My breastfeeding journey with the boys was different than I thought it would be, but I’m thankful that with Emily it has been pretty much a dream come true. I attribute the success with her to a lot of things, but mostly my past experience and having realistic goals set for both of us. I wrote a bit more about that in this post if you are interested in reading.
Pumping has been a pretty regular part of my breastfeeding journey as well and now that I’ve had about 8 months of experience with a few pumps, I thought I’d share a few thoughts and opinions about them here!
I used the Medela Pump In Style with the boys but not as much as I used it with Emily. Part of that is because I have nursed her for a longer time than the boys, and I also pumped more frequently than I ever did with the boys.
This post is not sponsored, these are simply my experiences and opinions with these pumps!
I try to breastfeed Emily as often as possible during the day when it’s time for her to eat. If I’m working and am able, Justin will bring her to me to nurse her. If I’m not able to nurse her, I’ll pump while he gives her a bottle of previously pumped milk from the fridge or freezer.
When she was a newborn and very sleepy during feeds, I would pump for a several minutes after nursing her to make sure my body was getting clues to continue to produce enough for her. And since she started sleeping through the night at an early age, I had to map out some pumping sessions to create a backup supply for her!
For the first few months I would wake up at midnight to pump while she slept. Then she would wake me up around 3:30 to nurse, and then again around 5:30/6:00 to nurse and be up for the day. I did this up until she was around 6.5 months old, I shifted my nightly pump session to around 10:00pm. So her last nursing session of the day is 7:00pm and then we would top her off with a small bottle of milk that I pumped the day before, then put her to bed. She would usually sleep until around 5:45/6:30 in the morning without eating during the night.
My supply has been slowly decreasing, especially at night, so we’re now giving her a small bottle of supplementation formula for her last “meal” of the day.
So now that you have a little bit of an idea of how I use my pump and how often, I’ll break down what I think of all 3 of them.
First up, the Medela Pump in Style. I’ve used this one the longest, and get it when I was expecting David. It has worked perfectly, I like that the suction strength is adjustable via a knob that you twist. The bag makes it easy to carry everything that I need with the pump in one place, from extra parts to storage bags. I’ve never had suction issues or any parts failing. There are a lot of pieces to wash and assemble when using this pump, but it’s very easy to set up. Overall I’d give this pump an A+. I really have no complaints with it.
Next up, the Spectra S2. This one is a bit newer to me and initially I didn’t love it. I didn’t feel like it was as strong as the Medela Pump in Style, and the suction pattern was different as well. I loved that it came with a timer, a nightlight, and had a few less parts to clean and keep up with. After using it more frequently I came around on it and now it’s my top choice for pumping every night. I keep the Spectra pump downstairs by the kitchen table, and the Medela lives upstairs in my office so I’ve got a pump in both places that I use them most! I’d give this pump an A. I really like it, it’s very easy and quick to set up, but I do feel like I’m not able to pump as much milk with this pump versus Medela Pump in Style.
The newest pump that I’ve been trying recently is the Willow Pump. This comes with a bit of a learning curve but the brand knows that and are ready to help you if you need it. It’s totally portable and can be discreet depending on what kind of top you are wearing. The two pumps fit into your bra and after turning them on and making sure they are positioned correctly, you just sit back and let them do their job. The app syncs up with the pump so you can see exactly how much milk each side is expressing, which is kind of awesome. There is a particular way to remove the pumps and turn them over to make sure you don’t lose any milk, so make sure you watch that information video. It’s very easy, but it has to be done a certain way.
The freedom I had while using the Willow pump was incredible. I could do basically anything I wanted to do. I know there are other hands free pumps out there but Willow is the most discreet and least likely to get knocked around if you are doing something with your hands (like dishes or laundry). I found the latch to be a little bit painful so I moved up a size in the flange and that helped significantly. I would still rank it as the most uncomfortable of the 3 pumps, but not in way significant enough for me to stop using it.
It’s expensive, requires special storage bags (the Medela and Spectra can both use Lansinoh and Medela bags), but is very easy to click together and use. I’d give this pump a B because it’s a little painful and I had one instance where the app didn’t connect to the unit so I wasn’t sure how much I was pumping.
P.S. Here is a post that has some of my favorite nursing bras as well as some other post-partum favorites.