When you have a baby, you're not just adding another member to your family — you're adding all of the "stuff" that comes with a new baby as well. All of the "must have" items that you bought when your baby was born will eventually be outgrown and not needed anymore. The same is true for your old breastfeeding supplies. Your pump, bottles, burp clothes, nursing bras...you won't use them forever. Although they're definitely important while you're nursing, you might be asking yourself "can I sell my old breastfeeding equipment?" once you're finally finished with it all.
Technically, you can do whatever you please with your old stuff. It's America, after all, and we still have that freedom (for now). When it comes to things like your breast pump, however, most companies say that you shouldn't pass them on to someone else.
Why Shouldn't I Sell Or Donate Your Pump?
La Leche League International (LLLI) cautions moms against sharing purchased breast pumps (and therefore, selling them as well) for hygienic reasons. Breast pumps that you would buy in a store, even hospital grade ones, are called "open pumps" which means that the tubing, breast shields, and other parts of the pump are all open to each other, allowing milk, bacteria, and even invisible milk particles, to enter all parts of the pump.
The diaphragm (the back part of the pump) can't be removed for cleaning on these types of pumps, so bacteria could pass from one mother to the next and potentially into their babies' milk as well. The article also noted that even if milk particles aren't visible or you think you've cleaned the pump thoroughly, they can still be there. Although your baby has already been exposed to any potential viruses you may carry during pregnancy and aren't at risk, another baby wouldn't have that same built up immunity.
There are pumps that are safe to share between mothers though — rented pumps. Pumps that are rented out by companies use a "closed system" where none of the milk touches any of the working parts of the pumps, making it safe to share between mothers.
So, What Should I Do With My Old Pump?
Luckily, you don't just have to let your pump sit and collect dust, or throw it in the trash. Most brands have a pump recycling program where they'll use the reusable parts of your pump to create new ones, or use the recycled parts to help fund the production of hospital grade pumps for other mothers. If you have a Medela pump, you can fill out the form to recycle your pump here.
Although some mothers feel comfortable with buying a used pump and purchasing new accessories, safety isn't guaranteed and there's no black and white answer. Recycling your old breast pump is a great way to re-use it that will help another mother just as well as selling her the pump would.