Should You Buy a Used Pump?

Smart moms shop around and look for bargains. In order to save money when breast pumping, more of my clients are buying used breast pumps or borrowing pumps from friends or family. When buying items for the nursery and other baby gear, hand-me-downs are often as good as new and can save you a lot of money. If you’ll be pumping frequently, the equipment you need is important. When researching the purchase of a breast pump, think twice about buying used or sharing with a friend.

New, professional grade breast pumps (meant to be used when mom is back at work or is breast pumping instead of breastfeeding) can cost as much as 400 dollars, so cost is definitely a consideration. Even the most expensive pump, however, is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of formula. Infant formula can cost from $1500 to $2300 per year. So when you buy a high-quality pump in order to give your baby pumped breast milk instead of formula, you are actually saving money!

When you are planning to pump your milk for your baby, you want to make sure you have a reliable machine. Breastfeeding moms who need to be separated from their babies for work or school depend on breast pumping every day. Breast pumps do have warranties, but most are not transferable. So if you have a used pump, you have no warranty. In addition, you have no idea how long a used pump will function. When it fails and you still need to pump, you will need to buy or rent another breast pump.

A used breast pump has been USED. Keep in mind that a running motor does not guarantee the pump’s effectiveness. The vacuum may have diminished over time, causing it to be ineffective or inefficient. Most moms don’t really enjoy breast pumping under the best of circumstances. An ineffective pump can make the process not only frustrating, but painful. In addition, it may result in decreased milk production, increase the use of formula and, ultimately, necessitate buying a new pump.

Perhaps you’re thinking of simply borrowing a pump from a friend, with the intention of returning it after your breast pumping days are over. Think about this: When you borrow a pump from a friend, you are further diminishing the pump’s life-span. What if it stops working altogether while it’s in your possession? You will need to purchase a new one to continue pumping and/or to ensure you return a functional pump to your friend.

Check with your insurance company about coverage for breast pumps. Many plans will reimburse you for your purchase.Find out the details of insurance coverage for breast pumps. Your insurance company may need a referral from your health care provider.

Most of my clients who start out with used pumps, end up buying a new one anyway. Clearly, used breast pumps are not the bargain that they appear to be! Even so, many moms will still choose to use a pre-owned pump to save money. Before you make that choice, make sure you understand the health risks of breast pumping with a used pump.

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 breast milk collection kit and the pump motor. If a mother was breast milk pumping 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. Unfortunately, the previous pump owner or her partner could have been a carrier for such a disease without having any symptoms. It’s possible that even though you thoroughly screen the previous owner and know and trust her, it may be unsafe for you to use for breast pumping.

When my clients purchase used pumps, they always assure me, “I bought a new pump kit so I know it’s safe. All the parts that touch the pumped breast milk are brand new and sterilized.” 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. Some moms have found mold under the diaphragm between the tubing and the motor. Even though there are no documented cases of mothers or babies being infected by breast pumping with 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)

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What about rental pumps for breast pumping? Hospital-grade rental pumps are closed systems and can be safely shared. They are specifically designed for breast milk pumping by multiple users. There is a barrier between the milk and the motor. They are also bigger, heavier and sturdier than professional grade pumps.

So what can you do if you want to save money when when buying a pump? Here’s the good news: All Hygeia breast pumps are FDA approved as multi-user pumps. There is an ingenious, inexpensive filter between the pump kit and the motor that virtually eliminates the risk of cross-contamination when more than one woman uses the pump. Hygeia pumps are effective, affordable AND shareable! All Hygeia professional-grade pumps come with a 3-year, transferable warranty. That means if you use your pump for a year and you are through breast pumping, you can pass it on (with a new filter, of course!) to your friend who just had a baby and the warranty is still in effect! If you’re interested in purchasing a Hygeia pump, or have questions, contact Renee in Seattle at (206) 356-7252 or purchase a Hygeia pump online with free shipping.

See also, “Hygeia Breast Pumps: Why I Made the Switch”

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