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3 Reasons I’m Glad I Switched to a Wearable Breast Pump
Updated on
June 24, 2023

3 Reasons I’m Glad I Switched to a Wearable Breast Pump

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 3 Reasons I’m Glad I Switched to a Wearable Breast Pump.
 3 Reasons I’m Glad I Switched to a Wearable Breast Pump

I have to admit: with my first baby I was fortunate that we were able to get into a breastfeeding groove relatively quickly (after a painful few weeks and a 3 a.m. order of nipple shields). Pumping, on the other hand, was much less intuitive. I struggled maintaining a pumping schedule. I kept losing pump parts or forgetting to clean them. And the dangly pump tubes always felt like they were flopping around, begging to gather dust and dirt.

When I went back to work, I ended up using a hand-me-down pump for a few months before switching to one of those $30 manual pumps for simplicity’s sake (there are no electronics and no tubes).

For all those reasons, I never expected to be the kind of person who used a wearable pump the second time around. Wearable pumps, in my mind, were for people who work on their feet, like teachers or nurses, or who exclusively pumped and needed lots of pumping options. But I was given the opportunity to try both the Willow 3.0 and Willow Go and would now consider myself a wearable pump convert. Here are a few unexpected reasons I ended up changing my mind, and you might too.

I Didn’t Have—or Want—a Predictable Pumping Schedule

Some people thrive with structure and routine. Others do better in reaction mode. And sometimes you just don’t have a choice—whether your job is unpredictable or you have other children who need your attention. For me, breastfeeding gave a certain amount of flexibility (have boobs, will travel) that I didn’t want to give up.

For me, traditional pumping, requires more advanced planning, finding a location to pump if you’re away from the house and then remembering alllll of the small parts that are essential to get the job done (not to mention, cleaning them afterwards!). Those things can be easy-peasy for some people, but can be a struggle for people who aren’t as adept at prep work or time management (or who simply can’t work with a predictable schedule).

I Craved More Freedom & Flexibility

I wanted, as much as possible, to feel like I could still do what I loved while parenting. And this worked well for me when breastfeeding. But I found it much more challenging to be spontaneous while pumping—or to even to just get stuff done around the house—with tubes coming out of my T-shirt and a bulky container to tote around.

Recently, I traveled for work and the schedule of events was packed tightly. While we were given free range to take pumping breaks as necessary, I didn’t want to miss out on team bonding or important information. But because I had my wearable pump with me, I was able to pump while enjoying lunch with my colleagues and no one was any the wiser—the noise emitted from the Willow 3.0 was quiet enough that with a bit of background sound, you can’t hear anything at all (I found the Willow Go to be a bit noisier than the 3.0, but still not audible in a crowd).

So if you’re the kind of person who has a packed calendar or you just don’t want to rush out of dinner with friends to pump—a wearable pump may give you the freedom to breastfeed and maintain your flexibility.

I Was Overwhelmed by All the Traditional Pump Parts

The addition of a baby often means a lot of new gear in your home. Traditional pumps can come with many accessories (flanges and valves and tubes, oh my!) and some are particularly small, making them easy to lose in your dishwasher or drying rack. For me, trying to keep track of all of those different parts—on top of diapers and the endless loads of laundry—was just one piece of the mental load too many. As a result, my pump parts were never clean when I wanted them to be and I ended up pumping less often.

On the flip side, the Willow 3.0 uses only 2-3 parts, depending on whether you pump into their bags or the reusable container. And while the Willow Go does have more parts than the Willow 3.0, they’re overall much bigger than traditional pump parts (think: no tubing and no tiny valves). So I’m less inclined to lose track of them, even in the bottom of my diaper bag.

The Willow parts are also shaped differently from traditional pump parts. The surfaces are larger and there aren’t as many crevices. So I feel much more comfortable hand washing my pump parts between uses, which means that my pumps are at the ready more often, and I am more likely to use them.

It might not seem like a big difference, but even a little bit of extra ease in the early stages of parenting can help in alleviating some of the mental load that comes with it.

A Note On Output

Everyone’s breastfeeding experience is different, and it’s impossible to know what your supply might look like before baby arrives (or even in those initial days and weeks postpartum). Willow’s pumps do have hospital-grade suction, and with app control you can switch between stimulation and expression and even control the suction levels remotely. But here’s something I learned the second time around: while output is certainly a priority, there are plenty of reasons why it might not be the top priority for you:

  • You may have an oversupply
  • You may not need or want to build a breastmilk stash (i.e. if you are a stay-at-home parent or work from home with your baby nearby)
  • You don’t plan to pump for very long or beyond one-off use cases
  • The mental load of pumping means you never use your pump (see above re: schedules and cleaning)

For me, feeding my baby breastmilk was something I wanted to do, but was not something I was willing to sacrifice my mental health for (with my first baby, I introduced formula to make up for a difference in output). So not having to miss out on or stress about pumping during work, life events like weddings or even just social activities like birthdays and game night meant that I was more likely to continue my breastmilk journey and have a positive relationship with it.

That said, if you’re wondering which wearable to choose for maximum output: I was pleasantly surprised with the output on the Willow Go—it wasn’t quite as high per session as my traditional pump, but it mimicked the effects of a traditional pump surprisingly well. And because I was willing to pump more often, I was able to maintain a decent supply overall. I found the Willow 3.0 to have a bit more of a learning curve, so it might not be the best choice if you’ll be stressed out by a smaller output at first.

Keep in mind: if output is your top priority (and budget allows) you can always choose a traditional pump as your primary pump and a wearable for situations that call for it. This allows you to prioritize both output and ease. And if you have health insurance, the cost of your Willow pump could be covered up to 40% pending your insurance carrier and insurance plan.

Is A Wearable For You?

It’s never easy choosing gear, especially when you don’t know how your body is going to respond to breastfeeding or pumping. But you may already know enough about yourself to know whether a traditional pump or a wearable pump could be the right fit for you. If flexibility and freedom are at the top of your priority list, Willow’s 3.0 and Willow Go pumps can help you get there. (You can learn more about what makes them different in our guide on the best wearable pumps.)

This article is sponsored by Willow. Babylist’s free site, apps and emails are made possible by our sponsors. We limit our sponsored content to relevant partners that offer products and services we believe in and use ourselves.

Maddie Eisenhart

Sr. Branded Content Editor

Maddie Eisenhart is Babylist’s Senior Branded Content Editor. Having served previously as Managing Editor and then Head of Partnerships at A Practical Wedding, she has more than a decade of experience writing branded content that helps people find products during major life transitions—from marriage to parenthood. Maddie lives in Maine with her partner and two boys.

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