10 Reasons You Need to Buy the Willow Breast Pump!

If you are in the market for a breast pump, you have probably come across the Willow breast pump by now.  The Willow breast pump is the next generation of breast pumps.  It’s a wearable, hands-free, cord-free way to pump breast milk.  This Willow breast pump review will take you through all the ins and outs of the Willow 3.0.

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What is the Willow breast pump?

First up, a little more information about the pump itself.  On Willow’s website, they advertise their pump as “the only wearable pump that offers total mobility—360 degrees of motion”.  They have done this by creating a breast pump that looks like a giant computer mouse.  The Willow breast pump houses the motor, flange, and milk collector all in one.

Willow breast pumps

When you purchase the Willow, it comes with the following:

  • 2 breast pumps
  • 2 flanges (the part your nipple goes in)
  • 2 FlexTubes (a part specific to Willow that moves the milk from the flange into the bag or container)
  • 24 4-oz milk bags (these bags are specifically made for Willow pumps and are the only ones you can use)
  • 2 cleaning brushes
  • 1 charger
  • 1 year warranty if purchased directly from Willow’s website

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What is the cost of the Willow breast pump?

At the time this article was written, the Willow pump is just shy of $500.  It’s expensive.  This pump is a luxury pump.  You do have a few ways to purchase:

  • Check with Aeroflow to see if your insurance will cover the Willow.  Aeroflow is free to use.  You provide your insurance information, and they will provide you with a list of breast pumps that your specific insurance will cover.
  • Purchase directly from Willow’s website.  Willow often runs sales around holidays and major shopping periods (end of year, end of July).  They also occasionally run discounts for moms working in healthcare, education, first responders, and the military.  They typically provide that information directly on the front page of their website.  If you don’t notice any specials when you go to purchase, try emailing Willow’s support to see if they have any promos available. $500 is a lot of money!

Who is the Willow breast pump best for?

If pumping hands-free and cord-free are priorities to you, then then Willow pump is for you.  If you pump in an environment that requires you to be on your feet constantly or you are always on the go, the convenience provided by the Willow pump is unparalleled.  Being able to quickly put the breast pump into your bra and get on with your task at hand is the ultimate time saver when it comes to pumping. 

If you have other children you are chasing after and don’t (or can’t!) be tethered to a wall while pumping, then the Willow pump is for you.  You can change diapers, carefully pick up toys, and feed your big kids all while pumping milk for your baby.

Alternatively, if you primarily pump at your desk in your own private office, then there isn’t a huge advantage to the Willow other than being cord-free—which is a huge benefit!  The main appeal of the Willow is the freedom that comes from being cord and bottle free.

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Is the Willow breast pump the only pump I need?

That depends.  Most of our moms have a back-up pump they use alongside their Willow pump.  If this is your first time pumping, we would suggest having a manual breast pump or a small electric pump to use in addition to the Willow.

If you have pumped before, you can use your breast pump from the first time around as a spare.  Alternatively, if your insurance doesn’t cover the Willow, you could obtain whatever free breast pump your insurance carrier will provide and then purchase the Willow separately. These pumps are HSA and FSA reimbursable.

Recommended article: How to {Quickly & Easily} Get Your Free Breast Pump Through Insurance

We recommend having a spare breast pump in case the Willow doesn’t work out for you or to use when you don’t need the mobility feature.  The Willow breast pump works completely different than traditional pumps.  This isn’t a bad thing, but each mom responds differently.  Some moms use the Willow breast pump exclusively while others prefer to use it in tandem with a traditional breast pump.

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How do I use the Willow breast pump?  Do I need the Willow app?

First off, download the free Willow app.  The Willow app allows you to track how much milk you are pumping, and has all kinds of helpful videos and tutorials.  The videos can be found under the ‘Help’ section and include topics like how to get started, how to assemble, flip to finish, pumping with the container, and overall tips and troubleshooting.  Alternatively, Willow provides a comprehensive overview here.

The key things you want to pay attention to are flange size and alignment.  As with all breast pumps, you should not experience pain or discomfort when pumping.  Willow offers three different flange sizes, along with sizing inserts for moms with smaller nipples.  You can use this tool to measure your nipple size in order to determine which size flange to purchase.

Additionally, aligning the Willow is different than traditional pumps because you can’t actually see your nipple in the pump itself.

View of Willow breast pump from top

Watch the alignment videos from Willow available in the app or here to understand how to attach the pump to your breast.  It’s not hard, but requires a bit of practice.  The Willow breast pump will not work until it senses it is attached and aligned correctly.

Do I get more milk when I pump with the Willow breast pump?

In our experience, not really.  Most of us pumped the same amount with the Willow as we did with our traditional breast pumps.  Some moms reported getting a few more ounces, while others reported getting less.  Largely though, we pumped the same amount between all pumps.

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Do parts need to be replaced with the Willow breast pump?

Like traditional breast pumps, there are a few pump parts that need to be replaced.  Willow recommends replacing the flanges and FlexTubes every 3 months.  Many of our moms stretched that to 6 months and/or only replaced the FlexTubes and saw no reduction in supply or problems with our Willow breast pumps.

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Can I use the Willow breast pump without bags?

Yes and we actually recommend it.  Willow pumps will only work with Willow’s specific milk bags.  These bags are expensive and can only be used one time reliably.  However, you can purchase milk containers directly from Willow.  You can pour the milk you pump into a bottle and then reuse the containers again the next time you pump.  This option is more economical and environmentally friendly.

Recommended article: How to Store and Use Breast Milk After Pumping

Can I use Willow breast pump if I have big breasts?

You sure can!  As we mentioned above about flange size, the Willow pump is more concerned with your nipple size than your breast size.  The one thing many of our large chested mamas said is to make sure you have a good bra.  Some of the most suggested pumping bars:

Is the Willow breast pump discrete?  Can people tell I’m wearing a breast pump?

Are Dolly’s girls discrete? 😉 In all seriousness, no the Willow pump is not very discrete.  Perhaps depending on your body shape and what you are wearing, the Willow breast pump may not appear as obvious as it does on others.  But for the most part, yes, you can tell you have something on your chest and people will most likely be able to tell you are wearing it.  Whether that bothers you is up to you!

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Is the Willow breast pump loud?

Compared to traditional breast pumps, no the pump isn’t loud.  At the same time, you can hear the motor steadily pumping.  We have noticed that the Willow is louder than the Elvie.

Are there any disadvantages to the Willow breast pump?

Like any breast pump, there is a learning curve.  Here are a few cons that our pumping moms experienced with the Willow:

  • If you don’t align the pump perfectly on your nipple, it won’t work or you will think it’s working only to discover that no milk was actually pumped from your breast.
  • It can be sensitive to the way you assemble the parts.  This requires you to unassemble and then reassemble everything. 
  • Milk fat can develop on the FlexTubes and containers which can affect the Willow’s sensors.  This can cause things to not work or give you wrong readings in the app.  Thus, the parts need to be sterilized in boiling water every few days.
  • Some of our moms experienced clogged milk ducts from the positioning of the breast pumps.

Recommended article: 12 Methods to Treat a Clogged Milk Duct Fast

Is the Willow breast pump worth purchasing?

Absolutely!  While it does come with some issues and there is a learning curve, the convenience and ease it affords is well worth the money it costs.  Not only are you able to move around while pumping, but it only has a few pieces to wash, too.  Those two features alone make it worth purchasing!  Small, compact, and strong are the three features that absolutely make the Willow breast pump worth the investment. You won’t regret it!

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