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 Pump
Both the Elvie and the Willow pump are wireless. 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 put the pump in your nursing bra, so no need to buy an additional hands-free pumping accessories.
You can adjust the suction levels on both the Elvie and the Willow pump, and they automatically sense letdown and switch to expression mode.
(There are some hands-free breast pumps that are not wireless, such as the Freemie Liberty, but this article focuses on the best wireless breast pumps.)
Breast Shield Sizes
The 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.
Willow comes with the 24mm and 27mm breast shields. 21mm shields are also available with the purchase of a reusable milk 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.
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 are not reusable.
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 Elvie and Willow containers may leak if you bend over.)
Wearing While Out and About
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:
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.)
Elvie’s pump parts can be sterilized using a microwave steam bag, but Willow’s cannot. They can be sterilized in a countertop sterilizer.
Price and Insurance
The latest version of both pumps are similarly priced at around $500 for two pumps. (Most women will want to double pump and buy one pump for each breast.)
If you have health insurance in the United States, you should be entitled to one free breast pump per child. However, what insurance companies cover will vary. Some will cover the rental of a hospital-grade pump, others will cover a double electric pump, and some will 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. 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.
- Using your FSA or HSA to pay for your pump.
You can ask your insurance company about these options.
Willow also has an older models that may be slightly cheaper. However, the reusable milk container only works with Willow 2.0.
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 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, and last for about one day of pumping once they’ve been charged.
One of the comments notes below that (at least with a Willow) you may want to buy an extra charger, since you have to charge two pumps.
Willow offers customers 1:1 coaching. Elvie offers support via email.
Neither pump can be returned once opened.
Elvie offers a two year warranty on the pump and 90 days on the pump parts. Willow’s warranty is one year from first use.
FYI: Willow gave me a discount code for the month of July 2020. Use EPUMP25 for $25 off their new Gen 3 Willow pump! Offer expires 8/2/2020.References