I knew immediately I wanted to try the Elvie Pump as soon as I found out I was pregnant with baby number two. I’d heard mixed reviews – not to mention the steep price tag – but wearable breast pumps sounded like a convenience too good to pass up, especially knowing I’d be working full time and running after a toddler this go around.
With Palmer, I was fortunate to be home during most of her first year so nursing was easiest but pumping was also critical to provide relief when I wasn’t with her and to help keep my supply up for the 13 months I breastfed. I used the Spectra S1 Plus Portable and Rechargeable Hospital Strength Double Electric Breast Pump, which was free – other than a small $50 upgrade fee – through our insurance via Yummy Mummy. All things considered, I really like my Spectra S1 pump, it’s strong, effective, portable, and I still use it frequently to this day when I don’t mind being hooked up to a bulky pump for 15-20 minutes.
For times when I’m multitasking or on the go though, I’m very grateful for my wearable Elvie Pumps, even if they are far from perfect. Now that I’ve been using them daily for almost seven months, I finally feel equipped to write a well rounded review and share my firsthand experience. I ordered my Elvie Pump through 1 Natural Way and paid $379 out of pocked [normally priced $499 – insurance covered $100 and there was a $25 off promotion].
Before I dive in, I definitely want to add a disclaimer that I know all things related to breastfeeding, milk production, etc. are deeply personal and potentially triggering so please bear in mind that while this is my experience with this particular product on this particular journey, I know it looks different for everyone and I truly believe that however you choose to feed your baby, fed is best.
To write this review, I read tons of Elvie Pump reviews [1-5 Star] and highlight my personal experience with the most common/frequent complaints. Other variables that I think impact my review is that this is my second child and second time nursing/pumping so my expectations of the experience are grounded by the reality of my first go-around. And while a lot has been different this time – actually more difficult TBH – I have a better understanding of the tradeoffs.
Okay, let’s jump in!
While my pumps do leak from time to time – mostly when I’m overly active while wearing them – it’s not an issue if I remain upright while pumping. Unlike many of the reviews I read, I can still move around, stand up and down, etc. but if I try to unload the dishwasher or bend too low to pick up Palmer, for example, they do leak. To me though breastmilk on my clothes is an occupational hazard for the milking mom and inevitable during this stage of life so I just dress accordingly.
Output / Suction
I actually haven’t had many issues with output or suction with my Elvie pumps. I will say, the suction can be a bit finicky and sometimes it takes a few rounds of stopping to adjust the pump seal to get it working effectively. I also think suction effectiveness is directly correlated with how clean/dry the pump parts are. I find that milk buildup in the nooks and crannies or wet parts decrease the suction effectiveness.
As for output, in the beginning it only took me a few minutes to fill the 5 oz. milk bottles up before it automatically shut off. This second pregnancy, I overproduced milk early which was great but I would probably get more milk to store if I used my Spectra. In fact, the further I get on this journey, the less milk I produce so I can see how output can be frustrating on the Elvie.
My pump does make a small clicking noise that is audible in a quiet room or on a call. It’s not super annoying or distracting but it’s also not silent, which is how Elvie advertises this pump – “Silent, wearable electric breast pump.”
Size / Look & Feel
The Elvie Pump is about the size of my hand and does fit comfortably in most nursing bras. I’m not necessarily comfortable wearing it in my bra out in public because I think it’s pretty noticeable – not to mention the start/pause button that stays lit while on. Overall though, it’s a nice looking device that’s easy and intuitive to use.
In a nutshell, YES – the Elvie Pump is expensive [and can’t be returned if found unsatisfactory]. And YES – there are more effective products on the market that are cheaper or completely covered by insurance BUT I use my Elvie pumps at least once a day and there is no denying how convenient it is. When you consider the cost per use, I do think the Elvie Pump is worth the price. If that price point isn’t feasible for you, Elvie did just launch Elvie Stride which is also wearable and [I believe] fully covered by insurance.
Battery life is average. One full charge typically gives you about four quick pumps but I’ve read that it’s contingent on your settings – suction intensity and duration of use. I recently started having battery issues with one of my hubs but it was resolved by plugging it into a computer to charge.
Per the battery life issue above ^ I contacted Elvie’s customer service team via email. It took them about 48 hours to get back to me with troubleshooting suggestions. Luckily it worked so there was no need to continue our conversation but there is a good warranty that gives me peace of mind in case it does go belly up in the future. The Hub is covered for two years and the washable parts for 90-days.
Cleaning / Maintenance
Speaking of the washable parts, I read a lot of reviews about the plastic shield or milk bottle warping but I haven’t had this specific issue. I sterilize periodically in a boiling pot of water [not microwave which seems to be the bigger culprit] but usually I just wash and dry my pump parts using a bottle brush and soap. There are more parts to clean on the Elvie Pump than with my Spectra, including small crevices on the hub where milk builds up, which is kind of a pain.
The Milk Bottles technically hold five ounces each but the pump automatically shuts off around four ounces. For me personally, I actually wish I had more space to fill up because it’s super inconvenient to empty mid-way through a pumping session. It is possible to cap the milk bottle and put it in the fridge or freezer for storage but we never use this feature.
I actually haven’t used or even downloaded the Elvie App. I honestly don’t think I even realized there was one until I started doing some research for this post. I will say, I haven’t missed it and even now knowing it exists, will likely not download it – who needs another app? Turning the pump on/off manually works just fine for me.
All in all, I love the Elvie Pump. I’m actually wearing it as I type this review and it serves as a daily reminder of just how many minutes I get back each day by freeing up my hands to multitask, allowing me to be mobile. I’m fortunate to have a good milk supply so output hasn’t been an issue for me even though I definitely produce less with Elvie. At the same time though, I’m likely to pump more often because it’s way more convenient so it’s probably a wash.
IMO, the biggest downside is cleaning the pump and pump parts. There are a lot of pieces and milk ends up in all the nooks and crannies which is a total pain but as with all things, you get used to it. The price tag is high but in a world where it seems like all baby things are expensive [here’s looking at you Vista stroller, Nuna carseats, Owlette monitor…], this is a practical and functional use of money on something that adds value to my life every single day. And for that, I am grateful.
Ultimately, I think it comes down to your individual pumping/nursing goals. If your goal is output, you’d probably be better off with a more traditional pump. If you’re not worried as much about output and are pumping to empty or stimulate your breasts, Elvie may be a good option. At the end of the day, make sure it’s an investment that works hard for you and a product that fits your lifestyle.
I hope you found this review helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a comment below.