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Breastfeeding isn’t easy. For the first six months, you’ll spend over six hours a day either nursing or pumping.
Most breastfeeding and pumping moms come to a point where they decide that they need more flexibility. No mom enjoys being stuck with a bulky breast pump, connected to an outlet for multiple hours a day. Especially after doing so for months on end.
Wearable breast pumps have been around for a few years, but have been redesigned to be smaller, quieter, and more powerful. With this in mind, more moms are choosing hands-free breast pumps like the Elvie, Freemie, or Willow Hands-Free devices.
Now, moms have the freedom and flexibility to take back those hours of the day.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of these great hands-free breast pump devices:
Why Hands-Free Pumping?
Most breastfeeding moms spend an average of 6-8 hours every day nursing their babies. However, you will likely spend more time if you are pumping for the baby to drink later or if you are pumping to increase the milk supply.
Although pumping milk is tiring and time-consuming, it has many benefits. Unlike the traditional breast pumps that require you to be connected to the electricity during the pumping session, using a hand-free pump allows you to take care of older children, tackle chores, run errands, or even work out as you pump.
Hand-Free vs. Wireless Breast Pumps
Some people don’t know the difference between hands-free pumps and wireless pumps. With so much information out there moms can be confused on the terms of a hands-free pump and wireless pumps. While most manufacturers generalize all wireless breast pumps, it’s important to note that not all wireless pumps are classified as hands-free.
You can comfortably wear the hand-free pump under your clothes while in public areas such as the office, plane, or even when attending online meetings. Moreover, hand-free options are portable and more accessible, unlike most breast pumps.
Alternatively, you can buy a pumping bra that will help you convert a wireless pump into a hands-free pump. You can freely eat your snack or check your emails while still pumping with this kind of pump.
What to look for in a Hands-Free Breast Pump
For pumping milk in public, look for a breast pump that advertizes low noise. Also consider how large and bulky the pumps are, and how well they will fit underneath your clothes.
Single or Double Breast Pump Option
If you want to pump milk more efficiently, go for a set with two breast flanges that allows you to empty both breasts simultaneously to save time.
On the other hand, if you’re on a budget, go for the single-breast hands-free pump. Very often, you’ll pay twice as much for the double breast pump option.
Ease of Use
Choose a hand-free pump with a minimal setup process to save time. A hands-free pump that requires complicated cleaning or battery removal and charging can waste time from your day unecessarily.
Adjustable Suction Settings
We recommend finding a pump with adjustable settings, so that you can have the flexibility to find the settings that feel comfortable for you.
Our top picks for Hands-Free Breast Pumps
If you’re looking for a portable, easy to wear, wireless hand-free breast pump, Elvie Pump is the best deal. The pump is available as a single and double set. Elvie pump resembles the regular bra cup, which easily fits in most nursing bras.
Although the hands-free pump is wireless, you can easily charge it using a USB power cable.
The pump has a quiet motor, thus making it the best choice if you want to use it in a public place. With Elvie, you can run your errands or reply to emails, and attend Zoom meetings with none the wiser. The pump comes with three suction cups, and each collection cup can hold about 142 Ml of milk.
One of the disadvantages of using the Elvie pump is that it can leak if you lie down to take a nap or move around frequently. Another disadvantage is that the pump’s suction power wasn’t as powerful when compared to the electric versions.
Moms who use the Elvie say that Elve’s customer service is excellent and it’s easy to get a replacement part, should the need arise.
See also: Best Mini Fridge for Breast Milk
Willow Generation 3
Willow Generation 3 pump is Elvie Pump’s competitor since it is wireless and is also hands-free. It has large cups that can easily fit in most nursing bras, and when placed correctly, you can go on with your daily activities.
Willow comes with an app that helps you to control and track the milk output. Moreover, it’s wireless and comes as a comprehensive package that improves user experience.
Moms who used this pump report that the Willow doesn’t leak when moving around, unlike the Elvie pump. However, unlike Elvie, the Willow is louder, and its collection bags can only hold up to 4 ounces of milk.
Willow’s suction is stronger than its competitors and can be painful at times. Some mothers also reported that they kept getting error messages that disrupt the pumping sessions.
Freemie Liberty Wearable Breast Pump System
Freemie is the best versatile hand-free pump since its collection tubes can go hand in hand with the cordless battery pumps. Moreover, you can use it with most insurance-covered pumps.
The milk collection cups come hand in hand with the Liberty Pump, or you can purchase them separately. Most moms love Freemies because they are easy to use, discreet fit, and have extensive collection cups.
Importantly, before you purchase the Freemie pump system, ensure the cups are compatible with your pump.
iAPOY Wearable Portable Breast Pump
Although new in the market, this hand-free pump is cordless, wearable, and has double pumping options. The pump is tiny and easily portable.
While some nursing mothers were not comfortable using the pump in public, they said they loved using it while at home. Who doesn’t like to pump milk for their babies as they do other house chores?
One disadvantage that most moms complained about is the flange. It can’t be adjusted to your nipple size, so some moms experience difficulty pumping milk. If the flange fits your nipples well, the iAPOY is an excellent choice if you’re on a budget.
See also: Best Baby Carriers
Medela Freestyle Flex
This hands-free pump’s collection system and flanges resemble the traditional pumps. Unlike the Elvie and Willow hand-free pump, the Medela Freestyle Flex cannot be pumped when placed in the nursing bra. However, if you prefer to have the most comfortable pump, go for the Medela pump.
One of the advantages of using this hand-free pump is that it’s soft, comfortable, and is available in different sizes. You need to correctly place the flanges on the nipples and support them with the nursing bra. To operate the pump, press the tiny button available at the pump. Also, the whole set can easily fit in your purse and has USB charging. You can also find most Medela replacement equipment in most stores at a reasonable price.
One main disadvantage of using Medela is that its suction strength decreases as the charge wears down, so make sure the battery is fully charged before pumping.
Haakaa Manual Breast Pump
If you’re looking for the best manual wireless pump, the Haakaa pump is your best option. The pump is made of silicone suction cups that you attach to the breast and leave it. The milk is pumped out as suction pressure releases.
It’s not possible to pump enough milk using the Haakaa pump. However, it’s the best option to relieve breast fullness and collect the leaking milk from the other breast when the baby is breastfeeding the other one. The Haakaa is a great trick to build up a supply while on maternity leave. You can keep the pump in the bag and use it if you ever forget the electric pump.
The Haakaa pump is budget-friendly and easy to clean. It’s advisable to buy a separate storage lid since the pump does tip over easily.
See also: Most Affordable Breast Pump Bags
Willow vs. Elvie vs. Freemie Liberty Pumps – Differences & Similarities
Not sure of the type of breast pump you want to buy to make your nursing journey easier?
Here is everything you need to know about the similarities and differences of Freemie, Willow, and Elvie breast pumps.
Unlike the Freemie pump, the Elvie and Willow are wireless. Moreover, these pumps are tubeless and contain a hub that stores the batteries, motor, charging port, collection containers, and controls.
The best thing about the Elvie pump is that it is designed to fit on both breasts. The Willow brand is different since it comes in pairs, and each flange fits only on the designated breast.
Unlike the Elvie flanges available in 28mm and 24mm, the willow flanges come in three different sizes that are 27mm, 24mm, and 21mm.
Freemie is different as it has two parts joined together using a tube. It’s small, lightweight, and portable. However, the connection tubes can be seen, so not ideal if you want to be discreet.
One advantage of using Freemie is that it’s made in a way that it can fit with other pumps. You can also customize the flanges to include in your desired size.
One difference between these three brands is that the Freemie pump and the Elvie pump have portable USB cables, while you have to connect the Willow pump to the charger if you want to use it.
Compared to the Freemie pump and the Elvie pump, the Willow pump offers the highest suction rate.
The Freemie uses less power, and you can pump milk about eight times before you recharge the batteries.
Whereas you can use the Elvie approximately four times before you will need to recharge its batteries.
For the Freemie pumps, you need to clean the valve, funnel, breast shield, and cup after every session you pump milk.
You need to clean the spout, valve, breast shield, collection cup, and seal for the Elvie pump every time you finish pumping milk.
However, you only need to clean the milk collection cup if you’re using the Willow pump.
If you’re using the Willow pump, you can use a clean plastic container to store the expressed milk or put it on the disposable collecting bags.
When using the Elvie pump, the milk goes into the collecting container. Once done, you press the release button and transfer the milk into a storage bag or bottle.
For the Freemie pumps, you pump the milk into your preferred collecting container. Once done, you can transfer the milk into the storage bag.
The Elvie and Willow come with an app that tracks the number of pumping sessions, while the Freemie brand has no app.
The Willow pump comes with storage bags that can last you for almost a week. However, you can buy a reusable collecting container to avoid buying storage bags every time.
For the Freemie pump, you need to replace the tubes once in a while to prevent milk contamination.
With the Elvie brand, their collection cups can be used in a fridge and freezer. However, you need to have extra valves in case you experience clogging.
Compared to the Elvie and Willow pumps, you can get a Freemie at the cheapest price.
See also: Alternatives to Baby Walkers
Pros and cons of hands-free pumping
Hands-free pumps have many advantages, especially for moms who don’t have extra time to breastfeed their babies.
If you’re expressing milk for about twenty minutes in each session, you’ll likely spend much time pumping milk. However, with a hands-free pump, you can simultaneously express milk and do other tasks. The time you save will make a massive difference by managing your mental wellbeing.
Unlike manually adjustable pump flanges, some nursing mothers find it hard to get a good seal or latch with hands-free breast pump. If the pumps are not properly sealed, the milk can leak or low milk supply.
One of the disadvantages of using hands-free pumps is their cost. Many insurances may not cover these pumps, but double-check with your provider just to be sure. If you end up have to buy them out of your own pocket, you may be able to reimburse yourself through an HSA (health savings account) if you have one through your employer.
If you are not registered with an insurance company covering breast pumps, you can potentially use FSA (flexible spending account) funds to buy hands-free breast pumps. Keep in mind that most wearable pumps are more expensive compared to regular breast pumps.
Check out our review of the Best Nursing Pads
Welcoming a baby into the world comes with its challenges. One of those challenges is when a mother prefers to pump milk instead of breastfeeding. Buying a hands-free pumping pump will make things easier and allow you to focus on other essential activities.
Have you purchased a hands-free pump? Tell us your experience below!
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