What do I do with my breast pump when I finish using it?
It is totally awesome that insurance companies are covering breast pumps since roughly 70% of women go back to work after having their babies. Some new moms use their breast pumps only occasionally and others are using it multiple times a day for months on end. And when your breastfeeding journey has come to an end you will likely ask yourself “What do I do with my breast pump when I finish using it?” Do you save it for your next child? Give it to a friend to have as a spare or a “work pump”? Throw it out? Can they be recycled? Let’s discuss your options.
Brest Pumps are Single-User Devices
The FDA recognizes personal breast pumps as medical devices that can safely be used by one individual. There is no way to guarantee that these pumps can be properly cleaned/disinfected between users. And, when you consider the current CDC guidelines for cleaning breast pump parts, you will understand why these pumps should only be used by one person.
At some point during your breastfeeding journey it is likely that you may experience a cracked or bleeding nipple (more common earlier on). It is totally fine to feed your baby (either by nursing or pumping) that milk (provided you do not have a bloodborne disease). However if you’re using a second hand pump, even if the first owner does not have a bloodborne condition, I don’t think you would want your baby drinking pumped milk that may have come in contact with their blood.
“But I have a ‘hospital-grade’ pump”
The FDA does not recognize the term “hospital-grade pump,” meaning there are no standards for manufacturers to adhere to for keeping your baby safe. The ‘hospital-grade pumps’ that are made to be rented out are true multi-user breast pumps. So as long as you are renting from a reputable company and you use your own accessories, you are good to go.
It is important to note that rentable hospital grade pumps are not the same as personal use pumps that are ‘hospital-grade’ in power. This is an important distinction to make. So your Spectra pump, while ‘hospital grade’, is still only intended for one user.
So, what do I do with my breast pump when I finish using it?
Giving away, selling, or reusing your breast pump is not recommended. Thankfully there are options for recycling!
The plastic parts can be recycled from home in most cases. This includes:
- bottle sealing discs
- backflow protector casing
Throw away the silicone parts:
- duckbilled valve
- backflow protector membrane
- massaging breast shield inserts
- bottle nipples
You can recycle your actual breast pump in a few ways:
- bring it to an appliance recycling center
- Medela has a recycling program for their pumps
Because breast pumps contain electronic parts and batteries they should not be thrown in the regular garbage.