Sharing Breastpumps: Is it Safe?

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Smart moms shop around and look for bargains. And when we’re talking about items for the nursery and other new baby gear, hand-me-downs are often as good as new and can save you a lot of money. When it comes to purchasing a breast pump, however, think twice about buying used or sharing with a friend.

The FDA defines breast pumps as single-use devices —not designed for sharing. Most professional-grade pumps are “open systems.” This means that there is no barrier between the milk collection kit and the pump motor. (Rental pumps are “closed systems” and designed for multiple users.) If a mother has used the pump when she has had cracked or bleeding nipples, or mastitis, it is possible that blood or bacteria may have entered the motor. According to the FDA, …”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.”  

In addition, pathogens from some infectious diseases can be found in human milk. Diseases such as hepatitis and cytomegalovirus (CMV) have serious health implications for you and your baby—but a mom may be unaware that she is infected. So even if you know and trust the previous owner of the pump, there is a risk that it is unsafe.

When my clients purchase used pumps, they always assure me, “I bought a new pump kit so I know it’s safe.” Unfortunately, buying a new kit is not the answer. It’s possible for tiny droplets of milk or air-born pathogens to get into the motor and cause cross contamination to the next user. Even though there are no documented cases of mothers or babies being infected via a second-hand pump, why take a risk? “You should never buy a used breast pump or share a breast pump…. 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…” (FDA website)

Here’s the good news: All Hygeia breast pumps have FDA clearance as multi-user pumps. There is a filter between the pump kit and the motor that eliminates the risk of cross-contamination. Hygeia pumps are effective, affordable AND shareable! If you’re interested in purchasing a Hygeia pump, or have questions, contact me via phone or email.  

See also: “Are Used Breast Pumps a Bargain?”

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