Willow vs Elvie vs Freemie? Which wearable breast pump is right for you?
No matter if you’re an exclusive pumper, trying to increase your breastmilk production or just pumping occasionally, using a breast pump can be stressful and time-consuming.
That’s why any product that makes pumping easier is something to be celebrated (and purchased!).
A wearable breast pump gives you the ability and freedom to pump hands-free. Using a wearable pump will let you express milk while taking care of your newborn and/or other children, get work done, or even take a few minutes for self-care.
Today we are going to look at three top wearable breast pumps, the Willow, the Elvie and the Freemie. They sound like characters from a fairy tale, but these hard working pumps are effective, easy to use and will make life so much easier.
If you’re in the market for a wearable breast pump, read on to see which of these three pumps will be your best bet.
- TL:DR (too long, didn’t read)
- What is a Wearable Breast Pump and Why do you need one?
- Types of Wearable Breast Pumps
- The Benefits of Wearable Breast Pumps
- What to Look for in a Wearable Breast Pump
- Willow Breast Pump Review
- Elvie Breast Pump Review
- Freemie Breast Pump Review
- Comparing Willow, Elvie and Freemie
- Which Breast Pump is the Best Value for Money?
- Which Pump is the Quietest and Most Discreet?
- What’s Included with the Elvie, Willow and Freemie?
- Is there an App for That?
- Is the Willow, Elvie or Freemie Easiest to Clean?
- How Does Performance – Suction & battery life – Compare?
- What are the Milk Storage Options Like for Willow, Freemie and Elvie?
- How to Choose Between Willow, Elvie and Freemie
- The Last Word on Willow vs Elvie vs Freemie
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What is a Wearable Breast Pump and Why do you need one?
A wearable breast pump allows you to pump breastmilk without using your hands. (Amazing!)
Typical pumps require you to hold parts while the pump is operating, but a wearable pump makes it possible for you to pump hands-free and get other tasks done.
If you have other children you need to take care of, a fussy newborn that needs to be held, or lots of work and no magical fairy godmother to help you, a wearable breast pump might be just what you’re wishing for.
Types of Wearable Breast Pumps
There are two main types of wearable breast pumps on the market, including:
- Hands-free breast pump: This is the bigger umbrella, under which all wearable breast pumps land. You hook up the pump, and then your hands are free to do whatever you need to get done. However, some hands-free breast pumps still use tubing to make the actual pump function, so you are tethered to the pump.
- Cord-free, wearable breast pump: This type of wearable breast pump has the pumping mechanism built into a small “pod.” This means you have no tubing attached to a pump base so you are free to move around as needed.
The Benefits of Wearable Breast Pumps
Using a wearable breast pump has many benefits, including:
- Ability to get things done: Sitting for 20+ minutes each pumping session with a standard pump means losing several working hours each day. A wearable breast pump helps by freeing up your hands for more important tasks.
- Can take care of your newborn more easily: A wearable breast pump will free you up to take care of your new baby, including feeding, changing and playing.
- Pump discreetly: If you need to pump at work in a cubicle or in front of others, you can do it discretely when using a wearable breast pump.
What to Look for in a Wearable Breast Pump
When looking for a wearable breast pump, there are a few things to consider:
Ease of Use: If you are pumping at home while running after toddlers you might choose a different pump than someone who plans to pump sitting at their work desk.
Price: Wearable breast pumps vary quite a lot in cost.
App Availabilty: If you want or need to track your milk output, a wearable breast pump with an app is a easy way to do so.
Corded or Not?: If you need a lot of flexibility while pumping, choose a wearable pump that doesn’t have any cords or tubes to hold you hostage.
Now let’s talk about specific wearable breast pumps. Each has benefits and drawbacks, and one that will work for your family might be different than the one your BFF chose. Research is your friend!
The Willow has two wearable pods that are completely cord-free and promises to “let you pump in any position.” The pods can be used with bags or you can pump directly into the container within the pod.
When using bags, the Willow promises 360 degree mobility (meaning you can use it while lying down, exercising etc). When using just the container, you will still be able to pump while walking, leaning into a crib, working at your desk and picking up your toddler.
- Seven levels of suction
- Battery lasts five sessions with a full charge
- When using bags, provides 360 degrees of mobility
- Only two parts to clean
- App notifies you when bags are full and records how much you’ve pumped
- Each bag holds only 4 ounces so you might have to change them out during a pumping session.
- The pods make your chest noticeably bigger (maybe not a con for some people!) 🙂
- Reviewers report it is hard to pour milk from bags into bottles
The Elvie is very similar in design to the Willow, with a cord-free pod that fits into your nursing bra. You can purchase a single or a double Elvie. The single would be a great choice if you are working to increase your milk supply and want to pump extra after nursing.
The Elvie can hold five ounces of expressed milk. It has two different modes; stimulation and expression as well as seven different levels of suction. It does not have a bag option, so this is a pump that will work better for pumping while sitting or standing. You can operate the Elvie pumps by using buttons on the actual pods, or through the app.
- Completely hands-free and cord-free
- Two modes and seven levels of suction
- App gives real time updates of amount of milk pumped. Pump shuts off when bottle is full.
- Very quiet for discreet pumping
- Comes with four bottles
- Rechargeable battery using USB cord
- Can only use sitting up or standing up (will leak with too much movement).
- Battery needs to be recharged after each pumping session
- Pods have lights, so they will be noticeable when worn in your nursing bra.
- Reviewers report that the milk output on the app is not always accurate
The Freemie has a normal pump base that is plugged into the wall, and has “collection cups” that you slide into your bra, making it hands-free but not cord-free. Collection cups slide into your nursing bra and can each hold up to 8 ounces of milk.
The Freemie is not as tech advanced as the Willow or the Elvie. There is not an app or notifications when your cup is getting full. One major benefit over other hands-free pumps is that you don’t have to take your bra off to position the collection cups. They slide right into your nursing bra. You can use the Freemie as a double or single pump.
- Largest collection cups (8 ounces each, 16 ounces total)
- No need to recharge, as it is plugged into the wall
- Hands-free operation so you can get other things done
- Collection cups can easily be slid into your nursing bra (no need to undress)
- Pump base is small and easy to transport
- Not cord free. Collection cups have tubing and are connected to base. Base is plugged into the wall.
- Collection cups are not dishwasher safe and have to be washed by hand
- Can’t store milk in collection cups. Must transfer to bottle or freezer bags.
Comparing Willow, Elvie and Freemie
Let’s look at how the Willow, the Elvie and the Freemie stack up when it comes to important features.
- Noise level/discretion
- Ease of Cleaning
- Performance (suction and battery life)
- Milk storage options
Which Breast Pump is the Best Value for Money?
The most affordable wearable breast pump is the Freemie.
The Willow is higher-priced and the Elvie is the most expensive.
Overall, wearable pumps are quite a bit more pricey than standard breast pumps, but the convenience of being able to work while you pump makes the cost worth it.
Which Pump is the Quietest and Most Discreet?
The Willow and Elvie both promise whisper quiet operation.
The Freemie is more comparable to a standard breast pump, sound-wise.
If you are trying to pump more discreetly, the best options are the Willow and the Elvie, which are both cord-free. The Freemie is corded, so it will be more obvious that you are pumping and you won’t be able to move around.
What’s Included with the Elvie, Willow and Freemie?
The Elvie comes with the biggest package of accessories including, 2 Hubs, 4 bottles, two 24mm shields, two 28 mm shields, 4 valves, 4 spouts, 4 seals, 4 storage lids, 4 bra adjusters, 2 USB Charging cables and 2 carry bags.
The Willow pump included accessories are: two Willow Pumps, two 24mm or 27mm flanges, 2 Flextubes, 24 4 ounce milk bags, two cleaning brushes and a charger.
The Freemie includes the pump, single pump cording and double pump cording, two reusable Freemie collection cups, an extra filter and an extra duckbill valve.
Is there an App for That?
The Freemie doesn’t have an app.
Both the Willow and the Elvie have downloadable apps that connect to your pump and help you track your milk production, real time.
The Willow app records how much milk you’ve pumped, how long you’ve been pumping on each side and sends notifications when the bag is full and needs to be changed. It also sends personalized tips about pumping and keeps record of your past pumping sessions.
The Elvie pump app also records your milk output, notifies you when the container is full, tracks pumping history and can control the pump remotely (you can also use the buttons on the Elvie wearable pump).
Is the Willow, Elvie or Freemie Easiest to Clean?
The Willow is tops when it comes to cleaning! It only has two parts, and the washable piece is dishwasher-safe making it a breeze to keep clean.
The next easiest-to-clean wearable pump is the Elvie. In between uses, parts should be rinsed and cleaned with mild dishwasher soap. Once a day, you can wash them in dishwasher.
The Freemie has the bowl, a funnel and two smaller pieces that come apart and hook back together easily. However, they must be hand washed (the warranty is voided if the dishwasher is used).
How Does Performance – Suction & battery life – Compare?
Both the Willow wearable breast pump and the Elvie wearable pump have seven levels of suction so you can choose the best one for you. The Freemie has an adjustable dial for suction pressure.
If you are concerned about battery life, the Freemie operates with a standard plug. The Elvie has a USB plug for recharging, but reviewers mention that you have to plug it in after each pumping session. The Willow will last a full day of pumping (5+ sessions) on one battery charge.
What are the Milk Storage Options Like for Willow, Freemie and Elvie?
You can pump directly into a storage bag or a container when using the Willow wearable pump. The Freemie collection cup cannot be used as a storage container, so you have to pour the milk you’ve expressed into another container. The Elvie has reusable bottles that you pump directly into.
How to Choose Between Willow, Elvie and Freemie
All right, you know so many things about the top wearable breast pumps…but if you are still on the fence, here are some ways to choose between the Willow, the Elvie and the Freemie.
- If you want to be able to exercise or lie down while pumping, choose the Willow (and use bags!).
- If you want to be discrete while pumping, choose either the Willow or the Elvie.
- If you are on a budget, choose the Freemie.
- If you don’t have time to do lots of hand-washing choose The Willow.
- If you want to pump directly into storage bags, choose the Willow.
- If you want to easily track the amount of milk you pump, use the Willow or the Elvie (and their amazing apps!).
- If you are worried about battery life, choose the plug-in Freemie or the Willow.
The Last Word on Willow vs Elvie vs Freemie
A wearable breast pump is an investment in your own self-care. Hands-free pumping will make it easier and less stressful to express milk. Not only will you be able to take care of your baby more easily, you’ll also be able to get other work done or just take a few minutes to relax and read a book.
Although it is pricey, the Willow wearable pump is our overall winner. With the ability to pump with 360 degree freedom, a great app for tracking milk production, and a battery that will last you a full day of pumping, it is a wonderful wearable breast pump option.
If you plan to pump while sitting at work, the Freemie is a smart and economical option. It is not cord-free, but the collection cups are easy to slide into your nursing bra.