Archive for April, 2011

Sharing Breastpumps: Is it Safe?

April 26, 2011

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Smart moms shop around and look for bargains. And when we’re talking about items for the nursery and other new baby gear, hand-me-downs are often as good as new and can save you a lot of money. When it comes to purchasing a breast pump, however, think twice about buying used or sharing with a friend.

The FDA defines breast pumps as single-use devices —not designed for sharing. Most professional-grade pumps are “open systems.” This means that there is no barrier between the milk collection kit and the pump motor. (Rental pumps are “closed systems” and designed for multiple users.) If a mother has used the pump when she has had cracked or bleeding nipples, or mastitis, it is possible that blood or bacteria may have entered the motor. According to the FDA, …”a breast pump should only be used by one woman because there is no way to guarantee the pump can be cleaned and disinfected between uses by different women.”  

In addition, pathogens from some infectious diseases can be found in human milk. Diseases such as hepatitis and cytomegalovirus (CMV) have serious health implications for you and your baby—but a mom may be unaware that she is infected. So even if you know and trust the previous owner of the pump, there is a risk that it is unsafe.

When my clients purchase used pumps, they always assure me, “I bought a new pump kit so I know it’s safe.” Unfortunately, buying a new kit is not the answer. It’s possible for tiny droplets of milk or air-born pathogens to get into the motor and cause cross contamination to the next user. Even though there are no documented cases of mothers or babies being infected via a second-hand pump, why take a risk? “You should never buy a used breast pump or share a breast pump…. The money you may save by buying a used pump is not worth the health risks to you or your baby. Breast pumps that are reused by different mothers can carry infectious diseases…” (FDA website)

Here’s the good news: All Hygeia breast pumps have FDA clearance as multi-user pumps. There is a filter between the pump kit and the motor that eliminates the risk of cross-contamination. Hygeia pumps are effective, affordable AND shareable! If you’re interested in purchasing a Hygeia pump, or have questions, contact me via phone or email.  

See also: “Are Used Breast Pumps a Bargain?”


Using Stored Breast Milk

April 16, 2011

The milk that we buy at the grocery store has been pasteurized and homogenized. The pasteurization process kills all the bacteria and live cells in the milk—making it safe for us to drink, but also less stable. Homogenizing the milk blends in the fat so that it doesn’t separate and float to the top. Most of us don’t have experience using fresh milk straight from the source. Fresh milk from any mammal—including humans—looks very different from the milk we buy at the store.

After your milk has been expressed and it has been sitting on the counter or in the refrigerator for a while, the fat will begin to separate. You may notice a thin layer of cream on top of milk that looks quite watery. That is perfectly normal. Your milk has not gone “bad.”

Since fat content varies by the time of day, the fat layer may range from just barely visible to a half-inch or more. Milk fat content also varies widely among mothers, so expect to see a difference. Any amount of fat you see in the milk is perfect! There is no need for concern that your milk isn’t “good enough” for your baby.

To Use Stored Milk:

  • Shake the milk gently before giving it to your baby in order to mix in the cream.  It’s normal to see little bits of fat floating in the milk after mixing.
  • If it’s been refrigerated, you can gently warm it to room temperature in a bowl of hot water. You may not even need to warm it! Many babies are just as happy with cold milk.
  • Frozen milk can be thawed in container of hot water.  If you have time, it can be thawed slowly in the refrigerator.
  • Never use a microwave to thaw or warm your milk. Important nutrients will be destroyed if the milk gets too hot.

For additional information, see Breast Milk Storage Guidelines.

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