Summer is here and that means longer days, vacations, and soaking up the sun. However, there's a downside to summer and it's called sweat. It makes your hair wet, skin sticky, and it trickles down to places you didn't know it could. When you're a pumping and/or nursing mom, sweat is not your friend. When sweat lingers in a warm area like the breast, it increases the chances of bacteria forming. To help you avoid bacteria growth and possible milk contamination, we've revamped an old blog post on 5 tips for pumping and nursing in the summer heat.
#1: Manage breast sweat
Breast sweat can be found on the top of your breast, on the sides and underneath. Sarah Long, IBCLC and Director of Clinical Operations at The Milk Bank, discourages applying creams and lotions, noting that chemicals in lotions and sweat can contaminate your milk. Reconsider using baby powder or breast deodorant to prevent sweating for the same reasons. If you can't take a quick shower, keep a towel with you to pat sweat off. You want to make sure your breasts are dry before you begin a pumping session.
#2: Wash your hands
Always remember to wash your hands before you pump. For milk donors, we recommend washing your hands with soap and warm water followed by drying with a clean paper towel or cloth and avoiding lotions or creams to decrease risk of milk contamination. If you're not near soap and water, hand sanitizer works.
#3: Clean your pump parts
Heat is a breeding ground for germs, so it's vital that you wash and dry your parts thoroughly. Before you wash your parts, give them a rinse under cool water to remove any milk protein residue.
Between pumping sessions, wash parts in warm, soapy water and rinse twice in hot water; then allow to air-dry on a paper towel. If you aren't able to wash parts between sessions, you can store them in a clean plastic bag in the refrigerator, which will help cut down on bacterial growth.
For milk donors, sterilizing is also important. You need to make sure you sterilize your pump parts at least once a day.
Check out our how-to video demonstrating how to clean your pump parts.
#4: Keep it cool
If you're planning to pump while traveling, make sure you pack an extra cooler and ice packs for your milk. If you can't get to a freezer during the day, use frozen gel packs instead of ice. According to Sarah Long, IBCLC and Director of Clinical Operations at The Milk Bank, using the gel packs instead of ice helps to prevent melting ice from coming in contact with the milk. Pack milk tightly in the cooler filling any empty spaces with crumpled paper, but put it in a freezer as soon as you can.
#5: Change often
If you're still wearing nursing pads, know that the summer temperatures warrant changing them more frequently. The moisture from sweat, leaking breast milk and body heat can put you at risk for yeast growth. Also, don't forget to rinse or wash your bras daily if you've sweated a lot.
We hope these tips help you this summer. Happy pumping/nursing!