Let me start off by saying that I HATED nursing when I had my first son. And nobody tells you how much it sucks. I mean it was A VERY close second to lack of sleep, and that’s saying a lot because I really enjoy sleep. I got through 9 months of nursing and started pumping at around 2 months to create a stash. I actually liked the convenience of pumping— so much so that I made a plan that if/when I got pregnant again, I would start pumping earlier and more often so I wouldn’t have to nurse as much.
So fast forward just two short months after I stopped nursing and surprise! I was pregnant again. I learned about portable pumps and after some research made the big buy of the Willow. Turns out, because of my son’s nursing issues, I was forced to exclusively pump. So, I got very familiar with using the Willow. I used it up to six times a day at one point. Here’s the gist of my experience.
Portable. This is the biggest pro. You can use it anywhere. You just put it in your nursing bra and you’re good to go. The only limitation is you can’t lean over because the milk will spill out.
The App. The Willow has its own app and it’s very helpful. It shows you how much that you are pumping on each side, how much time you have left (the timer automatically sets to 25 minutes), and if there’s an issue and the pump won’t start, a message will pop up and tell you what to fix. You can also see your pump history and there’s a support tab to search the issues you’re having.
Quiet(ish). You have to be pretty close to hear the sounds and even then, it’s just a low pump sound. There’s one second every minute when it collects the milk into the pump and it does sound a little like a printer. But overall, very quiet.
Customer service is awesome. The only good part about having an issue with the Willow is they have amazing customer service. I’ve spoken to three or four different people and they were all super helpful and knowledgeable. They have a great warranty on the pump and parts, and they will give you ways to fix your issue (if there is one) and if you are still having the issue 24 hours later they will replace whatever isn’t working.
Works with nursing bras. Like I mentioned, this fits into a nursing bra. And I used it with a couple of different ones and it fit well, just as long as it was tight. Know that you will look like you have HUGE boobs (my cousin would call me Dolly Parton when I wore it), but I would rather look like Dolly than be sitting next to an outlet for 20 minutes.
Few parts. The pump itself, the flextube, and either the milk container, or the flange and bag are all that is needed. I used the milk container so that I didn’t have to continually buy the disposable bags. It makes it way easier to have to wash them every time when it’s just four parts. Also, if something isn’t working it’s easy to disassemble everything and try again.
Huge network. There are so many groups for Willow users. I joined a Facebook group and there were thousands of other users. Any question or issue I had was mentioned in that group, it was so helpful! A really great network of moms.
Expensive. This pump is an investment. The full package is $499 and you’ll need to replace parts at least every three months- not including the bags. I knew that I wanted to pump more often for my second kid and the portability was worth the money in my eyes.
Parts only last for 3 months. Like I mentioned above, it’s recommended to replace the parts at least every three months. And yes, you can definitely feel a difference when you get your new parts. And exclusive pumpers that used the Willow multiple times a day would need to replace them closer to 2.5 months.
Limited capacity. The pumps only hold 4 ounces of milk. Once you hit that capacity, the pump will stop and you’ll get an “All Full” notification on the app. So if you’re an over-supplier, you’ll have to switch out bags and restart it, or dump the milk from the container and restart it.
Excessive cleaning. While it’s not hard to clean since there are so few parts, you do have to clean after every use. If there is ever a glitch, it probably can be solved by boiling the parts and/or doing a vinegar rinse.
All full glitch. I had one glitch over and over again. And it was beyond annoying and the reason I decided to call it quits after 8 months of pumping. As stated above, when the pump hits 4 ounces of milk it pauses. Well there is a glitch where the pump THINKS it’s all full but it’s not. So it’ll sound like it’s getting a ton of milk and the app will keep counting ounces but barely anything is in there. So once it says it’s full, I had to dump the milk and restart it… over and over. It would do it up to three times in one pumping session sometimes. Customer service would say it’s because the parts needed to be cleaned but I would OVER clean them repeatedly and it would still do this routinely. This was by far the hardest part about using the Willow for me, and like I mentioned, the reason I stopped.
One charger. Only one charger comes with the package. You can buy another and charge both at the same time, or you’ll have to remember to switch the charger after the first one is done charging. I really didn’t have an issue with this, but I know people that are on the go a lot more, or use this when working, and don’t have the time to charge them one at a time.
The Willow is an outstanding pump. I wouldn’t have been able to pump for as long as I did without this genius technology. However, I don’t think it’s the type of pump that should be used by an exclusive pumper a few times a day.
So, if you’re using it to establish your stash while you’re nursing, the Willow will be great for you. If you are an exclusive pumper, try to mix the Willow in with another pump so you’re not using it 6-8 times a day. Whatever your situation, I absolutely recommend it.
Have you used the Willow? Let me know your thoughts about it in the comments!