Should you sell/share your lightly used Breast Pump?

Many insurances now are covering the cost of a breast pump, which is great! However, not all moms use their breast pumps much so it seems there is a surplus of lightly used breast pumps floating around.

It’s hard to want to just throw away or recycle such a valuable device, especially if it was only used a few times. Even if it was heavily used, many generous mothers are wanting to give them to expecting friends and family.

Aside from sanitary reasons, here’s a few other things to consider before you give away or sell your used breast pump.

Closed vs. Open System

A hospital-grade pump is intended for multi users. These are VERY expensive breast pumps and come apart completely with the ability to be thoroughly sterilized between users. They are a closed system pump with some extra features as well.

An open system pump means there is nothing between the milk and the motor so it’s possible to get tiny droplets of milk and condensation deep inside. It is NOT possible to sterilize the inside of an open system pump.

A closed system pump means there is a barrier between the milk flow and the pump motor, like a backflow protector. It prevents milk from entering the tubing and the system, thus the name “closed pump system”.

So can all closed pumps be shared? No. There is a difference between a closed system pump and a multi-user pump. You can never fully sterilize a pump (even a closed system pump) that’s not intended for multi-users.

Several harmful diseases can be spread directly through breastmilk. Cracks or bleeding nipples happen to many mothers as well, so along with the breastmilk that lingers you may also have blood particles. Even if it’s a family member or trusted friend, the risks of HIV, hepatitis, and cytomegalovirus are just not worth it. All of these things can be passed through breastmilk from a used breast pump.

The FDA states “Only FDA cleared, hospital-grade pumps should be used by more than one person.”

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Motor Life

This is the SECOND most important thing to consider aside from sanitary/health reasons before sharing a pump!

Even if the pump was lightly used, the motor might not be as effective as it should be, which can cause decreased output. How can you tell if you have a true low supply problem or if the motor on your used pump is just wearing out? The precious milk supply you’ve worked hard to establish is worth buying a new pump!

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Voids Warranty

A personal use pump is intended for a single user unless it is specifically a hospital-grade, multi-user pump. It’s likely that your pump is NOT hospital-grade since they usually cost thousands of dollars.

While it is uncommon to actually use the warranty of any product, it’s important to note that the manufacturer doesn’t recommend sharing these pumps. Why? For many of the reasons listed here.

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Selling Breast Pumps from Your Insurance

No need to spend much time here, but if you’re trying to sell the breast pump that you received for free through your insurance company, that may not be the most honest thing to do. It’s not worth the little extra cash now to sell your used pump to another mom which may end up causing her problems. If your pump didn’t cost you anything and you’re finished with it, say a quick thank you to it (Marie Kondo style) and then recycle it!

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But, the cost difference…

I know breast pumps can be expensive, but there are many many benefits to getting your own new breast pump. If you’re in the US, check with your insurance company! As part of the Affordable Care Act, most insurances now are covering the cost of a breast pump for you and often a visit with a lactation consultant as well. Utilize both of these! Simply call your insurance provider to find out or read more about how to get a free pump through your insurance company here.

There are also several cheaper options you can use instead if the cost of an electric pump is just too much for you. Manual hand pumps are inexpensive and work very well. They take a little longer, but the cost savings is fantastic. I usually recommend moms get a hand pump in addition to their electric pump anyway!

Now, a ZERO cost option! You can actually hand express milk using only your hands. This option may take the longest, but it’s definitely doable with a little practice. Some moms use this as their only form of expression and avoid artificial pumps altogether. Here’s a video tutorial on how to hand express milk.

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Suppressing the desire to help

I know it’s hard and the desire to help other moms is strong! Which is good! The world needs more people helping each other, especially when it comes to childbirth and breastfeeding. You’ve been there and you know how challenging new motherhood can be, but instead of giving away your used breast pump, try to find other ways to help a new postpartum mom.

Even with good intentions, it doesn’t feel good when your friend or family member is having breastfeeding struggles and now you’re wondering if it’s because of the pump you gave her. Try gifting other pumping supplies for her new pump instead! You could also give any unopened supplies you have left over for milk storage, breastmilk collection, or other similar items. Just skip giving the actual breast pump.

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Recycle

If you need some information on what to do with your used pump, check the manufactures website for recycling options. You can also recycle it at your local recycling center in the electronics section.

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~ All things for you and your new little life ~

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