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June 13th, 2011
08:01 AM ET

Is a used breast pump safe?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Asked by Andrea from San Francisco, California

I'm eight months pregnant and plan to breastfeed. I will go back to work after a few months and am thinking about getting a heavy-duty double breast pump, but the new ones are very expensive. Is it safe to buy or rent a used one? I'm worried about the germs that might be inside the pump but can't really afford a new one.

Expert answer

Thanks for your question, and congratulations! Breast pumps are actually regulated by the FDA, and the party line is that personal pumps are designed for single users (kind of like a toothbrush), but hospital-grade ones may be used by multiple women.

Most breast pumps are made up of an "open system" where the breastmilk flows through the breast shields, tubing and collection containers, but milk particles may also come into contact with parts of the machine. Multi-user pumps are "closed systems," in which the milk cannot enter the machine itself, and the tubing and other pieces may simply be changed between users.

If you plan to rent a pump or buy or borrow a used one, it's best to be sure it is the closed-system kind. Although viruses such as HIV cannot survive on surfaces for more than a few hours, there are other germs that can live for several weeks or years, even on dry objects. While it is normal for a baby to be exposed to his own mother's germs, it's important to minimize any unnecessary contact with other viruses or bacteria.

For pricier items such as breast pumps, new parents may opt to put them on a gift registry or see if friends and family members can chip in donations toward the purchase. The pump may also be covered under certain insurance plans or if you have a health savings account or flexible spending account.

Your state health department or local WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program may provide assistance as well; income eligibility requirements may apply. You could also consider a more affordable single or manual pump, although they are often less efficient than double electric ones.

Good luck!

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soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. cccc

    Has this person ever used or even seen a breast pump? I have yet to see a breast pump where the milk flows through the TUBING. That simply is not accurate- the tubing circulates the air that creates the suction. The milk flows from the breast, through the breast shield, through a membrane and then into the bottle. The tubing is about two to three feet long and only contains air. And when you buy or sell these pumps, you replace the tubing even though it has not come in contact with milk. I see this as one of those situations where the breast pump industry has had some good lobbyists influence the decisions of the FDA. If there are actual medical cases out there of babies who have become ill due to a used breast pump, I really wish they would publish that data. Too bad CNN allowed someone with no knowledge of breast pumps to write this story.
    By the way, I must admit, that most of these expensive breast pumps are carefully made by workers in the USA which would make me more willing to pay the exhorbitant price for a new one - if I could afford it. But I can't, so I've bought and sold on eBay and Craigslist.

    June 13, 2011 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Naomi

      I think what the doctor was talking about is when, on occasion, the pump gets blocked and instead of air pumping through the tubes, milk goes instead. It happened to me sometimes while pumping at work and didn't realize it until the milk got into the pump part (past the tubing) and it seemed like I couldn't conceivably clean it all out.

      June 13, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      I agree. Even if the milk would get all the way to the motor, which would seem unlikely, how could it possibly get back from the motor to the milk bottle. We got a used pump ourselves, we replaced the tubing just in case. However, we always felt safe. I think the people who sell them, always want you to buy new. It makes them a lot more money.

      June 13, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
    • Emme

      You clearly have no idea what you're talking about. I've actually seen the mold and bacteria inside a personal use Medela Pump in Style which so many moms love and love to lend out. It is absolutely gross.Even if its not milk, condensation and all sorts of other things mix with bacteria and make the pumps unsuitable for use. Look for closed systems. It usually says it on the packaging.

      June 13, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • techiegirl

      cccc
      I have a Medela pump and although the milk does not normally flow through the tubing, one time while I was pumping, I didn't realize my bottle had filled all the way up to the top and it actually got suctioned into the tubing. I didn't realize until my pump started making a funny noise and when I looked down, there was milk being suctioned all the way down the tubing and towards the pump. So, even though this is not what is supposed to happen, accidents happen and it is possible for milk to get into the tubing and into the pump.

      June 13, 2011 at 16:03 | Report abuse |
    • Joon

      http://happybabyusa.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/used-breastmilk-pumps-are-they-safe/

      I have written a piece with the same question. My conclusion is to buy FDA approved breastpump for multiple users. Period!

      June 14, 2011 at 07:34 | Report abuse |
    • CCOA

      I used Medela Pump In Style and Medela Swing with my eldest daughter who is now 2 y/o. Breast milk DOES enter the tubing. I don't know how it got there but it's my breast milk OK? So I dumped my old breast pump and settled for Ameda PY for my second baby who is now 4 months old and I'm happy with the closed system that my breast milk DOES NOT in any way entered the tubing. May be you should know what "open" or "closed" system in breast pumps is so you'd know what other moms like me experience on leakage.

      June 14, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse |
  2. CCCC - Are you sure?

    I used a breast pump for a year, and in a few months will start again. And I have seen numerous occasions where there is moisture in the tubes. I wouldn't swear that this moisture isn't breast milk, but there is liquid getting in there from somewhere. And I don't know where it is going. Personally, when it comes to the health of my child, better safe than sorry.

    June 13, 2011 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bessie

      I agree 100%. I've been using my pump for just over a year. Almost everytime I use it, I notice some moisture/condenstation inside the tubing. The instructions say to let the pump continuing running for 1-2 minutes after you're finished pumping in order to help dry out the tubing. It's entirely possible that traces of milk are reaching the machine and definitely not worth the risk to your new baby.

      June 13, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
    • CM14

      The moisture in the tubes is condensation, not milk. I have used my Medela for 2 children for almost two years total, and I've never had a problem with the milk entering the tubes (of course, I'm always anxious to get the thing off, so it's rare that I don't see how full the bottles are!). As I'm winding down nursing now, I was trying to figure out what to do with this pump; it seems like a complete waste to throw it in the landfill!!

      June 14, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
  3. runner

    Yeah, this is really too bad that this "pediatrician" who wrote this article seems misinformed. as cccc said, the milk doesn't flow through the tubing. I had an Ameda and you can buy a replacement parts kit for all the parts that came into contact with the milk. The milk never enters the machine. It goes from the breast (placed on the shield) into the collection membrane which drips it into the bottles. I donated my machine to a local nonprofit for poverty-stricken women.

    Maybe there are some breast pumps in which the milk enters the tubes, but I haven't seen an "open system."

    June 13, 2011 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Emme

      Wrong.. Medela is one example of an open system. Ameda is has a closed and sealed in motor.

      June 13, 2011 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
    • CCOA

      That's right. I used Medela PIS and Medela Swing before and I swear my breastmilk went into the tubing so I had difficulty cleaning it up. I eventually dumped it and settled for Ameda after research and reviews from other experienced moms, it is indeed using a close vent system. I did not have problems using it until now for my second baby.

      June 14, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse |
  4. Margaret

    I'm a big proponent of breast feeding and needed to pump when my child was hospitalized for several periods and then when I returned to work. I was able to use the hospital-grade closed-tubing pump while my child was hospitalized. (One of the "silver linings" of having a baby in the hospital.) and LOVED it. The super-efficient pump did a great job. If mamas could rent the same ones, that'd be awesome. The only problem is that the pumps are pretty heavy plus the plastic disposable breast shields used with each woman aren't environmentally friendly. I own an expensive double Madela pump that I used when I returned to work. Its portability was convenient, but it wasn't quite as efficient as the closed-tube system. And yes, on several occasions I noticed that moisture beads condensed inside the air tubes. That being said, I would still feel comfortable using an open-tubed pump used previously by a close friend or family member–as long as she and I weren't swapping the pump back and forth.

    Full disclosure: my toddler sometimes sees Dr. Shu in her pediatrics practice, which is one of the reasons I was interested in this article in the first place when I saw her byline. Cool gig. Dr. Shu!

    June 13, 2011 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Summer819

    While I realize it's a big no-no, I've used my sister-in-laws pump for my first child and am using it again for my second. I've changed tubing and shields and have never had any issues. Yes, moisture sometimes collects in the tube, but I cannot believe the expert answer said breastmilk flows through them. Perhaps she misspoke and was referring to the moisture that can collect, but that alone makes me question her answer. I'm all for hygiene, but I do wonder if companies that recommend pumps only be used by a single woman just want others to purchase their product. Personally, I feel as long as you know where the pump has been, I don't see an issue as long as it's clean and you replace the pieces that come in contact with your breasts and milk.

    p.s. My sister-in-law's children are now 11 and almost 7, so that goes to show Medela makes a great pump that lasts!

    June 13, 2011 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dee

      I"m with you–I think it's fine if you know the person. I passed mine along to a good friend, and she was cool with that. I don't think I would be quite so comfy getting one from a total stranger. Mine was also Medela, and it worked very well.

      June 13, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
    • Emma

      It's fine only if you know the person, their husband, every person they've been intimate with since testing negative to diseases and during the past six months, and the history of any blood transfusions they've received. Elizabeth Glaser, who founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, contracted HIV through a transfusion and passed it on to her children through nursing, not realizing she was a carrier until her second child was born or became ill. It's just not worth the risk.

      June 13, 2011 at 20:28 | Report abuse |
  6. NatX

    As with any child-rearing advice, sometimes you need to just use common sense. I used my sister's pump when I had my baby. When I was done with it, I returned it to her for her next baby. The pump still works great. We sterilized the parts before use (more because they hadn't been used in a while in between kids). I agree with Summer819. I wouldn't have wanted to use a random pump from a stranger, but I know my sister would have taken care of the pump. I would've borrowed one from a friend, too. I'm so tired of these ridiculous articles quoting "experts" scaring women into buying more and more stuff they don't need. Use your common sense. (Hmmm, I guess the problem is that most people don't have common sense to rely on anyway?!) Could someone please find evidence of babies getting sick from a used breast pump before spouting this nonsense?

    June 13, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. big sensitive johnson

    no Biff

    June 13, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Nurse Nurse

    Many hospitals (such as Sutter in the county I live in) will sterilize breast pumps for around $40. Ask at your local hospital if they have a similar program.

    June 13, 2011 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jen

    I have pumped exclusively for my two children. I have an excellent Medela double electric breast pump. I'll throw it away when I'm done feeding my son with it. I would never consider selling it on eBay or Craigslist or lending it to a friend. It says right on it that it is a single user item. I have never seen milk go into the tubing or into the main working parts of the pump, but why risk it? You are talking about feeding an infant with a delicate immune system. Spend the money and buy a clean, new breast pump. You reduce the health risks, and even a very expensive pump is cheaper than a year's worth of formula.

    June 13, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dee

      Instead of throwing it away, especially if it is a good pump, could you find a place that would accept it as a donation and (of course) sterilize it? I think there might be women with low incomes who would be very appreciative of a sterilized, used pump.

      June 13, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
    • Fly Guy in SJ

      Do you know why Mandela says the pumps are a single user item? Two reasons:

      1) So they can sell more pumps. This is pure marketing, and IMO sleazy marketing at that
      2) Because their legal department told them to put that on there. That makes it harder for anyone using a secondhand Mandela pump to successfully sue them if they have problem.

      As for the paranoid among you, if the doctor who wrote the article doesn't understand how the pump works, you don't either. Let's assume for a moment that there is some kind of contamination inside the pump itself. That contamination is going to have a very hard time (hard enough that we can call it impossible) getting out of the pump and into the breast shield where it can come in contact with the milk. Why? Because the tube is (IIRC) over 3 feet long and when the pump is on, there is negative pressure (that is, a vacuum) in the tube. Whatever is in the pump is going to stay in the pump because of the vacuum.

      I do recommend new tubing and new breast shields, but a used pump is perfectly fine. There are probably battered women's shelters that could use good pumps like Mandela, so please consider donating when you don't need it anymore.

      June 14, 2011 at 04:51 | Report abuse |
  10. Dr. Jennifer Shu

    Thanks for all your comments so far! It's great seeing so many proponents of breastfeeding! Sorry if my wording was confusing; my point is that in an open system, tiny particles of milk can splash or mix with other parts of the pump, even if you don't see it happening. For more information please visit FDA.gov and search breast pump or see this post on La Leche League International http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lvjunjul04p54.html. While it would be cheaper and convenient to be able to share pumps, at this point I cannot advise doing so unless the pump manufacturer currently states that it is safe.

    June 13, 2011 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jess

      Thank you for saying this Dr. Shu, even if previous posters aren't understanding it.
      A used breast pump is just that – used! even if the users can't see the milk backing up the tubing, it happens, and gets into the engine, creating the environment for mold, fungus, and bacteria.
      Here's a great article from La Leche League about open versus closed pumping systems: http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lvjunjul04p54.html
      There was a recent recall of one of the most popular consumer brands because of engine defects – http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/media-center/126/notice-of-product-recall.
      There are two consumer brands of closed-system pumps – Ameda and Hygeia. The other choice is to rent the hospital grade (like the Medela Symphony) from a hospital or lactation consultant. Those systems are approved for mutliple users (just connect your tubing) and are well-regulated closed systems with no chance of back-up or contamination. (if they are safe for NICU babies, they are safe for 'healthy' babies!)

      June 13, 2011 at 12:05 | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Here's what I don't understand–if the problem is that bacteria, fungus, and other nasty things breed inside the pump and make it unsafe for another woman to use, then WHY is it okay for me to use that pump for a full year (or more!) for my own child?

      I don't get it.

      June 14, 2011 at 19:36 | Report abuse |
  11. Kass

    The open system pumps CAN be made even safer by simply replacing ALL the rubber and silicone parts, INCLUDING the diaphragm. You may buy or order all these replacement parts at Medulla dealers or on line. The rest of the system is closed, so if you replace all the breast cups, bottles, tubes AND diaphragm, you have a pretty clean system. Anything else (like where the tubes attach to the machine) can be doused in some rubbing alcohol.

    I would also only buy a used one from somebody I know. This is NO guarantee that they are 100% healthy, but it takes some guess work out.

    Who told me all this? My pediatrician. Seriously.

    June 13, 2011 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Becky

      There are other parts located inside the motor that can collect milk. This did in fact happen with my Medela Swing pump, and the pump would have to be opened and clean the motor out. It is not a visible part to replace.

      June 13, 2011 at 22:03 | Report abuse |
  12. Traci

    sounds like a way to get the breast pump companies more money. I have pumped for two children and at no time in the 24 months of pumping did milk every get inside the machine or the tubing.

    June 13, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. crystal_b

    I can't see any pump manufacturer saying it's safe to share a pump if the alternative means that they'll sell more breastpumps. Has a baby ever gotten sick because of a used breast pump?

    June 13, 2011 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Amy

    I have used 2 used pumps. Seeing as though mold, bacteria etc, can theoretically build up even if it is used by one person, I don't see the difference in getting a used one. I replaced the tubing and all was fine. Medela even sells microwavable bags to steam/sterilize the removable parts between uses so it seems that bacteria would be killed anyhow. The Dr's statement that she cannot recommend a used pump if the manufacturer says "single user" on the product says a lot. As anyone who has ever completed a baby registry knows the baby industry is a cash cow. The industry can sell a lot of items just drawing on the fact that mothers want "the best" for their babies, whether or not the new product actually IS the best. Obviously, a person would expect a hospital to use reasonable care to keep the pumps clean and safely operating. I suppose that if a person did not use common sense and bought a beat-up, poorly maintained used pump, the company would not want to deal with that liability. But that is what it comes down to, liability. If a person gets a well-maintained used pump, and replaced parts that seem to need it, it's perfectly fine.

    June 13, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bessie

      "It's perfectly fine"... in your opinion, perhaps. Unless you know the previsous user, you can't know what the pump's history is. Milk particles can get inside a not so "beat-up", well maintained open pumping system. I'd rather err on the side of caution when it comes to my baby's health.

      June 13, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
  15. Kristine

    I would also like to know if there are any reports of babies actually getting sick from used breast pumps. I understand the "possibility", but I want to know if it really happened.

    June 13, 2011 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Jen

    I've pumped for a year and am about to stop. I will offer my used breast pump to friends who can make their own decision as to what is "safe". To one of the comments posted- yes, if there was mold or contaminants, it would have impacted my baby too. And replacing the tubing, parts, etc should go a long way to address any issues. The hysteria of "why take a chance" gets so blown out of proportion- I see women jay walking their strollers through busy traffic....there are so many more dangerous things to do than use a well maintained used breast pump and if economic prevent you from buying a new one, which would otherwise impact your ability to pump and get breast milk to your baby..use common sense and get a used one!

    June 13, 2011 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Nana

    Thank you Dr. Shu, for your detailed response. The key here is open versus closed system. What some of the commenters fail to understand is that you can purchase good quality double electric pumps with closed systems- Ameda, Hygeia and Limerick. The single user pumps say on their packaging that it is only to be used by one mother, one baby. Even a mom who puts her pump away for "next time" will be faced with the possibility of mildew/mold being in the motor. As a pump provider, I can assure you that milk can back up in the hoses of an open system, and even moisture from condensation can be a haven for mold and mildew.

    June 13, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Tanya

    If mold or fungus us the issue then thy should just start selling disposae pumps because after one use contamination could potentially occur

    June 13, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Angela in Seattle

      This is my opinion also: if a breast pump isn't safe for use on the secondary market (ie, cannot be cleaned and sterilized because milk might get inside and get moldy) then it isn't safe for the primary user and her baby either. It won't be safe from the first instance where milk gets inside, period. By saying "This pump must not be passed on to another user," the manufacturer is really admitting it isn't safe and shouldn't be on the market at all.

      June 13, 2011 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      EXACTLY!!!!

      I used my Medela for a year with each of my kids. If something nasty got in there, it would have been just as unsafe for my kiddos by the time I put that machine to rest.

      June 14, 2011 at 19:39 | Report abuse |
  19. Tanya

    Sorry about typos, posting from my phone :)

    June 13, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Jen

    Exactly. the more i read, the more ridiculous this is....how is it that it is safe for one mother for a year...with no risk of mold or fungus to her child? and please...don't tell me about the special properties of breast milk specific to that baby. Mold is mold.

    June 13, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. yeah right

    'cause tubing and accessories can't be washed with mild detergent and then boiled? Guess that goes for baby bottles too? No It's much easier to shell out $200 bucks for a new one and support the economy.

    June 13, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. JR

    After long term BF'g two kids plus working, I would say that one should ask oneself, how long do they plan on BF'g? If it's only a matter of months, rent one through your local hospital. If it's more than that, buy one.

    Unless you have an unusually high milk supply and can easily express, using a hand pump is impractical. I don't find it works for most women. Work is stressful and you cannot express when you want to, only when you're allowed to. AND add to that milk supply has a tendency to drop some anyway after about the first three months, pumping can be a lot more work than at the beginning. All the more reason to have an efficient machine if you want to be successful.

    Yep, it's big bucks, but it's worth it if you want to BF. I looked at it as a very necessary expense and probably the best piece of baby gear beyond a car seat that you'll ever buy. All of the other junk, from cribs to you name it, are optional.

    Then give it a year and you'll realize that this was the least of your expenses. I'm not being snarky, it's the truth. If you were my friend, I would say all of this and add 'just go buy a pump'. Also buy extra diaphragms. Those things are notorious for getting lost and if you don't have those tiny pieces of plastic, the thing won't work.

    June 13, 2011 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dee

      I thoroughly agree. The more powerful, quality pump made all the difference in the world. The hand-held manual was awful. I suggest to ladies to either rent or buy a really good pump–it can be a great help.

      June 13, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse |
  23. the truth

    The dangers of the Open System is that it is possible for germs to become airborne and enter the tubing during the suction cycle. When the suction is relieved, it's possible for the germs to join back up with the milk, or stay in the machine and grow. The tragedy is that at a later time it could contaminate another mom's milk.
    It's all about the possibility of bacteria, etc. becoming airborne and circulating in the machine.

    June 13, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NL

      I understand the point the experts are making...but people act like the possible minuscule aerosols of milk (and contained viruses, bacteria, etc) that could travel all the way to the pump, harbor themselves, survive for the time (most viruses & bacteria can't survive, I suppose mold might be the bigger issue) and then be pumped all the way back up a new tubing into the milk is the biggest threat your child will face. REALLY? Is your house mold/mildew-free, your air contaminate-free, your daycare virus-free, every little thing that will make its way to your baby's mouth bacteria-free?
      PS. At the dental office they don't even change the tubing for the suction, needless to mention the pump, for each patient. You're not supposed to be sucking on the suction, but you don't imagine some (most) patients don't close their mouths around and create negative suction and get some tiny amount of Lord-knows-what from previous patients? Just using one example that assures me using a cleaned, used pumped from a known person isn't the biggest risk my baby will face!

      October 27, 2012 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
  24. Emme

    Can't believe how many women would gamble with their kids by using someone else's breast pump. The writer is giving sound advice. Pick one with a closed system if you absolutely must share or buy used. How can anyone possible argue with that? And ladies this is old news. It's not something fabricated to sell more pumps, in fact they're getting cheaper and cheaper these days. I've actually seen my sister in-laws pump get opened up when it stopped functioning properly and what was inside was absolutely gross....

    June 13, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hester P.

      Then I guess you could say that the 4 or 5 different folks who have used the pump I used (somewhere in the middle there) won the lottery.

      June 13, 2011 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
    • Emme

      Hester P.: Still gross and still a gamble.

      June 14, 2011 at 14:26 | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Emme, then why is it safe for me to use the same pump for a year?

      June 14, 2011 at 19:40 | Report abuse |
  25. George

    Doesn't the asnwer to the question depend on what the breast pump was actually previously used for?

    June 13, 2011 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Jen

    what i find interesting is STILL no one has any explanation for why it is still okay for the single user mom to run the risk of mold, etc...which might be in her pump...riddle me that, batmamas!

    June 13, 2011 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Emme

      It's not okay, personally I think all moms should consider a closed pump. MY SIL wasn't sharing hers with anyone and bought hers new and months later when it no longer worked properly we unfortunately saw why. It was so disgusting...not to mention the smell inside the motor once it was open.

      June 14, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
  27. SS

    Here is the better question, if she is looking for a used breast pump of all things, and not a new one, it probably means she probably cannot afford a child either!

    June 13, 2011 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HaveTeensNow

      What does that mean? I rented because I only needed it for 12 months, rental was less expensive than purchasing and that was 15 years ago, doubt they've gone down in price. The only thing that cost us more was daycare – they would have provided formula thru the state reimbursement which would have saved me loads of money, instead I provided breast milk, my kids never used formula and were much healthier for it, seldom sick and few ear infections.

      June 13, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
  28. Gina

    I invested in a Medela Double Pump 13 years ago. Over the years the same pump has helped several women continue to breast feed after returning to work. I can see where there might be a small risk but there is also a risk to taking your child to day care as well as most everything we do in life. Common sense must be used to weigh the benefit of continued breast-feeding against any risk of using a second hand pump. I can also make the argument for purchasing a new one if there is any concern about used pumps. If you plan to use breast milk exclusively for as long as possible I believe you will begin realizing a savings within the first two months over purchasing formula. Therefore, before saying you can't afford a new pump, make sure you weigh it against the cost of formula over the next 12 months.

    June 13, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. gardenbaby

    I bought new and admit that I spent a lot of time debating whether to buy new or used. Given how long and how frequently I used it, I'm glad I started with new.

    One of the very real possible problems with a pump is if you get a yeast infection in your breast/baby gets thrush. Yeast is a pain to overcome and easy to get, especially if mom or baby take antibiotics at some point. Yeast is easily spread in the air and therefore can grow in the mechanism of a pump. Letting the pump run for a few minutes when you finish helps to remove the moisture in the tubing and motor.

    I don't know the answer to this conflict but I have seen a mom go through quite a bit trying to continue breastfeeding through a yeast problem.

    June 13, 2011 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cinnamon

      Yeast is a common issue anywhere on the body. It's much harder to rid of when your nursing due to the moist area which yeast loves. I had thrush once it's awful. But we got it from another source and not our pump.

      June 15, 2011 at 21:35 | Report abuse |
  30. Ladyweeks

    I've read Medela pumps are NOT closed systems at all and should only be used by one person. Ameda breast pumps are all closed. I purchased mine 3 years ago and am using it now for baby #2 and I have never seen any milk flow back through the tubing nor any type of moisture. This should not happen in a closed system. And not that $150 (for an Ameda pump) is chump change to anyone with kids, it's a pretty reasonable price for a good quality breast pump. The Medela Pump in Style is way overpriced.

    June 13, 2011 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Elaine Lach

    The FDA?? you mean the people who regulate cigarette sales?? Oh yeah...they have our best interest at heart...lol...

    June 13, 2011 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. sandee

    7 years ago I bought an AMEDA pump rather than a MEDELA because it was cheaper- and as a bonus it is a closed system.
    When I pumped in the hospital 4 years ago- the "hygienikit" (tubing, flanges, valves, diaphragms) were exactly the same on the hospital grade pump as the at home pump.
    After my AMEDA fell on the floor one too many times, I was thrilled to find a donated one at a thrift shop-replacing the used hygieni-kit parts with my own from the previous pump/ ordering new ones wsa far cheaper then replacing the whole pump.

    I understand that reusing someone else's open system pump is a risky decision- but not all personal use pumps are "open" systems

    June 13, 2011 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. C

    I'm glad so many people care about breast pumps. I've been seeing women lately who are rabid about breastfeeding and imply not only is formula evil (There are times when this "evil" is good or necessary!), but a baby should be latched on at all times–not a device! While well-meaning, the idealists need to be realistic. Breast pumps are a blessing. Most mothers I know can't have a baby at all times of the day. And many would prefer to pump at their convenience than feed in public. You can say that this needs to change, but this is our culture. It's not bad. Everyone has their ways. If you want to change, do it slowly rather than with aggression. Consider and do things with care.

    June 14, 2011 at 05:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. LC

    As a lactation consultant my advise to this question is: I would only share a breastpump with someone I would allow to breastfeed my baby.

    June 14, 2011 at 07:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. ccoa

    I used Medela pump in style with my eldest who is now 2y/o. Breastmilk DOES enter the tubing. I had no idea how but it did. Now I dumped my old breast pump and settled for Ameda PY which is better.

    June 14, 2011 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. alisha

    Would you share your toothbrush or buy a used one. It is for your babies' safety that you buy a new pump. Even if you buy new attachments, the inside can not be cleaned. There are filters inside the pump that could get mold, mildew, insects, and other gross things inside. Plus, the pump may not be working properly and cause you to get a clogged milk duct. If you are on WIC (women, infant and children) you can receive a free pump. It just all depends on how long you will be away from the baby. If you make too much to be on WIC, then the price of the pump should be $1000s of dollars cheaper than formula.

    June 14, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Linda

      I don't know if there are any other good brands, but a fnired gave me the fancy electric double pump Pump in Style and it was a lifesaver! I had gotten an $80 electric one from the hospital gift shop when I could see that my 5 week early girl was having trouble latching on, and it sounded like a lawn mower! It was sooo loud and of course took twice as long since it was a single. I ended up having to pump for 3 months while trying to teach her to latch on. It eventually worked, but I don't think I could have lasted that long without the pump in style medela. If you are going to have to use a pump extensively, make sure it is the best you can get! I think sometimes you can rent them too. But I don't know of any other brands

      April 8, 2012 at 06:28 | Report abuse |
  37. Cinnamon

    So if it's a Single User / One child – I would have had to buy two at once with my twins! Um no!

    Seriously there are no studies presented with actual facts, showing us the sick babies this happens too so we can all make a choice. I mean this is your babys food source it's critical to be clean and sanitary. But in some countrys there is no sanitary and children still grow up fine on mothers milk. I have 4 kids – I used a friends BP after I sold mine after my 3rd son. She was a L&D nurse with critical care certifications – do I think she would have contaminated it? Not at all. However I took it to the hospital where they cleaned the componets and and off I went with new tubes and shields. I hardly used it for my 4th but it was worth the money to clean it and move on.

    I think it's a personal choice – if you know the person and trust that no cross contamination happened then do it. If your FREAKED out by the cash cow's in the baby business making it seem like new is the only way to go, then take your OCD to the local baby store and shell out a few hundred bucks plus. Support your

    June 15, 2011 at 21:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kazo

      I have an Ameda Purely Yours double erectlic and for me it works better than the Medela did. They are also a little bit cheaper for the super duper model than the Medela. It has adjustable suction and cycle, but seems to pump more efficiently. At least for me anyway.

      April 8, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
  38. Child Endangerment?

    If there is a serious health risk to your child from using a used open system breast pump, then why isn't this considered child endangerment? Why do we allow mothers to potentially contaminate their child's food? Supposedly your child could even be exposed to HIV and other diseases from a used breast pump – sounds like child endangerment to me.
    Some mothers are uninformed – like me. I used a used breast pump that i bought at a resale shop for two months before I learned how detrimental this can be to my childs health. The fact that I risked my child's health has me so upset right now that my milk supply is actually drying up.
    Why was this device ALLOWED TO BE SOLD?? It should be against the law to resell open system pumps or they should be taken off the market – period. btw I went out and bought a brand new pump yesterday.

    July 28, 2011 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
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    obviously like your web site however you need to check the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very troublesome to inform the reality then again I will definitely come again again.

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  43. NL

    I understand the point the experts are making...but people act like the possible minuscule aerosols of milk (and contained viruses, bacteria, etc) that could travel all the way to the pump, harbor themselves, survive for the time (most viruses & bacteria can't survive, I suppose mold might be the bigger issue) and then be pumped all the way back up a new tubing into the milk is the biggest threat your child will face. REALLY? Is your house mold/mildew-free, your air contaminate-free, your daycare virus-free, every little thing that will make its way to your baby's mouth bacteria-free?
    PS. At the dental office they don't even change the tubing for the suction, needless to mention the pump, for each patient. You're not supposed to be sucking on the suction, but you don't imagine some (most) patients don't close their mouths around and create negative suction and get some tiny amount of Lord-knows-what from previous patients? Just using one example that assures me using a cleaned, used pumped from a known person isn't the biggest risk my baby will face!

    October 27, 2012 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.