Mom bottle-feeding her baby.

Is It Safe to Use a Hand Me Down Breast Pump?

Breastfeeding is a natural, extremely beautiful part of becoming a new mom. It provides you with incomparable moments of bonding while giving your baby all the essential nutrients they need for healthy development. However, for many new moms, it’s unrealistic to expect to nurse every single time your baby needs to eat. That’s why many new moms utilize breast pumping to complement their nursing sessions. Breast pumps are used to express milk, which can then be given to your newborn by your partner, a caregiver, or another loved one. Unfortunately, breast pumps can be pretty expensive, so many mothers wonder if it’s possible to use a hand-me-down breast pump.

While it may seem like a convenient and cost-effective option, using a hand-me-down breast pump raises a few safety concerns. Here, we'll discuss whether or not it’s safe to use a hand-me-down breast pump and what precautions you can take to ensure the safety of both you and your baby when breast pumping.


What are the Risks of Using a Hand-Me-Down Breast Pump?

One of the main risks of using a hand-me-down breast pump is the transmission of infectious diseases. Breast milk is an excellent source of nutrition for newborns, but it can also carry viruses and bacteria that can cause illnesses. Sharing a breast pump with someone else can put you and your baby at risk of contracting infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. However, this is only possible if the individual whose pump you’re using is positive for an infectious disease.

A more likely risk is the possibility of contamination. Breast pumps have multiple parts that can harbor bacteria and viruses if not cleaned properly. A used breast pump may have traces of breast milk in the tubing or other parts, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses to grow. Using a contaminated breast pump can, therefore, lead to infections, especially in newborns whose immune systems are not yet fully developed.


Can You Safely Use a Hand-Me-Down Breast Pump?

The short answer is no. It’s strongly advised not to use a hand-me-down breast pump due to the risk of transmission of infectious diseases and contamination. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also recommends against sharing breast pumps, even between family members or close friends. The only exception is for breast pumps designed for multiple users.


What About a Rental Breast Pump?

The safety of rental breast pumps depends on the quality and maintenance of the pump. When you rent a breast pump, it's essential to ensure that it’s properly cleaned, sanitized, and maintained. Although a reputable rental company should clean and sanitize the pump before sending it, it’s recommended to do it again yourself when you receive it. You should also make sure that the pump is in good working condition and that all parts are properly maintained and replaced as needed.

You can rent a hospital-grade breast pump from a reputable source, such as a hospital or a lactation consultant. Hospital-grade breast pumps are designed for multiple users as they have a closed system that prevents milk from coming into contact with the pump's internal parts. This reduces the risk of contamination and ensures that the milk is safe for your baby to consume.


Precautions to Take

If you do decide to rent a breast pump, there are some precautions you can take to ensure its safety. For one, always make sure that the rental company has a strong reputation and a good track record. Don’t be afraid to read reviews, testimonials, and put in the time to conduct thorough research.

You should also check the pump thoroughly before using it to ensure all parts are in good working condition. Read the manufacturer’s instructions, and always clean and sanitize the parts after each use. If you notice any signs of wear and tear or if the pump isn't working correctly, return it to the rental company and request a replacement.

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What if You Have No Choice but to Use a Hand-Me-Down Breast Pump?

If you have absolutely no other option but to use a hand-me-down breast pump, there are a few precautions you can take to reduce the risk of infection and contamination. Make sure that you clean the breast pump thoroughly before and after each use. Use hot, soapy water to wash all the parts, including the tubing, breast shields, and bottles. Rinse the parts thoroughly and let them air dry. You should also consider using a new set of tubing and breast shields or any parts that may have come in contact with someone else’s breast milk.

A hand-me-down breast pump may also have parts that are worn or damaged, increasing the risk of contamination. Replace any parts that are showing signs of wear and tear. You should also check the breast pump for any signs of mold, such as in the tubing. Never use a breast pump that has mold or mildew growth, as this can be extremely harmful to your baby.


How to Get a New Breast Pump Through Insurance

At the end of the day, while it may seem like your only option, using a hand-me-down breast pump is not worth the risk of infection or contamination. The best option is to purchase a new breast pump, rent a hospital-grade breast pump, or consider using a manual breast pump. Luckily, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, new and expecting mothers are eligible to receive a breast pump with zero out-of-pocket costs.


Check Your Insurance Coverage

The first step in getting a new breast pump through insurance is to check your coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans are required to cover the cost of a breast pump. However, the specific coverage and requirements can vary by plan, so it's best to contact your insurance company to verify your coverage before getting started.


Talk to Your Healthcare Provider

Once you've confirmed your insurance coverage, the next step is to talk to your doctor. Most insurance providers require a prescription for a breast pump, which can easily be provided by your OB/GYN or primary care physician. They can also recommend the type of breast pump that is best for you based on your individual needs and preferences.


Choose a Breast Pump

Once you have a prescription, the next step is to choose a breast pump that will work for your needs. There are many different types of pumps available, including manual, electric, and hospital-grade pumps. Some of the most popular breast pump brands include Medela, Spectra, Freemie, Willow, Elvie, and more.


Contact a Breast Pump Supplier

After choosing a breast pump, the next step is to contact a reputable breast pump supplier like Byram Healthcare. We’ll work with your insurance provider to simplify ordering, process the claim, and send the breast pump directly to you.


Remember, prioritizing the health and safety of your newborn is the most critical part of becoming a new parent. Breastfeeding can provide numerous benefits for both mother and baby, but it's crucial to ensure that the equipment used for supplemental breast pumping is safe and sanitary. Rather than risk using a hand-me-down pump, order an insurance-covered breast pump instead.

As a reputable medical supply company, Byram Healthcare makes it easy for new and expecting mothers to order an insurance-covered breast pump. We partner with various insurance providers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Anthem, Ambetter, United Healthcare, Cigna, and more to help you find the perfect pump for your needs. We also offer a wide selection of breast pump replacement parts and accessories through If you need any assistance throughout the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our specialists today.