry.

 Your baby isn’t going to fucking wear, like, it doesn’t honestly need clothes for like six months. You need sponges, bottle brushes, dish soap, baby cloth diapers, you need detergent for washing those. Yes, then after you have washed them all by hand, you want to rinse them with water that is of drinking quality.

Don’t be just dunking them in your pond water or anything weird like that, because obviously you’re re-introducing organisms. We have to say that. Use water in your kitchen. Yeah. I don’t know what people do. So then you’re going to let them air dry on a clean towel in a place that’s free from getting splashed with whatever you’re cooking that night.

This does take some time to dry. So I recommend, like I said, getting a second set of pumping equipment to rotate those out. I definitely didn’t air-dry them. I didn’t either. I used a dry dish rag. Oh. I used paper towels. If I had paper towels, I would use those. But I can honestly tell you I’ve used a rag where like one side has a coffee stain on it.

Totally sure I did that too, but I was just like, I, if I leave it to air-dry, it’s gonna get like dog hair on it. Oh, I don’t have a dog. So I didn’t think about that. Or like one of the cats is just going to come. Like yeah. If you have cats that walk on your counters with their litter. Yeah. I don’t know, figure that out. You know what would be great, actually?

No, I do have an idea for this. Because I’ve done this before with other things, not my breast pump. If you have one of those, like plastic little boxes that’s kind of like a basket weave and has holes in it, you know, like for organizing shit. Oh yeah. You can just flip one of those over on top of it. Hmm.

Cat’s not going to sit on it. Good idea. My cat totally fucking would, what an asshole. Like we said, do the best you can with what you have. Yeah. My cats are assholes guys. Maybe we’ll post pictures of them. Oh, we need to see your cats. So then after they’re dry, you can store them in a closed, clean Tupperware container, or just cover them with a clean dish towel.

If you’re going to be using them in two seconds anyways. Just make sure that the Tupperware is clean and make sure that everything’s dry, cause you don’t want to be locking moisture. And the reality is if you just took all that time to sanitize your pump parts, and then you take a Tupperware out from your cabinet, that kind of defeats the purpose.

 You would have had to just also sanitize your Tupperware. Right? So sanitize that at the same time, because we all know that you’re just throwing shit and your, your Tupperware cabinet or door is like the nastiest most ridiculous place in the house. Let’s be real. You like, you like open it and you like open the cabinet door half inch and you’re like, no, no, no, don’t fall.

And then everything falls. And then you just like shove it back in the cabinet. Where are the lids? Well, you know, I like the Pyrex, the glass. Those are nice. And you can actually, I mean, how would you, this isn’t an official recommendation, but how would you feel about just putting like half a cup of water in there and throwing it in the microwave for a minute or so?

Probably be fine. Yeah. I don’t know. Don’t do it if your baby’s in the NICU. We’re life hacking here. Okay. So dishwasher, we’ve kind of touched on that a little bit. Some pumping equipment does say on it that you can wash it in the top rack of the dishwasher. But like I said before, it’s not medical equipment, so that’s not medical grade advice.

They’re just saying it would survive the dishwasher if you did do that. So make sure that this stuff doesn’t have dish soap on it. Like sometimes I would, I would try to do that, but then I’d take them out and they’d be all cloudy. And then when I’d wash them again, after that, the cloudiness would come off sometimes.

And I would be like, ew that’s soap, or then I swear some people that say my soap has high lipase, or my soap, my milk has high lipase because it tastes soapy. I’m like, are you washing it in the dishwasher? Could just be actual soap. It could be actual soap. So just be aware of that and make sure that all of the soap is off and make sure again, that it’s air dried completely and that you’re using the sanitize button on your machine.

Okay. If you are using a steam bag to sterilize, make sure that you have washed your equipment with dish soap prior to sanitizing. You just can’t throw it in the bag covered in your milk. Cause there’s a difference between cleaning and sanitizing.

Or, you know, everybody is relearning how to wash their hands now because we all don’t want to get COVID-19 right. And, and we’re learning that there’s a difference between using hand sanitizer and washing your hands. Oh my God. Yeah. Same thing, dude. Like there are a lot of bacterias and viruses that have these like really strong membranes that you have to scrub off. So you have to actually have that like scrubbing motion to get them off.

Yes. It’s the emulsifier. That’s what it is, right? The emulsifier. And when, when it’s soaps up, it’s that soapy bubbly part that’s actually like getting the physical shit off your hand and like literal friction. Yes, literal friction, but then when you sanitize, it’s actually killing the rest of the shit that’s left on there.

So both of those things are important. Yeah. And then don’t share steam bags between parents. And then when you do use them, leave them open to air to dry. Yeah. Even if you’re going to share a pump, don’t share the steam bag. Yeah. It just feels weird to do that. I, you know, just have your own.

Yeah. Yeah. So if you don’t have any of that stuff, keep in mind, you can still boil your stuff to it. Yeah. This is what I did. Well, I mean maybe once, honestly, I didn’t boil it that much, but I used dish soap and hot water and scrubbed really hard. And then when I remembered that you were supposed to sanitize things, I throw them in a pot of hot water.

Yeah. I mean, I probably didn’t also put my menstrual cup in there, but it’s possible. I mean, keep in mind if you have well water or like you you’ll get into a situation at least once when you’re pumping where you’re like, oh shit, I don’t have clean water to rinse this with. Don’t forget. Boil it. The water, like people have been doing this for, I don’t know how many thousands of years.

Yeah. You see, you know this right now guys, I’m working on a couple online breastfeeding courses and one of them is about breastfeeding in a disaster situation. And a lot of that is about like, what the fuck do you do without clean water? There are so many ways to clean water. And to filter water and there, you know, and they like graduate.

They’re like, cool, okay. If you can’t boil it, do this, can’t do this and do this. If you do this better than nothing. So it’s really, and like there’s all that information is out there. If you find yourself in a weird situation where you’re under a boil advisory and your gas is cut off, like there’s still things you can do.

Mm Hmm. Or if you just don’t trust the system to clean your water, like, like I do, where I live. Huh? They swear. It’s fine, Morgantown. Oh man, the water here is so yucky. Yeah. Like when I go for a run on the rail-trail and I can see the sewage plant and the water sewage in, in, in the river upstream of where the city takes its water from.

Yeah. Yeah, we’re fine here. We’re totally fine. There’s a lot of chlorine in your water. Yeah, there is a lot of bleach. So if you’re boiling, just remember to use a clean pot, don’t use the one that you actually just made ravioli in because that would be dumb. So use a clean one, use clean tongs to get them out and make sure you’re bringing it to a rolling boil and doing it for at least 60 seconds.

So people just have their own like pot that they specifically use for this. You do not have to do that? Just take one out of the dishwasher. That’s clean. Yeah. So let’s chat about the tubing for the pumps. So the tubing is really difficult to clean. So the best way to prevent shit from getting in your tube is to run air through the tube from the pump while disconnected from the flange to clear the line of any condensation.

I never did that. I didn’t do that with Theo, but then with Heidi, someone mentioned it to me and I was like, that makes total sense. So like, after you’re done pumping, just disconnect the tubes and just let your pump run.

And it will completely clear the line of all condensation and prevent mold from building up in the motor and in the tubes. Hello, obviously, why didn’t I think of that? So yeah, it’s almost impossible to sanitize these tubes for obvious reasons. It’s a tube. Luckily these are cheap and easy to replace.

So if you see anything funky in them at all, just get rid of them, just get rid of them and get new ones. You can boil them. Like if you, if you’re in a pickle and you’re like, oh shit, I see mold in there, but I don’t have. You know, I have to pump and I can’t, I don’t have a hand pump. I don’t know how to hand express.

I can’t get new tubes right now. Just boil it and hope for the best. Right. I think once I even used a little pipe cleaner to get some crud out of one. Yeah. What else, if the, if the mold or the schmutz or whatever is in there is close to the end, just cut it off. Oh yeah, just cut it off and just connect it back to your pump, but just in a shorter way.

Right. Oh man. You just keep snips, snipping that, snipping up until you’re like pumping directly on top of your pump. I guess it’s time for new ones. So that’s not approved by the CDC. Totally not. I’m spit balling here. So if you were using a supplemental nursing system that has the super tiny tubes, those are only good for 24 hours before they need to be thrown away and get a new one, purchased.

 Those feeding tubes, they really, really do recommend, and I also really, really recommend you don’t reuse them. However, I have known lots of people to reuse them and they just were in a low resource setting. Again, you can boil them. And, but I don’t recommend it. You can keep them in the fridge also to prevent even grosser stuff from growing.

But frequently, just use a syringe. You know, I always tell people if you’re in a situation where you need to like relactate and you’re trying to get your baby back to the breast and you have to use a supplemental nursing system, use that, sure for 24 hours, but then get yourself a syringe. They’re much easier to sanitize.

I’ve actually known people too where they cut up the feeding tubes into like six inch lengths and then just use the syringe really close so the baby still was sucking and had the tube and wasn’t interrupted, but they got like 10 uses out of that tube instead of one. Wow. That’s really good. That is a good hack.

Still pretty safe, you know? Yeah. This is about just doing the best we can with what we have. Yeah. Okay, so other life hacks. So if your baby is medically well and older, which means like not in the first six weeks, not that you need to be pumping in the first six weeks. Really, even like it’s really in the first three months that we see most adverse issues with anything with babies, right?

Like bacterial infections, issues with medication, stuff like that. So if you want to be extra safe, after the first three months, if you want to start deviating from these guidelines, using discretion and intelligence, okay. Right. So if you have that baby that’s older and medically, well, you can pump and you can store that stuff in a clean Ziploc bag, stick it in the refrigerator.

This message was not approved by the CDC or the FDA. No. But it is approved by working moms everywhere that have to pump constantly. And when you only get a 30 minute lunch break and you have to pump and eat and sanitize your equipment in that timeframe, it’s not possible. So again, this is about doing the best we can with what we have.

So it makes sense to me as a midwife and lactation professional, that if your milk is yours, and it is coming from your microbiome and you used clean hands prior to pumping. If it’s good in the fridge for 24 hours, if your milk that is like freshly expressed good in the refrigerator. No, it is. It’s good in the refrigerator for like four, four to seven days.

Then why wouldn’t your pumping equipment be good in the refrigerator? So again, use clean hands, use a clean surface that you’re pumping on. If you’re going to be doing something like that to mitigate that risk. Oh, warm those flanges up before you stick him back on your nipples guys, don’t just take them out the fridge and shove them on cause you are not going to express very much milk.

Yeah. That could be a rough one. And then also make sure if you’re doing that, that you are sanitizing that equipment once every 24 hours. Yeah. Heather’s husband is stomping around upstairs, like an elephant. We’re just staring at him malignantly through the ceiling.

Okay. Speaking of partners. Huh. So if you are an exclusive pumper and you are pumping all the time, or, you know, even if you’re just working and pumping, have your partner wash that shit. Like the seriously husbands and wives of pumping people out there, other partners, there’s nothing sexier than realizing your partner properly cleaned, sterilized and repacked up your pump parts.

Yep. And that’s exactly, that’s exactly why I had Maureen draw a graphic of a shirtless man, sanitizing pump parts so I could use it in my workbook that I have for my course. We’re like, look! Aint he sexy?  Yeah. Look, you could be sexy too! And baby wear while you do it. While I’m napping and eating grapes.

Yeah. Yes. Hashtag dream postpartum. We’re going to do it one day, Heather. You and I are going to have babies together. And we’re just gonna be the dream team. Don’t get me pregnant. I’m trying to get this podcast off the ground. It’s catching. So anyway, let’s talk about sharing breast pumps, because some of you might be like, well, then what’s up with the one that I used at the hospital that’s used by a hundred other people?

 That’s totally. It does not make sense, at least yet. It will in a moment. Here you go. Let me just break it down for ya. There’s a closed system, which has a mechanism to prevent the backflow into the system. There’s an open system where everything’s open and there’s no way to prevent shit from getting in the motor.

Not even sure why you would make something like that, I guess, but they do. So they do. Probably to make money. It probably has something to do with the motor being better, right? Capitalism wins again, Heather, I don’t know. That’s what I think every time I feel like a product is specifically designed for short-term use when it could very easily be designed for long-term use.

I’m like, oh, so you just want me to buy a new pair of shoes every three months. Oh, you want me to buy a new breast pump every four months? Fuck you. Yeah, that’s true. The third kind is multi-user and those are all closed systems and those are the hospital grade ones that are meant to be multi-user. Yeah.

But the multi-user part is not because it’s a closed system. Do you want to know why it’s, multi-user? Why? Because the motor is better, right? Motors. What I’m saying, the motor is made to last throughout multiple people. That’s why your spectra like your S 1 and S 2. Those are actually closed systems, but they’re not multi-user as well because that motor is not meant to make it for multiple people.

Spectra, get it together. Oh, it’s not just Spectra. Now shall I read you the closed system pumps? The ones that are not meant to last for months. These are single user closed system pumps. I hate this. I know. Read them to me so I can feel anger. Righteously. Okay. So the Ameda has the Elite, Platinum, and Purely Yours.

Ardo, which I’ve never heard of has the Calypso and the Carum. Bailey has the Nurture III.  Freemie has the freedom and equality. Hygeia has the EnDeare and Enjoye. Lansinoh has the Signature Pro and the Smart Pump. Lucina has the Melody 1. Medela has the Lactina and the Symphony. And the Symphony is a hospital grade pump.

That’s the really pricey one. So that one is multi-user. The PJ’s, which I’ve never heard of, has the Comfort and Bliss. Rumble Tuff, never heard of, has the Serene Express Duo and the Spectra has the M 1 S 1 S 2 and the Dew 350. So those are all closed system pumps. Clearly some of those companies have better marketing than others.

So the open system pumps are all Medela pumps except for the Symphony, which is the older hospital grade pump. And there’s a bunch that I know of that are not on this list too. So like who the fuck knows. Right. So let’s, we have to just not to end this on a rageful note, but we’re going to. We’re going to end it on rageful note.

Yeah. We love those. We love them. So here’s something that I just found out in my research, which means you probably didn’t know. Hit me with it. The life of the motor in these single user pumps is typically made to last only one year, averaging 15 to 20 pumps per week. Okay, let’s do that math really quick.

Okay. So if you are an exclusive pumper and we’re going to say minimum, you’re pumping eight times a day. Minimum. So that’s every week if minimum you’re pumping 56 times. Right? So if that, if those pumps are meant to last for maximum 20 pumps per week for a year, that’s 1,040 pumps. The average or the, the exclusive pumper who pumps like probably the least, pumps almost 3000 times per year.

So that’s eight pumps a day. If you’re a pumper who pumps 12 times a day, that’s like 4,500 pumps. Basically, what we’re telling you is, this is bullshit, it’s bullshit. And if you’re an exclusive pumper, you need to consider that you need a new pump about every three to six months. And that’s not just to keep your pump from dying. The whole motor, like everything to keep your supply up.

Like it’s not going to be able to remove the milk as good. Heather, how often do we hear this? Someone has a three or four month old baby. And they’re like, what is happening? I’m just not pumping enough anymore. Right. And then they call their pump manufacturer and they’re like, oh, well get a new one, just get a new one or it should be good for a year.

Or have you replaced your equipment? And it’s like, yes, I replaced my equipment every three months, which is the recommendation. I fucking breast massage, do breathing techniques, do it all. I’m eating the fucking cookies and nothing’s working. It’s probably because you’ve already reached the pump life of the motor by four months.

I’m so angry for all you pumpers out there. Yeah. I mean, I always am anyway, cause it just sucks. And I’m so sorry. It sucks. Yeah. So what we probably need to do is lobby to have insurance companies pay for at least two pumps per baby, or pay for hospital grade pumps for everybody. Yeah. Yeah.

Which one would you prefer companies? I don’t know, but we’re coming at ya so hot. If only we had the lobbying dollars that these companies do. Well, it hit us up on Patreon. And if we ever become millionaires, we’ll fight that good fight for you, dude. Yeah. If you donate to our Patreon, we absolutely will start a lobbying fund.

We have a shit list and it’s growing by the day. Yeah. All right. Well, happy pumping, cleaning now. Communicate lubricate. Do the best you can, and we’ll see you later. Bye.

Thanks for listening to another episode of The Milk Minute. If you want to help our podcast grow, please like, subscribe, and share with a friend. To support our mission of accessible lactation information you can find us on Patreon to access behind the scenes video, personalized Q and A’s and merchandise. I might send you a mug or a t-shirt. Love the merch. This podcast was edited by Heather O’Neal with music by Bella Zucker.

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