Many breastfeeding mothers can’t imagine their daily routine without breast pumps – they allow them to manage their duties and hobbies without sacrificing breastfeeding, which is important for both a woman and her baby. Hands-free cordless breast pumps take this convenience even further.
This Willow vs Elvie breast pump comparison looks at two of the best products from this category. Both the Willow and Elvie breast pumps have a lot in common. In fact, they can appear to be so similar that many customers don’t even realize there’s any material difference between the two.
But as you use these wireless, hands-free, double electric breast pumps in everyday life, you’re going to notice some important differences that can be real deal-breakers.
To spare you from possible disappointment, I’ve put these two popular products side by side to see how they stand against each other. This comparison will explain how both of them work, what are their main pros and cons, and who are they really good for. We hope this will help you decide which breast pump to go for.
- 1 Main Differences Between Willow vs Elvie
- 2 Willow vs Elvie – The Breast Pumps Compared
- 3 Willow – In Depth
- 4 Elvie – In Depth
- 5 Are There Any Alternatives?
- 6 FAQs About Willow vs Elvie
- 7 The Verdict: Willow vs Elvie – Which one is better?
Main Differences Between Willow vs Elvie
The main differences between Willow vs Elvie are:
- Willow has a no-spill technology, whereas Elvie is not entirely spillproof.
- Willow is a bit noisier, whereas Elvie is very quiet.
- Willow milk bags can hold up to 4 ounces of milk at the same time, whereas Elvie has a slightly larger capacity of 5 ounces.
- Willow breast pumps are sold exclusively in a pair, while Elvie is sold separately as a single pump too.
- Willow uses disposable milk bags, whereas Elvie is fitted with reusable plastic containers.
Willow vs Elvie – The Breast Pumps Compared
Cordless electric breast pumps are great especially for mothers who are keeping themselves busy throughout the motherhood and need to have control over their lactation in various day to day situations. Both Willow and Elvie breast pumps are wearable, so you can effectively hide them in your bra and use them whenever you need (at work or social gatherings, etc.).
Both Willow and Elvie are smart breast pumps, which means that you can easily pair them with your smart device and have control over the amounts and frequency of your pumping. All in all, both products have many fans around the world and represent two of the most popular breast pumps from this category. But let’s focus on each of them separately and see their differences.
Willow – In Depth
Willow is a narrowly focused breast pump producer based in California who claims to be pioneering a completely new approach to pumping. This brand attempts to bring more joy into motherhood by giving you as much freedom and convenience as possible while allowing you to keep breastfeeding for as long as you like.
Willow’s smart, hands-free, wearable breast pumps are currently produced in third-generation versions, which means that the producer already addressed and fixed some minor bugs from the previous models and improved their innovative features. But is it flawless?
Willow breast pumps come in a bundle with all the basic accessories you’re going to need to get you started right away. However, there’s also some useful extra equipment that must be bought separately. The good news is that Willow regularly offers price reductions and deals that allow you to buy extras at reasonable prices.
So, what’s included in the basic package?
- Willow Wearable Double Electric Breast Pump in size of your choice
- 24 spill-proof milk bags for milk collection
- Breast pump flanges (three available sizes)
- Flextubes 2-pack
- Willow Breast Pump charger
Optional accessories you have to buy separately:
- Compatible reusable milk containers
- Any of the included accessories can also be bought separately
Convenience of use
Willow claims to be revolutionizing the way mothers approach breast pumping, so you’d expect it to be exceptionally convenient and easy to use. In many regards, it really is very comfortable and well designed.
If you choose the right cup size, Willow’s breast pumps fit very well, although on most occasions they won’t be as invisible as you’d think from looking at the advertisement pictures. How does it work?
First of all, assemble the flange together with the tube – you should hear them click together. Then fit one of the included O-shaped bags in the middle. Finally, close the pump with the front panel. That’s it, now just navigate your nipple into the central hole, and you’re ready to go.
Willow’s breast pump will signalize if you haven’t fitted your pump correctly by flashing orange light and pausing suction. This is very helpful especially when you’re just adjusting to the procedure and lack self-confidence.
Each of the bags can carry 4 ounces of milk at the same time, which looks like a compromise between convenient capacity and comfortable wearability. Once your bag is full, the pump will automatically shut off, so no worries about overfilling it. Just replace your bag and you are ready to resume pumping.
Willow’s bags are allegedly completely spillproof – you should even be able to exercise downwards facing yoga asanas while breast pumping without losing a single droplet – reportedly, this really works! The see-through flange also gives you a good idea of how much milk you’ve already pumped, which increases the overall confidence and peace of mind.
On the other hand, milk bags are non-reusable, and restocking them can be really expensive over time. Pumping is also somewhat noisier than you might expect, so using Willow in crowded places is a bit questionable.
Willow’s app is available for both Android and iOs smart devices. Setting this app up is very simple, and it allows you to maximize control over your breast pumping. It shows you the exact times and duration of pumping, milk collected from each of your breasts, and milk volume gathered in total.
Although you can use your Willow breast pump absolutely fine even without the app, mothers who experience some sort of issues with their lactation might find these features and detailed statistics very helpful and reassuring.
First of all, it’s important to say that Willow Breast Pumps are one of the priciest breast pumps currently on the market. Understandably, customers have very high expectations from this product, and these aren’t always completely met.
While most of the customers agree on the convenience, comfortable wearability, nice fit, and beautiful design of Willow breast pumps, many of them are dissatisfied with the battery life. While the producer claims that properly charged pumps should endure about 5 pumping sessions, some users claim it barely lasted two.
Keep in mind that this pump requires about 2 hours to charge, and you get only one charger in the package, so you either have to buy an extra piece or charge one pump after the other. (4 hours in total)
Some users also claim this pump is not very effective – they were not able to pump out all their milk despite experiencing an unpleasant feeling of insensitively powerful suction (note that this can be regulated on the front panel). Customers also criticized occasional connectivity issues related to the Willows’s smart app.
Babyswag brought you a complete review of Willow’s breast pumps a while ago. Although it reviews version 2.0 (not the newest 3.0), most of the information is still very accurate. Check it out here.
- Electric cordless double breast pump
- Smart pump with a dedicated app for better control
- Comes with 25 non-reusable milk bags, charger, and other accessories
- Wearable pumps that can be used anywhere
- Lead-free material
- Batteries require 2 hours charging and are supposed to last 2.5 hours
- Dimensions: 13 x 9 x 9 inches
- Product weight: 5.69 pounds
- Comfortable and easy to fit
- A relatively fast learning curve
- Spillproof bags + automatic shut-off prevent accidents
- A convenient app to keep track of your lactation
- It’s expensive and requires further investments (non-reusable bags, extra equipment)
- Battery life reportedly not as good as should be
- Noisier than you would expect
- Not so effective in comparison with other types of pumps
Elvie – In Depth
Elvie is a women’s health accessories producer based in the UK. Understandably, this brand is mostly preferred by mothers in Europe, but it’s very well known and widely available in the US and other regions of the world too. Just like Willow, Elvie produces electric cordless breast pumps that can be used literally anywhere.
These breast pumps are also smart, so you’ll be able to track your lactation through your smartphone. Although it shares many similarities with Willow, there are also numerous important differences.
Elvie’s starter pack includes pretty much everything you’re going to need. In fact, all of the optional extras sold separately are working as replacements or additional pieces of containers if you want to store more milk at once, but none of the extra purchases is essential for your pump’s functionality.
Complete Elvie package you’ll receive should contain all of the following equipment:
- Two pump hubs
- Set of four bottles (5oz/150ml capacity each)
- Two pairs of breast shields (two different sizes)
- 4 valves + 4 spouts
- 4 seals, 4 lids for bottle storage
- 4 bra adjusters
- 2 x USB charging cables
- 2 carry bags
Extra accessories you can buy separately:
- Pack of extra bottles for convenient storing
- Extra breast shields (2 pack) in three optional sizes
- Extra bra adjusters
- Additional seals, spouts, and valves
Moreover, unlike Willow, which has a clearly distinguished left and right pump and can be bought only in pairs, Elvie has two identical hubs, which can also be bought separately (currently only through their official website).
Convenience of use
Elvie might have a slightly longer learning curve, but once you master the routine, the procedure is very simple. Since both hubs can be assigned to any of your breasts, you don’t even have to think about which one you’re currently putting on. Thanks to the included bra adjustment straps, they also hold securely in their place and fit very comfortably.
Although Elvie’s bottles have a larger capacity than Willow’s donut-shaped bags, the whole pump appears to be somewhat flatter, which makes it less visible. This nice and discreet appearance is, however, a bit ruined by Elvie’s light indication, which can be seen even through the fabric of your clothes. Fortunately, the producer has already addressed this issue and the light is now dimmable.
Elvie is also very quiet, which makes its use in public much more convenient. Each hub is connected directly to a see-through bottle with volume marks that give you a perfect overview of how much you’ve already pumped. Elvie can be set to 7 suction modes, so you can adjust it to your own preferences and needs.
Some discomfort can be experienced due to the Elvie’s heating – the pumps get a bit warm during use. Although the producer claims it’s nothing to worry about in regards to safety, it can feel a bit awkward especially in the summer.
Instead of single-use bags, Elvie uses reusable bottles with 5 ounces capacity that can be directly stored in the fridge thanks to the convenient seals and lids. If you’re inclined to use disposable milk bags instead of the plastic bottles because you’re afraid of complicated cleaning, rest assured that it’s very simple since all washable parts can be put directly into your dishwasher.
Unfortunately, Elvie’s pumps don’t sport a spill-proof technology, so you have to be careful about your position and movement during the pumping. Exercising or even laying down while using these pumps is not recommended. However, once your container is full, the system will shut down automatically, so the risk of overfilling isn’t something you’d have to worry about.
Just like Willow, Elvie breast pumps are also ‘smart’, so you can connect them to a dedicated app. Although you can use your pump effectively even without connecting it to the application, it’s highly recommended to help you keep track of your lactation and pumping, plus it also facilitates discreet control of the device while in public.
Unfortunately, Elvie’s app seems to have various bugs that can occasionally make its use a bit frustrating. For example, the monitoring of pumped milk volume seems to be imprecise, history of sessions sometimes appears to be shuffled, and some customers also report problems with pairing and connectivity.
Elvie is another expensive piece of equipment, so it’s understandable that customers tend to expect it to be perfect. While it seems to work very well for most of the women, there’s still some room for improvement.
Starting with positive feedback, many customers like how easy it is to assemble and fit this breast pump. They also appreciate the vast amount of accessories included in the basic package, which provides you with pretty much everything you might need or desire.
In general, users also praise these pumps for having quite reliable battery life – thanks to included USB cords (2 pieces), you can even charge your pumps from power banks wherever and whenever you need to. Quiet operation is another feature that is often quoted by Elvie’s reviewers as one of its major strengths.
When it comes to effectiveness, feedback is mixed. Some users are satisfied, others claim they were able to pump out significant amounts of milk with another pump after their Elvie couldn’t extract anymore.
More sensitive mothers state that this pump feels too rough even set on the lowest possible suction intensity level, but this is quite usual even with standard electrical breast pumps – some of us simply don’t like how it feels at all. Many complaints react to Elvie’s confusing application, which we’ve already discussed above.
- Electric cordless double breast pump
- Can be bought as a pair or individually
- Comes with a dedicated app for remote control and tracking
- Comes with 2 USB cords for simultaneous charging of both hubs
- Wearable, ultra-silent pumps for convenient use in public
- BPA-free dishwasher safe plastic components
- Batteries require 2 hours charging and are supposed to last 2.5 hours
- Dimensions: 2.68 x 4.33 x 5.04 inches
- Product weight: 14.8 ounces
- Silent operation and thin profile make it almost invisible
- A vast amount of accessories included in the starter pack
- Doesn’t use disposable bags, which are unecological and uneconomical
- Can be charged conveniently and simultaneously thanks to 2 USB cords
- App has various technical issues
- The light indication can be visible through the clothes
- No spill-proof technology
- Not so effective in comparison with other types of pumps
Are There Any Alternatives?
Willow and Elvie wearable & cordless breast pumps don’t really have much competition on the market. Most of the alternatives lack at least one of their key features. Nevertheless, there are at least two interesting options you might want to consider:
If Willow and Elvie are both out of your budget, Joysa comes with a significantly more affordable alternative that claims to have most of the features of its expensive competition. This electric wearable breast pump boasts spill-free technology and 5 suction modes. The delivery should include a breast pump, shoulder strap, duckbill valve, sealing rings, USB cable, and manual.
On the downside, even fully charged, this pump can work only for approximately 70 minutes until it needs another charge. It’s also completely new on the market, so you won’t find loads of reliable customer feedback yet.
Freemie is another affordable alternative that allows you to pump while your hands do something else. This one is well renowned and tested by many customers all around the country. The main difference is that this set includes only cups with milk reservoirs and tubes that allow you to connect this system to many common breast pumps (check compatibility before purchase).
While this might not resolve your problem entirely from the scratch, it’s great for women who already have a standard pump and look for an affordable upgrade. Check out our in-depth Freemie review for more details, and there’s also our Freemie vs Willow comparison with even more information.
FAQs About Willow vs Elvie
Here are some of the commonly asked questions about Willow vs Elvie breast pumps that should help you decide which one is better for you:
Can you lay down with Elvie or Willow pump?
The Elvie breast pump system is not completely spill-free, so the manufacturer recommends to stay in an upward position – walking, standing, sitting, etc. Willow is designed to prevent any possible leakage, and the producer encourages customers to go on and enjoy any activities or positions they like during the pumping. This includes lying, exercising, bending over, etc.
Can Elvie or Willow be returned?
In general, products designed for intimate use, such as breast pumps, cannot be returned when you change your mind once their boxes are unsealed and they (or their components) are already used. However, if your breast pump is faulty or defective, you have a statutory right to demand repair or replacement of your product. This applies to both Elvie and Willow pumps.
Does insurance cover Willow or Elvie breast pumps?
On some occasions, your insurance plan can cover partial or full expenses related to your breast pump. In order to find out what options you have, consult this request with your insurance provider before making the purchase.
How much milk can the Willow or Elvie pump hold?
Willow disposable milk bags are designed to hold a maximum of 4 ounces of milk at the same time. Elvie’s containers can hold slightly more – up to 5 ounces each.
How long should I pump with Elvie or Willow cordless wearable breast pump?
Pumping sessions are individual – in general, they can range anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes. It depends on various factors including the intensity of suction, woman’s lactation, power of the pump, etc. The good news is that you can pump wirelessly and under your clothes while keeping your hands busy with something else. The bad thing is that you’re limited by the battery life.
The Verdict: Willow vs Elvie – Which one is better?
Willow or Elvie? These double hands-free electric breast pumps are very similar – even their price point is practically identical (although occasional deals and discounts can allow you to save several tens of dollars on one or the other). So how do you choose the one that’s really going to work for you?
My personal winner is Elvie, and I have several reasons for this decision. First of all, I really appreciate that you don’t have to invest in any additional equipment with this pump. Using reusable containers is also more ecological, even though it requires more cleaning.
Second, Elvie is more quiet and discreet, which makes it more suitable for mothers attending a crowded workplace on a daily basis or socially active women.
On the other hand, I understand that some types of women would probably benefit more from the Willow breast pumps. Their app seems to be more accurate and reliable, and their spill-proof design gives you incredible freedom in movement.
We hope this comparison helps you make the best decision for you and handle your breastfeeding as smoothly as possible. In case you’re still not decided on the ideal breast pump for you, check out our 6 Best Double Electric Breast Pumps for more inspiration and alternative options.