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When the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released its new breast pump cleaning recommendations, a lot of working moms were left wondering how they could possibly follow them. After all, when you’re pumping in your car, you don’t exactly have access to hot water—let alone a separate wash basin just for pump parts.


To clear up the confusion about how the new breast pump cleaning recommendations should apply to working mothers of otherwise healthy babies, we reached out to Mark A. Underwood, Chief of Pediatric Neonatology and Professor of Pediatrics at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

He told Motherly the new CDC breast pump guidelines may not be helpful for moms supplying for healthy, full-term babies: “My advice is to find a sustainable approach that fits a mom’s circumstance.”

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The case that sparked the new recommendations involved a baby girl born at 29 weeks gestational age. When the baby was a few weeks old, she fell ill after her mother’s personal breast pump was contaminated by bacteria found in the home kitchen sink drain. With a birth weight of just 3 lbs., the little girl’s immune system wasn’t as strong as that of a healthy, full-term baby and she developed severe meningitis from the infection.

According to Dr. Underwood, the CDC and FDA create guidelines like those this case sparked to protect the largest number of babies from the worst possible outcomes—but not all babies require extreme levels of sanitation.

Dr. Underwood explained following the CDC guidelines is prudent for mothers pumping for premature babies or those with immune deficiencies, but other moms can relax. He said, “If she is pumping for a healthy term infant this level of detail to cleaning and sterilizing equipment may not be helpful.”

While the cautious approach outlined in the CDC guidelines is designed to minimize the risk of infection, Underwood says the flip-side of the coin is the evidence that too much sanitation is actually harmful for most healthy babies.

“[It] can increase risk of allergic and autoimmune diseases later in life,” he says, adding that studies that have shown fewer incidents of allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease in children raised on farms and in children raised without dishwashers.

We also reached out to the CDC for clarification on how the new guidelines should apply to working moms of healthy babies.

“Refrigerating used pump parts between uses might be OK if the pump kit is not contaminated,” Brittany Behm, Public Affairs Specialist for the CDC said in an statement emailed to Motherly. “But cleaning the pump kit after each use is the safest method and is particularly important for babies who are younger than 2 to 3 months old, were born prematurely or have weakened immune systems.”

Behm also discouraged the use of breast pump sanitizing wipes, which she said cannot adequately reach all the surfaces of pumps. Instead, she said cleaning the parts in a dishwasher or by hand is the CDC’s preferred post-pump sanitizing method.

She also expressed hope that workplaces will respond to the new guidelines with better options for pumping mothers. She said, “Ideally, workplaces would provide facilities and support for mothers to safely pump and store their milk.”

Unfortunately, that’s not reality for many of us—but working moms of healthy babies can take comfort in Dr. Underwood’s advice and just do the best we can with what we’ve got.

As he said, “Whatever approach allows a busy mom to continue to provide her breast milk, rather than switching to donor human milk or formula, in the end is going to be the most valuable.”

You are rocking this new-baby learning curve, mama! Even if you never changed a diaper pre-parenthood, you can probably now do that with one hand, in the dark and still half asleep.

While these early days can feel like you're just going through the motions of feedings and diaper changes, take heart, mama: You and baby are developing a strong, special bond—as those early smiles go to show. (Did you have to pick your heart up off the floor when your baby cracked a grin for the first time?)

As your baby continues to adjust to life outside the womb, you might start feeling more confident with this new chapter in life, too. Making the transition to "mama" for the first time is full of sweet moments, and you really should take heart that you are doing an incredible job.

As you continue to adapt to parenthood, here are some of the items we swear by (for you and baby) for the 2-month mark:

To introduce nursery naptime: Infant Optics video baby monitor

baby monitor

You know that nursery you designed and decorated during pregnancy? It's probably been sitting unused while baby is bunked up in your bedroom per the AAP's recommendation. If you're now ready to put them down for naps in their nursery crib, a good video monitor can help ease your mind.

$165.99

To free up your hands: Infantino 4-in-1 carrier

baby carrier

As you and your little buddy get into a comfortable rhythm, a carrier that is also comfortable for you both is priceless. We love carriers that allow babies to face inward for snuggling and snoozing while you take care of things around the house, or outward as they get older and want to observe.

$29.99

To take on tummy time sessions: Fisher Price play dome

Fisher price on the go dome

Now that your baby is awake for longer stretches of time, a colorful and comfortable play space is a must-have. Make it even more fun by getting down on baby's level to serve as a cheerleader during tummy time sessions!

$59.99

To look and learn: High-Contrast Books Cluck and Moo

baby books

During the first three months of life, infants have an easier time focusing on shades of black or white and can only see a few inches beyond their faces. That makes a high-contrast book that you can read with them a perfect source of visual stimulation.

To soothe with lullabies: Hatch Rest sound machine

Hatch Rest

It's no coincidence your little one drifts off to sleep better when there is some soothing background noise. After all, they spent months and months listening to ambient noise in the womb!

$59.99

To keep it comfy + stylish: Ingrid + Isabel postpartum leggings

postpartum leggings

Simply put, high-waisted leggings are a gift to postpartum mamas during that limbo period when maternity clothes are too loose and pre-pregnancy clothes aren't quite right. We are so grateful to live in an era when leggings are considered stylish, no matter how long you choose to wear them.

$34.99

To help the nursing mama’s wardrobe: Ingrid + Isabel nursing tanks

nursing tanks

For breastfeeding mamas, feeding baby requires some easy access to the milk supply. Our pro tip is to stock up on nursing-friendly tanks and tops so you can feed your baby without halfway undressing.

$24.99

To get a sharable diaper bag: Eddie Bauer backpack

backpack

Where baby goes, so too should supplies—even if it's just a neighborhood stroll. We're partial to backpacks that are roomy and comfortable to carry.

$64.99

To give yourself a little TLC: Honest Mama soaking salts

honest mama

Put an at-home spa session on your schedule, mama. Draw a bath, add some aromatic soaking salts and an eye mask—and enjoy this important moment of self-care.

$14.99

To put a little pep in your step: A New Day sneakers

new day sneakers

When life means constantly balancing all the things, slide-on sneakers are both practical and super cute. We'll take a pair in each color!

$24.99

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.

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The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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