Getting a Used Breast Pump

on May 05, 2014 in Breastfeeding, Getting a Used Breast Pump

So you want or need a breast pump.  Maybe your best friend or sister-in-law offers you her “barely used” pump.  (I’ve heard that at least ten thousand times!)

What you may not know is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration designate most pumps as either “single user” pumps or “multiple user” pumps.  Multiple user pumps are most often-clinical grade rental pumps.  These pumps have barriers, which keep milk out of the pump and are therefore safe for mothers to use with their own milk collection kit. A few other purchased pumps, like the Hygeia pump, PJ’s Pump, the Melodi Pump, and Bailey Medical’s Nurture III pump (a semiautomatic pump), have been designated as multiple-user pumps because they too have a barrier keeping milk from entering the pump.

Despite these designations, many mothers will purchase a used pump on eBay; Craig’s List or use a friend or relative’s pump, not understanding the risks.  So what are the risks of using someone else’s pump? A used pump may transmit diseases like yeast, CMV or even HIV. A used pump can contain infectious particles and there is no way to disinfect a used pump.  It may be a small risk, but it’s simply not worth it!

So what if you borrow a friend’s pump and she is expecting it back?  The life of any single-user pump is limited.  So let’s say that you begin using a pump that starts to wear out?  You may not realize that this great “free” pump then ends up costing you your milk supply.  Or maybe the pump breaks down, and then you need to purchase a new pump for yourself plus replacing your friend or relative’s pump.

I offer mothers a “pump check-up”.  Sometimes the pump is the mother’s own pump; other times a borrowed pump.  When I open the pump, it is not unusual to see mold growing on the inside of the pump.  When I test the pump’s pressure, it is also common to find that the pressures have dropped to ineffective levels.  For a mother who may depend on the pump frequently, she may find that her milk supply drops while her baby is still very dependent on her milk. Some pumps are meant to function well for a certain number of hours before the suction begins to falter or fails completely.  A mother, new to this used pump, maybe unaware of its low suction levels and finds her supply dropping.

Should you have health insurance, know that most companies are required under the Affordable Care Act, to provide you with a breast pump.  Before having your baby or shortly there after, call them about getting a pump. Most likely if they are required to provide you a pump, free of cost, they will give you the number of their DME, or Durable Medical Equipment Company.  The DME will most likely offer you a choice of pumps.  You can find out the names of the best pumps in “The Nursing Mother’s Companion”.  I have a very complete review of most pumps on the market including which ones are the most effective.  Sometimes, the DME will allow you to upgrade your pump with co-pay.  Renting a pump is generally not covered unless your baby is sick or has a birth defect and you get a prescription from the baby’s doctor.

Low-income mothers, who are enrolled in the WIC Program, may have access to a pump if they are having feeding difficulties, or are returning to work or school.

Bottom line; purchase your own pump, rent a pump, or check with your WIC office about getting your very own pump!  And keep in mind that the cost of a pump is always less that the cost of infant formula.