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Willow vs. Elvie: Which is the best hands-free breast pump?

After years of minimal main enhancements to breast pumps, we’ve come to reside in an age of relative abundance. There at the moment are two breast pumps which might be large leaps ahead for breastfeeding or chestfeeding dad and mom: the Elvie and the Willow

Each the Elvie and Willow are self-contained breast pumps which might be held in place with a full protection nursing bra. They run on rechargeable batteries – the Willow makes use of an A/V charger and the Elvie makes use of USB cables. We have reviewed them each in depth, however right here we’re placing them head-to-head. 

The Elvie is accessible for buy both as a single pump or a set of two, whereas the Willow is solely accessible as a set of two. Since we expect most customers will go for the double pump, that is what we’ll be evaluating on this put up. 

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What’s in the field? 

The Elvie double pump comes with: 

  • Two hubs (the motors) 

  • 4 5-ounce bottles 

  • 2 24mm breast shields

  • 2 28mm breast shields

  • 4 valves

  • 4 spouts

  • 4 seals

  • 4 storage lids

  • 4 bra adjusters

  • 2 USB charging cables

  • 2 carry baggage

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The Willow double pump comes with: 

This is the first level of differentiation between the Willow and Elvie. The Elvie ships with sufficient equipment to pump twice with out having to scrub something aside from the breast shields. This got here in helpful for me once I wanted to pump in the automotive whereas touring; I might simply stash the soiled components in a bag to scrub at my vacation spot. 

When you’re pumping on either side, you will want to scrub the Willow’s components earlier than utilizing it once more, and it could actually malfunction with out common cleansing.

What are the variations between the Willow and the Elvie breast pump? 

The principle variations are: 

  • Price

  • How a lot milk every can maintain

  • How energetic you will be whilst you pump

  • How tough they’re to make use of

  • The way you retailer the milk

Price

Let’s begin with cash. The Elvie’s double pump prices $499 however comes with extra components general. The Willow additionally prices $499 and comes with 24 of the firm’s proprietary baggage. Reusable milk containers will be bought individually for $50, and a bundle of baggage is $23.99 for 48. 

When you’re pumping with the Elvie, or the Willow’s reusable milk container, you possibly can retailer breast milk in freezer baggage, which can be found at most shops from manufacturers like Lansinoh or Medela. When you’re utilizing the proprietary Willow storage baggage, you should buy them instantly from the firm for $23.99 for a bundle of 48.

Exercise ranges

The sort of pump permits for higher mobility than commonplace breast pumps that should be plugged right into a wall and have lengthy tubes connecting the flanges to the motor. They’re additionally extra discreet to make use of. Each the Elvie and Willow are single-user pumps and can’t be shared. Every is eligible to be bought with cash from a well being financial savings account (HSA) or a versatile spending account (FSA). Partial insurance coverage protection could also be accessible in the event you contact your insurer.

The Willow appears to have the clear edge when it comes to what actions you are able to do whereas pumping, due to the one-way valve in the bag. Sporting a cosy bra retains the Willow safe sufficient to do yoga or different moderate-intensity actions, even the place the pump turns into inverted or when the consumer is mendacity down. This is an engineering achievement by itself. 

Sporting the Elvie did not really feel practically safe sufficient to attempt train or important shifting round whereas pumping. I did not need to threat disrupting the seal and having to start out over.

Milk quantity 

The Elvie can deal with a higher quantity of milk produced in a session – 5 ounces in comparison with 4 ounces for the Willow. The Willow shuts off routinely when it senses that it is full. This is a wanted function since you possibly can’t see how a lot milk is in the bag whilst you’re pumping. Nonetheless, it’s additionally potential for the pump to close off prematurely if the sensor is mistaken. 

In distinction, the Elvie’s milk bottle is beneath the motor and visual from the exterior, although your bra can be overlaying it whilst you pump. 

Ideas and methods 

The Elvie comes with two sizes of flanges in the field. The Willow is sized, so it is advisable to measure your breast earlier than buy and select the possibility that ought to match. When you measure mistaken, you will must order a brand new half. 

Selecting between the Willow and the Elvie will in all probability come right down to which options matter extra to you, although understanding that prematurely could also be tough for somebody trying to pump or breastfeed for the first time. The Willow will be difficult to place collectively for the first time, and it has a Flip to End maneuver that strikes all the milk into the bag at the finish of a session. Our reviewer discovered this took a little bit of observe, and she or he unintentionally dumped milk throughout her counter the first time she did it. 

Here is what a day with the breast pumps regarded like…

With any pumping session, you will pump breast milk into both a bottle or a bag, relying in your pump, after which both give it to your child instantly or retailer it for later use. If the child is consuming all the pumped milk inside a 24-hour interval, then protecting the milk in bottles in the fridge will in all probability be the best selection. Many mothers pump a stash of milk previous to returning to work and freeze it. In these circumstances, the child could drink milk that is been defrosted and the newly-pumped milk can be frozen till it is used. 

This distinction issues as a result of it impacts what sort of milk storage you may want. 

The Willow can pump breast milk instantly into its proprietary bag, which is freezer-safe. Due to a one-way valve, you can also’t spill it at this stage. Sadly, Willow’s baggage are costlier than commonplace breast milk baggage you should buy from a grocery retailer or pharmacy. And in the event you’re utilizing the breast milk with out freezing it, you’d use a disposable bag each time. 

The Willow does have an possibility to purchase a reusable plastic milk container that attaches to the pump. You possibly can pump into the reusable milk container after which pour the milk into any bag you need earlier than you freeze it. Nonetheless, one set of reusable containers prices $50, and you’ll’t pump with out them. You may want to scrub them and retailer the milk in a second container to maintain pumping. 

If a typical day in the workplace (post-pandemic, hear me out) would require 2-3 pumping periods, you will must convey one other container with you to retailer the milk, or dump it into storage baggage. 

In distinction, the Elvie comes with 4 bottles, which fits farther than you assume. The full 5-ounce capability was sufficient to carry a complete pumping session’s value of breast milk. So a 3 session day may appear to be this: 

  • Session 1: Pump with bottles 1 and a couple of, then mix all of it into bottle 1 and wash bottle 2. 

  • Session 2: Pump with bottles 3 and 4, then mix all of it into bottle 3 and wash bottle 4. 

  • Session 3: Pump with bottles 2 and 4, then mix it into bottle 2. 

So at the finish of the day you’d have three bottles of milk and yet another to scrub. Alternatively, you might use bottles 1 and a couple of for Session 1, then mix it right into a freezer bag and wash the bottles. For session 2, you’d repeat the course of with bottles 3 and 4, after which use the now-dry bottles 1 and a couple of once more for the final session of the day. 

The additional bottles that include the Elvie create extra flexibility when it comes to milk storage choices, and I did not should do as a lot cleansing straight away. Each the Elvie and Willow work best when all the components are dry, so the further drying time afforded by the second set of components was useful. 

If the consumer is not storing the milk, however simply pumping to feed their child shortly afterward, then the bag improvements of the Willow do not repay, making the Elvie simpler to take care of. 

– Katherine J. Igoe contributed reporting

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