When I think of my first year of being a mom, the thing I have done the most is feed my child. For the first few months it was all about breastfeeding. When I went back to work, that time shifted to pumping. During the day I would pump for at least an hour spread across 3 sessions. That’s a lot of time pumping! Of all the things I’ve used in the last 10 months, I admit one thing I would classify as a ‘must’ are my Willow pumps. Here’s my Willow pump review.
Need more intel on pumping and breastfeeding? Start with the roundup by Fooblie nutrition and lactation experts.
Let’s start with some of the reasons why you might not want to use a Willow pump. I think this is why I love to hate my Willow. It annoys me, but I still can’t live without it.
For most of us, the Willow pump is not completely covered by insurance. Mine covered $50 off the list price. That was less than some of the Willow sales! So what I did was I got a Spectra pump 100% covered by my insurance and then paid out of pocket for this (using FSA). I knew I wanted this pump.
You have to repurchase bags and pump parts
The easiest way to use the Willow pumps are with the bags. But, you can’t reuse those. So that cost adds up. If you plan on using these pumps at home, or somewhere you have some space, get the containers.
There will be spilled milk
I can’t tell you how many times I spilled milk on myself using the containers. In the early days this would send me to tears. I would forget to flip the container closed and then end up with milk all over me. I was constantly doing the wash (or just wore the wet clothes), so it was ok.
I had a lot of technical issues but the customer service is on point
I had to send one pump back twice due to a malfunction. The Willow customer service team is outstanding and they were super helpful to troubleshoot. Obviously sending the pump back was a last resort so they walked me through lots of fixes. I had less trouble using the bags. But, even when I travel I would bring both my trusty Spectra and the Willows.
They make it hard to hold Olivia but I could get on the ground and play
When the pumps are on, they are pretty big. It’s hard for me to hold Olivia, but I could watch her play and get on the ground with her. This was so helpful in the morning when she was done eating, but I still wanted to drain it all out of me. Many times she would bump her head on me. Donk.
Alright – now on to the upside portion of my Willow pump review
It’s so convenient
My main pump was a Spectra (the pink one) and that had to be plugged in. This meant I had limited mobility and I had to stay near a plug. In the mornings, when I would want to pump, but also needed to play with Olivia, I could put these on and be on the floor with her. There’s no way Olivia would let me pump and play with her at the same time with my Spectra.
You can still hang out
My first time away from Liv I went to a fabulous wedding in West Virginia. We were in a National Park, so the venue had no place to go to pump. At the reception I pumped during dinner and no one knew. It was amazing. Sure beats sitting in a bathroom, car or other place all by yourself.
You can pump on the go – The in the car version
I pump a lot while on the road. This worked well for both short trips to daycare when I would run out of time and long trips where I needed to pump on the go. Many times, my husband would rip the bag with his mouth and we would use the milk in a bottle immediately.
They’re nice just around the house
While I’m working, cooking or watching TV, it’s sometimes nice to not be close to a plug. I wouldn’t do lots of bending over or yoga like they advertise, but I was able to move around and that is pretty wonderful.
My tips to make the Willow Pump work
Wear a tight bra or tank top
You’ve gotta wear something that you don’t care if it stretches out. Something like this tanktop or bra from Kindred Bravely did it for me. After a few months, I highly recommend you buy a new bra to use with your Willow pumps. The pumps need to be kept real close to you and between fabric stretching and your body changing you just need to refresh it every so often.
Practice and be patient
I can’t tell you how much milk I’ve spilled on myself, mostly while using the containers. So – much – milk. Do yourself a solid and practice turning the switch from 1 to 2 before you flip! In the early months of pumping just plan on getting milk all over you. You’re already doing the wash a zillion times a day, so just go for it.
The bags are easier
On days where I just was in a zone I’d use the bags because they are just so much easier to maneuver.
Reassess every 3 months
Every three months you need to reassess. Check the flex tubes. Do they need to be replaced? (Willow says yes.) Check your flange size. Is it still the right fit? If things are not comfortable your boobs are probably changing yet again, and you might need to get an insert or size down. This happened for me around 6 months, when Olivia started eating solids.
Keep 2 pumps
I know there are many women who use the Willow pumps as their one and only pump. Everyone is different! So do what’s right for you. For me, I liked having both my Spectra and the Willow. I used them for different situations and that worked for me!
When in doubt, contact Willow’s customer service
The customer service people are lovely and helped me troubleshoot at least 5 times. One time my container was defective – no wonder it didn’t fit. I wasn’t doing anything wrong! One time the lady helped me do a reset and that fixed my problem.
Watch for sales, know what your insurance will cover and be prepared to pay
My insurance covered replacement parts every 2 months while I was pumping. But it didn’t cover Willow replacement parts or the pump. Bummer. If yours does – ahhmazing! So for me my Willow pump was an out of pocket cost that I used FSA for.
I purchased mine on Black Friday, when my baby was born in February. They seem to have sales when the other companies have sales (Black Friday, Christmas, MLK day, 4th of July, etc). I’m not sure I’d recommend getting it too far in advance because there are warranties that expire.
Here’s my $$$ tally…
|The pump (with 2 flex tubes, charger and flanges) (Mine was on sale)||$449.99|
|Containers||$49.99 + $10 shipping|
|Replacement flex tubes (after 6 months)||$29.99 + $10 shipping|
|Bags (1 pack is 48 bags, or 24 pumping sessions) On average I use 1 pack a month. So 12 packs, plus an extra to be safe.||$23.99 for 48 bags * 13 + $10 shipping = $321.87|
|Total / 1 year of pumping||$871.81|
The quick and dirty Willow pump review
Wow, my Willow pump review turned out to be longer than expected. Guess I have a lot to say! If there is something in your gut that says, I want this, I think you should treat yourself. Pumping is no joke, so if you can find a way for there to be joy, it’s totally worth it.