Dirty Medela Pump Membrane

Do you know that you have to clean the membrane of your Medela breast pump? I never knew this until I had finished breastfeeding my children. I had my Medela Pump in style for more than 4 years. I had used it for El, and I used the same one for Gar. I did not know that the cover could be popped open, and that we need to clean the membrane.

I had just read this online, that Medela used the open system, which means that dust, dirt and milk could get into the membrane, and we are supposed to clean it often. I had never cleaned it until today.

medela pump in style

medela pump in style

Immediately, I ran to my room and checked it. To my horror, when I opened it, the back cover was dusty. Even the cover itself was dirty outside. The membrane was a shocking black mess. I could not clean it with a tissue, and the wet tissue was useless. That was probably mould.

Mouldy Breast Pump Membrane

Mouldy Breast Pump Membrane

I had only known that the Medela breast pumps were supposed to be single-user, but I did not know they were actually more for single use. I had only replaced the valve. I did not replace the tubing even though it had yellowed, as the shop I went to was out of stock. We were not supposed to wash the tubings.

I feel quite sick that I had been using this for such a long time.

None of my friends who had recommended me Medela told me I had to clean it. I guess I did not read that in the instruction manual. Thank goodness Gar did not have any major issues. He has been quite healthy so far, except for the episode where he was hospitalised for croup. I am really shocked. Actually, I hope there is no relation between the two, because I was probably stretching the pumps by then.

I am writing this to warn more mothers who are breastfeeding.

Other brands that are closed systems include Ameda, but I thought it was not strong enough.

Nursing Gar- A Closed Chapter

I had breastfed Gar for 20 months, and finally weaned him off. As a second time mother, I was more experienced this time. I did not pump milk in the beginning, and simply latched Gar all the time. My milk supply was adequate and so he was fully breastfed.

It is quite sad to know how some mothers could not continue to breastfeed their babies, due to various reasons. However, a happy mother is more important than a breastfed baby, so it is really up to the mothers.

I guess I have been lucky to have a good confinement nanny who helped solved my problem of engorgement in the first days when she used a hot stone to get the blocked ducts cleared. I had learnt that to breastfeed successfully, you need to have enough liquid, and calories, so that you have sufficient output. I had lots of milo, red date drinks, big bowls of soups during meals, Bulur Hitam (black glutinous rice), in the first month. Demand creates supply, so keep latching.

The Gina Ford books had hindered my attempts in the past. I had tried to follow scheduled feeding instead of on demand feeding, and it was quite a miserable time. I was also expressing my milk then, and not getting enough latching.

With Gar, I was much more successful. I had also learnt how to massage and clear the blocked ducts. I had access to a group of mothers who were very pro-breastfeeding too, so we encouraged each other and entertained each other with our funny tales.

My Medela double breastpumps – PISA were great too. I don’t know how some people could hand express successfully into a bottle without getting the milk everywhere, or use manual pump that were so taxing on wrists and arms.

However, there were problems. Gar was extremely sensitive to the food I had. If I had milo at night, tea, brownie, coke or curry, he would be wide awake. He had very regular sleeping hours, but those nights when he was awake, no amount of latching would suffice. With lots of trial and error, I had finally realised those food were bad for him.
We had an improved nursing room in my office, and I was very glad that we had proper places to express. Some friends had to make do with undesirable places.

I would never latch in public, even if many mothers are doing that. I just feel self-conscious, especially with a son that would lift up my shirt and look around. Since I seldom went out, the places I had chosen usually had good nursing rooms. In the past, I had to hide in the car. Some places were really disgusting. I had fed them in toilets before. There was one time I had to squat, and I ended up aching everywhere.

I thought that if I could latch Gar, he would go back to sleep if he wakes up at night. Hence, I delayed nursing. I had a colleague who told me she had nursed for 18 months, so I used that as a guide. Starting from 17 months, I stopped expressing, and slowly cut down. Over a period of 3 months, I had finally stopped.

At first, I thought that Gar would miss it. After all, he would sometimes hold my finger and walk me to the bedroom, get me to carry him up to the bed, and then ask to nurse. However, I gave him bottled milk and he was fine with it. In the first few days, he slept well, and would roll around and make himself sleep. However, there was one occasion when he woke up at 3 and refused to go back to sleep. Then the next day, he kept asking to be nursed, but I ignored him.

It is a little sad, but this chapter has closed, and I can finally drink bubble tea. Unfortunately, I guess I have become caffeine intolerant, and is still wide awake at 1am.

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