Do you have twins when they are newborns? I am currently sitting in my car waiting for my daughter’s eye doctor appointment when the plastic fork end I was using got caught in the end of my cinnamon roll as I was eating breakfast at 130PM. I just kept chewing because I didn’t have time to react. The thought just occurred to me that I have had to pee since I woke up. With those charming anecdotes in mind, I hope I’ve been able to colorfully illustrate to you the small amount of time I have to sit near an outlet and not move for at least 30 minutes while using I gladly agreed to help test wireless breast pumps because it is a brilliant concept, and I do not believe this to be hyperbole. Some wireless smart pumps are on the market, but Elvie, a UK-based brand, and Willow, winner of the Best of CES Award, are two of the most popular. The past few weeks, I have used these two pumps along with a wired Spectra pump to see how they work in practical situations. Is it more difficult to keep on top of pumping schedules with these two models? How much more work could I accomplish if I was not tethered to an The rest of the story will describe this but you should be aware I’m going to use the word ‘nipple’ a lot.
Willow 3.0 Breast Pump –
A review can be found
There are two white and mint-green egg-shaped pumps included in the Willow box, each weighing 12.5 ounces (0.78 pounds). In addition to the Flextubes, Willow also includes 24 ‘O’ shaped milk bags that fit into the flanges. Several tiny magnets located around the pump’s rim allow the flanges to attach to the pumps. You can control how many pumping sessions you want with the buttons on the pump’s front. You can choose from two collection options at The Willow Use the disposable bags with the flange that needs to be attached before every use, or use re-usable bags that can be cleaned and emptied after each use. Neither option has all the advantages nor all the disadvantages. In order to use the Willow’s standard flange, you’ll need to purchase proprietary bags, which you can purchase at Willow’s website, on Amazon, or at Despite its spill-proof nature, even the downward dog yoga pose is claimed to be safe with this set up. The claim in question was accurate when I tested it. Other options such as the reusable flanges are offered Even though they are washable, they do not make the liquid spill-proof, and they require the user to remember two settings so they can
You can use the ‘flip to finish’ feature either way to collect the remaining milk into the container of your choice (bag or flange) when you’re done pumping. Separating the pump from the breast, you’ll spin it upward and upside down — which seems like a surefire way to fill your lap with milk. A Willow system, however, kicks in and pulls the remaining milk into the bag. It’s fun to watch, but occasionally a little fluid stays in the Flextube, so I needed to finish with a towel otherwise I’d wind up with a few drops of milk leaking out.
A smaller version of Elvie is also available, weighing 0.49 pounds and shaped like an egg. These breast shields are flanged on one side, and have separate attachments from the container. The volume markers attach to the bottom of the pump and are made of clear plastic. This product is designed to be used on a counter or table as you prep, which I found quite convenient. By pressing or pulling on the breast shields, we can insert or remove them with ease. In the Elvie pumps, there are buttons for power, play, intensity, and associated side (whereas the Willow pumps have left and right buttons). I also found that it was possible to separate the bottles with this button. Additionally, there are adjusters on the Elvie to help it fit into a bra comfortably. Disposable bags are not available for use with the pump, and you are not guaranteed that it will not spill. Despite claiming to be silent, it is not quite silent. I found Elvie to be the quietest among all the pumps I tested. There is a somewhat smaller profile, but the white indicator lights on front of the pump shine through the user’s shirt (which makes me think that the pump is similar to the Iron Man Boob).
Comfort and fit
I fitted the clear flange over my breast and attached the pump to start a session according to the instructions in the Willow manual. Fit is a critical factor to successful pumping, so it is essential to ensure a good fit. During the setting of the Willow pump, the red light on the pump flashes and the pump pauses. If there is an error message in an app, it will tell you what’s wrong so that you can resolve it. You can go about your day as soon as pumping begins. Simply lift your bra cup. I found it easy to begin a session. I made only a few mistakes in how I put things together It didn’t seem to be too challenging to address the issues. The Willow stayed in place nicely, and the pumping itself wasn’t A tug and a bit of pressure did the trick, and I did not feel any pain or pins or needles in my nipples, though it was definitely
It made me look ridiculous, however. My appearance was quite different from the chic women on the Willow site who used the pumps while doing yoga I looked like Jessica Rabbit in a Terry Gilliam film The proportions of my body were comically exaggerated and I made rhythmic pumping noises with my chest. As the pumping method was embarrassing to me, my partner would laugh at me while I used them, and I would not venture far beyond the mailbox. It is a joy to have Elvie pumps, which are much smaller and considerably quieter than ordinary pumps. Despite this, I would probably not wear them out in public. Still, taking conference calls was a lot easier for me than before. In the same way as the Willow, the Elvie pumps are placed against the breast and are held in place by the bra Elvie has included an adjustable band in the kit for when the straps need to be widened (I, however, have never done this). As well as having much smaller flange pieces, the Elvie pumps have black indicator lines on the flange pieces that help you align the nipple correctly so you can put the pump on already assembled. I didn’t notice it until I unlatched them, though there is a tendency for the pumps to get warm due to the collection containers located on the bottom of the pump. Elvie warns the pumps have a tendency to get warm.
In contrast to my wired Spectra pump, which has five intensity settings, both systems allow seven intensity settings. In order to get the best results, I usually ran the pumps at the highest setting I found comfortable, which was setting 4 or 5. With both pumps, milk production automatically shifts from stimulation (which signal to the breast that milk is being released) to expression (when milk is continually being produced). This must be done manually on the Spectra. While it was completely fine to hold my children, I found it awkward to hold them because of the awkward bulges in the front of my shirt. I immediately felt like Marge Simpson in the episode where she has giant implants and can’t hold Maggie in front of A second concern was that the pumps would bang my children’s soft heads against the hard ones.
Ease of use
Since I had been using wired pumps for several weeks, I didn’t find that a wireless version was too hard to adapt to, though there were some When it came to the Willow, learning how to install the milk bags and flanges was an issue To start a session, I had to take the assembly apart a few times and redo it. In the case of a pump that wouldn’t connect via Bluetooth (more on that below), the app clues you in to what the problem is, but it didn’t fix it. Were there a few instances where no milk was produced on one side, but there was no issue reported in the app? Was this due to improper The bag sat poorly in the flange, did I make a mistake? One Flextube stopped working with a reusable flange, despite trying several times, even though I could get it to work again with the standard flanges and the other reusable flange (though the Flextubes worked correctly with the standard flanges). The circumstance would have been much more disappointing if I didn’t have other options to complete my session. Willow’s ‘flip to finish’ feature unwittingly lead to me spilling milk on two occasions, since I forgot to toggle the switches on the reusable flange before finishing a session. I’m the one responsible for that. It was more difficult than I thought to seat my breast shield in Elvie due to my nipple being too large. Although the shield was marked, I still had some sessions where I apparently didn’t line up correctly, resulting in hardly any milk, sometimes from one side and sometimes from both sides. There was not a lot of information to help me figure it out, so this happened at least three times.
These breast pumps are smart, but the paired apps were not quite up to snuff. They work fine without pairing, and there were issues with both the Evie and Willow apps I tried. One of the Willow pumps (the right one) didn’t connect to the app very often. Unfortunately, I was unable to solve the problem by following the troubleshooting instructions. There were only a few sessions where I had both pumps running, so I only had half the battery life data and volume data. I found this annoying and the app seemed pointless as a result. My first call to Willow was to ask about the pump resetting, and she responded that she would. I was recommended to try a reset by them. Even though it did seem to fix the problem — and for my next session the pump was still disconnected — my metric history was filled into the app. In addition, the reset was not something that was easy to troubleshoot with the manual, which simply advises resetting the device “when it is necessary.”
Although Elvie did have some hiccups, it was still a good film. Having tried out the pumps before pairing them with the app, I found the first time I opened the program it showed my pumping history going back to I also recall at least two sessions in which the app indicated I’d produced a lot more milk than was actually in the bottles. I would say that these aren’t dealbreakers, but otherwise I wouldn’t recommend the app portion of the product. Evie has some features you might find useful, such as controls you can use from your phone to pause, start or stop a session. Furthermore, Willow’s app provided a visual representation of the remaining time left in the current session and pumping history. Using the apps was fun when you could monitor the volume of milk collecting and in case you needed information or statistics.
It’s easy to predict the drawbacks of using a smart breast pump system, which allows you to put the whole pump into your bra and have complete freedom of movement. It’s important to keep the pumps charged so they’re ready to go when you are. Just as you would keep a set of Bluetooth earbuds charged, you need to do the same for the pumps. Because I live on an off-grid property that is primarily powered by solar energy, I’m always on the lookout for a battery-powered solution that allows me to charge during the day. This allows me to avoid using While either pump is charging, you will be unable to use it. This safetly restraint is for obvious reasons. In order to charge a Willow pump, you need a 120V charging cable with a port on the underside. In the kit, you’ll find one charging cable In addition, extras are available for $30 separately. ELvie uses a standard mini-USB charger on the side of the pump, accessible through a covered port. Two hours of charging is needed for the Willow pumps to reach full capacity but they can store enough power for a single session in less than Both Elvie and Willow offer the same 2-hour charging time. Willow states that the battery will last for five sessions of 25 minutes each. I found that the right pump consistently lost battery faster than the left in practice, though. The battery would sometimes start with a fully charged charge and I would get a low-power warning halfway through the On more than one occasion, I went to start the bike only to find myself staring at the red pump when the green one had been ready for about an hour. In the words of Willow, this could be because the pump is trying to download a firmware update, but has been shut off before it can complete. As a result, I followed their instructions, which fixed the issue for a day or two before it returned. The battery life of Elvie pumps can last up to two and a half hours on their standard setting. According to my testing, they ran longer than the ones from Willow As a rule, I got three sessions out of the Elvie pumps over 48 hours, but I had to charge that errant right Willow pump quite frequently. In comparison to the right one, the left one lasted longer, keeping its charge for one or two sessions each day for Looking forward, I am hoping to fix the firmware fix again for the Willow pump in order to produce better results.
Cleaning and sterilizing
Breast pumps, like any other type of equipment, require all parts touching the breast or funneling breast milk through the system to be sterilized first by boiling in water for five to ten minutes (some models allow Once each component has been used, it needs to be washed and air dried. Cleaning the pumps themselves is as simple as wiping them with a There are only two parts to Willow’s system, which makes it easy to clean The Flextube and flange are joined by a flex tube. There are a few small tubes and tunnels in these two parts that will have to be cleaned with the brushes that come with the kit. In addition, Flextubes take a long time to dry on their own. As I became increasingly frustrated my desire to have an extra set of sheets arose so that I would not be forced to wait for them to dry before I could continue working. Elvie has a lot more components to clean in her system Aside from the bottles, spouts, valves, seals and breast shields, there are five on each side. While there are no tiny tunnels to brush, the job is easier since there are no tiny spaces. The bottles were the only exception to the drying process.
For both of these systems, there is no getting around the cost. Willow’s Gen 3 model, which costs $500, is its latest model. There are two options available to Elvie With a single pump, you can pay $279, or on a dual pump setup, you can pay $499 for all kit pieces, including two pumps. In the world where a flagship smartphone can cost over $1,500 and earbuds can run up to $350, the prices may seem reasonable. But the Medela Sonata is $359, almost double the Spectra S2. When you buy this option, you are paying for the convenience of being able to disconnect from a wall socket. In most cases, it is worth your time and effort, especially if you can use a refund from your insurance company. A two-year warranty on the pump is given by Elvie, along with a 90-day warranty on anything that can be washed. It should take the Elvie washable parts (breast shield and bottle) about six months to wear out Elvie’s website lists the price for bottles in three packs at $35, and for breast shields in two packs at $30. In comparison, Willow provides a year’s warranty on the pump, as well as 90 days for the other parts. It is recommended to replace the flange and Flextube every three months for the Willow system The cost of two sets of flanges is $30 and two sets of Flextubes run $30.
It is for a reason that Willow has gained a reputation A number of innovative features are built into its product, which has a large following. While my pump didn’t always work as it was supposed to, I still appreciated the ability to brush my teeth, clean baby bottles, and walk from one room to another The Bluetooth connection could be more consistent, to be honest. It was disappointing to have battery problems as well. As a whole, I still preferred to use the Willow pumps by waiting for them to charge instead of using my wired Spectra, which proves how useful it The Elvie pumps offer the same level of freedom but have Since I liked being able to see the bottles, I could make sure the pumps were pulling in milk from the bottles while I liked the nearly silent pumping noise and slimmer profile of the Elvie. I’d choose the Willow because of the battery life and Bluetooth issues of the Elvie. Although if you asked me which pump system would be better, I would suggest either over a wired pump if anyone asked me that question.
The update is After our review was published, Elvie emailed us to inform us that the company released a firmware update that gave users the option to dim the lights on the pumps, so they would no longer shine through fabric. Furthermore, in the original version of this review we referred to the doctor in the first paragraph as an optometrist instead of an ophthalmologist. We apologize for any confusion caused.