If you are looking to get a breast pump for the first time, you might be shocked by the sticker price for a good quality pump. They are not cheap. Shelling out several hundred dollars for a pump might not have been in the budget. And then add everything else you are purchasing for a new baby and it can really hurt the wallet.
A trend that has been happening for some time is using sites like Craig’s List, Facebook groups or Market Place, Swap and Sell apps, etc to sell stuff. It is very tempting to go on one of those sites and purchase one of the thousand used breast pumps listed for sell for a fraction of the price.
But is it too good to be true?
Should you be buying something like a breast pump secondhand?
Is it safe to buy used breast pumps?
The long and short answer is it depends. There are several things you need to think about before considering a used breast pump:
- Is it an open or closed system pump?
- How often do you need to pump?
- How much are the pump parts for that brand?
- What does a new pump retail for?
Is it an Open or Closed System Pump?
This is going to be the biggest thing to consider.
If you are not familiar with the term open system or closed system pump, let me explain. All pumps have the same basic setup- a pump motor, a tube that attaches to that motor, and breast shields that attach the tube to a collection bottle.
An open system pump basically means there is no barrier between the breast shield and the tube. This allows milk particles to freely flow into the tube and thus the pump motor. Having moisture build up in the tubes or pump motor can lead to mold. Since the system is all open, the mold particles have nothing between them and your milk. Yuck!
Now an open system pump is not a problem if properly cared for. It is best to “dry pump” which is where you unhook the pump from your breasts and let the pump motor run for a minute or two to dry out any moisture in the tubing. You also need to sanitize the pump tubing every so often.
In a closed system pump, the barrier keeps all moisture out so there is no chance for mold. You also do not need to sanitize the pump tubing.
So why is this a problem when buying used?
For starters, all breast pumps, unless Hospital Grade, are designated by the manufacturer as single user products. This is largely in part due to the sanitary issues. When buying secondhand, you do not know if the pump was properly cared for. This goes for an open or closed system pump.
There is always a chance that you could contaminate your milk unknowingly when using someone else’s breast pump despite using your own attachments.
How Often Do You Need to Pump?
As you can take from the above explanation on open vs closed system pumps, I am generally against buying a used pump. There is one exception but that will depend largely on how often you pump…
A manual pump.
A manual pump, for the most part, can be sanitized (all parts) and I would not have a problem buying it off someone else. However, they are generally pretty cheap so it would need to be basically free to entice me to buy used.
Also, if you need to pump multiple times per day, I would not recommend getting a manual pump. Some moms love manual pumps since you can control the suction and speed easier but it can be a pain to have to pump without your hands free.
How Much are Pump Parts?
If I still haven’t convinced you that new is better, let’s consider the price.
I mentioned some prices for used pumps that I saw on the popular site, Craig’s List… While most are fairly good deals, you need to consider the cost of replacing all the pump parts. Even if you can overlook the sanitary issues associated with buying a used pump, you will definitely want to get your own pump attachments!
That includes breast shields/flanges, valves, membranes, collection bottles, and tubing. So make sure you factor the cost of replacing the parts into the equation when looking at the price.
Take the Spectra S2 pump I saw on Craig’s List for example. The listed prices for the pump was $80. To get all the pump parts (tubing, breast shield, valve, collection bottle and backflow protector), you are looking at $20 for each set (you need two if you plan to double pump). So an additional $40+ added to the cost of the pump. So you are looking at about $120+ for the used pump and new parts.
Well, you can actually get a brand new Spectra S2 off Amazon for less than $140 in most cases (I’ve seen it on sale for as low as $110 before…). So for a few extra bucks, you gets a brand new pump that includes the pump parts and collection bottles… So, why buy used?
Even the Medela Pump in Style for $35 might seem like a deal on the surface but again, you need to replace the pump parts. The Pump in Style on the Go Tote set retails for around $170. Buying a used one could mean getting an old pump (not to mention the potential for mold in the pump since it is open system) that may or may not last you very long.
The point is that once you factor in the cost of pump parts, collection bottles, etc the cost of a used pump is not quite as attractive.
What Does a New Pump Retail for?
We have touched on this already but the cost of a new pump is not as outrageous as you might think. Are there $300 pumps out there? Yes, of course. But you can get a good quality pump at a not so expensive price.
The Spectra pumps are a great example of that. For well under $200 you can get a great, hospital grade strength pump.
Buying a used pump seems attractive because of the low price but it is not a good option. The main issue that should turn you off instantly is how unsanitary it is.
Breast pumps are single user products. Please don’t buy used. Spend the extra money and get yourself a new pump. You don’t have to spend a ton of money. There are some affordable pumps out there. You can also look into your health insurance to see if you qualify for them to provide you with a pump.
Buying used is just not something you should consider!
Have questions or comments about buying a used breast pump? Drop me a comment below!