All about the innovation that makes pumping suck less

By Andrea Lavinthal
August 01, 2019 08:00 AM
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Courtesy of Willow

Most moms agree that breastfeeding is the hardest part of having a baby. And even if you manage to get the hang of it, most likely you’ll then have to master the next hardest part of having a baby: pumping.

As someone who recently had her second child, I’m all too familiar with the complicated world of breast pumps (the distinct whoosh-whoosh noise they make was the soundtrack of my life for many, many months).

I say “complicated” because there are so many different kinds of pumps available and even the top-rated models have their limitations. That’s why this time around, I invested in two pumps: a traditional electric pump (the Spectra S1) which I got at no cost through my insurance (give it up for Obamacare!) and kept plugged in next to my bed and the Willow for pumping anywhere outside of my home.

I posted pics on my Instagram Stories of me using the Willow at a photo shoot, on a plane and even at a wedding and was flooded with DMs asking about it. So, why all the excitement?

Courtesy of Andrea Lavinthal

Unlike traditional pumps which are roughly the size of a bowling ball and about as portable as one, the Willow is wireless and sits  inside the cups of your bra. That means it can do its thing while you’re out and about (Nicole Phelps even wore her Willow under an evening gown at a gala with her husband), which is a game-changer for anyone who doesn’t want to spend upwards of two hours a day tethered to an outlet (especially if said outlet is in a utility closet that your company rebranded as the lactation room). Plus, the Willow has a smart app that keeps track of each pumping session in real time as well as a history of all your past sessions. That’s huge for a sleep-deprived new mom who can barely remember her own name.

That said, the Willow has a few drawbacks. For starters, it’s $500, plus it requires special milk bags which are also pricey ($11 for a 24-pack). I also experienced some pinching until I learned how to reposition the pump for a more comfortable latch. Luckily, the company’s site features a comprehensive help section (I watched the instructional videos online over and over and over), plus you can schedule a call with a consultant if you need extra coaching (shout-out to Ashley who cheered the first time I got a successful latch).

Those issues aside, I still recommend the Willow to all of the moms and moms-to-be who message me about it. Trust me, the freedom to pump in public makes the Willow worth every penny and pinch.

And since this review coincides with World Breastfeeding Week, here’s another must-have for all you moms pumping on the go: Milk Stork.

I first heard about this service from Facebook mom group and it was a lifesaver when I had to travel eight weeks after having my second child while I was still nursing. It allows you to ship your breastmilk from wherever you are back home to your baby. I pumped with my Willow, then packed the bags of milk into a Milk Stork cooler which was waiting for me when I checked in to my hotel. I arranged a pickup from the closest FedEx and the milk made it to my baby within 48 hours.

Courtesy of Andrea Lavinthal

While nothing will ever make breastfeeding and pumping truly stress-free, these two innovations definitely make it suck way less (ha).

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