Think again before accepting secondhand breast pumps! April 28, 2015 15:35

After our last post about saving money on baby things you really don't need here, we received a ton of questions - and now, we're really inspired to come up with a list of baby things you shouldn't buy secondhand.

In the meantime though, I feel that I really need to deal with the topic of used breast pumps now!

Well-meaning friends and family pass their breast pumps on to new parents.  In parenting groups and forums, used breast pumps are a commonly traded commodity due to their relative cost.  What isn't said enough though is that you really need to be careful about accepting or buying secondhand breast pumps!  And yes, this advice applies even if you're planning to get a new set of tubings and parts for the breast pump.

Most commercial-grade breast pumps are meant for single-user usage only, and the reason for this is that they are constructed in a way where the pump motor is open to contact with the mother's milk particles.  That means the pump motor (which you cannot replace) can hoard milk particles and/or viruses from the previous mom.  Which also means, each time you pump, the previous owner's old milk particles etc get blown into your newly-expressed milk!  (It's like brushing with someone else's toothbrush - but worse.)

[To fully flesh out my point, I ask you to check out this old but incredibly enlightening blog post here - if you have the stomach for it.]

If you are looking at taking a used breast pump, check first that it is a model that is specified for multi-user usage (I use Hygeia's Enjoie).  And if it's not, I'd recommend turning it down for the health and safety of your baby.

As an aside, think twice before committing to an expensive breast pump.  If you intend to nurse a fair bit and don't need to pump large volumes of milk regularly, you may not actually need one!  In fact, hand expression can be more efficient for small volumes (I know, I absolutely did not believe the tip-off too until I tried it) and saves you the hassle of cleaning all the parts!  

So I'd say, wait till you know what your needs are before deciding if a breast pump's for you (and how much to pay for it).  You have time - it's not like you'll be pumping from day one, afterall.

And while you are amassing all manner of things in preparation for baby's arrival, find out why it is important to pick a safe and non-toxic diaper here!


Useful websites:

(1) La Leche League International: Are Used Breast Pumps a Good Option?

(2) Breastfeeding Online: Used Breast Pumps

(3) FDA: Breast Pumps: Don't be Misled - Get the Facts

(4) Medela: Can I buy or borrow a pre-owned breastpump?