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How to Choose a Wearable Breast Pump





According to the National Institute of Health, 85% of moms pump breast milk. Experts recommend pumping for 15-20 minutes or longer, as often as you would breast feed.


That could be every three to four hours. Add in the time it takes to prep before and clean your pump after and you are talking about hours every day spent pumping. For this and other reasons, many moms look to wearable breast pumps to pump and still do all the things a busy mom has to do.


There are many brands and models of wearable breast pumps on the market. How can you decide which is the right fit for you and your lifestyle? We asked some of our clients about their experience with wearable breast pumps. We also got some feedback from Julie Tower, IBCLC and owner of Sweetly Nourish Lactation. There are many factors to consider when choosing a wearable breast pump. We’ll look at three- Comfort, Cost, and Quality. But first, Julie shares some of the benefits and drawbacks of wearable pumps in general.


Pros and Cons of Wearable Breast Pumps

“Wearable breast pumps offer a range of benefits for pumping parents,” Julie says, “Firstly, their somewhat discreet design allows for more freedom and flexibility, enabling mother to pump conveniently and comfortably, even in public settings or while engaging in other activities. This allows for increased mobility and reduces the need for scheduling around pumping sessions. Additionally, wearable pumps operate fairly quietly, minimizing disruptions to daily routines and allowing for more discreet expression of milk.” As many new mothers must return to work just a few months after giving birth, the ability to pump at work is a huge concern. Julie related that she has even had clients who work in the medical field and are able to use a wearable pump without needing to take a break from their busy schedule. In addition to the portability and convenience of wearable breast pumps, there is another benefit that Julie mentioned. “They can enhance bonding with baby by allowing mothers to engage in skin-to-skin contact with their baby while pumping,” she says. Time spent in skin-to skin contact is one of the many things moms miss when they go back to work. Being able to pump and still have precious bonding time is a big plus for many moms.





There are a few drawbacks to wearable breast pumps to consider. Wearable pumps are often more expensive than traditional pumps, although for some it may be a worthwhile investment. It is important to note some significant differences between traditional and wearable breast pumps. “Wearable pumps may have a smaller milk storage capacity compared to traditional pumps, requiring more frequent emptying, and potentially leading to increased maintenance. Some wearable pumps have a lot of parts, which can make cleaning time consuming and cumbersome. Additionally, their compact size and smaller motor may compromise on suction strength and efficiency, which could result in incomplete milk removal and longer pumping sessions,” Julie explained. She added “that most are limited in flange sizes, so you have to use a silicone insert to change the flange size. The majority of my clients respond so much better to hard plastic flange vs silicone with pumping, they get more output and a more comfortable pumping experience.”


There are also physical drawbacks to think about. Wearable breast pumps are designed to be worn inside your bra cup or a fitted shirt. Julie shared that “oftentimes this added pressure on the breast from the pump can result in inflammation within the breast tissue, leading to clogged ducts and discomfort.”


3 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Wearable Breast Pump

If you have decided to get a wearable pump, how can you choose the best one for you? Here is what some of our clients had to say about their favorite, or least favorite, pumps. Tiny Miracles Care is not sponsored in any way by any of these brands, the opinions expressed here were shared with us by our clients.


Comfort

How does the breast pump feel? Does it fit comfortably in your bra and sit against your skin well? Leanna H. says, “As a fuller girl, the Elvie Stride is the only one that didn’t topple out of my bra.” Stephanie G. reports “Momcozy was a nipple ripper for me.” Another concern may be leakage. The last thing you want while pumping at work is to drip or leak. Jessica S. recommends the Bluefair wearable breast pump. She says “I’ve been using this one during the day! It has strong suction, travels well and I find it doesn’t leak anywhere near as much as the prior wearables I had.” Lanna L. says she likes her Willow Go, but “I just don’t like the leakage part, I wish I opted in for the other Willow pump.” Her comment is a good reminder that a different model may fit you better if you find one that you like, but just isn’t quite right.


How noticeable the pump is will be another factor, especially if you plan to pump while working. Jeanette R. says “I have an original Medela Freestyle that I’ve used for my last 3 kiddos. It’s not the most discrete, but it has served me incredibly well.” Anita F. liked the Freemie Liberty saying “it’s not too noticeable. Carly B. used the Elvie and said it “makes a slight sucking pump sound.” Emily L. added “I have the Elvie Stride and it’s just ‘okay,’ too loud to be really discrete.” Ashley I. felt differently about the Elvie Stride saying it’s “great for business travel and being in the office if you need to be in meetings.” But she added, “For long usage it can be picky with maintenance and your cup size may change over time.”


Cost

Cost may be a primary factor for some new moms. Wearable breast pumps can range in price from a little under $20 to over $400. That can be a significant investment. While insurance may cover the cost of some or all your pumping equipment, there likely are limits on what brands they cover or how much they will pay. “Elvie Stride is what I have, and it is a life saver with a toddler and a job! Worth every penny I paid especially after the “free” one provided by insurance,” Stephanie W. shared. The Elvie Stride sells for around $200. Kara E says, “I used and loved the Imani II!” which sells for a little over $100, but is quiet and has an LED display, multiple modes, and an auto shut-off timer. Stephanie G. and Angelina E. both used Willow pumps which sell for between $279 and $399. Stephanie G. says, “Willow Go was amazing. I exclusively pumped with it for 11 months. [It is] very comfortable.” Angelina E. agrees, saying, “I had gotten a Willow when I had my 3 rd, and it was the best decision!”


A wearable pump doesn’t need to break the bank, however. Momcozy pumps start at around $65. Cassie M. says, “I like Momcozy a lot for on the go.” Alyssa M. commented “the Momcozy was the best! I used it every day at work, twice a day for months! And their customer service was awesome when one of my pumps died.” Ashley M. says “Honestly, I loved my Hakaa for driving and in-between pumps. Have to say I also chased a toddler and they stayed on.” Hakaa pumps are $18.99 and use natural suction requiring no cords or batteries.


Quality

The nature of a wearable breast pump does mean it is not likely to work as well as your traditional wall pump. Lori Atkins, an IBCLC and owner of Oh, Baby! Lactation Care shared some of her client’s favorite pumps are Elvie Stride, Pumpables, and the Willow Go. Are they as effective as a wall pump? Lori answered, “Recently I’ve had two moms tell me their hands free pumps were as effective as their Spectras. One of them is an exclusive pumper. [But] most of the time, no.” Wearable pumps may not have as strong suction, they may have smaller containers, and since they are cordless, the battery life will vary. Depending on your breast size and shape, you may need to try a few different styles in order find a pump that fits securely without leaking. Some moms report leakage with the Willow and Momcozy pumps.


We got several suggestions for “hacking” your breast pump using the pump of one model and the cups of a different model. For example, Juliet L. says she used the Baby Buddha with her Spectra Cara cups. “It was a game changer,” she said. Julie Tower says a personal favorite of hers is the Baby Buddha pump hack using Freemie collection cups which turns the pump into a wearable one.


Which Pump Should You Choose?

Ultimately, the decision is yours. As we have seen, there are many brands of pumps, each with their positive and negative qualities. As you consider your choices, think about what factors are most important to you. Are you concerned about the pump’s suction and storage? Do you need a quiet one that you can wear while working? Are you able to pay a lot for a pump, or do you need to choose from what your insurance will cover?

No matter where you are in your pumping journey, an IBCLC can be a valuable aid to finding what works for you. “There are many other alternatives to explore. It’s recommended to consult with your IBCLC to outline your unique situation and pumping goals, allowing them to guide you through all the available options and select the most suitable wearable pump for your needs,” Julie Tower shared.


Tiny Miracles is committed to creating a community to support all moms in their journey. Contact us today to see how we can help you find the people and products that will make your life a little easier while you can focus on your precious little one.

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