When your breast pumping journey has come to an end, you may be wondering what to do with your old breast pump. You may want to chuck out the window, or perhaps you feel sentimental towards it and want to hold on to it for your next baby. Whatever you decide, this article will provide you with guidance on how to dispose of a breast pump.
As with any medical device or equipment, it is important to dispose of a breast pump properly and responsibly. Whether you are no longer in need of your breast pump, or it has reached the end of its useful life, disposing of it correctly can help to protect the environment and ensure that it doesn’t pose a risk to anyone.
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1. Reuse your Breast Pump
If you plan to have more children, you can reuse your breast pump. One of the most important things you can do after you are finished pumping is to clean your breast pump thoroughly. This is essential to prevent the growth of bacteria and other harmful organisms that can cause infections. To clean your breast pump, you will need to disassemble it and clean each part separately.
First, rinse all the parts that come into contact with your breast milk with cool water to remove any remaining milk residue. Then, wash the parts with warm, soapy water, using a bottle brush to scrub the inside of the flanges and tubing. You can also use a specialized breast pump cleaner for an extra level of cleaning. You can also use a sterilizer bag to quickly and efficiently sterilize your pump parts in the microwave.
Once you have cleaned all the parts, rinse them again with cool water and then allow them to air dry on a clean surface. Be sure to keep the parts away from any contaminated surfaces or objects that could cause them to become dirty again.
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2. Donate or Sell Your Breast Pump
If you are wondering what to do with your old breast pump, and it’s still in good working condition, consider donating or selling it. There are many organizations that accept donated breast pumps and will distribute them to families in need.
When donating your breast pump, be sure to check with the organization first to ensure that they accept used breast pumps. Some organizations may have specific requirements or restrictions on the types of pumps they will accept (i.e. they may only accept closed-system breast pumps). Availability of these organizations differs greatly among cities and states, but you can try:
- Your local La Leche League
- OB/GYN or pediatrician’s office
- Reach out to your local IBCLC (lactation counselor)
- Local women’s or crisis shelters
Similarly, you can sell your breast pump online through various marketplaces. Be sure to clean and sterilize your pump before selling it, and be honest about its condition in your listing. Try looking up your local breastfeeding or mom-focused Facebook group to find other moms who may be interested in your pump.
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3. Recycle Your Breast Pump
In many cases, breast pumps can be recycled. Before recycling your pump, be sure to check with your local recycling facility or waste management company to see if they accept medical devices or equipment. Some facilities may require you to disassemble the pump before recycling it.
If your local facility does not accept breast pumps, you may be able to recycle it through a specialized recycling program. Medela offers a recycling program which allows moms to ship back their used breast pumps (not tubing or bottles). Note that they require moms to package and pay shipping on the pump themselves, and do not reimburse that expense.
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4. Dispose of Your Breast Pump in the Trash
If you are wondering what to do with your old breast pump and it is no longer usable or cannot be recycled, you may need to dispose of it in the trash. However, it is important to take certain precautions when disposing of medical equipment in the trash.
First, be sure to disassemble your breast pump and separate any parts that can be recycled from those that cannot. You should also remove any batteries or other electronic components before disposing of the pump.
Once the pump is disassembled, place the parts in a plastic bag and seal it tightly. This will help to prevent the parts from coming into contact with other trash and potentially causing harm.
It is important to note that some states have specific regulations regarding the disposal of medical equipment. Be sure to check with your state or local government to ensure that you are following the appropriate guidelines.
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5. Contact the Manufacturer
If you are unsure about how to dispose of your breast pump or are unable to find a suitable method, consider contacting the manufacturer. Many manufacturers offer information on how to dispose of their products responsibly, and some may even have a take-back program in place such as the Medela Recycles program we mentioned previously.
When contacting the manufacturer, be sure to have the model number and any other identifying information about your pump available. They will be able to provide you with specific instructions on how to dispose of the pump safely.
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6. Consider Donating to Research
Breast pumps can also be donated to research institutions for use in studies or clinical trials. However, it is important to note that not all research institutions accept donated breast pumps. If you live near a university or medical research institution, consider calling to see if they will accept it. They may have specific requirements or restrictions. You should also ensure that the pump is properly cleaned and sterilized before donating it.
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Figuring out what to do with your old breast pump may seem like a simple task, but it is important to do so properly to protect the environment and prevent potential harm to others. Whether you donate your pump, recycle it, or dispose of it in the trash, be sure to follow the appropriate guidelines and take any necessary precautions to ensure that it is done safely and responsibly.
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