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4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wearable Pump
Updated on
May 7, 2024

4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wearable Pump

By Babylist Team
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4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wearable Pump.
4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wearable Pump

If you plan to pump breast milk, wearable pumps can give you a lot of extra flexibility by letting you pump without needing to be tethered to a wall—so you can pump discreetly at work, while running errands or while wrangling other children. But there are so many more wearable options now than even just a few years ago. So we’ve partnered up with Willow—who basically pioneered wearable breast pumps—to share a few insider tips on how to choose the right one for you.

Why do you want a wearable breast pump?

Here’s the thing: everyone’s pumping goals are going to vary—there’s a big difference between the demands of exclusive pumping and someone who primarily breastfeeds but might want a wearable pump for travel or moments away from their baby.

If output is your top priority:

If output is your top priority or if you’re switching back-and-forth from a traditional pump, look for a wearable pump with hospital-grade suction and a higher milk storage capacity like the Willow Go. It mimics the same tug-and-release of a traditional pump and holds up to seven ounces of milk on each side so you won’t have to transfer milk mid-session.

If mobility is your top priority:

Okay, so you’re probably not going to be doing hot yoga while pumping (though who knows?!). But do you chase toddlers around all day? Or work in a physically demanding field like nursing or construction? Then you may want a wearable pump that allows for greater mobility like the Willow 360.

Depending on which milk storage container you choose, the Willow 360 can be completely leak proof, whether you’re standing, sitting or lying down (to take advantage of that leak proof feature, you’ll need to use Willow’s self-sealing milk bags. They also have a reusable milk container option for this pump, but it won’t give you the same range of motion).

Here are a few examples of the differences between the mobility you get with each storage option for the Willow 360 and the Willow Go:

willow go chart

How sneaky do you want to be?

Aside from flexibility, one of the biggest upsides of wearable pumps is discretion—with the right shirt they can go pretty well unnoticed. But there are a few things that can make your pumping experience even more under-the-radar:

No-transfer milk bags

If you’re pumping at a workplace that isn’t set up for privacy or in a less-than-sanitary location (like outside at the park or at an airport), you may not want or be able to transfer milk from your pump to a bag. The milk bags on the Willow 360 are self-contained and self-sealing, which means you don’t have to deal with transferring milk to a separate bag or container—you can just pop the bags into a cooler, fridge or freezer. Just keep in mind that the Willow milk bags only hold up to four ounces of milk on each side, so if you have a strong supply or are pumping first thing in the morning, you may need to pause and switch to a new bag halfway through your session. Undetectable motor noise

When it comes to noise levels, both Willow pumps are quiet enough to blend into the background if there’s a little bit of white noise surrounding you (think: coffee shop or an airplane). If you’re pumping in total silence, however, and would feel more comfortable with a quieter pump, the Willow 360 is slightly less noisy.

App-controlled output

If you’re trying not to draw attention to the fact that you’re pumping in public, reaching into your bra to adjust pump settings might just give things away. To avoid manual adjustments, look for a pump that is app-controlled. For example, both the Willow 360 and Willow Go can be controlled remotely, with the ability to:

  • Start and stop your pumps
  • Adjust suction levels
  • Individually control each pump (left and right boob)
  • Track real-time milk output

But keep an eye out for some subtle differences between pumps that could make them more user-friendly for you. For example, if you want more control over your pumps, the Willow Go gives you remote access to more settings than the Willow 360, whereas the Willow 360 is the only wearable pump you can control from an Apple Watch.

What’s your upkeep style?

Every wearable pump is designed a little differently. If you’re the kind of person who has a hard time keeping track of small parts (i.e. do your earbuds have a habit of disappearing?), you may want to look for a wearable pump that has fewer parts. For example, the Willow 360 is only three parts when you use their reusable milk bags.

And while the Willow Go technically has five parts to put together, they have a larger surface area than traditional pumps, making them easier to clean (or put in the dishwasher). An insider tip: when you’re comparing pumps, look for photos that show the pump disassembled to get a sense of how many parts you’ll need to assemble and clean with each session.

Will you want built-in lactation support?

There can be a bit (or a lot) of a learning curve to breastfeeding and pumping! Sometimes the difference between a positive or challenging feeding journey is having the right support system. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by things like figuring out flange fit or establishing your supply and sorting out feeding schedules, consider a pump that offers built-in support. For example, Willow offers an onboarding service to figure out your sizing to optimize output. And there’s a 1-888 number you can call for immediate support.

Whether you’re exclusively pumping or looking for a flexible solution to supplement nursing, wearable pumps can be a super helpful part of your feeding toolkit. And if you’re still not sure which one is best for you, head over to Willow for a side-by-side comparison or take their quiz to figure out which one is best for you or check out your insurance-covered options at Babylist Health.

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.

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