For many of the moms that I work with, their breast pump becomes an almost constant companion. They get schlepped from home to work to carpool lane to church to business trips and back home again. I had to giggle recently at this fantastic tweet from Carson Daly, bragging on his wife who, at 2 weeks postpartum, was toting her breast pump to the Emmys!
For all the hard work they do for us (and all the MUCH harder work we, as moms, do to MAKE the milk), they deserve some care to keep them working at their best. Here are a few suggestions to keep your breast pump in top notch condition:
Read the Manual
I know this one seems obvious but I’m sure I’m not alone as a chronic “toss the manual in a drawer” kind of girl. However, to make your breast pump work for YOU, take some time to read how the manufacturer intended it to work. You’ll likely learn something new.
Sanitize and Wash Your Breast Pump Parts
Before you use your breast pump for the first time, make sure to sanitize all the parts that are going to touch you or your milk (flanges, collection containers, valves). You can do this either by boiling them or sanitizing them in the dishwasher. Unless you have a fragile baby and/or your doctor has advised you otherwise, this type of sanitizing isn’t necessary every day. Simply wash breast pump parts in warm, soapy water and air dry.
Keep Your Breast Pump Clean
All the outside of your breast pump needs is a quick wipe-down with a warm, damp cloth. Some moms like to swipe a disinfecting cloth over top from time to time as well. If the outside of the bag gets dirty, you can wipe it down in the same manner. The tubes don’t require any special cleaning. If you see condensation inside, allow your breast pump to run for a few minutes after pumping to allow them to air out. If you own a Hygeia EnDeare, take special care to not get the membrane (the part where the tubes attach to the pump) wet.
Be Kind to Your Battery
If your pump comes with an internal battery, be sure to charge the battery fully before using and allow it to completely discharge before charging again. Charging the battery and then using only part of the charge before plugging it back into wall power will decrease the life of your battery. If you know you are not going to use the battery for more than two weeks, put a few minutes of charge on the battery and then be sure to discharge it completely before charging again.
Avoid Extreme Temperatures
We’ve all done it…left something important in our vehicle during a sweltering day or in the dead of winter. Just like you wouldn’t be comfortable in these conditions, neither is your breast pump. Take it inside.
Replace Valves and Membranes and Check the Suction
Just like our vehicles, sometimes our breast pumps have a little hiccup and aren’t performing quite as they should. If you experience this, make sure to first check the valves and membranes for rips or misalignment. Look closely…do they just seem like they are at the end of their life? If so, replace them. (You can find replacement parts for your Hygeia pump HERE). These parts require some gentle care and are essential for your breast pump to work the way it should. If replacing these doesn’t fix the problem, it would be wise to check the pump suction. Weak suction isn’t going to allow you to be the most efficient pumper that you can be. Many retailers and lactation consultants have gauges that will tell you if your pump is working at its ideal level.
Have Questions? Ask.
Above all, if something is funky with your pump, ask for help. If you own a Hygeia pump, please contact us at (888) 786-7466. We can help you to troubleshoot over the phone and, if need be, suggest a course of action to get your pump working again.