Hey Mamas! Today I’m coming at you with a full and honest Willow Breast Pump review! After the birth of my second baby, I’m taking a gradual return to the Mommy Labor Nurse office. With some more time away from Ryland, comes more time pumping.
I posed the idea to start a breast pump review series over to you guys on Instagram, and it was met with a TON of excitement! After spending a few weeks using the Willow pump, I’m ready to lay it all out for you guys.
Willow breast pump review at a glance:
- It’s fast, totally wireless, convenient, and has a super cool app that tracks your pumping sessions.
- Potential drawback? Overall price. It’s a lot of money upfront, needs parts replaced regularly (due to general wear and tear), and requires special collection bags.
Worth it? For the convenience – 100% yes. But you know I’m not going to leave you hanging there, right? Read on for ALL the details on the hands-free, wireless, and effective Willow breast pump. At the end of this, you’ll know whether a Willow breast pump is the right fit for you!
**Note: All of these pumps I either had at home or have purchased with my own money. There’s no agenda, just my honest thoughts to help you decide on the right pump for you and your lifestyle!**
Willow breast pump at a glance
The Willow breast pump (also available on Amazon) is pretty unique compared to most double electric pumps on the market because it’s totally cordless and wearable. In fact, it’s a pretty new (and amazing!) way to get your pumping job done.
If you’re a first-time mom looking at pump options, to really understand what’s so awesome about the Willow pump, you need to first understand what a typical pump is all about.
Traditionally, when you pump, you’re breast pump is plugged into the wall, and you’re attached to a small device via two tubes that lead to flanges with collection bottles that attach to each boob.
Before wearable, wireless pumps like the Willow were widely available, pumping is preeeetttttty much the opposite of discreet. And even with a hands-free pumping bra, you’re tied to a corded device that can make it hard to get much done while you’re pumping.
Insert: the cordless, wearable Willow pump!
- This pump is two self-contained units that get inserted right into your bra
- There are no cords or tubes at all
- You put a special Willow bag into each unit for milk collection. They are self-sealing and 100% spill-proof
- Reusable collection containers are sold separately
- The pump connects wirelessly to an app that tracks the duration of a pumping session and how much you’re pumping. All of the information is stored in the app (see more on this in my list of pros!)
- For best results, you should wear a full coverage, a well-fitting nursing bra with clasps. This makes it easy to place the Willow correctly, and move about once it’s suctioned on. This is the one I wear that I feel like it works really well with.
- When you order your Willow, you will order it by size! So to avoid returns and issues, it’s really important to make sure you know your flange size!
What comes with your Willow breast pump?
- Two breast pumps
- Two flanges
- Two flex tubes
- 24 milk bags (keep in mind you use two at each pumping session)
You can see me explain all of these over on Instagram in my Breast Pump Review IGTV!
What I love about the Willow pump? 6 undeniable pros!
I know I’ve said it a few times, but I’ll say it again. This pump rocks because there are no cords, and you’ve got two hands totally free! I feel like I can do ALMOST anything with it on (with the exception of cartwheels hah).
No doubt about it, the Willow pump saves me time, especially if I’m home and trying to do something and pump at the same time. I don’t feel like I am a slave to my pump anymore! And if you haven’t pumped before, trust me, with a traditional pump, you start to seriously feel like that!
It’s FAST – I do think I get more milk out in less time with this pump. I will note that I haven’t pumped a LOT with Ryland yet, but I can empty in about 15 mins with the Willow, sometimes as quick as 10. This is NOT everyone’s experience though, but personally I do feel that it’s pretty efficient!
3. There’s an app
And girl – I LOVE THE APP! Yeah, it’s pretty darn cool to see how much you’ve pumped, AS you’re pumping it. It can be a little addictive to constantly check.
Another advantage to tracking it in real time is that it save you time. I can see when my flow pretty much stops/slows way down and I’m empty which takes the guesswork out of when to end a pumping session.
I can’t really do that with other pumps, I feel like I’m always kiiiiinda dripping, so sometimes I’m like hmm am I done pumping, or no?
But yeah, app is solid!
4. Easy to clean
Compared to other pumps, the Willow breast pump is pretty easy to clean. There are only 4 parts for the whole thing!
5. The size is small
The Willow breast pump is pretty small, and it doesn’t look like a machine! It’s two individual pumps that are shaped like boobs. The whole thing is way smaller than a typical, bulky pump, and the fact they that just slip inside your bra makes it more discreet than pumping with an actual pump.
Yes, you’re clearly pumping, and can tell they’re on – but from a modesty standpoint, it’s NOT like pumping with a traditional breast pump at all.
6. A real game changer for exclusive pumpers
Okay, this one I can’t speak to from personal experience, because I’m not an exclusive pumper (you mamas, ROCK!). But a totally wearable, cordless breast pump will make your life SO much easier as an exclusive pumper.
I promise you won’t feel like as much of a slave to the pump and you will get some of your sanity back by using a pump you can wear and easily walk around in. Pumping while you walk around target? Don’t mind if I do.
Willow breast pump review: Potential drawbacks
1. The collection bags
When you buy the pump, it does not come with reusable bags. It was really designed to be used with their disposable, proprietary bags. This means a lot of plastic (for the eco-conscious among you) and an increased cost related to pumping. You can learn more about the Willow milk bags over on their site.
2. There is spill potential
So, they say it’s spill-proof, but I want to level with you guys. In my experience it’s not 100% spill proof! Yeah, I’ve definitely spilled some milk with the Willow. Not a TON but sometimes I do spill a few drops when I’m disassembling it.
And if you know, you know. Spilling any amount of breast milk is pretty infuriating. First time mamas who haven’t pumped yet, trust me. You’ll understand!
3. Overall cost ($$$)
There’s no way around it. The Willow breast pump is one of the most expensive pumps available, at $500 a pop MSRP. However, it does a LOT of things other pumps just can’t do, and the convenience factor is SO awesome.
The good news? More and more insurance plans are starting to cover it and include it in their offerings when you go to get your pump. And if for some reason yours doesn’t cover it completely, you CAN likely buy it using your HSA/FSA.
Quick note about insurance and pumps – by LAW health insurance companies in the US have to cover the cost of a double electric breast pump. There’s a chance it’s not gonna be this one, but I just wanted to make a note of this here before you pay out of pocket.
4. Expensive parts
In addition to this being an expensive pump, the cost of parts also adds up. Like I said, the bags are expensive. And if you decide to go the reusable container route, that’s an additional part you have to purchase separately.
What’s more, Willow does recommend you replace EVERYTHING every 3-6 months (the flanges, the flex tubes, and the re-usable containers). The parts begin to die out due to use. This is especially important for exclusive pumpers or mamas that pump every single day at work.
I actually know a mama who thought her supply was tanking, but it was actually that her Willow pump parts were dying out. Once she swapped the parts, she was back to yielding her normal amount!
5. Potential inaccuracies with the app
I haven’t had any straight up FAILS with the app – but I have had two individual times when it over calculated milk and I ended up actually pumping 2oz less than what it said. This is a bummer, especially for mamas with supply issues (which I had with my first).
You also can’t adjust the app at all (like change the numbers manually). This would be nice, especially because a huge PRO of the app is that you can see trends in your pumping over time. Because it over reported what I pumped on those two occasions, it seriously bothers me that the record isn’t accurate!
For some reason I DO always feel like I’m a good quarter-half oz off of what it should be when I go to store it. So, the app will tell me that I’ve pumped 6.3 oz and when I pour it into a bottle it’s only 6 oz. Also just makes me mad.
6. It’s not so discreet
You can head over to Instagram to see me wearing it. But yeah, I looked like Dolly Parton, and my husband also calls me Dolly Parton whenever I’m pumping hah. That’s not that big of a deal to me though! And remember compared to a TRADITIONAL breast pump, it is 100 times more discreet.
7. Some mamas say there’s a learning curve
I personally didn’t have any issues getting started with the Willow, but that might be partially because I have some experience with pumps!
If you’re getting ready for your first babe, or you’re totally new to pumping, or just generally not having luck with your Willow, I’ve heard that the Willow pump support group over on Facebook is SUPER helpful for troubleshooting, learning little hacks specific to the Willow, etc.
The bottom line on the Willow pump
I am a HUGE fan of this pump. Yes, there are some cons to weigh in your mind, but for me the convenience factor of a totally wireless, hands free, wearable pump, takes the cake!
I really love being able to do go about my normal life while I’m pumping.
If you think this is the right choice for you, you can buy it directly from their site, or over on Amazon. The advantage to getting it direct from them is that they’re often running specials, offer coupon codes, and bundle sales. But you can’t go wrong either way!
As for the Willow vs. Elvie?
- Wilow has better features all around
- I find it has better suction
- Pumping sessions are faster
- The technology is superior
- The app is better
- The estimations are far more accurate
The Willow delivers for the price
For me, if I’m spending $500 on a pump (and that’s out of MY pocket), I need it to have all the bells and whistles – especially on the technology end.
THAT is where the Willow delivers.
Being able to see how much you’ve pumped, in real time, as it’s happening, is so awesome.
If insurance will cover it, the Elvie is solid
HOWEVER. If you have your heart set on a wearable pump, and your insurance will cover the cost of an Elvie, then I’d tell you to go for it.
It has solid pros (especially over a standard pump) including its ease of use, how quiet it is, and that it is effective at extracting milk.
As of publishing, the Elvie is at least partially covered by far more insurance plans than the Willow. This might make an insurance covered wearable pump a reality for you.
But. If you are paying out of your own pocket, go for the Willow.
And if you can’t justify the price for either…
And if you’re someone that just can’t justify $500 on a pump (I DON’T BLAME YOU!). Learn more about Freemies!
They are a wearable collection system that can be used on almost any pump. It’s a way to make your standard pump (that’s covered by insurance) into a more hands-free portable option. And you can snag them here.
Looking for more info on pumping?
Whether you’re learning about different pumps, looking for pumping tips, preparing to go back to work, or figuring out what to put on your registry related to pumping, I’ve got a ton of other great articles and resources for you here at Mommy Labor Nurse over in the breastfeeding section of the blog.
Here are some of the most popular articles:
- My Top Breast Pumping Tips
- Guide to Exclusive Pumping
- Bottle Feeding Supplies You May Not Know You Need