There is a large market for selling second-hand personal use breast pumps. While I do understand the financial benefits to purchasing a used breast pump, especially if your health insurance provider doesn’t cover one, there are a lot of health risks associated with using a single use breast pump that was utilized by someone else. This risk increases when you buy or borrow the pump from someone you don’t know. So before you make the decision to use a hand-me-down breastpump, we hope you’ll read about the potential hazards and take the necessary precautions for your health and health of your baby.

Hospital grade pumps = closed system for multiple users

Hospital grade breast pumps are made to be used by more than one person. These pumps are designed with parts and pieces that are dismantled and professionally sterilized, making them safe for another person to use. On the other hand, personal use electric breast pumps are not designed for multiple users. Hospital grade breast pumps are equipped with “closed” systems that prevent the backflow of milk into motor parts, ensuring that during the sterilization process, any bacteria or microorganisms from the previous user are removed. In contrast, many personal use electric breast pumps do not have closed systems. Even if the personal use electric breast pump does have a “closed system,” the pump is not designed to be sterilized throughout.

Pathogen transmission in breast milk

Pathogens like cytomegalovirus (a form of Herpes), hepatitis and HIV are found in the breastmilk of infected mothers. Even if you’re buying or borrowing the breast pump from a close friend, these pathogens can exist for long periods of time in their hosts without being detected. While no documented cases of transmission of these viruses through the use of a second-hand breast pump exist, that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t already happened or may happen in the future. Is buying a used personal use breast pump worth the health risk to your new baby?

FDA regulations

The FDA website states, “Only FDA cleared, hospital-grade pumps should be used by more than one person.” This is not a “rule” that breast pump manufacturers or distributors invented to increase their sales. This is a safety measure to prevent the transmission of disease. So, before you purchase a second-hand personal use breast pump from a friend or stranger, think twice. The price to purchase a breast pump, if not covered by your health insurance plan, is a lot less costly than endangering the health of your baby.

Benefits of breastfeeding

Research has shown that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for you and your baby. Breastfeeding, for any length of time during your baby’s first six months of life, has a host of benefits. Your breastmilk provides your baby with all the essential vitamins and nutrients necessary for growth. In addition, breastmilk can help protect your baby from illness, prevent obesity, help prevent the development of allergies and even increase his/her intelligence. When a mother chooses to breastfeed, she reduces her risk for post-partum depression as well as ovarian and breast cancer.

Breastfeeding rates in the U.S

In 2014, there were approximately 3.9 million births in the United States. Of those 3.9 million births, approximately 3.3 million mothers expressed the desire to breastfeed their baby, and only 1.1 million actually achieved the goal of exclusively breastfeeding for a period of 3 months or more. That means that more than 2 million mothers that wanted to breastfeed ended up being unable to complete their goal.

If the obstacle for you is obtaining a breast pump for financial reasons, be sure to qualify for yours through insurance with Aeroflow Breastpumps. We can also assist moms with financial burden by accepting HSA/FSA payment plans or uncovered costs or when purchasing cash-pay. Did you know you can even save on the cost of a new breastpump by buying through a DME like Aeroflow, rather than the price at big-box retailers? Give us a call at 844-867-9890 to speak with a representative or qualify online for your breastpump through insurance today.

Written by Aeroflow Breastpumps Specialist Lauren Bennett, RN, BSN