I spend a lot of my free time between being mom and caring for my family, online trying to help moms when it comes to pumping, lately I have seen a lot of “for sale” and “I’m using a second hand pump” posts, and while I totally understand the cost involved with buying a brand new breastpump, I also know the risks of using a second hand open system pump.

First off, it’s important to understand the difference between the two and how to weigh the risks vs benefits when considering buying a second hand machine.

Open System Pump.

Open system pumps are the more widely available and common types of pumps, all manual pumps are open system and most hand held electrical and small electric pumps are open system. Open system means that their is no barrier between your milk and the pumping mechanism, be it a motor or hand operated manual pump, old milk residue, mould particles, dust, bactaria and even viruses can be trapped within the mechanism and contaminate your milk, your milk is also exposed to the open air drawn through the pump, so allergens, bactaria, dust, pet dander, pollution, chemicals, second hand smoke and any other nasty bugs lurking in the air can get into your pump system and end up in the milk you feed your baby, and although breastmilk contains immunoglobulin A, there is still a risk, especially when buying second hand from unknown sources.

Closed System Pump.

Closed system pumps are generally more expensive, they are usually the types of pumps that are available for hire or in your local NICU unit. These pumps have a filter that creates a barrier between your milk and the motor and the open air outside of your milk collection Kit, this protects both your milk from contamination and your motor from damage.

When choosing an open system pump, here are a few things to consider:

  • How easy is it to clean all the parts where milk may get into? Keep in mind that milk particles can pretty much get into most small spaces.
  • Can I physically see inside, and am I able to clean and sterilize all the parts of my pump?
  • Where will I be pumping? In my office bathroom? A dirty storeroom, is this the kind of air I am comfortable having my milk come in contact with?

Many moms do not know, but you can ask the sales people in your local pharmacy or baby store to take the pump out of the packaging so you can take a good look and get a sense how it all works. If you are unsure whether your pump is open or closed, email or call the manufacturer, most manufacturers offer fantastic and friendly advice.

Breastpumps are expensive, and not only that but most of the time it’s a hit or miss type scenario when it comes to whether or not you will respond well to that given pump, but there are a few extremely good value for money pumps that don’t break the bank, and with some medical aids they will cover a breastpump as long as it has a NAPPI code. If you are unsure, call your medical aid provider and ask if they cover breastpumps on your package.

Before you consider buying (or selling) a second hand breastpump, ask yourself if it’s a risk you are willing to take.