There’s a 3½-year age difference between my two daughters, Little G and Baby G. So far, this spacing has worked out well for my hubby and me—we had plenty of time to catch up on rest before this current bout of sleep deprivation with our newborn! 🙂 One shortcoming, however, was the “updating” I needed to do to my breastpump, the Medela Pump In Style Advanced.
I bought this breastpump in 2011 and used it fairly regularly for about a year. So for about the past two years then, it’s hung out, unused, in a corner of my closet. I knew I’d need it again when Baby G was born (she recently arrived!), for those times when I needed help feeding her. When I pulled it out, though, I noticed that the breastmilk collection and storage pieces (e.g., the breastshields and bottles) looked “cloudy,” possibly stained with old milk.
I talked with two family members who work in the medical field and read some articles online to come up with the following tips for breastpumping for your next baby, especially if you haven’t used your breastpump in a while.
Tip No. 1: Buy new breastmilk collection and storage pieces. Everyone agrees on this one. Over time, bacteria and/or mold can build up on these pieces. I replaced my Medela breastshields, valves, membranes, and tubing with this Maymom kit. Maymom doesn’t sell Medela-compatible storage bottles, so I bought these Medela-branded bottles at my local grocery store (HEB here in San Antonio). So far, all of these new pieces are working well.
Tip No. 2: Consider buying new bottles. The jury is mixed on this one. Some sources say that you can safely reuse old bottles after cleaning them, while others recommend starting afresh with new bottles. Ultimately, I decided to start afresh, replacing my 3½-year-old First Years Breastflow Starter Set with the exact same kind. For $16, I have peace of mind (priceless, for me!) knowing that Baby G is getting my milk from a fresh source.
Tip No. 3: Wash everything before using it. The collection and storage pieces, the bottles, the bottle brush—everything. Both the Maymom and First Years products have detailed instructions about how to properly clean and sanitize the pieces.
Tip No. 4: When you wash the two pieces of Maymom tubing, it’s possible that some water will get stuck within the tubing. To get the water out, run your breastpump for a few minutes without expressing milk—simply run it with the tubes exposed to the air, so that the water will dry out.
Tip No. 5: Your health insurance may cover the cost of a new breastpump for you—look into it! Some helpful resources include (a) this page from the HealthCare.gov website, (b) Medela’s “Insurance Pump Lookup” page, and (c) this New York Times blog post.
Tip No. 6: Remember to stock up on other breastpumping essentials. For example, these Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags and these Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags—for after expressing milk! The first time I expressed milk for Baby G, I didn’t have any Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags. Luckily, a Breastflow bottle acted as my storage substitute that time.
Tip No. 7: Refresh yourself on breastmilk storage safety guidelines. La Leche League International offers this wonderfully helpful resource. This webpage details “Storage Guidelines” as well as “What Type of Container to Use” and “How to Warm the Milk.” The Mayo Clinic provides this additional resource, too.
Tip No. 8: Ask for help if needed. You may have a question that the Internet, including my blog post here, doesn’t have an answer for! Sometimes it’s best to chat with a professional, rather than check in with a website.
Here in San Antonio, a variety of sources exist to help breastfeeding and breastpumping mothers. One that I know and have turned to is the Mother’s Milk First Lactation Center, part of the Baptist Health System. Your city may have similar services; try Googling “breastfeeding help [INSERT CITY]” to locate them.
Tip No. 9: Take care of yourself. Breastpumping, like breastfeeding, is both rewarding and demanding. Drink lots of water and eat well. Rest when (if?!) possible. Most importantly, do what makes the most sense for you and your family—try not to stress.
Good luck, friends. ❤
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