When your breastfeeding journey has ended, you’re usually left with many supplies, such as your breast pump, bottles, storage bags or storage containers, hand pumps, breast pads, and more.
It seems like such a waste to throw these things away, but many moms don’t know what to do with all of these supplies. This article will walk you through a few options for what to do with your closed system pumps, hand pumps, and other breastfeeding supplies.
So, if you’ve been wondering what to do with an old breast pump, continue reading.
What Kind of Breast Pump Do You Have?
The first step in determining what you can do with your used breast pump is knowing what kind of breast pump you have. Breast pumps are not all the same. There are hand pumps, which use no batteries, don’t have a motor, and express milk simply by using your own hands. There are also two types of electric pumps: the closed system pump and the open system pump.
The following will help you determine if your used pump is an open or closed system.
Close System Pumps
Closed system pumps are considered safe to reuse by other women who breastfeed or if you have multiple children. The closed system means that the tubing, pump motor, and all of the inner workings of the breast pump never actually come into contact with the breast milk that is expressed. The breast milk is collected into the containers only, using the pump motor to create suction.
With a closed system pump, your used breast pump does not carry the risk of contamination, mold, bacteria build-up, or other health and sanitation issues. The only place the breast milk goes is into the reservoir or container you attach to your breasts.
Open System Pump
An open system pump works differently than what was just described. There is no barrier between the tubes and the collection of the milk, so there is no way to know whether or not some breast milk, however little, was able to reach the pump motor.
You cannot effectively sanitize an old breast pump of this type. Therefore, any milk collected within the motor unit’s casing or inner workings carries with it the risk of mold or other bacterial growth.
How to Tell the Difference
If you are unsure of what type of breast pump you have, there are ways of finding out that will decrease the risk of any bacterial infection or growth of mold and help you determine what you can do with your old breast pump.
It is recommended that you keep all paperwork and packaging that comes with your breast pump for the entire duration of your breastfeeding journey.
If you cannot find the information on the box, you can look up the manual provided by the breast pump manufacturers. If you do not have a manual or box for your old breast pump, look on the unit itself for a brand name, model type, and even serial number. A quick search online should help you determine which kind of pump you have.
Selling Your Old Breast Pump
Breast pumps are very expensive. Sometimes your insurance plan will cover the cost of a pump, but you often don’t get to choose which pump you prefer. Many people don’t have the advantage of receiving any help from insurance for a breast pump. So if you have purchased a breast pump, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get a little bit of that money back once you are finished pumping by selling it.
Closed System Pumps Only
Because there is a risk of mold and bacterial contamination, open system pumps cannot be resold, donated, or used by any lactating person for breast milk extraction purposes. You can purchase new tubes for this sort of pump, but you still cannot clean out the motor, which makes the pump unsanitary.
However, if you have a closed system, you can resell your pump online, to a friend or family member, or in any sale such as a yard sale or garage sale. Be sure to sanitize any tubing, containers, and nipple shields that come with your pump before selling.
Replacing Pump Parts
While it is common practice for someone to replace all replaceable parts of a used breast pump, you can still sell the unit in its entirety and leave the option of replacement parts and pieces up to the new owner.
Replacement parts are available on many manufacturer websites. For example, if you have a Medela breast pump and need replacement parts or new parts, you can visit their website and get parts, tubing, or even a new pump. You can also examine any pump warranties that may exist that the company offers.
Medela also offers breast pump rental services.
Donate breast pump
If you haven’t been able to sell your breast pump or want to pay it forward, breast pump donations are an excellent option. Used pumps are highly sought-after items for many pregnancy assistance centers and charities. Many charitable organizations, such as the Salvation Army, will take your old pump happily, as long as it is a closed system.
You obviously will not be receiving any money for your old pump, and the charity or organization may decline to accept any extra or used pump parts that you have. Still, many women who cannot afford their own pumps will be happy to receive your old unit once you are finished pumping.
If the charity you contact does accept breast pumps, include any packaging and paperwork that you may have for the unit when you donate the item.
If you haven’t had any luck selling or donating your pump, the last resort for most parents who don’t want to keep their old breast pump for future personal use is to find a recycling program.
Breast pumps cannot be thrown into the trash with the rest of your household garbage. If you choose to dispose of your pump or pump parts, you need to properly recycle them by going through the channels of pump recycling programs.
Check With Your Pump Manufacturer
Sometimes, even with more expensive closed systems, a breast pump will decline in quality over time. They can lose suction, the motors can burn out or malfunction and other technical and mechanical issues can occur.
Most pump warranties will only cover the original pump owner, and replacement of parts, the motor housing, and refunds are strictly prohibited when multiple users own the pump.
You cannot resell a damaged pump, and many organizations will not accept a damaged pump. Therefore, the only viable option left is to recycle the pump. Your best bet is to check with the actual manufacturer to see if they have a recycling program. Many companies do offer this, and some will even provide you with a free shipping label so that you can recycle your pump.
You may even receive perks, discounts on other products made by the company, or special offers.
PC Recycling Center
A used appliance or PC recycling program is your next stop if your manufacturer only offers sales and pumps for manufacturing purposes, not breast pump recycling. Contact these businesses to see if they will take your old pump parts, units, and other landfill restricted breast pump products.
What to do with breast milk instead of dumping
They don’t call breast milk liquid gold for nothing! If you have leftover breast milk after you have completed the bottle feeding or nursing stage of infancy with your child, there are many things you can do with excess milk rather than dumping it.
Donate Excess Breast Milk
You can do this privately or through an organization. Offering your safely stored, frozen, healthy milk is a great way to ensure that babies are being fed, even after your own is done nursing. Go to any donation website and sign up to be a donor. Just make sure that your milk is stored correctly and meets the requirements.
Donating such a gift will make space in your deep freezer, and it will also ensure that a baby somewhere will have bottles of the best food available. Many new mothers struggle with production, even with the most state-of-the-art pump. If you want to donate, you can make a huge difference and know that you are helping another mother and baby.
Sell Excess Breast Milk
Pumping is a lot of work; it is also time-consuming and can be stressful. If you want to sell what you worked hard to produce and collect and then store, there is nothing wrong with that. Breast milk can be sold for many different purposes and at a variety of price points.
Jewelry and Keepsakes
You can do a lot with breast milk past its “good by” date. You can make lotion or soap with it. You can use it in your baby’s bath to help them maintain healthy and soft skin. You can use it for photoshoots in a milk bath.
You can also send it to one of many companies that will compress it into stones to make jewelry. You can then wear this jewelry or save it for your child as a keepsake. This way, years from now, you have a physical piece from a time when you provided all the nourishment that your baby needed to both survive and thrive.
Many private companies offer these services for a fee. They make lovely gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, and more. Some parents even choose to have multiple pieces made to have extra so they can gift to their child later.