Should I Buy A Used Breast Pump?

For many breastfeeding moms, a breast pump is an essential piece of kit.  A good friend of mine exclusively pumped for her daughter for over 4 years, another mom I'm proud to know pumped over 2000oz of breast milk for her baby and every day, I receive messages and emails from real moms, sharing the details of their breastfeeding many of which pivot around the lowly pump.

Yet pumping is hard work.  It requires dedication, perseverance, time and yes - money.

Because breast pumps aren't cheap, which leads some moms to ask the question, "can I buy a second hand pump?"

Unless you are looking at buying a closed system rental pump second hand, the answer is no.  Because open system pumps are designed to be personal use items, which means that they have no barrier between the milk collection kit and the pump mechanism - so there is no way to prevent potential contamination by bacteria, mold or viruses.

So if we shouldn't buy a second-hand pump and finances are tight, what exactly are our options as breastfeeding mothers?  Particularly as mothers who are returning to the workforce...since in the US, moms often find themselves facing a return to work when their babies are still only weeks or months old.  For so many mothers, pumping is literally essential to keep their breastfeeding relationships alive.

Luckily, many basic pumps are often fully covered by health insurance policies.  This is a fact that is worth shouting from the hilltops...because far too many moms simply don't know that this option exists.

Yet the very mention of 'insurance companies' can leave us feeling...overwhelmed.  How do I find out the options that are available to me?  How much paperwork will I have to complete?  Will there be a premium?  What pumps are available and will I be informed and supported as to which pump is the right choice for me?

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to Adrienna Frazer, from Edward's Health Care Services.  Adrienna manages the pump products and works with the team of breast pump coordinators who are ready to help moms figure out their pumping options, based on each mother's unique needs.  They are experts at navigating insurance policies and working with doctor's offices and will literally take the 'work' out of choosing and ordering a breast pump.

Adrienna told me:

"Many moms go into breastfeeding with a  fear of pumping from previous experiences.  Technology has improved the quality, suction, comfort and portability of pumps, and once moms learn about new features - timers, nightlight, adjustability of speed and suction - they're eager to try a new pump.  When moms are committed to providing their babies with breast milk for as long as possible, pumping becomes a necessity, especially if the mom is going back to work."

For so many of us, the last thing we want to consider when we are embracing those new baby snuggles is tackling endless paperwork.  We want to enjoy our new babies and take our time settling into new motherhood.  And yes, we want to be supported in choosing a breast pump that meets our individual requirements.

Because the second-hand pump market is one we should avoid.  Instead, let's focus on the avenues that are already available to us as mothers.  And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most insurance companies will cover the entire cost of a breast pump, if we use an approved supplier like Edwards Health Care Services.

Of course, there are always options to upgrade...some won't be able to resist the extras, such as bags and coolers and bottles...whereas others will want a top-end pump due to frequent travel or a need to pump exclusively.  Whatever our reasoning and whichever our choice, let's just be sure to avoid cousin Margaret's pre-loved offering...

(You can find out if you are eligible for a breast pump, by completing this very simple form - the rest will be taken care of!)

Thank you to mama Els for allowing me to feature her picture in this piece.  For more glimpses into real life breastfeeding, join the Mama Bean village on Facebook!

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