A new pump’s in town, and it’s been getting a lot of press lately. Since we’re curious and always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in the baby aisle, we jumped on that bandwagon and did extensive research to finally put together this Elvie breast pump review! Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about one of the newest breast pumps out there.
The developers behind the Elvie say that it’s “bringing women’s technology out of the dark ages.” With descriptions like “a huge gamechanger,” “liberating,” and “emancipating,” we think they’re off to a good start.
Like the Willow Pump, the Elvie is a wearable breast pump. It fits directly on your breast(s), featuring a motor located within the breast cup itself. This is a big departure from a traditional breast pump where the motor is located in an external box (like the classic Medela Pump in Style).
The Elvie breast pump is wireless, tubeless, incredibly quiet, and hands-free. Everything, from the machination to milk collection, is all contained within a single unit that fits inside your regular bra.
For this Elvie Breast Pump review, we looked at loads of reviews, talked to users and looked at specs. Let’s take a closer look.
To get set up, you’ll need to assemble the pump (there are 5 pieces for each side, which easily fit together) and place it directly against your breast. You’ll likely need two hands to get started, to ensure the pump is properly positioned at your nipple; you can clip your nursing bra closed after you experience let-down.
Note that the Elvie breast pump needs some serious support — especially for women who produce enough milk to fill the storage bottles, you’ll want a good nursing bra to hold the pump (and milk) securely in place at your breast. Afterwards, in theory, you can sit back, relax, and… do whatever you want.
Most women who’ve used the Elvie really love it, especially for being so “emancipating” in comparison to other pumps.
The Elvie “fundamentally redefined my assumptions about pumping…. It gave me some of my freedom and a lot of my dignity back.”Joan Solsman, CNET
That’s pretty lofty praise for any breast pump.
The Elvie (like the Willow) redefines some of the priorities behind pumping. Other wireless pumps have shifted the focus of pumping to mobility, but the very design of the Elvie is doubling down on that — and, to a certain extent, it’s doubling down on discretion, too.
Though it does succeed to some extent, there are tradeoffs:
1. Discretion: yes, you can use this in public, at work or lunch, or anywhere. The ability to pump breast milk in front of people without their knowing is revolutionary, friends, seriously. But because the Elvie was also created to store 5 oz. containers of milk “on site,” your boobs may look comically big, at least to you. One reviewer said: “I do look a little bit… crazy.” Another said she felt like a fembot from Austin Powers.
The Elvie also doesn’t completely eliminate the need for some private space on the front and back ends of pumping. To get things set up and begin pumping, you’ll need to access your breast and pay attention (it does take some finagling). Same thing goes for the finishing up of a session.
Pro-tip: If, like many women, you’re uncomfortable about your boobs appearing bigger (much bigger), try using a nice oversized scarf to help conceal your bust.
2. Tracking and visibility: The collecting bags are in the breast cup itself, so there’s very little visibility or physical access. Because of that, many women say it’s tough to gauge how much milk they are actually collecting, which can be somewhat confusing, if not downright nerve-wracking. If you are a first-time pumper, this may simply be your norm, but if you’ve pumped before, know that not having that real-time visibility can be a big adjustment.
3. Mobility: The biggest reason so many women love the Elvie is because it enables them to retain some measure of independence while pumping. You can walk around, eat your lunch, work at your desk, drive, or take your dog for a (slow) walk — all of which is great. But the device still requires more-or-less “stationary activity.” It falters with bending or any real activity. (For example, one user warned that her Elvie leaked while she was bending over to do laundry.)
4. Power: Lastly, unlike the wireless BabyBuddha, the Elvie is not known for its power and has a weaker suction than that of the Spectra S1 pumps (and others). In fact, many women say it’s less efficient than other pumps because of its gentle suction. For this reason, it’s not the best choice for increasing milk supply.
Some other pertinent notes about the Elvie:
- Some insurances may cover it, which distinguishes it from its other newer “classmates” (see: What’s New in Breast Pumps in 2019).
- Many users complain about the Elvie app, saying that its volume tracking is inaccurate and unreliable… which is a problem since you can’t actually see how much milk is in the collecting (in a few instances, it even resulted in spillage when the app didn’t pick up on the actual milk volume in a collection bottle).
- Regarding the Willow v. Elvie showdown: there isn’t really a clear-cut winner; we’ve heard from women who line up to defend both brands. But because of its app’s enhanced milk-tracking accuracy, its reputation for (slightly) stronger suction, its having fewer parts to deal with, and the fact that it now offers reusable collection containers, (if we had to call it) we’d probably say the Willow is the better pump, but it’s a close call!
Bottom line: if discretion is what you’re after, give the Elvie a look. It truly allows you to pump anywhere (though not while doing acrobatics). However, the downside is that it’s not particularly powerful or fast and the app is a bit buggy. If speed and power are of utmost importance, look elsewhere.