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New moms feed their babies in a variety of ways, and giving expressed breastmilk is a common approach. If you are choosing to give your baby breastmilk, it's probably because you want the best food possible for your little one.
To do that, it's important to find the best breast pump that will not add harmful chemicals to your milk and is also comfortable and effective.
Ahead, learn how breast pump components have changed in recent years, find out what you should still avoid in pumps, and read breast pump reviews.
Top 5 Non Toxic Breast Pumps
Conventional Breast Pumps
A breast pump is a plastic device designed to mimic the suckling action of a baby and, therefore, remove milk from the breast. It has one or two phalanges to fit over the breasts, a system to create suction and a collection area for the milk.
What Chemicals and Materials are Found in Most Breast Pumps
Breast pumps are made of various types of plastic. While all plastics carry some degree of risk, some are safer than others. Fortunately, some of the most harmful are no longer used for pumps or other children's feeding products.
Chemical or Material
Safe to Use?
More research needed - We lean towards NO since there is repeat exposure directly to skin
Several years ago, it was common for baby bottles and breast pumps to be made of polycarbonate plastic, a hard, shatter-resistant material. Polycarbonate plastic containers, unfortunately, were shown to leach harmful chemicals into the food or drinks stored in them.
BPA exposure has been linked to a host of health issues. These include sexual and reproductive problems and an increased risk of some cancers. Researchers have also found reason to be concerned about neurological changes stemming from BPA exposure; these changes could lead to ADHD and other developmental disorders.
Fortunately, BPA is no longer used in pumps. However, if you are considering using an older pump, this is something to watch out for.
Plasticizers, or phthalates, are chemicals used to make plastic strong and flexible. PVC plastic is a common source of phthalates in children's products, but they are also added to other types of plastic to make them soft.
Congress passed legislation in 2008 restricting the use of eight phthalates in children's products, so newer pumps should be phthalate-free. Older pumps may not, so keep that in mind if considering a used product.
Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is a soft plastic. Its flexibility makes it ideal for some breast pump components, such as tubing. It is marked by the #3 plastic symbol.
Like polycarbonate, PVC is a dangerous plastic, especially for feeding items. It has been linked to carcinogens, and it may harbor volatile organic compounds. Plus, PVC can be a source of dangerous chemicals like lead.
Some manufacturers claim that the PVC in their baby products is safe because it is phthalate-free. However, even if PVC doesn't contain phthalates, it's still best avoided.
No? More research needed; we lean toward no
Latex can cause allergic reactions. Because mothers repeatedly put breast pumps up against their skin, it is best for pumps not to include this material.
Non Toxic Breast Pumps
To feed your baby the purest expressed breast milk, it is important to use a pump that won't compromise your milk. Both chemicals and contaminants can be a concern when it comes to safe breastmilk. Buying a new pump instead of a used one can reduce both of these concerns.
You'll be able to express the most milk when you are relaxed and calm during the process, so it's also important for your pump to be user-friendly and comfortable. Knowing that your pump uses safe plastic won't give you much peace of mind if it hurts every time you use it.
What Chemicals and Materials are in Non Toxic Breast Pumps?
Fortunately, breast pump components have improved in recent years. These days, some of the most dangerous plastics have been removed from children's feeding products. Even still, there are steps you can take to improve the safety of pumping and storing milk even more.
These days, BPA has been removed from children's feeding products, such as breast pumps. In fact, in 2012, the Food and Drug Administration put a ban on BPA in bottles and cups for kids. Truth be told, in response to public outrage, even before the ban was instituted, most manufacturers had already stopped using BPA in their children's bottles and cups. And thanks to that same consumer pressure, BPA was also removed from pumps.
Thanks to public awareness and congressional legislations, manufacturers have also removed phthalates from their plastic pumps. One of the most commonly used phthalates in PVC feeding products was diethylhexyl phthalate, so pump manufacturers often advertise that their products are DEHP-free.
The safest plastics for feeding products are those labeled #2, #4 and #5. Some #7 plastics are also acceptable. The best breast pump options rely on these safer plastics.
Considered a food-grade material, silicone is often used in place of latex in some pumps. It is chemically inert, so is safer than latex. Also, it holds up better over time.
Although some plastics are safer than others, no plastic is perfectly safe. All run the risk of leaching chemicals into whatever is stored in them, including breastmilk. Glass is a safer option and will not leach chemicals.
All pumps have plastic parts that the milk must run through. However, the parts that will be in contact with the milk for the longest amount of time are the collection bottles. Therefore, you might want to replace the standard plastic bottles included with the pump with glass ones.
Pumps do not come with glass bottles, but some of the best ones are compatible with glass bottles that can be purchased separately. For example, Lifefactory makes glass baby bottles that work with several of the major pumps on the market. If using glass bottles to collect milk is important to you, be sure to purchase a compatible pump.
If you are looking for more glass bottles that also won't break the bank, these are a great option.
When thinking about the safety of a breast pump, one important consideration is whether it is okay to purchase or borrow a used pump. In general, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that pumps be used by only one person. The exceptions are pumps that are designed for multiple users. These are also known as hospital-grade pumps.
As the second person to use a single-user pump, there is a risk that the milk could be contaminated with infectious particles from the original user. Some parts of a breast pump are difficult to fully sanitize, so there is a small chance that your baby could get sick from the milk obtained with someone else's pump.
If you are set on using a pre-owned pump, be sure to look for one with a closed system rather than an open system. In a closed system, all of the parts that ever come in contact with the milk are fully replaceable. Be sure to purchase new tubing and other milk-contact pieces before using the pump.
However, even though it feels less eco-friendly to limit a pump's life to just one person, it's usually best for each mother to purchase her own pump. You may be able to get assistance with the cost through your health insurance or the WIC nutrition program.
Manual vs. Electric Pumps
Manual pumps are powered by the squeezing action of your own hand. Electric pumps run on batteries or plug into the wall. Obviously, by requiring power, electric pumps are not as eco-friendly as manual ones. However, manual pumps don't leave your hands free to do other things while pumping, and they can take longer to express a sufficient quantity of milk. Busy moms who pump regularly, especially moms who work outside the home, may need to use an electric pump to get enough milk in the time available to them.
If you are using a battery-operated pump, consider powering it with rechargable batteries since they are more environmentally friendly than traditional batteries.
Milk Storage Options
Once you've pumped the milk, what should you do with it? Plastic bags and plastic bottles are common breast milk storage systems. However, those containers will leave the milk in direct contact with plastic for an extended period of time. Although some plastics are safer than others, no plastic is entirely safe.
If you are pumping directly into glass bottles, you could leave the milk in those bottles. If you pump into plastic bottles, you can transfer it to glass bottles for storage. Another option is to use small glass mason jars for refrigerator or freezer storage.
One non toxic method for obtaining breastmilk is hand expression. In this method you use only the motion of your hands and can direct the milk into any container you choose, such as a glass jar. There are no plastic parts involved and no electricity is required. Plus, hand expressing requires no expensive equipment.
To learn how to express milk manually, read Dr. Sears' instructional tips.
How to Increase Breast Milk Supply
Breastfeeding and breast pumping is HARD. Don't let anyone tell you that it is super easy. If nothing else, just trying to keep to a schedule and continue to pump so often, while also taking care of your newborn is just plain tough.
In addition, new mothers get very stressed out when they feel they aren't producing enough milk.
Here is a great video of a mom who gives some actionable tips on how to increase your breast milk supply when pumping and/or breastfeeding:
In addition, this video expands on some of the best foods to increase milk supply naturally:
The Top 5 Non Toxic Breast Pumps... Reviewed
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Written by Ashley
Chief editor here at Nontoxic Reboot. I'm passionate about providing you with the best and easiest ways to make your world healthier and a little less toxic.
It’s important to find the best breast pump that will not add harmful chemicals to your milk and is also comfortable and effective. Ahead, learn how breast pump components have changed in recent years, find out what you should still avoid in pumps, and read breast pump reviews.