Elvie Breast Pump Review for Twins
Now that I’m exclusively pumping, I have switched up which breast pumps I’m using. I started with the Medela and I moved to the Spectra breast pump because it was chargeable and I was able to unplug it from the wall and move to a place that I could comfortably pump.
This was super convenient for pumping in the car, pumping at work, and pumping around the house. But as I moved to exclusively pumping, I realized I was still spending four to five hours a day in total setting up the breast pump, taking the breast pump down, washing it, cleaning it, and then finding a place to pump privately. Oftentimes I would have to plan our outings around pumping just to make it more convenient. And so I eventually looked into wearable breast pumps, or breast pumps that are an all-in-one system.
They’re egg shaped, they go into your nursing bra, and they have no cords because the motor of the pump, the breast shield, and the reservoir for the milk are all-in-one. There are several breast pumps on the market. The first one that I ever heard of was the Willow, and then I was introduced to the Elvie breast pump by a quadruplet mom that was using it to help her pump for her quads.
Choosing the Right Hands-Free Pump for Me
I will cover why I got the Elvie, some of the features and then a little bit of the pros and cons, but I want to start with why I chose the Elvie over the Willow. I’m reviewing the Elvie because it’s the one I’ve used for two months and I considered it deeply against the Willow for two to three weeks before purchasing.
Elvie vs. Willow
At the end of the day, the reason I chose the Elvie was because when read and watched reviews on YouTube, the Elvie was quieter and had a reservoir you could empty into your own breast milk bags or directly into a bottle, whereas the Willow only takes a special shaped bag that fits right into the pump, so you can’t combine multiple pumps into one bag. [Update: they now offer a reusable container to pump into as well.]
Once the bag is in the Willow, you have to take it out and use a new bag every time you pump. Because I’m not filling bags with three to four ounces per side, I felt like it would be a huge waste of plastic to pump into a bag for only one to one and a half ounces, maybe two ounces each and every time.
That also meant if I wanted to pump and immediately give the twins the milk, I would have to pump into a bag and then immediately reopen it. And again, it felt like a waste of bags. So I went with the Elvie because of the noise and because of the convenience of being able to store your breast milk any way you please.
Features of the Elvie
Let’s get into the Elvie. The Elvie comes in either one or two pumps. You can buy them as a singular pump or as a set. I bought the set. The singular pump is good for a nursing mama who is nursing on one side and wants to pump on the other side. Because I am exclusively pumping, I went with the double pump so I could do both breasts in the same amount of time.
The Elvie is very small compared to how far out other breast pump shields are. It’s an egg shape that fits onto your breasts, and while the profile is kind of large from the side, from the front, I don’t see the Elvie being super intrusive. You put it into your bra and when you wear a shirt or sweater or something heavy over it, you can’t see it under your clothes.
The main attraction of the Elvie is that it’s hands free. You use a shield that attaches to the motor and that is also hooked to the reservoir and you put it on. There is a power button on each pump, a pause button, and a go button. There’s also a suction up or down button and those are controlled from the pump itself. You can turn them on and then attach it to you or you can attach it to you and then turn them on. I prefer to actually turn it on and then attach it to me, but they actually recommend attaching it to the breast and turning it on from there.
Either way, whatever works best for you, it goes into your bra and then you can turn it on or turn it on first. There are two modes. Like other breast pumps, there’s a stimulation phrase and an expression mode. The stimulation phase is a quicker pumping action that helps you get let down. The Elvie has smart pump technology that automatically switches to the expression mode when it sense that there has been a letdown. There are also a lot of settings on the Elvie for the intensity of the suction. When you are in the stimulation phase, there are several settings that you can go up and down with till you get your let down.
You will change it up or down to whatever’s comfortable, then in the expression phase you also can move the pump suction up and down so it can be more intense or less intense depending on your comfort level. If your comfort level changes throughout the pump, you can adjust it as you go.
Elvie App and Controls
The Elvie also has a smartphone feature which is the app and the app is where you can control it via Bluetooth from each pump. You turn your Bluetooth on and connect when both of the pumps are turned on and then you can use your app to turn on one or both of the pumps. You can use the app to adjust the stimulation or expression phase or you can let it go on its own and you can adjust the intensity from the app. It also tracks how much milk you’re letting out and shows you. If it needs to make any software updates, it does it from the app to your pump.
Additionally, the app tells you what the battery life is and how long you’re pumping. There’s an awesome feature with a timer that will send your phone a notification when you’ve hit the timer that you’ve set in the beginning. The app is amazing and it makes pumping very convenient. One of the best things that it does is allow you to put your pumps on and then go do something in public, and you can shut the pump off right from your phone and leave it in your bra until you’re ready to go back to a bathroom or a private place to take them out. I think that it’s great that I don’t have to reach into my shirt to adjust the pump. I can do it right from my phone and it’s more discreet.
Elvie Reusable Pumping Bottles
The other feature that I found appealing about the Elvie is the reservoirs that attach to the bottom of the pump. They hold five ounces, which is 150 milliliters, and they are washable and reusable. The double pump comes with two sets so that you can switch them out if they get full during a pumping session or you can just have extra ones with you, and they come with caps for both of them. So if you don’t want to dump the milk into a bag, you can just put a cap on the reservoir once you detach it from the pump and store it in the reusable bottles. This has been really convenient. The other beautiful thing is that you can buy extra bottle reservoirs online so you can have four of them or you can have eight of them and you could just store them in those instead of buying storage bags if you please.
The plastic for these are BPA free. They’re also dishwasher safe which I really appreciate. The Elvie pumps are each rechargeable and they charge fully in two hours. They also send you two charging cords so you don’t have to switch back and forth.
As for the breast shields, they come in three sizes. Two of them are included in the box and are the most popular sizes. I needed the one that wasn’t included, but I was able to order it and get the breast pump shield that was closest to mine. I was originally using a 19 millimeter shield, but theirs only goes down to 21. I switched to the 21 for the Elvie, and it has been perfectly fine.
That actually is another reason I went with the Elvie over the Willow pump – the Willow only offers a 24 or 27 or a size around there. There was nothing smaller or closer to 19. Therefore, I chose the Elvie because the shield would be better suited to the size I needed.
Areas for Improvement
Now I just want to go over some of the things that I feel could be improved. One of the things is when you turn it on, it automatically goes to the highest suction. That’s one benefit of turning it on before I put it on the breast – I can turn the suction down to be comfortable for me and then put it on instead of letting it turn on and having the highest level of section.
Many people told me that it doesn’t bother them, that the highest level is not that high, but for me it is. And so even though it’s only a couple seconds of uncomfortable suction, I don’t love it. So I will turn it down and then put the pump on. Then when it switches from the stimulation phase to the expression mode, it also goes to the highest expression mode on default. And so again, I find myself just turning it down a little bit to be comfortable. I thin if they were to improve the app at all, it would be that the pump automatically goes to your preferred intensity level instead of going to the highest by default.
The other thing that I would love to see improved is to make the tracking more accurate. They do say to use a dark bra over top of the Elvie pump to help it read the milk output. But even in a dark black bra, the reading tends to be about an ounce off sometimes. It’s not terrible, but I always find myself adjusting it afterwards.
When you take the pumps off, you have the ability to adjust what they’ve estimated. I hope that in the future, they get a closer estimation, but it’s really not a problem. I just think that it would be cool for it to be really accurate instead of me having to adjust it every single time. I will say after two months of using it, it actually has become a little more accurate than it was before. I don’t know if it’s reading it and getting smarter or maybe it’s just using an improved algorithm. Since the difference between what I pumped and what it says I pumped has gotten less drastic, maybe eventually it will be more accurate with continued use.
With that, occasionally if you lean over too far and the milk levels get to the top of the bottle, it will tell you that the bottle is full and that’s just because you’ve tipped the milk up towards the center. Say I dropped something on the floor and instead of squatting down, I just bend right over because I forget. It will tell me the pump is full and then if I don’t want to take the reservoir off and reattach it, I have to just turn the pump off and turn it back on really quick.
This is not a negative, just something to be aware of when you’re wearing it. I wouldn’t bend over to the bottom of the washer or anything. I tend to do things that I’m standing up or sitting upright when I wear the pump, like driving, walking the dog, or doing dishes.
Bright Lights Under Light Clothes
The only other thing I would say that I think about when I am pumping that they could change is that the Elvie when it’s on has these very bright lights on it, which is amazing for pumping in the evening and at night, but not great throughout the day in dark rooms. When in public, that’s why I say you should wear a dark sweater. I even wear a dark colored tank top under everything I wear, then a dark or thick sweater or sweatshirt or top because the lights are very, very bright. If there is a way to turn them off, I have not figured it out yet.
I don’t love that. If I was to be wearing a thin or light-colored shirt that people would be able to see the lights from the breast pumps, it’s very awkward and really gives new meaning to headlights. So Elvie, if you’re reading this, please find a way to turn off the lights on the pump.
Other than that, I really don’t have a lot of negative things to say. None of these things are very negative, more just improvements that I’d like to see or things to get used to.
The Pros Outweigh the (Very Minor) Cons
I would say a huge pro is that the Elvie is competitive to every other hands-free pump on the market pricewise. The fact that they offer an extra shield size as opposed to other companies that do not is amazing. The ability to put your milk in your own bag, the convenience of the app, and that it’s so, so quiet, are all great positives.
The only time I can hear the pump is when I’m sitting in silence by myself in a room. But even the smallest amount of noise will cover the very, very low hum of the breast pump. I’ve been sitting next to people at a table and they did not hear the pump while it was working. The last and obviously the biggest, uh, bonus of the Elvie breast pump is the freedom I’ve gained.
I know that I fought with myself over buying this breast pump because it was expensive, but I kept thinking, what could I do with four hours a day if I wasn’t sequestered, tied to tubing in a room by myself with not much else that I could do. And I thought I could hold the boys on my lap while I pumped, which I couldn’t do when there was tubing because they’re in this beautiful infant phase where they’re grabbing everything and they would yank at the pumping tubes.
Multitasking with the Elvie on
Now I can multitask by holding the boys while I pump, walking the dog while I pump, and so much more. Because I’m multitasking while pumping, I have gained at least three hours back every single day. It obviously doesn’t give me back the time cleaning the pump or anything like that. That’s just basic maintenance that you have to do with any pump.
What it did give me back was the 20 minutes each session that I was doing eight times a day and then having to go to a different room at work. The room I had to walk to was five minutes away, I had to get a key, I had to get set up, and I had to break it all down and bring it back. Now it’s as easy as stopping at the bathroom, popping the pumps in my shirt, going back, doing what I wanted to do, turning the pump off, going back to the bathroom, taking them out, rinsing out everything and packing it back up. I love it.
Time Crunch with Twins
When you have two infants who are busy and need a lot from you, and you have a lot of laundry to do and a lot of people to feed, including you and your husband, as well as more dishes because of bottles and pump parts, then you add that on top of having basically no sleep…Getting three hours a day back is significant.
So when I say you’re paying for a pump and it’s worth it, it is. And when I say you’re paying for convenience and it’s worth it, it is. But when I say you’re paying for freedom, I mean it on the deepest level. I feel emotional sometimes when I’m holding the boys and breast pumping or able to be driving somewhere and not have to worry about what time we’re leaving, how to adjust my pumping schedule all day, and stressing about it because I need to get an extra pump in before we go to someone’s house or to the grocery store or to a doctor’s appointment. I have the freedom to just pop the pumps on in the car or while I’m inside the doctor’s office.
Freedom while Pumping
These are things that once I had that time back, I didn’t realize how much I was even stressing about it all day long. The freedom that the pump has allowed me has been worth every penny and I truly mean this when I say if the pump was five times as much, I would have found a way to save up and pay it off. I really would have because I really believe that has improved my relationship with pumping tremendously. I don’t dread it anymore, it’s enjoyable, it’s easier and it is overall more convenient. So I love this pump. I cannot speak about it highly enough.
If I had ordered online, it would have taken maybe six business days to arrive. I actually ended up going to the store because that was longer than I wanted to wait. I bought it at Target, but they also have it at Buy Buy Baby. The pump costs $500, but I got it when it was on sale for $450. That also helped me afford the extra shields in my size which were about $30 and purchased at Buy Buy Baby.
If you have any questions, please leave them below. I’d love to answer anything that you might be hesitant or might want to know about this pump. I would love to put it below!