Used Breast Pumps

The concern of buying a used pump is something many breastfeeding moms encounter. Although a used pump may be more affordable than a new one, there are real health implications involved.

The practice of re-using single user pumps may be dangerous because some disease organisms are know to be present in the breast milk of infected women. Additionally, if a woman has used the breast pump during an episode of cracked bleeding nipples, blood contamination may have also occurred. Home sterilization methods are not always reliable to ensure the safe destruction of all pathogens especially in the rubber parts such as washers and diaphragms. Some pumps have internal diaphragms that cannot be removed and cleaned or replaced. In addition, even if you get a new collection kit (the part the touches your breast and collects the milk) it may be possible for air-born pathogens or droplets of milk that are not visible to the naked eye to get into a pump motor and cause contamination to the next user. Most single user pumps are "open system" pumps and do not have any protective barrier to prevent cross contamination to multiple users.

Many of the diseases that can be found in the milk of infected women are very serious or life threatening. Pathogens like Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and others can be found in the breastmilk of infected women. (Lawrence 94) These diseases frequently go undetected for long periods of time, so even if the former user of the pump is trustworthy and willing to share this personal health information with you, she may not be aware she or her partner are carriers. Though there have not been any documented cases of mothers or babies being infected through the use of a second-hand pump, I don't believe sharing single user pumps is worth even a very small or theoretical risk.

Other very difficult to clear fungal infections like candidiasis, more commonly known as yeast or thrush, may also be transmitted. Yeast organisms are very stubborn pathogens that can live on surfaces for long periods. Some lactation consultants will go as far as recommending replacing old pump equipment when working with a mom who has an especially persistent yeast infection because of the difficult in ensuring the complete destruction of the fungus even with careful cleaning.

In addition to the health risks of borrowing a pump there are ethical ones as well. I have worked with several moms who purchased or borrowed a used pump from a friend or relative, only to have that pump break or stop operating while they were using it. These moms then felt obligated to purchase a new pump,if it was a borrowed pump, the new pump had to be returned and the mom had spent a lot of extra money that she didn't need to. The approximate cost to formula feed a baby for one year is $2,300.00 , a new breast pump is very reasonable compared to that price.

Most breast pumps come with a one year warranty, but this only applies to the original owner, any sharing of the pump negates the warranty.

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

The following pumps are are designed to be used by multiple users:

These pumps operate on a "closed system", meaning that it is impossible for milk reach the motor, hence these are safe to be used my multiple mothers.

Hollister Elite® Hollister Lact-e®

Hollister SMB® Breast pump®

Medela Classic® Breast pump

Medela Lactina® Breast pump

Medela Symphony® Breast pump

Bailey Nurture III®

Hygeia EnJoye


Above list subject to change, please consult the FDA site for the most up to date information.

All other pumps are desigened to be single user pumps and shoud not be shared. Please note that even pumps that cost over $100.00 to $300.00 are still single user pumps.

From the FDA Website

Should I Buy a Used Breast Pump or

Share a Breast Pump?

"You should never buy a used breast pump or share a breast pump."

Only FDA cleared, hospital-grade pumps should be used by more than one person. With the exception of hospital-grade pumps, the FDA considers breast pumps single-use devices. That means that 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.

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, such as HIV or hepatitis.

Buying a used breast pump or sharing a breast pump may be a violation of the manufacturer’s warranty and you may not be able to get help from the manufacturer if you have a problem with the pump."

FDA Breastpump Website

Websites on Used Breast Pumps.....

Breastpumps - Don't Be Mislead - Get the Facts (FDA)

Where to report a faulty or painful Breastpump

Are Used Breastpumps a Good Option?

Search for FDA Approved Pumps

Written by: Cindy Curtis,RN,IBCLC,CCE,CD

Updated 01/19/13

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