I can’t afford a breast pump, what are my options?

There is no doubt about it; breast milk offers incredible health benefits for little ones. If full time breastfeeding is not always an option, for example if your little one won’t or can’t latch-on, or you have to return to work, then a breast pump can help you to express milk swiftly so that your baby will be able to get the nourishing benefits. Breast pumps can be very expensive and may simply be out of the budget.

If the high cost of a hospital grade breast pump, which is required for more than occasional use, seems to be a barrier to breastfeeding, here are a few options you can look into.

Local Programs And Support

There are numerous programs designed to specifically help women with the care of their newborns. The WIC (Women Infants Children) program exists to help lower income families with the nutritional needs that their children have. WIC is a very big supporter of breastfeeding and, if you qualify, they may be able to supply you with a quality breast pump. There are typically income restrictions but if you still exceed what the income limitations are then you may still be able to get assistance from another similar program. Contact your local WIC offices or talk to your obstetrician’s office about any support programs that they are aware of.  Income guidelines are available at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/howtoapply/incomeguidelines.htm

Your local chapter of Le Leche League may also be able to provide you with assistance and the resources that you need to find a really inexpensive pump or to qualify for a program that will provide you with one.

Rentals And Pre-Owned Pumps

Renting one versus owning can offset the high cost of a breast pump. Many hospitals offer rental programs that allow you to take home a quality pump that has been sterilized correctly, and will ensure that you can continue supplying your baby with breast milk even when you return to work. It can be a lot more manageable for a fixed budget to pay a few dollars each month versus needing to pay the full retail price of a brand new pump.

You could also consider purchasing a pre-owned pump from one of the online classified or auction websites. Many pregnant women receive pumps as baby shower gifts and never actually used them, which means that for a fraction of the cost you can get a really nice pump that is essentially brand new.

By purchasing new tubing, which is very reasonably priced, and sterilizing other parts of the pump, you’ll be able to use the pump without any concern about infection.

Medical Insurance Coverage

Many insurance companies may cover the cost of a breast pump purchase.  Check your insurance coverage documents prior to delivery.

Otherwise, you will likely be covered if your baby has special needs, is born prematurely, or cannot latch on for other reasons you may qualify for a breast pump that is covered under your medical insurance policy. While this benefit is not always offered, it is prudent to explore all of your options. For example, if your baby was born with a cleft then he will not be able to latch; many insurance plans will cover the cost of a breast pump and specially designed bottles so that your little one can get the nutrition that he needs.

The costs of formula can be crippling to a budget in the first year of a baby’s life, which makes being able to breastfeed and express milk such a necessity for many new moms. Keep in mind that while an electric pump is really useful if you plan on exclusively pumping, a manual pump can also do the job really effectively. The hospital you deliver in will likely provide you with a manual breast pump if you request one, which can help to save you a lot of money otherwise spent on purchasing one.


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