Being able to pump and do pretty much whatever I wanted at the same time – clean the house, commute, even take a nap – is something I only dreamed about when I was exclusively pumping. The Willow Pump is an innovative pump that frees you up to pump whenever and wherever you’d like. Here’s a complete Willow pump review.
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What is the Willow Pump?
The Willow 3.0 breast pump is a completely different kind of pump, and a really inventive design that allows you to pump hands-free.
Essentially, it’s two breast pumps – one for each side – that you place inside your bra, position to “latch,” and turn on.
The milk goes into a bag or reusable container stored within the Willow pump, rather than to bottles.
The pump connects with an app on your phone, and you can use the app to turn the pump on and off and adjust the suction. You can also see how long you’ve been pumping and how much milk you’ve gotten.
How is the Willow Pump different from other pumps?
The Willow is a huge step up from the traditional breast pump.
Not only are you always pumping hands-free (and you don’t need to get a separate pumping bra to do it), but there is no tubing that you have to connect to a pump, and there are no bottles hanging off of the front of your chest. The pumps just go into your bra.
What are the advantages of the Willow Breast Pump?
Some of the pros of using a Willow include:
- Mobility! Obviously, the biggest advantage is that you can move around and do anything while you pump – make dinner, take care of your baby, work, etc.
- Willow has the option to pump into spill-proof bags, which means you can lie down or bend over while pumping. (Willow is the only hands-free pump with this as an option.)
- There are only two parts that need to be cleaned – the flange and the flextube. (If you’re pumping into Willow’s reusable container, that would be a third piece.)
- The app allows you to see how much you’re pumping in real-time, plus it tracks your pumping time and amounts for you.
- You have the ability to set the suction for each side to different levels. If you need stronger suction on one side and gentler on the other, the Willow is one of the few pumps where this is possible.
- It’s quieter than most pumps, though it’s not silent.
What are the disadvantages of the Willow Breast Pump?
There are a few cons to think about:
- If you have a big supply and generally pump more than 4 oz per side, you will need to stop pumping and switch out the container/bag in the middle of the session.
- Some people like to switch back into stimulation/letdown mode after their milk stops flowing in order to get another letdown, and it’s not possible to switch back to letdown mode with the Willow.
- It can take some people a little time to get used to the Willow, because the suction works a little differently than other pumps.
The biggest issue for many people, though, is the price.
Is the Willow pump worth it?
This is such a personal question, because so much depends on your budget and your life circumstances.
For example, if you don’t have a lot of extra money and will only need to pump at work, where you’ll be in a lactation room with an outlet, I would say no.
However, if you have a larger budget and need to pump multiple times per day on the go, then yes, it can definitely be worth it.
There are a few options to make the Willow more affordable:
- Aeroflow Breastpumps stocks 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 out the linked form and see if you can get one at a discount.
- If you have an FSA or HSA, you can use that to pay for the pump.
- You may also be able to get reimbursement through insurance if yours covers out-of-network pumps.
Here are some additional thoughts from people who have used it (from my instagram stories):
Will the Willow pump work for everyone?
No, not everyone. One thing to be concerned about is nipple size.
Willow suggests using their app to determine your flange size.
Willow sells three flange sizes – 21mm, 24mm, and 27mm. If you are under size 27 or under, you should be able to use Willow, though you may want to use BeauGen cushions or Freemie inserts if you’re between sizes, or need a smaller size than the 21mm flanges.
(Breast pump inserts reduce the size of a flange by 1-2mm.)
Some of the comments to this post have more info on sizing from Willow users that might be helpful for you.
Does the Willow work with small breasts? Large breasts?
Yes. Nipple size, rather than breast size, is what can be the issue.
Should you buy the reusable container?
You also need to purchase bags and/or a separate reusable container:
The bags are spill-proof, but the reusable container will leak if you bend over.
Because the cost of bags adds up, if you’re planning on pumping frequently, I would suggest buying the container. The pump comes with some bags you can try out for when you want to lie down while pumping or if you are in a situation where you don’t want to deal with the container.
Will others be able to tell that you’re pumping with a Willow?
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:
Do you need a special bra to pump with the Willow?
No, any stretchy nursing bra will work.
Willow recommends not using padded or underwire bras with the pump.
What’s the bottom line?
I think the Willow 3.0 is an awesome pump, and the ability to pump into a spill-proof bags (making it possible to move completely freely) is a great feature.
Hopefully this Willow breast pump review helps you make your decision. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!References
- Willow. https://www.willowpump.com/
- Heathcare.gov. “Using a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).” https://www.healthcare.gov/have-job-based-coverage/flexible-spending-accounts/
- HSA Center. “What is an HSA?” https://www.hsacenter.com/what-is-an-hsa/
- Interview with Sharon T., Willow Pump user, conducted 5/1/18.