An Introduction to Natural Breast Pumps

Avoid Toxic Breast Pumps with Natural Alternatives like BPA Free Breast Pumps

The ability to express and store your breast milk can be a necessity at times. Make sure that you use a natural breast pump that is free of toxic material and is always bpa free. In this article we will highlight the toxicity in conventional breast pumps and how to easily choose the natural alternatives. 

 

The trouble with conventional breast pumps

Perhaps the biggest concern with conventional breast pumps is the BPA that may be used to make the plastic components that come into contact with your breast milk. But in terms of the environment, there are other issues to consider as well.

  • Bisphenol A (BPA): This chemical is used to make #7 polycarbonate plastics and has been linked to neural, reproductive, and developmental health problems in babies. Though steps have been taken to remove this chemical from baby bottles, it is likely still in many breast pump components unless otherwise stated on the packaging.[1] Sometimes polycarbonate is identified as “PC” on the bottom of the product.
  • Polyvinylchloride (PVC): This flexible, soft plastic may be used to make some of the components on your breast pump, but it too could pose some health and environmental problems. Manufacturing and disposing of PVC creates dioxins which cause neurological, reproductive, developmental, and hormonal health problems.[2] PVC plastic is highly flexible and can be identified by the #3 in the chasing recycling arrows.
  • Energy consumption: If you choose an electric or battery-powered breast pump, you’ll be using fossil fuel energy to power it (unless you’ve installed some solar panels or have a wind turbine, of course!). Though more convenient than manual pumps, these will add to your carbon footprint.
  • Recyclability: Breast pumps are likely composite products, meaning they’re made from a combination of different types of plastics as well as metal and so on. This makes recycling them very difficult, if not impossible.

 

Looking for eco-friendly natural breast pumps and accessories

The trick to finding a safe breast pump is to make sure that all of the parts are safe for use with breast milk. Consider things like the breast tubes, breast shields, and the storage containers so that anything that contacts your precious breast milk is safe and free from toxic contaminants. In particular, look for the following characteristics:

  • Recyclable: If possible, look for a breast pump that’s made to be completely recyclable. At the very least, look at the various parts of the pump to determine whether it could be disassembled for recycling when the time comes.
  • Go manual: If you’re willing to do a bit more of the arm-work involved in expressing your milk, a manual pump is definitely the eco-friendly way to go. Not only will it use less energy, with fewer electronic components, it will be much safer to recycle when it no longer serves its purpose. Plus, these are cheaper than electric models!
  • Rechargeable batteries: If, however, you do choose a powered breast pump, use rechargeable batteries to reduce the toxic waste you produce as you use it. Rechargeables can be used over and over again and are recyclable, too. Plus, they’ll save you hundreds of dollars in the cost of disposable battery replacements.
  • Glass: As with bottles and breast milk storage containers, glass is the best option for breast pump components that actually come into contact with your breast milk. Glass is inert and won’t react with liquids and is never lined with BPA.
  • Polypropylene and polyethylene plastic: Marked with #1, #2, or #5 in the chasing recycling arrows, these plastics will be BPA-free and are also recyclable (though #5 has been shown to be the safest of the three options).
  • BPA free plastic: Some polycarbonate plastics are now being made without the use of BPA and should be safer, although heating them in the microwave is not recommended. Only choose this option if it is labeled as BPA-free.

Finding BPA free breast pumps is now easier than it has been in the past, with a few small and big name companies making systems that use little to no BPA throughout the entire system:






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References

1 Environmental Health Reports. (2007, February 27). Retrieved May 18, 2010, from Environment California: http://www.environmentcalifornia.org/reports/environmental-health/environmental-health-reports/toxic-baby-bottles

2 PVC - THE POISON PLASTIC. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2010, from Greenpeace: http://archive.greenpeace.org/toxics/html/content/pvc1.html#dioxin

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