Breastfeeding babies is one of the most important ways to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need along with antibodies to ward off viruses and diseases. If you work away from home, then making sure your baby has enough breast milk to last throughout the day can be difficult.
Using a breast pump is a good way to express enough milk for your baby and reading Willow breast pump reviews is a great way to find the best breast pump for your needs.
Types Of Breast Pumps
When you’re shopping for a breast pump for yourself or as a baby shower gift, you will find three models available:
- Manual breast pumps
- Battery-operated breast pumps
- Electric breast pumps
Knowing more about them can lead you to one that is best to fulfill a baby’s needs.
Manual Breast Pump
A manual breast pump has a shield that goes over the nipple and areola, so when the use squeezes the handle milk starts to flow into a container that attaches to the pump. The container may be a small tube that creates vacuum pressure by pumping it in and out through a larger tube. Once it starts to flow, the milk goes into a container.
The second type of manual breast pump, known as a bicycle horn pump due to its shape, has a hollow bulb-shape, usually made from rubber, that the user squeezes to get the milk flowing from the breast. There is a tube between the bulb and the breast shield that can be difficult to clean, which is why some experts don’t like women using these pumps.
Manual pumps work well for traveling or when only pumping occasionally. However, if you’re going to be frequently pumping at home, consider buying a battery-operated or an electrical breast pump, so you don’t need to manually squeeze the pump to get the milk your baby needs.
Powered Breast Pumps
The breast pump that you keep and use at home may use batteries or attach to an electrical cord to power the pump and extract milk. These pumps may have one container that a woman holds up to her breast as it pumps, or she can wear a bra to hold and pump both breasts at the same time.
Battery-operated pumps are small, so they are easy to travel with, and they are easy to use. If a woman uses disposable batteries, then they can then be costly. However, if she switches to or uses rechargeable batteries, then the cost isn’t a factor in operating the pump. However, it is a good idea to keep some disposable batteries on hand in case of a power outage.
Since some battery-powered pumps do not have the strength to maintain a pre-pumped supply of milk, an electrical pump may be a better option for women who need milk for nannies or babysitters or who have multiple babies.
Electric pumps are the most efficient type of breast pump and can help moms maintain a good supply of milk. However, in case of power outages, keeping a manual pump on hand is a good idea, especially because some babies don’t do well with breastfeeding.
What Is The Willow Breast Pump?
The Willow breast pump is a battery-powered pump that women can wear under a shirt, sweater, or dress and pump milk while they’re at work, doing chores, or relaxing with their family. It does not attach to a bra, so it discreetly fits under a shirt or blouse while using a regular nursing bra for secure placement.
Most breast pumps are noisy, but the Willow breast pump operates quietly, so women can talk on the telephone, take work meetings, or watch television while laying down and expressing their babies’ milk. The pump is wireless and attachment free, so there is nothing to indicate that the pump is present.
How It Works
Inside the box are two pumps, one for each breast, that women wear beneath a nursing bra for a snug fit. The milk bags go Inside of the pump to collect a baby’s milk as mom expresses it. Once a milk bag is in the pump, then the other half of it snaps over it, and it is ready for use.
The flange of the pump needs to center over the nipple to extract the milk into the bag. It has two sizes of flanges for the pumps, 24mm, and 27mm. Once they are situated, then the woman can use the touchpad to turn it on. Once it‘s on, it will cycle through the stimulation to production phase and pump milk into the Willow’s unique circular bags.
The bags are self-contained in the pumps, so there isn’t any wires, tubes, or bottles hanging from them. Collecting the milk in bags prevents spills and embarrassing leaks, as long as the nipple is centered correctly. The Willow automatically adjusts to a woman’s milk production and switches to expression mode to prevent waiting a certain amount of time to be able to produce milk.
Along with turning the pumps on, the touchpad starts and stops expressing milk, and moves the flange up and down to adjust the suction. Each pump runs on rechargeable batteries, but only one pump at a time is chargeable. Charging the pumps for 20 minutes lasts one session, but a full charge, which takes about two hours, can last five sessions.
Willow also comes with a smartphone app for both Android and iOS phones. The app keeps track of the volume of milk that a woman pumps, the time it took to pump, and the information for past sessions. It also provides tips to make pumping milk a smoother experience.
The iOS app is for iPhone 5 and newer iPhones which run iOS 11.x or later versions of the operating system. Android phones that run Android Oreo 8.x or Pie 9.x will be compatible with the Willow. Android smartphones include:
- Samsung: Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S7 Active
- amsung: Galaxy S8, S8+, S8 Active
- Samsung: Galaxy S9, S9+
- Google: Pixel 1, Pixel 1 XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 3
- LG: G5, G6, G6+
- LG: V20, V30, V40
Support For Mothers
The Willow company also offers support for mothers who are having trouble working with the breast pumps. They offer women one-on-one coaching via live chat, texting, or they can speak with one of their coaches over the telephone.
The company wants to be able to help women use Willow correctly, and answer any of their questions about the product. Also, they offer a limited 12-month warranty on the Willow that starts from the date of its first use.
What Does It Include?
When you purchase the Willow breast pump you get:
- Two breast pumps
- Two 24mm flanges, if the order includes 27mm flanges, they ship separately
- Two Flextubes
- 24 four-ounce milk bags
- Two cleaning brushes
- Two carrying bags
Material: Food grade plastic that is BPA-free
Pump Dimension: 141mm x 85mm x 112mm
Pump Weight: 355 grams
Vacuum Strength: 60-245 mm
Hg Cycle Speed: 60-90 cycles/minute
Motor Life: 273 hours (Defined to be approximately three 15-minute sessions per day for one year.)
How It Compares
Although the Willow breast pump may have been the first wearable breast pump on the market, there are others that now compete with it. While smart pumps, those using a smartphone app, have been around for the past few years, some of the competitors that Willow breast pump reviews mention are new. The competition includes the Pump by Babyation, Elvie Pump, and Freemie Liberty.
Babyation Breast Pump
Image source: babyation.com
The Pump by Babyation is similar to traditional breast pumps in that it uses a long tube that attaches to the nipple flanges, which they call shields, to deliver the milk to storage bottles. Women wear the shields under a bra, and the tube runs down into the bottles. Women who use this pump can wear it under their regular clothing and use the pump almost anywhere they happen to be.
The pump operates quietly, so women who pump from their offices don’t need to let telephone calls go to voicemail or close their office doors when pumping. They can keep working normally, or, if they are at home, they can enjoy music or watch television without needing to turn the volume up to hear the audio.
Like the Willow, the Pump also has a smartphone app that relays details of a woman’s pumping sessions. It can tell her how much she pumped, the length of a session, and, if only one breast is pumped, it can tell her which one. The app also turns the breast pump on and off.
Babyation Pump isn’t available yet, but for women who have an interest in buying one, they are taking reservations for it on the Babyation website.
Elvie Breast Pump
Image source: elvie.com
The Elvie Pump is a breast pump that is hands-free and wearable like the Willow. It fits beneath a nursing bra, so women who are pumping milk can wear their regular clothing over it. It runs silently, even more quietly than Willow according to a review, so women can be discreet if they decide to use it at work or while running errands.
Also like the Willow, when the pump detects let-down, it automatically switches from stimulation mode to expression, so women don’t need to keep track of the stages while pumping. The pump also pauses when a bottle reaches its limit. It doesn’t use bags to catch the milk, but instead, it goes into the container, or bottle, that attaches to the pump.
The bottle is reusable, and, for some women, the pump is flatter against their chests than other breast pumps of its kind, including the Willow. However, the suction isn’t as strong as the Willow’s, so it takes longer to fill up a bottle.
The Elvie Pump also uses a smartphone app that turns the pump on, control the suctioning strength, and switch from stimulation to expression. It also tells users their pumping volume and tracks the pumping history for each breast. The app is compatible with iPhone 5S and newer if they have iOS 10+.
It is also compatible with Android smartphones that use version 6 or newer and that support Bluetooth Low Energy. The Elvie Pump, like the Babyation breast pump, isn’t on sale yet, but the company plans to sell it on their website, Amazon, and at other retailers.
Image source: freemie.com
Another wearable breast pump is the Freemie Liberty pump. It consists of lightweight cups that women can wear under a nursing bra to collect the milk they express. The cups can hold up to eight ounces, that users can pour from the cups into a bag or bottle to use immediately or they can store it for use at another time.
It has a small pump motor that can sit on the table, fit into a bag or purse, or it goes onto a belt clip, so women can wear it on a belt or their waistband while pumping away from home. It has a sleep timer that will allow the pump to run while a woman naps from five to 40 minutes. Also, it recharges via a USB port on a computer or in the car.
While the pump is programmable, it doesn’t have an app, so women would need to track volume, frequency of pumping, and other information manually.
Pros And Cons
This list of pros and cons can help you decide whether to buy the Willow breast pump.
- Women can wear the pumps beneath a nursing bra and their regular clothes
- The pump operates quietly
- 12-month limited warranty
- A smartphone app is available for both iOS and Android phones
- Easy to assemble
- Easy to use
- The Willow has a high retail price
- It uses unique milk bags that are only available on their website
- Just one pump can charge at a time
- It does not allow a user to pump and charge a breast pump simultaneously
- Milk bags for versions 1.0 and 2.0 are not interchangeable
After reviewing all the information for the Willow breast pump, we’ve come to the conclusion that this is a good buy for breastfeeding moms, even though it and the milk bags are expensive. The ability to wear the pumps beneath a nursing bra and regular clothing frees the hands of busy mothers. They don’t need to be at home to pump milk, and it is discreet enough to wear in public or to work.
Even though it is expensive to buy and operate due to the cost of the milk bags, having a mother’s hands-free to take care of her baby or do chores while pumping is a huge advantage for both working women and those who stay home and run a household. She can cook, clean, and pay the bills while pumping milk to feed her baby.
The app makes it easier to operate the pumps because she doesn’t need to reach into the bra to shut them off or check to see how full they are when pumping. She can do both things and more with the smartphone app. In conclusion, this review, like other Willow breast pump reviews, finds that this breast pump can make a mom’s life easier.
Even though it does cost more to own and operate than traditional breast pumps, the ability to do so hands-free from anywhere you go is an advantage that most women today need to keep up with the fast pace of life.
Featured Image: Image via Willow Breast