I am very much a type-A person. I love to plan and organize. I am the girl that can’t go to sleep at night until each throw pillow is perfectly fluffed on the couch. I even iron my pillowcases – yes, totally nuts.
During my pregnancy, I made a decision that was so unlike me: I was going to approach breastfeeding with a completely different outlook. I wasn’t going to plan anything. My hope was that I would be able to breastfeed, but if that didn’t work that would be OK too, because I really believe that fed is best.
To prepare for what was to come, I ordered a book on breastfeeding, did a bit of research about what to expect, and planned to order a breast pump. I knew I would be going back to work and if I wanted to pursue my breastfeeding journey, that I would need to be prepared and make the process as simple as possible for myself.
As so many of us know, the worst thing about pumping is being forced to sit still and spend those precious minutes strapped to a pump.
The Elvie pump is the first silent and wearable breast pump free from tubes, wires, and cords. The pump is small, lightweight, and fits in any of your nursing bras or nursing tanks with no real hassle. The electronic component is rechargeable, so no need to switch batteries either. Each pump comes with its own storage bag and charging cords which can connect to any USB charger. (I bought this one which made it really easy to keep the cords together and not misplace them.)
I loved the idea and intent behind the Elvie pump, and when it came time to use it, it freed me in the best way.
I love being able to be on a Skype call for work and that I could be multitasking by pumping at the same time (if you’ve ever pumped before, the silence this pump provides will feel like absolute heaven!) I also like that when we were out of the house there was no barrier preventing me from pumping whenever I needed to. I could easily pump in the car (as a passenger) on the way out on date night so that I could indulge in a glass of wine. And, I could pump at my in-laws’ house without any issue of having to find a good spot with an outlet.
My plan for a wait-and-see approach to breastfeeding worked out for the best as my son, Zachary, arrived five weeks early. As a late preterm baby weighing 5 lbs., 5 ounces, feeding was a major hurdle for us in the beginning. After he was born, he was immediately whisked away to the special care nursery to begin what ended up being 24-day hospital stay. Within two hours of his birth, I was visited in my hospital room by a lactation consultant who helped me figure out my flange size and educate me about the ideal pumping schedule and how to build up your milk supply. I was really excited that, at my first pump, I was able to get several ounces of colostrum — I felt like superwoman when I proudly brought my milk up to the nursery, and all of the nurses complimented me on how much I was able to bring in. This was incredibly encouraging first step and gave me the push to wake up every three hours and pump.
In the special care nursery, babies are only able to be “put to breast” at the neonatologist’s approval, and I was able to breastfeed no more than two times per day. At the other six or seven of my son’s feeds, I had to provide expressed breast milk to either be bottle or tube fed to him. What this meant for me was a lot of quality time spent with my breast pump — within six weeks, I was exclusively pumping to feed my son.
Where It All Began: The Stationary Pump
At the hospital lactation consultant’s recommendation, I rented a hospital-grade pump meant for preemie moms for the first month while I established my supply. Within days of using that pump, I realized that hooking myself up to a stationary pump wasn’t going to work for us. There was no way that I could spend a minimum of two hours a day sitting in one spot unable to care for my son.
In order to maintain the “ideal schedule” created by the hospital lactation consultant, I would need to pump for at least 15 minutes every two to three hours per day, for seven or eight total pumps per day. After adding in the time spent washing and drying pump parts and storing and prepping milk bottles, I was spending at least three hours per day focusing my energy on just pumping.
That seemed crazy to me, and I certainly would rather spend that time bonding with my baby, who was still in the hospital. I was emotionally and physically drained and the last thing I wanted to do was sit attached to the pump, exposed, surrounded by beeping machines.
Switching to the Elvie
I had my Elvie on hand already having ordered it prior to Zachary being born (but you can pick one up online on Elvie’s site and in stores, like Target and at BuyBuyBaby, beginning this summer) and after arriving home from a long day at the hospital, I finally opened up the box. Setup was really simple — I just charged the electronics, downloaded the app on my phone, and washed and thoroughly dried all of the parts. The app was awesome for recording how long I had been pumping and even told me how much milk volume I had pumped. This is such a great feature and prevents you from having to take the pumps out of your bra and putting them back in if you need to pump more. I also really appreciated that the pump itself switches from stimulation to expression mode and has an automatic shut off when the bottle is full — it takes any guesswork out of the process. I could just get things done without thinking about the pump.
Using the Elvie, I was able to schedule my pumping around times that worked for me. I would plan pumping sessions around chore times, commuting time, or even while eating my meals. This way, pumping wasn’t taking away from time I could be holding my baby and bonding with him — both when he was in the hospital and once he came home. It was also a big plus to me that I was seeing the same milk output with the Elvie and the hospital-grade pump. This made me feel more confident that the Elvie was a good choice for me to use as my go-to pump.
Portability Is Queen
Being able to move freely, not have to take my whole top off, and be able to be around others while pumping made me feel more human and less isolated. Things are hard enough as a new mama, but then to having to sequester myself in another room to pump made me feel even more alone. The Elvie made it easy for me to pump and be with others.
Another plus for me was being able to have a shirt on while pumping. I was pretty self-conscious about my postpartum “jelly belly” and being able to stay dressed was a nice change — even if I was the only person in the room.
Easy Setup & Cleaning Keeps Things Simple
Unlike other wearables, the Elvie doesn’t have any plastic bags to change out or keep purchasing. Not only is this meaningful to me in terms of environmental impact, but it is also much less expensive, easier to clean, and faster to set up and use.
The setup on the pump takes me less than two minutes. It consists of three key pieces: the electronic hub, the plastic breast shield with a rubber suction “seal,” and a bottle with a plastic valve and a rubber spout.
This pump is super easy to clean — only five parts — and they are all dishwasher safe. One of our NICU nurses also taught me a pumping hack that I use constantly — put all of your pump parts in a zippered plastic storage bag and store them in the fridge, so that you only need to clean and sanitize once per day. This was a HUGE game-changer for me and saved me so much time.
The Elvie also comes with two sets of bottles, so if you are storing milk in the fridge or have one in the dishwasher, you still have another set free to use.
The Best Way to Use the Elvie
The Elvie is sold in both single and double pump versions, and I highly recommend the double pump version if you plan to exclusively pump or pump at least 50 percent of the time. While it is an investment, you can use FSA/HSA funds to purchase your pump. It could also make a great addition to your registry as a group gift. Nothing says, “I’ve got your back” more than treating another mama to a much easier nursing experience.
Tips for Using Your Elvie Pump:
- It can be a bit awkward at first to get the fit just right since you can’t see your nipple when the pump is on. I found that if I couldn’t feel suction right away while adjusting the seven adjustable suction intensities, then it wasn’t a great fit and I would need to reposition the flange on my breast. The best way I found to position it correctly was to cup your breast (like you are rearranging it in a push-up bra) into the pump and then adjust your bra once that is in place. The pump comes with two bra adjusters, but I never needed to use them. I would just tighten my bra straps as needed.
- If you find that the suction is “off” or you aren’t getting a lot of milk, then the issue is with the rubber seal on the breast shield. It needs to be placed firmly between the shield and the hub — if it isn’t, your suction will not be good. Just reposition and you are good to go.
- The tighter the bra the better. The Elvie can work with any nursing bra, but I found more full-coverage bras to provide the most comfortable fit for me.
- The plastic release button for the bottles is pretty fragile and you need to handle this with care or it can snap. After seven weeks of continual use, I was tired one night and pushed this piece with a bit too much force and it snapped. Luckily, the Elvie customer service team quickly overnighted me a replacement part and gave me tips on how to avoid this in the future. Since then, I have had no issues and the part is working perfectly. I give their customer care team kudos because they were totally awesome to work with. The Elvie team also made permanent changes to this part so this shouldn’t happen to anyone else moving forward.
- I leaned on social media for tips on milk supply and general pumping/nursing tips. Pumping is hard and it’s not particularly comfortable or mentally enjoyable. My go-to channel for tips is @legendairymilk, which was a great resource. Elvie also has tons of great information to help support your journey through its learning center.
- Pumping was really painful at first (and still sometimes is) and it took a serious adjustment period for me to get used to it. I tried so many different remedies, but my go-to’s are this and this. I never struggled with supply issues, but I do have very “leaky” breasts with really frequent letdowns even if I have recently pumped. I tried all of the disposable breast pads on the market and they all irritated my skin and made me so itchy. I invested in these and they have been amazing.
- Elvie also makes an award-winning Kegel trainer, the Elvie trainer, for a stronger pelvic floor. It syncs up to an app on your phone and uses biofeedback to ensure you’re doing your Kegels in an effective way. In four weeks, you can have better bladder control and faster postpartum recovery — no more peeing when you sneeze, moms.
We also have an exclusive code for the Elvie Trainer, a Kegel exerciser, through Elvie.com — use EVERYMOM20 for 20% off of this postpartum essential.
This post was in partnership with Elvie, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.