The Willow breast pump eases some of the worst parts of pumping, for a price

Amazon Yes, this is a breast run. The Willow is a hands-free, battery powered tit run that fits inside a nursing bra.

Image: Dustin Drankoski/ Mashable

Welcome to Small Humans, an ongoing sequence at Mashable that looks at how to take care of- and deal with- the kids in their own lives. Because Dr. Spock is nice and all, but it’s 2019 and we have the entire internet to contend with.

If you’re pumping breast milk, what would you pay to not feel fairly so much better like a literal dairy cow? With the liberate of a brand-new and improved breast gush, that’s no longer a hypothetical question.

Despite a built-in patron base thanks to insurance coverage from the Affordable Care Act and a lack of paid maternity leave pushing American moms back in the workplace as soon as possible, meaningful improvements to the tit run are few and far between.

The Willow is the most high-profile entrant into the produce category in the past several years. It was a breakout make at CES when it debuted in 2017 with the claim that it was quiet enough to use on a conference call. It’s is a self-contained, battery-powered tit run that is worn inside a nursing bra under clothes, and damn if it doesn’t examine sleek. The difference between it and a Medela breast pump, one of the more popular manufacturers, is similar to that of a minivan versus a sports car.

But much like the sports car, the Willow pump glitters in a few areas and falls flat in others. Some of the product’s shortcomings are meaningful enough that they, when combined with either the high initial price of such products, gravely undermine the case for buying it. For certain use cases- such as frequent pas or pumping in a chamber without an store- it’s possibly standard. But for broad-spectrum swaths of its intended customers, it falls a little bit short.

You may be asking yourself: “Which of those people am I? Should I buy the Willow? Will it represent gushing less horrifying? ” To which we can only say: Perhaps. A certain amount of horrendous is intrinsic to gushing and only some parts of it can be improved.

But then again, the only route to go with breast runs is up. Here’s what you should know.


The disassembled Willow breast pump. The bag, engine, and suction mechanism all reside inside the pump housing.

Image: Dustin Drankoski/ Mashable

How does the Willow work?

Unlike most other breast runs, the motor, suction flanges( the plastic segments you wear over your breasts ), and milk purses are housed together inside of the run. The half-egg shaped machine is tilted onto the breast and secured with a full-coverage nurse bra or top. “There isnt” tubes running down to bottles or bags and you’re not tethered to a run that’s connected to the wall. Our tester was able to throw on a sweatshirt, walk around, and spoke or do dishes. If you’re pumping exclusively, the Willow would keep your hands free to comfort your newborn while pumping.

When you purchase the Willow, you’ll receive two gushes( one for each breast ), one of two sizings of flanges, a charger, and an initial furnish of bags. Extra pockets need to be ordered directly from the company. The coinciding smartphone app lets you monitor the pumping discussion in real-time, and you’ll specify iOS or Android when you order.

Setting up the gush was easy, according to our tester, who was a mom going back to study after her second babe and running while away from home. The most confusing constituent includes ensuring that your milk goes into the baggage accurately, she said, which can take practise. The app is the easiest segment to set up.

The initial charge took 15 minutes, but it’s important be pointed out that exclusively one run can be charged at a time. You’ll need to go back and switch the charger from one gush to the other, or plan to use one gush for both sides( more on that in a moment ). The corporation says a single charge is good for up to five running sessions.

Our tester did run out of artilleries during one hearing and find herself with some milk locked in the run. A traditional breast gush makes suction with a tube that is separate from the aisle where the milk flows, but the Willow uses a “Flextube” that does both. After the user is finished pumping, she’ll flip-flop the run over and turn it on once again to pull the last of the milk from the flex-tube into the bag. If there’s no influence, you can’t get the last of the milk out of the pump into the bag.

The tester reported that the run was comfortable to wear but didn’t ever feel attached enough to move around confidently.


The flange of the Willow( privilege) and the limit buttons( left ).

Image: Dustin/ Drankoski

How much does the Willow cost?

The Willow is expensive, starting at $429 for the early “Willow 1.0 ” model and moving to $499 for the “Willow 2.0, ” which will be released in February 2019. The latter includes an additional 48 milk baggages. Currently, a 24 -pack of suitcase expenses $11.99 for the 1.0 simulation.

The milk baggages are a place where the Willow’s design forces a high cost to using the gush. The bags have one-way valves and the company touts them as “spill-proof, ” but this also entails two things: You can’t move milk from one container to another and you can’t reseal them.

With a traditionally-designed breast run like a Medela or Spectra, you are able to pump milk into a plastic bottle or a luggage. If your milk yield from both sides is less than the total volume of one bottle or pouch( which was true for our tester ), you are able to combine them and merely employment one container. You can also reseal a pouch or bottle if your newborn doesn’t necessity all of the milk in one feeding. Once you’ve piece open a Willow bag, you’ll is therefore necessary to store any unused milk.

To put real numbers on this scenario, consider a working mom who gushes three times a day and almost never pumps more than 5.5 ounces total in a hearing. With a Medela pump, she could run into bottles, spout all the milk into one handbag to solidify or store and then reuse the bottles at the next pumping session. She’d requirement about three luggage a day.

Using both Willow pumps simultaneously requires 2 baggages every conference, with a total capacity of eight ounces( 4oz per handbag ), much of which won’t be replenished. When our tester try our best to reuse the half-full handbag at her next pumping conference, she got an error content from the app that the containers were full- and they were, with air. Removing and reinserting the baggages established them vulnerable to being ran full of air when the run was turned on. Putting the entire house in the fridge between discussions didn’t prevent the issue. A Willow consultant been said that some wives run both breasts sequentially with one run, which employs fewer handbags but takes twice as much day.

Using Willow’s calculator for the above scenario, you’d have to purchase 120 luggage per month, expenditure roughly $60 for every month you ran. In oppose, Medela pouches are available on Amazon for $14.99 for 100, and you’d require half as many each month, depending on how much milk you carry each session.

Another breast pump, called the Elvie, is the same in concept to the Willow but has a reusable receptacle for catching breast milk. That produce hasn’t hitherto been liberated.

Data Privacy

Like any app- or internet-connected smart machine, the Willow pump( assuming you’re employing the app, which is a main selling spot ), will generate reams of data about its users. Willow’s privacy policy states that among the data automatically collected through the use of the app is “unique device identifier, unique consumer ID, geo-location, browser character, frequency of use, ” and “volume pumped.” It is possible to use the gush without the app.

The company told Mashable in a statement that “At Willow, we take personal privacy and protection of our purchasers extremely seriously. As our programme nations, we do not sell or rent your personal data to anyone.” However, the Willow privacy policy says that data that has been anonymized in some way will not be treated as “personal information.”

The company declined to clarify how it de-identifies personal information and whether the government has sells or leases the de-identified data to third parties.

Speaking about hardware fabricates in the aggregate, Shahid Buttar, the Director of Grassroots Advocacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation said that the potential for data to be sold is high. “If the privacy policy leaves open the opportunity for sale of data in the aggregate, I would describe it as likely a matter of time until the company is able to find a buyer, ” he said.

The entire concept of “anonymized data” has come under investigation as well. Buttar, has pointed out that supposedly anonymized data can often be re-identified later.

“The potential is there. Without find the specific way of aggregation, it’s difficult to asses the likelihood of re-identification, ” Buttar said.

Should I buy the Willow?

It can be hard to criticize a product like the Willow and not worry that we’re letting the best be the foe of the very best. Breast runs urgently need a rethink and initial opens of new hardware commodities are never going to be cheap. So with all that in psyche, we acclaim the Willow for what it’s fulfilled and hope that it continues to develop and stimulate other progress in the space.

But the developments we’ve summarized come at a cost to reliability and ease of use. The retribution for forgetting to accusation it is high since you can’t run and accuse at the same duration. It’s eligible for benefits FSA/ HSA reimbursement and your policy might cover some of the cost, which would help defray the hefty price tag.

If you’re a frequent traveler or someone who needs to gush in places without an outlet or semi-public expanses, the Willow is relatively discreet. Our tester said the Willow is see under clothes, but it’s a nature away from trying to use a traditional tit pump in an airport Starbucks. It’s amply hands-free with a regular nursing bra, so you are able to consolation a babe, are moving, or just relax while wearing it. It’s obviously quieter than classic pumps.

But the cost of the pump, and the ongoing cost of the bags including with regard to, will likely be a dealbreaker for many people. We’d be hard-pressed to find a brand-new parent who doesn’t suddenly have lots of vying be required for several hundred dollars worth of breastfeeding quantities for a several-month has pledged to pumping.

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