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We get many enquiries from customers after parts for a second hand breast pump. While it may be economical and practical to buy a used breast pump or lend one from a friend, it’s important to know about the potentially serious health consequences associated with buying or borrowing a used pump.

Hospital grade hire breast pumps are the only pumps recommended for use by more than one person: they have closed systems which are specifically designed for multi-users in conjunction with a individual’s sterile pump kit.

Unlike hospital grade hire models, retail breast pumps are specifically designed for single mum use only. Use by more than one person can pose a health risk because breastmilk is a body fluid. This risk still exists even if all parts of a second hand pump that come into contact with breastmilk are thoroughly sterilised or replaced. This is because it is possible for air-born pathogens or droplets of milk that are not visible to the naked eye to remain in the internal pump motor which can cause contamination to the next user. The risks are of such a concern that the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has even issued a statement about used retail breast pumps that includes “You should never buy a used breast pump or share a breast pump”.

Serious or life threatening diseases – such as HIV, hepatitis and cytomegalovirus (CMV) - can be found in the breastmilk or blood of infected women. Other very difficult to clear fungal infections such as candidiasis (yeast / thrush) may also be transitioned. Yeast organisms are very stubborn pathogens that can live on surfaces for long periods. Additionally, if a woman has used the breast pump during an episode of cracked bleeding nipples, blood contamination may have also occurred. These diseases and infections frequently go undiagnosed for long periods of time, so even if the former user of the pump is trustworthy and willing to share this personal health information with you, she may not be aware she or her partner are carriers. For more information about the risks associated with using a second hand breast pump, please see our lactation consultant’s Breastfeeding Q&A section.

Hopefully one day the breast pump manufacturers will make retail pumps that can be safely used by more than one person. At present, however, all retails pumps are designed for use by one person only and it is very important that mothers are aware that buying or borrowing a used pump can expose her and baby to potentially serious health risks.