Whether it is borrowed from a relative or friend, or you have purchased your breast pump second hand, it is important to be know pros and cons in order to make an informed decision.
A great advantage of borrowing or buying second hand is that you will make a saving of a few hundred dollars. Many new moms are hesitant to spend a lot of money on a brand new breast pump before baby is born because they do not know if they are going to use it or how frequently.
In that regard, it sounds great to trial a friend’s pump. There is also the reliability factor, which builds trust, i.e. “Use this pump! It’s been great to me. My sister has also used it for all her babies and it still works great! Just remember sterilise it after each use to keep it clean”
The point above is quite important, sterilising all breast pump parts is essential to express milk safely for your baby. However, there are 2 parts of any domestic pump that cannot be sterilised: the tube and the actual pump motor.
Neither of these two parts are in direct contact with breast milk. The tube transport air which helps create the suction motion. The motor is in contact with the tube, not the milk. However, bacteria and germs can still grow in the tube and motor. The reason for this is that domestic pumps are what is called “open system”, which means there is no physical barrier to prevent milk and moisture from passing and bacteria and germs from growing in these 2 parts.
If you see that your tube starts to show bubbles it means some moisture has started to pass through the tube into the motor.
Closed system pumps – such as the ones that are used in hospitals (sometimes they are called Hospital Grade Pumps) are the only type of breast pumps safe to share among various users. The closed system creates a physical barrier that prevents germs and bacteria from growing in the motor and tube.
To finish, if you are thinking of using a second hand breast pump, consider taking the motor and parts to your lactation consultant and ask her for advice. She will assess it and tell you if it is safe to use, or if you need to buy a new tube. She may also recommend some other solution like the rental of a hospital grade pump until you get your own.