Elvie Breast Pump Review: Is it Worth the Money?
Guest Post by Cecilia Yeung
It never occurred to me that breastfeeding would turn out to be one of the hardest things after giving birth.
Several weeks before my delivery, I received a marketing email reminding me that it was time to order a breast pump.
I thought to myself: breastfeeding is basic human nature, how hard can it be? After doing some quick research online, I ordered a Spectra S2 double electric pump simply because it was free through my insurance provider.
Little did I know, pumping is hard work! Aside from the endless cleaning and drying of the various parts of the pump, I had to be stuck to the wall for 20 minutes every other hour.
Along with the postpartum pain, hormone changes, and the baby’s non-stop crying, I felt that I was really pushed to my limits.
After thinking about it for a long time, I decided to tell my husband about the challenges that I was going through. I also told him that there was a wearable pump that might make pumping easier. He was very supportive and said I should get whatever I felt was necessary.
I decided to order the Elvie double pump on Thanksgiving when they had a 10% off promotion.
For those of you who are considering buying it, I suggest that you buy it using your BuyBuyBaby 20% completion coupon or Amazon Registry 20% off coupon. This is the best deal you can ever get. I missed my chance because I bought the Elvie one month after my delivery.
After I brought the Elvie, I really only used it twice.
The first time was after I purchased it and the second time was when I took a day trip to New York City.
The suction felt much weaker than Spectra S2. I was worried that using it would hurt my milk supply so I decided to return it.
“Sorry, we do not accept returns of this product because the box is opened” The customer service representative at Bed Bath and Beyond explained. I was shocked! What do you mean? The box is open because I needed to test it. For an expensive item like this, you don’t even give people the opportunity to try it out? That’s ridiculous.
I walked out in anger. Now what? I had no choice but to start using it. That was when I started falling in love with the Elvie breast pump.
Now that I have returned to work full time, I use the Elvie pumps every day. Thank goodness I did not return it!
What is in the Box?
- 2 pumps. Each one comes with a little pouch
- 4 identical bottles. Each one has a lid, a spout and a valve
- 2 pieces of 24mm breast shields
- 2 pieces of 28mm breast shields
- 4 bra adjuster
- 2 USB charging cable
- An instruction manual
How is the Performance?
The Elvie pump has two modes: Stimulation Mode, which has a faster rhythm to stimulate milk letdown, and Expression Mode.
The Elvie pump automatically starts in Stimulation Mode and switches to the Expression Mode after two minutes.
This means, if you pause pumping halfway and resume it later, the pump will still start in Stimulation Mode. It doesn’t bother me that much because the two modes don’t seem to be all that different. As a matter of fact, when I use Spectra S2, I use the Stimulation mode only.
There are not too many buttons on the Elvie pump.
There is a start button, pause button, a button to choose Left or Right, and the other thing you can control is the vacuum strength. For most people, once you find a comfortable setting, you won’t need to change it.
Comfortable Pumping Experience
At the start of the cycle, you can feel a wave of relaxation as your brain releases the feel-good chemical “Oxytocin”.
The actual pumping experience is more comfortable than other pumps. To me, what I love the most is that the suction feels more gentle. You don’t need to worry that it’s going to rip your nipples off. With softer suction, the Elvie pump is still able to extract the same amount of milk, if not more.
Once I start pumping, I can work on my laptop and even take meetings online.
Since starting pumping has become so comfortable.
It happened to me several times where I completely forgot that I was pumping and went on working for almost 40 minutes. The consequence? Your nipples look a little swollen, and you get some extra milk. It doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort to the breasts.
Quiet Pump Motor
The Elvie is relatively quiet.
You do not need to worry if others can hear you while you’re in the meeting. Elvie markets them as silent pumps, which I don’t agree with. You can still hear the motor working. I wouldn’t use it at night in the bedroom if the baby is sleeping.
Does It Maintain or Increase Milk Supply?
During my first four months of breastfeeding, I broke down and cried at least three times because of low milk supply.
I know that genetically I am capable of producing more milk. My mom was able to exclusively breastfeed my brother and I for the first year.
Even the lactation consultant confirmed that my milk supply would be sufficient.
After many unproductive changes, I became desperate. I blamed the diet, the pump, my husband, the weather, the color of our shower curtain, anything you can think of.
Though people say that nursing the baby directly through your breasts is the best way to increase breast milk supply, it was simply too hard and too emotionally draining for me. I eventually gave up and pumped exclusively.
Interestingly enough, my breastmilk supply started to increase. Looking at it retrospectively, I know that it was because I started to pump more and at a fixed schedule.
In today’s market, especially in the US, most of the electric breast pumps are very good quality.
They may have different marketing slogans, but their performance in terms of extracting breast milk is more or less the same.
Does it mean that you should just grab a random pump? Certainly not. A comfortable and convenient pump can make pumping pleasant and acceptable. It can also help to establish a good pumping routine.
If you ask me how the Elvie pump is, in terms of maintaining milk supply, I will say EXCELLENT!
Not because it’s mechanically better, but because it makes my life so much easier that I pump more often. This, in turn, helped increase my milk supply.
Is It Comfortable/Painful to Use?
When I was using Spectra S2, one of my biggest fears was that the flanges would damage my nipples. When you look down in the plastic tube of the flange, you see this fragile little part of your body being stretched and disfigured by the vacuum. How can you not feel concerned?
With the Elvie pump, I never had that feeling. Partly because you simply can’t see your nipples. However, the suction of Elvie is very gentle. After a few seconds, it is barely noticeable.
This made me feel more relaxed.
How Portable Is It?
Many people buy Elvie because of its portability. So how big is it in reality?
Each Elvie pump is the size of an apple and only weighs 8 oz.
They can easily fit into most handbags. I use a free lunch bag that I got from an Enfamil promotional event.
Inside the bag, I put the two pumps, four bottles, a charger, and two packs of breastmilk bags. It is very convenient to have everything in one place. Because the bag is so small, I store it in the refrigerator in the office.
It’s very discreet because most people think it’s just a regular lunch bag. I appreciate the fact that I don’t need to take the pumped milk out every time and store it separately in the refrigerator.
While pumping, I am able to move around and do a lot of things. I’ve done cooking, vacuuming, folding the laundry, feeding the baby on the other side, walking up and down the stairs, watching TV, using the bathroom, and riding in a car (of course on the passenger side).
Yes, you will have the freedom to walk around and do light house chores. I never experienced some of the common complaints such as milk leaking out.
How is the Battery?
The battery life is definitely the area where Elvie can improve on. The tradeoff of a lightweight portable device is that the battery capacity is low. It takes two hours to fully charge each pump. As to how long it can last? It depends on how you use it. For me, each pump can last about 2 hours.
The one thing that bothers me occasionally is that the pump sometimes suddenly stops working mid-session. It just turns itself off for no reason. Even right after it’s fully charged. When this happens, I just turn it back on. It doesn’t happen too often though.
Is It Easy to Clean?
Cleaning per se is not difficult. You just need to disassemble the parts and rinse them under running water. The only part that needs to be cleaned by a brush is the bottle.
One often overlooked part is the valve. If not cleaned properly, some residue can build up inside. Because the valve is so narrow, you can not clean it with any brush or with your finger. I always use a Q-tip. This problem is not unique to Elvie, all pumps that have a valve have the same issue.
What most people complain about, which I understand, is that there are so many parts to wash.
For two pumps, there are 10 parts to clean every single time. If you are pumping four times a day, that is forty cleanings. It is very time-consuming. But again, you don’t really have a choice.
No matter what pump you buy, there are parts to clean.
95% of the time, I am quite happy with my Elvie pumps. In fact, I brag about it to my other coworkers all the time. However, about 5% of the time, I absolutely hate it.
Sometimes after I assemble the breast shield and seal on the pump, I can’t feel any suction power. I can hear the motor working but I just don’t feel anything. To this day, I still don’t know what the problem is.
What I do is to take the shield and seal apart, reassemble them to the pump, and hope for the best.
Sometimes it fixes itself right away, sometimes it takes up to ten tries. That’s when it drives me nuts. I tried to look for an answer online but couldn’t find anything.
I know that I haven’t mentioned the app yet, because I don’t use it. I downloaded it for the first time during the setup, but to me, the app doesn’t add any extra value. I don’t bother to use it.
Is the Elvie Worth the Money?
If you do the math: Let’s say you pump 4 times a day for 6 months, that is 730 times. Including tax, you pay about $530 for a pair of Elvie pumps. That is equivalent to $0.73 per pumping session. If you pump less, you may end up spending $1 or $2 each time…
So is Elvie worth it? It depends on two things: first, how important mobility and portability are to you; second, what $500 means to you.
If you are a working professional who works in a fast-paced environment, do yourself a favor and get it.
The benefits it brings to your physical and psychological well-being, is worth well beyond the $500.
If you have the luxury of pumping at home, I would say $500 is too much for adding the ability to walk around in the house while pumping unless money isn’t an issue.
The Elvie breast pump is far from perfect.
There are some small things that can be improved. However, they don’t take away from the number of benefits.
Though Elvie is not perfect, it is the best pump for working moms available in the market today.
Will I buy it again? Absolutely! However, I would look forward to some improvements, especially on the batteries and the breast shield seal.
Cecilia Yeung is a working mom who co-founded whensitcoming.com. Cecilia is passionate about technology that makes people’s lives easier. The addition of her precious little daughter makes her even more obsessed with productivity tools as she juggles working, taking care of the baby and launching her startup.
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