New moms often wonder how to choose the best breast pump for exclusive pumping. In this article I will talk about one of the wearable breast pumps – Willow 3.0 – and whether it is a good choice for EPing moms or not.
But first thing first! Let’s start with the basic information about exclusive pumping.
Exclusive Pumping – What Is It, Reasons To Do It, Safety Tips
|Exclusive Pumping, also called EPing, is a process of using only the breast pump for removing the breast milk from your breasts and then serving it to your baby via bottle feeding.|
Why you may need to choose or end up EPing?
- You’re unable to nurse your baby because he/she is in the NICU
- You simply prefer EPing and bottle feeding, because nursing is not comfortable to you
- Your little one has latching problems1 or you experience pain while latching/breastfeeding
- You won’t be able to breastfeed because you’ll be separated from your baby (e.g. you’re going back to work)
Exclusively pumping is not an easy task, especially if you need to do it from day one and you’re first-time mom.
I prepared 4 basic safety tips to follow to make EPing successful and enjoyable experience:
- Educate yourself about breast milk supply, how the lactation is established and how to schedule your pumping sessions when EPin. There are even some online courses that may help you to understand this process better!
- Consult certified lactation expert to make this new stage in your life a bit less challenging. Lactation consultant may help you to choose the right breast pump, as well as help with issues like low milk supply or oversupply.
- Choose high quality breast pump and give yourself some time to learn how to use it to feel as comfortable as possible. It’s important to choose a breast pump with sufficient strength (suction), as well as the right size of flanges – to get satisfactory output and avoid pain or nipple soreness. Keep in mind that it’s not safe to buy second-hand breast pump (unless it has enclosed system and special separate pumping kit for each user like hospital-grade Medela Symphony).
- Remember about proper maintenance and cleaning to your breast pump is working properly and performs as it should. Inspect your pump frequently for signs of wear, damage, leaking issue or mold. Check the instructions carefully to learn how to clean the breast pump properly, it’s especially important to learn how to deal with tubing to avoid mold and contamination (read more in my breast pumping guide).
How To Choose The Best Breast Pump For Exclusive Pumping
It’s best to choose electric type of breast pump as it will be much more efficient than a manual one.
Obviously, double pump will be much better choice than single one, if you are going to pump every few hours each day.
|PRO TIP: Some moms recommend getting an inexpensive manual breast pump and keep it at hand just in case you need to pump and cannot use the electric one.|
It’s important to choose a breast pump that offers a few flanges sizes – even if they are sold separately. Proper sizing is crucial not only for mom’s comfort and avoiding nipple soreness during pumping, but also for expressing satisfactory amount of milk.
Another important factor that you should consider when searching for the best breast pump for exclusively pumping is 2-phase expression mechanism which imitates the way baby nurses, as well as the adjustable vacuum strength. Although the higher speed or strength doesn’t guarantee higher volume of milk, it’s good to have more options and different suction levels to choose from. It will have a huge impact on the milk volume you express each time, as well as your overall comfort during pumping sessions.
If you need to/ decide to EPing from day one, when your lactation is not established yet, many lactation consultants recommend using hospital-grade pump like the Medela Symphony. Your hospital will probably have a high-quality breast pump that will help you to establish your milk supply, many hospitals also rent their breast pumps.
For the first few weeks, while you need to pump even 8-12 times a day, it’s a great solution because hospital-grade pumps have all the strength and adjustability you will need to establish your lactation. They are also fairly easy to use and most moms agree they allow them to express satisfactory amount of milk. Plus pumps like Medela Symphony have enclosed-system that protects your breast milk from contamination.
However, if you want your baby to benefit from your breast milk for 6 or even 12 months, renting hospital-grade pump may not be the most convenient (and cheapest) solution. Besides, this type of breast pump is pretty large, heavy, loud and lot very portable.
If you need to go back to work, or travel sometimes, and need a pump that will be easier to use on different occasions and in various places, it’s best to choose smaller, personal breast pump.
And according to many moms, Willow Pump is one of the best choices for exclusively pumping, especially when your lactation is well establish, and you need to pump 4-8 times a day.
Exclusively Pumping With Willow – Benefits
First of all, Willow is a smart, wearable and truly hands-free pump. This mean that are no external tubes dangling from your breast and there are no cords (that’s right, you don’t have to stick to the wall out let while pumping). You can put it in your bra – there’s no spend extra money on pumping bras!
And with your hands free you’ll be able to do other things while pumping: play with your little one, read a book, prepare a meal. Generally speaking, you can be more productive and effective in doing house chores. Plus it makes it easier to stay hydrated during the pumping session 🙂 which is super important too. Some moms say they are even able to take a nap when pumping! Hands-free pump is also very convenient for EPing moms when their baby gets older and more mobile or if they have older kids to run around after.
Since you don’t need a power source, you can basically use it pump anywhere you need to.
Another advantage is the 2-phase mechanism that automatically adjust itself from lets-down to expression mode. There are 7 vacuum levels – from 60mmHg to 245mmHg. The new Willow Generation 3.0 has new “sensitivity” level that is more delicate and gentle than the previous versions of this pump. Thanks to new soft program, Willow 3.0 is more suitable for sensitive nipples. Wide range of suction settings allows mom to find a level that will be comfortable for them, while ensuring sufficient milk volume.
Willow can be used with disposable 4 oz. milk bags or reusable milk containers (each 4 oz.). The former option is super convenient for moms often on-the-go. If you’re traveling or using the pump in your office, milk bags will be great solution. They are easy to use, and once you’re done you can simply put them into a cooler bag, fridge or freezer. They are leak-proof and thanks to one-way valve, you don’t have to close the bags or anything, the milk won’t spill out! This is also the best solution for traveling moms.
The latter option is better if you are stay-at-home mom or work from home and pump very often. In that case reusable containers will be much more affordable solution.
Whichever option you choose, you will have just a few parts to clean – less with standard electric pumps. This is a game-changer for moms who are pumping every 2-4 hours!
Compared to other breast pump, Willow is pretty quiet. It’s not totally silent, but still – it’s more discrete than electric pumps.
Some moms say that even though Willow is portable and convenient, you cannot use it literally everywhere, because it makes your breast look unnaturally big and a bit strange. However you can wear some loose cloths and you’ll be able to pump in most places without people noticing it.
Some moms pump in cars, in nail salon or during a meeting with a friend. Standard electric pumps with tubes and cords don’t give you that option at all. So even though Willow is not fully discreet or invisible, it gives you the privacy that other electric pump cannot offer.
What To Keep In Mind When EPing With Willow
Of course there is no such thing as perfect breast pump and Willow has some downsides as well.
It’s on the high end and when you add all the bags (50 cents each) and milk containers you will need while EPing the cost adds up.
The good news is that once in a while Willow has special offer that allows you to save some money.
Another thing is that you need to remember to charge it, especially if you plan on being out and about for long time and need to pump a few times.
Lots of moms say that Willow 3.0 is totally worth the money, but it takes time to learn how to use it to make pumping comfortable and to get the satisfactory milk volume. The truth is that Willow has a learning curve – you need to practice the nipple alignment, adjusting the suction, how to do the “flip to finish” and how to empty the milk container not to loose any drop of your precious fluid.
The good thing is that Willow has tons of tutorial videos that are really helpful for moms who are just learning how to use this pump.
Last thing that you should keep in mind is that it’s extremely important to choose the right size of the flange (and if you plan on EPing for the whole year, it may be necessary to change the flange size after a few months). Otherwise, you may experience some pain or nipple soreness.
On Willow website you’ll find helpful tips how to choose the right size – which is crucial for your overall comfort, painless pumping and getting good amount of milk (if the flange size is incorrect, there may be too much air in the bag and the pump will stop before you actually express 4oz).
LittleBabyGear Verdict: Once you practice using Willow a few times and find the best settings for your body, you’ll be able to enjoy hands-free pumping. For moms who need to pump regularly few times a day, who are often on-the-go, who have older kids to run around after, who work from home or need to go back to their office job – Willow is a life-safer and makes EPing much more convenient.
The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for medical consultation or medical care. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. All pictures of Willow Pump belong to Willow2.