All you experienced mamas and moms-to-be. I know breastfeeding is one of the most overwhelming things when it comes to having a newborn. It can also get to be very costly. If your insurance doesn’t cover a breast pump you may have considered buying a used one. If you are done with breastfeeding you may be looking to sell one that is adding to the clutter of your home. The question is can you sell a used breast pump?
Yes, of course you can sell an old breast pump, but perhaps a better question is should you? Breast pumps are considered a medical device. There are many things to consider ethically before you choose to sell an old breast pump. There are risks involved, but there can be big benefits for fellow moms. In this article we get into:
- Pros and cons of selling/buying a used breast pump
- How to sell/buy a used breast pump
- How to properly store a used breast pump
- How to recycle a used breast pump
Table of Contents
Is Buying/Selling a Used Breast Pump Safe?
According to the FDA breast pumps should only be used by multiple women if it is a multiple user pump. Most breast pumps are considered single user devices. The reason they are mostly considered single user devices is due to the fact that there is no guarantee the pump can be cleaned and disinfected between the use of multiple women. These are a few reasons why you should not use a single-user breast pump:
Infection Control: This can lead to spreading disease to your little one. Used breast pumps can start to brew infectious particles within the inner workings of the pump no matter how long it’s been since it was last used if not thoroughly cleansed and sterilized. It is sometimes impossible to completely clean and sterilize a single user device.
Those infectious particles can pass to the pumped milk that you are feeding your baby. Multi-use pumps typically have an additional barrier to avoid contamination of the actual pump and require new tubing and accessories to be purchased with each new user.
There is also an increased risk of you getting an infection. An infection of the breast (mastitis) can be so painful and complicate your breastfeeding journey.
Cancels Manufacture’s Warranty: Another down side is it invalidates the manufacturers warranty. If something happens to your breast pump it will no longer be the company’s responsibility to fix the problem.
Unknown: Additionally, using a previously used pump comes with a lot of uncertainty. It may look fine on the outside, but who knows what condition the pump is truly in. Maybe the previous owner didn’t use it properly or there could be some unseen issues with the pump. Maybe the pump has worn out. Who knows what you are getting yourself into, and that could complicate your breastfeeding experience.
I do understand that breast pumps are expensive and there is plenty of appeal to using a used breast pump or sell a lightly used pump. These are just things you should consider before purchasing a used breast pump or selling your own.
What are Your Rights?
The Affordable Care Act requires that all insurance providers MUST provide you with free breastfeeding equipment through their plan. If budget is a concern, please remember this is your right and your health insurance plan is required to not only provide the equipment needed but also breastfeeding support and counseling for the duration of breastfeeding. (You usually have up until 1 year after birth to cash in on these benefits if you have not yet).
This applies to all marketplace plans and all other health insurance plans, except a grandfathered plan.
So check with your insurance plan in advance to determine what kind of breast pump equipment you can get with your plan. Some questions you can ask are:
- What types and brands of breast pumps are covered?
- Do I need a prescription from my doctor?
- Can I get the pump through my insurance company before my baby is born?
- Do I need to work with a particular medical supply company to get a free breast pump?
They are required to cover the cost of a new breast pump or a rental (which should be a multi-user pump). If they don’t cover the cost of the pump you would like, often you will just have to pay the difference between what they would have paid of a lower model and the model you would prefer. Some insurance plans may have a stipulation on which types and brands of pumps they will cover so please ask these questions in advance.
What is a Multi User Pump?
These are breast pumps that have been certified by the FDA for multiple users. They typically have an additional barrier between the flange kit and the pump.
These pumps are very safe to use between different women, but you will still have to purchase a separate flange kit (breast shields and tubing) with each new user. These pumps are usually higher quality and more effective than your single-user pumps. Some people also refer to these pumps as “hospital grade pumps.”
Below are some great multi-user pump options within a variety of budgets. Multi-user pumps are typically more expensive than single-user pumps, therefore most mothers will get a single-user pump as they are typically going to be the only user. If you DO want to purchase a multi-user pump here are some great options:
Unimom Opera: This is a small/lightweight pump that is battery powered so you won’t be attached to a wall. It has two separate motors so you can pump both breasts at the same time with powerful suction. It also comes with a 3 year warranty. ~$600
Ameda Pearl: This pump is simple to use and understand with hospital grade power. It has a variety of settings, is small and portable running on battery power. Not yet available for the public.
Ardo Bellis: Very light weight pump that is small and compact. It comes with a variety of options depending on your pumping needs. Ultra easy to understand and runs on battery power. It will time your pumping sessions and has the power to provide the same suction when pumping both breasts as it does for one.
Spectra 3: If you know the Spectra 1 or 2 then this will be a familiar feel. It is basically the same as the Spectra 2 but has an additional barrier to make it safe for multiple users. It comes with a 3 year warranty. ~$900
Limerick Joy: One fun feature is this pump displays an affirmation every time you pump! It gives constant suction and has a lot of customizable options. It is very user friendly and is overall very gentle. It does have to be plugged into the wall as it doesn’t run on battery power. Another negative is that there is no stimulation or expression mode. ~$600
Rumble Tuff Breeze Pro: This is a super small compact breast pump that you could easily throw in any bag. It weighs only about 1lb. It is really easy to use with some impressive suction. If you are looking for an affordable multi use pump this is the one coming in at around $400
Unimom Minuet: Like the Rumble Tuff breast pump this is one that is friendly to both the budget and fits compactly in any bag. It weighs only 7 ounces. It has hospital grade suction strength in a tiny package. It can be easily portable with a variety of settings. It is the most affordable option in the multi-user category coming in at around $160
Can I Use My Old Pump From a Previous Pregnancy?
Yes you can use an old pump from a previous pregnancy. You should take some steps to store it properly in-between use. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of a new pump with each new pregnancy.
It is best to get a new cost free pump with each pregnancy to ensure optimal safety along with the added benefit of reliability and new technology.
If for some reason your insurance does not cover the cost of a new pump they should cover the cost of new parts for your old pump such as tubing and flanges.
How Do I Properly Store Pump for Future Use?
There can be some major benefits to keeping an old breast pump from a previous pregnancy. With two pumps you could keep one at home and one at work without having to pay for a second pump out of pocket. These simple steps will help you clean and sterilize your pump for your own future use.
Sterilize Pump and Parts
Take all parts such as flanges, membranes, breast shields, disks, nipples, and any other parts of your particular breast pump. Clean them with warm soapy water then place them in some cold water to rinse off any soap residue. Use a bottle brush to get the bottles and parts thoroughly clean.
Place them in warm boiling water totally submerged for 3-5 minutes to sterilize and let them air dry. Do not keep them in boiling water for longer than 3-5 minutes as it can warp the parts.
Wipe Down any Non Washable Parts
Wipe down all parts of the pump that is not washable to clean off any dirt or impurities. This includes the pump itself and charging parts. You can purchase wipes that are made for breast pumps or pumping accessories.
Once all parts are cleaned and sterilized place them in a zip lock bag or clean container to be stored. Store the pump and parts in a temperature controlled location. This means someplace clean, dry, and cool. So avoid places like the garage where it can get particularly cold or hot during certain times of the year.
Prep for Use Again
A month or two before you plan on using your pump again get it out. Clean and sanitize all the parts as you did before. Check to make sure it is working properly. Consider buying new parts if needed.
It is truly best practice to buy new pumping accessories as they may not be as effective long term but also do have a slight risk of becoming contaminated. Purchasing new pumping accessories for each new child is the gold standard.
How Can I Buy a Used Breast Pump Safely?
If you choose to buy a used breast pump as an extra pump or do not have coverage to get a free pump please do so with caution. Again there are some risks to purchasing a used breast pump. Your first choice should be a multi-user pump such as one of the pumps listed above.
The second best choice is choosing a single-user closed system pump. This is not cleared by the FDA as a safe choice because there is still a small risk that milk or blood(if mother has cracked nipples) could get into the pump causing contamination.
Closed system pumps typically have a protective diaphragm or filter that stops breast milk from getting into the tubing or pump but it is not 100% full proof. The multi-user pumps have an additional barrier along with the barrier of a closed system pump. Remember your warranty will be invalid in most cases when purchasing a used single-user closed system pump. Consider all these factors prior to making a purchase.
Pumps have a lifespan and the motors will begin to wear out. Talk openly with the owner of your used pump about how much it was used and how old it is. Check out the manufacturer’s recommendations about the life expectancy of the pump prior to purchasing. You don’t want to purchase a pump that has been heavily used and is near the end of it’s life span. Most single user pumps are going to perform at their best for about 3 years.
What If I Can’t Afford a Breast Pump?
If cost is an issue consider reaching out to programs such as WIC or state health departments. Many will offer some sort of assistance programs to help you purchase or rent a breast pump. So contact your state’s health department.
There are often other lactation programs locally that may be able to provide assistance as well. Contact a local lactation consultant or your doctor for possible referrals. These professionals want to support you the best they can with your breastfeeding experience and are likely familiar with programs in your area.
Finally, renting a pump is also a great option. It is safe and if something happens to your pump it can be traded out for another. This will allow you to continue with your breastfeeding experience.
What Do I Do With an Old Breast Pump?
The most ethical thing to do with an old breast pump is to recycle it. If you are like most mothers your pump is a single user pump. In those cases it just isn’t safe to resell that pump to another breastfeeding mom. To avoid sending it to the landfill do your best to recycle as much of it as possible.
How Can I Recycle My Old Breast Pump?
It is best to reach out to your pump manufacturer to determine if they will recycle the pump. Modela has a recycling program that will not only take back your old breast pump but donate a breast pump to a mom in need.
Their Modela Recycles program is partnered with the Ronald McDonald House to support NICU moms beginning their breastfeeding experience by giving them a free breast pump.
Hygeia also refurbishes old pumps that can be reused or recycles them appropriately. They also recycles all the different membranes and other recyclable parts.
If your manufacturer does not recycle their old pumps consider checking out any local curbside electronic or appliance recycling programs to get rid of your old pump safely.
How Do I Sell or Donate My Old Breast Pump?
If you have a single pump open system do not sell your breast pump. It is not safe to reuse these pumps as it puts other mothers and babies at risk. A closed system single user pump is a safer option but please be open with buyers in your posting so they know what they are getting. Again the FDA only recommends multi-use pumps as a safe option for more than one user.
You can post your pump on local selling marketplaces such as Facebook, Craigslist, eBay, or other marketplaces. Follow these tips to be a honest and trustworthy seller:
- Sanitize and clean the pump prior to selling
- Take note of any broken or missing parts and be open about that in your listing. Include whether you have had any issues or replaced any parts.
- Price your pump appropriately based on the age and how much use it has gotten
- It is best to record a video and show the pump operating, that it is clean, and how it will be packaged to give buyers peace of mind.
- Be clear that the warranty is no longer valid if it is a single user pump. If it is a multi-user pump contact the manufacturer to determine if the warranty is still valid before making any warranty promises.
- Use dependable and sanitary packaging if shipping.
- Use pay pal or other services to accept payments.
- Deliver it on-time or even early in case any issues arise.
Make sure that you are not hiding anything and you are open and honest about what you are selling so another mom can know exactly what she is getting.
Motherhood is an exhilarating experience and comes with a lot of twists and turns. Your breast pump may just become your trusty companion in this experience. When you are done breastfeeding you may think, “can I sell a used breast pump?” “It could be a huge help to other moms,” but there are risks to selling some breast pumps. Consider the risks and benefits before you choose to buy or sell a used breast pump. Be responsible when selling your used breast pump and recycle if selling isn’t the right thing for you!
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.