Wi-fi • Fingers-Free • Efficient • Handy • Quick
Costly • Difficult • Time-Intensive
Whereas the pump could be tough to grasp, the professionals outweigh the cons.
A really small silver lining to COVID-19 isolation is that I don’t have to fret about when and the place to pump breast milk — which I’ve to do a number of occasions a day — however the course of continues to be time-consuming and irritating. After I first began utilizing the , I’d already labored with a bulkier mechanical pump, Spectra, which is decidedly not cellular and has restricted battery earlier than needing to be plugged into the wall. Although I am pumping usually and supplementing with method, I envisioned that the advantages of hands-free pumping could be low, since I used to be already house and barely leaving the home. I used to be improper.
I now pump with Willow typically, and it’s boosted my religion in the entire course of. For girls who’re capable of breastfeed, the professionals may not be fairly as nice as for ladies solely pumping, however it’s arduous to overstate the advantages of mobility, ease, and entry for a brand new mother.
How tough is Willow’s configuration?
The challenges with Willow are totally on the entrance finish. It’s not low cost, at for 2 pumps, 24 plastic baggage, and one set of primary elements, though I noticed offers on the web site and elsewhere. It might or is probably not lined by your insurance coverage (you should utilize your FSA/HSA to pay for it, too). Sizing accurately is important, because the pump comes with completely different flange sizes. Getting the improper dimension can imply ache and decreased milk manufacturing, and it prices both or to switch the related half. Willow has a for measuring your nipple.
You will must put on a nursing bra or tank prime to assist maintain the pump in place. The Willow staff additionally supply on which bras work finest; it ought to be as full-coverage as you can also make it, permitting the pump to remain comfortable and in place in opposition to the breast. My favourite by Motherhood Maternity labored brilliantly. However since YouTube opinions say utilizing Willow can stretch out their bras, I alternate with a pair full-coverage pumping sports activities bras. The tighter the bra, the extra you are able to do whereas pumping: you possibly can even choose up and maintain your child when the pump is safe sufficient.
Don’t attempt to configure or empty the Willow for the primary time when your new child is screaming for milk — it’s tough to get all of the elements collectively and aligned in opposition to your breast. The machine’s maneuver, which transfers all of your milk into the container while you’re performed pumping, takes a pair occasions to grasp. I positively spilled milk throughout my kitchen counter the primary time I attempted it. However the pump comes with detailed written directions, plus animations and how-to movies on the Willow app (iOS and Android). Ought to they need it, all clients have entry to free one-on-one teaching with somebody on the Willow teaching staff.
How efficient is the Willow?
The true profit to Willow is upon getting the pump on and sucking away — I felt a bit foolish, like an Austin Powers fembot. However having the ability to stroll round and do chores as an alternative of being chained to the wall shortly grew to become a function I couldn’t reside with out — I’d get by a pumping session with out even enthusiastic about it. Earlier iterations of the Willow might apparently trigger nipple ache, however I performed round with the degrees on the Technology 3 and located one which suited me high quality. The Willow begins in stimulation mode and strikes to expression; some ladies , however that’s typically an alignment situation, so that you may must take the pump off, readjust, and check out once more.
Willow consultants advocate that the machine ought to be washed after each pumping session, as an alternative of placing pumps within the fridge to delay cleansing the machine however keep away from bacterial development. Worldwide board licensed lactation guide and Willow’s “Mother Expertise Lead” Wendy Wright gave me recommendations on how you can use the Willow correctly. Particularly on this time of COVID, she recommends washing all the pieces, each time. So that may be a little bit of a problem, though there are solely two to 4 elements. I discovered the pump functioned higher when all the pieces had dried, which may take a little bit of time (you can even wash the Willow on the highest rack of your dishwasher). You possibly can additionally purchase one other set of elements, though that’s an added expense.
Another excuse to clean each time? If the valve on the milk container will get milk or residue on it, it’d malfunction, with the pump incorrectly studying as full and turning off. I began getting wild readings (like 14 ounces in a single session) and needed to exchange one of many milk containers. However, if one thing like this occurs, contact customer support and chances are you’ll be underneath guarantee for a free alternative: 30 days for the plastic elements and a 12 months for the pumps.
The cellular app is likely one of the finest elements; because the pumps are pre-labeled left and proper, I can measure output per breast (as long as I keep in mind to place the proper pump on the proper facet). I may see how shortly I’m expressing, and over time I’ve discovered the pumping classes and occasions which are most and least efficient for me.
Even when all the pieces’s working high quality, there is generally a distinction between the acknowledged output on the app and the way a lot I’ve really pumped. Wright says there could be a couple of 0.5 oz distinction between the quantity that the app says you’ve pumped vs. the quantity that goes into the bag. Generally the distinction is because of air that will get into the bag, needing to tighten your bra, or guaranteeing there’s a correct latch to the flange. Wright recommends preserving your telephone close by and in vary for the very best Bluetooth connectivity; the Technology 3 has 30 toes of Bluetooth vary. It helps to cost typically for finest accuracy (formally, you possibly can pump 5 occasions between costs).
What are Willow’s distinctive advantages and tradeoffs?
Willow’s primary competitor, the , is smaller, lighter, and quieter, with USB wire chargers and the flexibility to purchase a single pump as an alternative of two. However the Willow means that you can pump right into a plastic bag for those who select, which you’ll label with the date and time and retailer for later. It’s a pleasant function for pumping away from house and stopping contamination—much less helpful for me since my provide is low, I don’t must retailer something, and I’m house lots. I’m additionally attempting to not use further plastic the place I might help it, and it’s price noting, too, that purchasing extra baggage is an additional expense that we referenced in our authentic overview of the product.
As a substitute, I take advantage of the Willow , that are a separate machine and an add-on to the fundamental Willow package deal. The milk goes into the container, and I pour it instantly from the machine right into a bottle. You get extra mobility pumping with a bag, although—you possibly can absolutely bend over and lie again, and a few ladies even say they’ll do their nighttime pumping mendacity in mattress.
For girls who breastfeed, you possibly can pop a Willow pump on one breast whereas your child nurses on the opposite to avoid wasting time and absolutely drain your breasts. Or, for those who’re hoping to manage feedings, it’s efficient to pump a bottle of breastmilk. In case you produce lots, the 4 oz restrict per pump may be a problem (some ladies say they’ll rise up to five with the bag, however the pump will cease as soon as it reads as full). Wright explains that if compressing a part of your breast will encourage letdown, you possibly can really tilt the Willow (for those who’re pumping right into a bag) to reveal that a part of your breast. Thus, you possibly can compress it whilst you pump to encourage manufacturing.
So is the Willow price it?
With a hands-free pump particularly, the quantity you pump can fluctuate relying on what you’re doing. Wright says that decrease manufacturing may be resulting from your elevated mobility—however the Willow ought to evaluate to another personal-use pump after the physique adjusts to the mechanics of the suction.
”In tense conditions, mothers’ milk manufacturing can change into decrease, so for those who’re performing coronary heart surgical procedure along with your Willow on, you may get much less milk. Nonetheless, with Willow, we designed the pump to encourage mobility and to take the stress out of pumping. I’d advocate that mothers use the pump in numerous conditions to see which place they produced essentially the most milk, after which use that as your commonplace place; from sleeping within the mattress to doing yoga.”
This may in all probability be extra related in a post-COVID world. Mothers could reap the true advantages of the Willow as soon as they head out of the home extra typically, pumping at their office or different semi-public place. I can see myself packing it for household gatherings and work conferences. It may be cumbersome to hold all the pieces, however the battery life ought to get me by a complete day away from house—as long as I’ve entry to a cooler or fridge for storage (or a bottle to feed my child, if she’s with me).
Finally, it’d appear to be an pointless expense to get an additional pump if you have already got a wall pump, or to solely choose a hands-free machine. However, like so many issues, as soon as you employ it, it’s straightforward to get hooked to the advantages.