Several vocal readers (who happen to be MDs: go figure) originally turned us onto this new “mobility” pump, and we were super excited to check it out. Yes, we’re officially in the fan club now… (BTW, the brand is technically “BabyBuddha” – one word – but we’re purposely separating it here so that you can find us on Google!)
The Baby Buddha is more of a traditional pump in the sense that it looks like your standard double-electric, but it has some game-changing tweaks, and moms are simply gaga over it.
If we had to boil our Baby Buddha breast pump review down to a single word, it would be: powerful.
Let’s state the obvious first: this pump’s motor is unbelievably SMALL… like as small as an old-school Nokia phone. (Are you too young to know what we’re talking about? OK, then it’s like your parents’ garage door opener. No? OK, a TV remote. Wait. Nevermind.) Compared to the classic Medela Pump in Style, which we joke is the size of a cinder block, the size difference is night and day.
The pump itself hangs on a lanyard around your neck (what!?? that’s crazy), and the flanges attach to your breasts in much the same fashion as any standard pump.
Unlike the Willow and some other newer pumps, Baby Buddha is not going for discretion — i.e., you won’t be pumping in your cubicle, on the subway, or at lunch with friends. Instead, the strengths here are related to portability and power.
Portable, Wireless and Hands-Free
Other popular battery-powered pumps like the Medela Freestyle and the Spectra S9 have let women pump on the fly, but the Baby Buddha takes portability to a whole new level. The pump is small and lightweight enough to wear around your neck, like your dorm card from college. It’s designed to be used with a hands-free pumping bra so that you can move about with no wires tethering you to a specific spot — a freeing feeling for many users and a huge improvement for pumping mothers who need to get sh*t done, whether it’s at home or in a private office.
(Note – the kit does not come with a pumping bra — you’ll need to purchase one separately. The upside here is that you have the freedom to use any bra you like. If you need some suggestions, check out our favorites.)
Pro tip: Many women love using the Baby Buddha with Freemie collection cups, which help brings discretion into the experience. Indeed, it can be hacked to work with many other brands’ components, and we think using with Freemie cups is totally genius. It practically transforms the powerful Baby Buddha into the likes of the Willow or Elvie… for half the price… and the suction of a hospital-grade pump!
Reviewers who’ve used Freemie cups with the Baby Buddha pump for a sort of DIY wearable say they’ve successfully pumped on planes, while biking, at dinner, and at the grocery store. (If you try this at home: know that you’ll probably want to wear a scarf or a loose top. The Freemie cups are not small… For more on the Freemie (including cups), read here.)
Suction, Power and Efficiency
Perhaps the key distinguishing features of the Baby Buddha are its power and efficiency. If users say anything about this pump, they say that it is strong. So much so that some women can only use it on the lower levels – ha! Be prepared :).
Yes, when it comes to extracting that liquid gold, the Baby Buddha outshines all other compact pumps — from the Freestyle to the Willow. In fact, some women say that the Baby Buddha’s suction is even superior to the Medela Symphony — a behemoth of a hospital-grade pump that’s known to help decrease the time it takes to pump and boost milk production.
According to many, many women, the pump’s impressive suction helps increase milk supply and does so much more efficiently (less time pumping!), getting them to “empty” more consistently than any other pump.
Win-win-win. Note: some women had sore nipples for the first few days, so there may be a bit of a “break-in” period. Make sure you’re taking care of your nipples!
Some additional things to keep in mind:
- The Baby Buddha is not particularly loud, but it does have the classic breast pump auditory features. (It’s comparable with the original Medela PISA, slightly louder than the Spectra models — many women say it can be heard over the phone.)
- If you’ve used other breast pumps before, you should know that the suction pattern on the Baby Buddha is different — it’s a “long pull pattern,” so it will likely feel different (personally, I love a long pull, but hey, everyone is different).
- The Baby Buddha only comes with 24mm flanges, and since the suction is so strong, it’s extra important to make sure you have the correct size flanges for your breast/nipple size, lest you are in for a world of hurt. (Note — tons of women have confirmed that you can use Medela parts with it: score! In fact, the Baby Buddha is quite a “hackable” pump — it can operate with hardware from Lansinoh, Medela, Spectra, and Freemie brands. The company even spells it all out for you with a “component hacks” webpage — love this!)
- The pump’s parts are top-rack dishwasher safe, although the manufacturer admits they wear more quickly with dishwasher washing.
- The charge on the Baby Buddha lasts about one hour, or roughly 2-4 pumping sessions. Although this battery capacity isn’t impressive, it doesn’t seem to bother most users since pumping sessions tend to be shorter. Many women say that a nightly charge works just fine to get them through the day. (Plus, it has a USB outlet, so it’s quite easy to charge on the go anyways.)
Bottom line: The Baby Buddha is small, portable, powerful, and downright delicious. It’s great for moms pumping at home (or perhaps a private office or nursing room at work) who value speed, output, and portability above all other things. In other words, the Baby Buddha is powerful, and it isn’t for the faint of heart! Unless you intend to hack it with Freemie cups, it’s not great for moms trying to pump discreetly in the company of others (during meetings and whatnot), those who know they need an extra long battery life, or those who are looking for an ultra-quiet pumping experience.