One product that I have been wanting to try with baby #3 is the Freemie. The Freemie is a completely different kind of milk collection system. Most pumping systems have three major parts – a breast shield (or flange) that fits over your nipple, a pumping mechanism (breast shield connector, membrane/valve, etc.), and then a bottle that the milk is collected in. The Freemie has the same three things, but instead of being pumped into a bottle, the milk flows into a collection cup that surrounds the breast shields and pumping mechanism. Everything fits into a cup that you can put in your bra.
This is really pretty cool. You don’t need a hands-free pumping bra – you can just put the collection cups in your bra and you’re all set. Also, I have never really enjoyed having bottles hanging off of my chest, so this is a nice change!
However …. the Freemie manufacturer advertises that you can “pump anywhere, in front of anyone” with your shirt on using these cups. In fact, the box shows a woman chopping vegetables while pumping (well, presumably she’s pumping – I’m not sure why else there would have been a lady chopping vegetables on a box of pumping equipment – but you can’t tell, either way).
I am not sure that it is entirely as easy and freewheeling as they make it sound. First, in terms of pumping in front of anyone – yes, you can definitely do that. Just to be clear, though, it’s not like no one will know what you are doing. The collection cups are rather large, so it’s obvious that you’ve stuffed your bra with something. Additionally, you have to actually be attached to the pump itself, which means that you have tubing coming out of the top of the collection cups, and you’d have to thread that back down through your bra so that it can be connected to the pump from the bottom of your shirt. And, of course, there is still the sound of the pump.
To me, the benefit is more one of a better design. It’s easier to type on a laptop or bottle-feed a baby if you don’t have two giant bottles hanging off of your chest – being able to have the cups more securely attached and out of the way inside your bra is much better. Your range of motion is also a lot less limited, and you don’t have the temptation to constantly check the bottles to see how much you’re pumping – which (for me anyway) adds some stress to a pumping session. Another benefit is that you can recline a bit more with these that you can with normal breast shields.
I had a little trouble pouring the milk out of the collection cups into a bottle the first few times I tried it, so I would suggest practicing with water first. (Tip: Use a normal breast shield as a funnel when you pour breast milk. Just put it into the bottle you’re pouring into, and you’re a lot less likely to spill.)
The collection cups are compatible with the Medela Pump in Style and quite a few other pumps (here is a full list). Freemie also sells a pump that works with the cups.