Hands free breast pumps can offer new moms amazing freedom! You can easily pump while doing anything from sleeping to grocery shopping to driving. There are now a few wireless breast pumps on the market, and it’s hard to know which to choose – Elvie vs. Willow. Here are how the two pumps compare so that you can choose the best hands free breast pump for you!
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Wireless vs Hands-free Breast Pumps
In fact, when you buy a double pump, you are actually buying TWO pumps, one for each breast. They aren’t connected at all and can work independently – you can pump on one side or both sides using either Elvie or Willow.
You can turn the pumps on and adjust the suction levels either directly on the pump, or by using an app on your phone. Both pumps automatically sense when your milk lets down and switch to expression mode.
There are some hands-free breast pumps that are not wireless, such as the Freemie Liberty (it fits in your bra but does have tubing and an external pump motor), but this article focuses on the best wireless breast pumps.
Elvie vs Willow Differences
Below are the major differences between the Willow and Elvie at a glance:
5 oz (150 ml) bottles
4 oz (120 ml) bags or reusable container
21mm, 24mm, and 28mm
21mm, 24mm, and 27mm
Pump Parts to Clean
2 (3 if you use the container)
Available for iOS and Android
Available for iOS and Android
Takes about 2 hours to charge; charge lasts for 2.5 hours of pumping
Takes about 2 hours to charge; charge lasts for about 5 pumping sessions
Support via call or text during business hours
Two years on pump; 90 days on pump parts
One year from purchase date; 90 days on pump parts
Here is a little more detail on these differences.
The biggest difference between the Elvie and the Willow is what you pump into:
- With the Elvie pump, you pump into a reusable 5oz bottle.
- When you pump using the Willow, you can pump into either a reusable container or into one of their proprietary bags. Both the bags and the container hold 4oz. The bags cannot be reused.
If you pump more than the bag or bottle holds, both pumps will automatically stop to allow you to change out the bag or bottle, so you don’t have to worry about overflowing. You can then switch it out and keep pumping.
If you’re exclusively pumping and decide to get a Willow, I would recommend buying the reusable milk container, as just using the bags will get expensive. For example, if you pump 5 times a day, you’d need 10 bags per day, or about 300 per month. This amount of breast milk bags will cost you over $100 every month.
However, SOME bags may come in handy, as they are spill-proof.
Both the Elvie bottles and the Willow reusable containers may leak if you bend over. Having the option to pump into bags means that when you need to, you can pump lying down, while cleaning, etc.
(Many nurses and doctors in our Facebook group pump using the Willow because they are able to bend over and care for patients while pumping.)
Breast Shield Sizes
Elvie offers the following flange sizes:
The 24mm and 28mm come with the pump; if they don’t fit and you need the smaller size, you can order the 21mm.
- 21mm (with the reusable container)
Sizes other than the ones listed are not supported for either pump.
It’s critical to make sure that you will fit one of the sizes for the pump that you choose! Neither company accepts returns of opened pumps, and pumping with the wrong size breast shield can damage your nipples. You can review Willow’s sizing chart here and Elvie’s information on sizing is here.
Wearing Wearable Breast Pumps on the Go
Both the Elvie and the Willow can be worn out of the house without being obvious.
One mom in our Facebook group has a Willow, Elvie, and a Freemie, and took photos of herself without a pump and then with each of them. You can see how they compare below:
(Idaho Jones makes a great case for wearable pumps that you can use to take your pump on the go. You can get 10% off with the code EPUMP.)
The Elvie pump has 5 parts to clean – valve, spout, bottle, seal, and breast shield. They can be washed by hand or on the top shelf of the dishwasher. Pump parts should be completely dry before using again.
Willow has two parts to clean, the flange and a tube that connects to the pump. These can also be washed by hand or on the top rack of the dishwasher. (If you use the reusable milk container, that adds a third part.)
Willow recommends not using a microwave sterilizer bag to sterilize their pump parts. They can be sanitized using a dishwasher, a countertop sterilizer, or boiling water.
Elvie and Willow both have apps that are available for iOS and Android. You can download them from the app store and connect your pump.
Using the apps, you can turn your pump on and off, adjust the suction strength, see how much you’ve pumped, and track pumping output over time for each breast.
Elvie claims to be “silent,” while Willow states that it is “quiet.”
Both pumps take about 2 hours to fully charge.
Elvie’s charge will hold for about 2.5 hours of pumping, while Willow says that it lasts for about 5 pumping sessions.
One of the comments notes below that, with the Willow, you may want to buy an extra charger, since you have to charge two pumps, and only one is provided with the pump. (If you buy a double pump, the Elvie comes with two charging cords.)
Elvie offers support via email (email@example.com).
Willow offers customers support via phone or text (1-888-WILLOW-3) during business hours.
Neither pump can be returned to the manufacturer once opened. However, retailers like Target or BuyBuyBaby may accept a return under certain circumstances, so you may want to check return policies before buying.
Elvie offers a two year warranty on the pump and 90 days on the pump parts.
Willow’s warranty is one year from purchase, and they also cover the accessories for 90 days.
Wireless Breast Pump Prices and Insurance Coverage
The latest version of both the Elvie and the Willow are similarly priced at around $500 for two pumps. (Most people will want to double pump, and therefore will need one pump for each breast.)
If you have health insurance in the United States, you should be entitled to one breast pump, at no cost, per pregnancy.
However, exactly what type of pump that a policy covers can vary a lot. Some policies will cover the rental of a hospital-grade pump, others will cover a double electric pump, and some will just cover a manual pump.
Most policies will not cover a Willow or an Elvie – but that doesn’t meant that you necessarily would have to pay the full cost out of pocket if you decide to get one.
Options that you can look into include:
- Upgrading your covered pump. Aeroflow Breastpumps stocks both the Elvie and the Willow, and you may be able to get it at a discounted price through them. If you haven’t gotten your pump through insurance yet, fill the linked form and see if you can get one at a discount.
- Getting your pump partially covered out-of-network by your insurance.
- Using your FSA or HSA (if you have one) to pay for your pump. Breast pumps are medical devices and generally eligible for reimbursement.
I have a discount code for the Willow! Use EPUMP to get $25 off.References