- The Elvie is a hands-free, wearable electric breast pump without any cords, wires, or tubes. As a mother whose baby struggled to breastfeed, this has been a life-changing purchase.
- When my daughter couldn’t latch as a preemie, a wearable pump allowed me to still provide her with breast milk and care for my four other children.
- For the convenience of double pumping, I bought the Elvie Pump Double ($500), but you can also purchase a single pump for $279.
- While the Elvie Pump is pricey, it’s partially reimbursable by many insurance companies.
When my daughter was born prematurely and had to spend time in the NICU, feeding her was a challenge. She couldn’t seem to get the hang of breastfeeding, so I pumped in the hospital during her stay and continued to try to nurse her at home without much success.
Every day and night soon became an exhausting blur of trying to nurse her, then pumping, then feeding her the expressed breast milk. After about a week of this, I broke down and spent close to $500 on the Elvie Pump Double – the first wearable, hands-free breast pump I’ve ever owned.
Fortunately, it’s exactly what I needed.
I went from spending hours pumping, tied to a wall while, to being able to pump and hold my baby at the same time, or pump and make breakfast for my other kids, or pump and drive them to school.
My daughter is turning 5 months this week, and I’ve been using the Elvie successfully for the past four months. Here’s my experience with it, and why I think it’s worth considering this wearable electric breast pump if you’re a mother who’s breastfeeding.
The Elvie electric breast pump is an all-in-one seamless unit
A single Elvie pump is an all-in-one seamless unit that easily fits in your bra. The design is sleek and minimal, with white casing and simple, straightforward controls.
Each unit consists of three parts: 1) the Hub, which houses the electronics and actual pumping apparatus, 2) the detachable milk bottle with spout and valve, and 3) the breast shield and seal that houses your nipple and breast.
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What’s included with the Elvie Pump Double
- 2 Hubs, each measures 5 inches (height) by 2.5 inches (width) and weighs 14.8 ounces
- 4 5-ounce milk bottles with storage lids – all BPA free and dishwasher-safe on the top rack
- 4 seals, 4 spouts, 4 valves
- 2 24mm breast shields and 2 28mm breast shields. You can purchase a pack of 2 21mm breast shields separately if needed
- 4 bra adjusters, machine washable
- 2 micro USB charging cables. Each pump is powered by a 1460mAh lithium-polymer battery; each lasts approximately 2.5 hours depending on which intensity setting is used
- 2-year warranty for the Hub, 90-day warranty for the washable parts
- 2 carry bags
- 2 modes (stimulation and expression) and 7 suction intensity settings
- Infrared (IR) energy sensor monitors milk volume in the bottle
- Automatically starts in stimulation mode and switches to expression mode after two minutes or if the sensor detects let-down
- Sensor detects when the milk container is full and automatically stops pumping
- Free app links to each pump through Bluetooth so you can actively monitor milk while pumping, see your stats for past sessions, and check output levels. The app also works as a remote to start or pause pumping, switch intensity settings, and change to expression or stimulation mode.
- Manual controls on each pump let you start and pause pumping and change intensity levels
- Though it’s marketed as a “silent” breast pump, the sound is noticeable – though significantly quieter than other pumps.
- FSA/HSA funds-compatible and reimbursable by many insurance companies
How to set up the Elvie Pump
Out of the box, it took me less than a half-hour to read through the instructions, clean and sterilize the parts, and get everything set up. After about two hours, both pumps were fully charged and good to go.
To use one of the pumps, twist the valve onto the milk container, put the silicone valve over top, then snap the base into the Hub. The breast shield fits into the opening in the Hub, and you align your nipple along the markings for the best fit.
The first time I used the Elvie, it took me a few tries to get the nipple alignment right, but now I can literally assemble and place it on in the dark. Pressing the power button on the front of the Hub powers it on and illuminates the other manual controls, which include the play/pause button, two smaller intensity buttons at the top, and a left/right side selector should you wish to use a single pump for both breasts. Alternatively, after manually powering it on, you can use the app to control pump settings.
What it’s like to pump with the Elvie
When I started pumping, it felt too good to be true. I had come to dread uncomfortable pumping sessions, but compared to the traditional plug-in-the-wall pump I’d been using, the Elvie felt downright invisible.
For me, it’s an incredibly effective breast pump. I immediately went from pumping for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours to pumping a full feeding of 5 ounces on each breast in around five minutes. I’m not entirely sure why it’s worked so well for me, but it seems to be a combination of the stimulation mode, suction seal, and the fact that I’m more relaxed using a hands-free pump.
While I prefer to use the manual controls on the Hub, the app is particularly handy if you need to switch back and forth between stimulation and expression modes – this cannot be controlled manually.
One of the most clever features is the IR energy sensor that automatically pauses pumping when the milk container is full – a big plus when you don’t have a free hand. Knowing I can just pop the pump in and let it do the rest has been invaluable.
It’s easy to switch out the milk container when pumping is paused. After removing the valve, the easy-pour spout makes pouring your milk into a storage bag or container simple and mess-free. I also like that you can easily see the milk container on the Elvie (unlike the Willow Wearable Pump), so I can peek to make sure the milk is actually flowing and readjust the pump or settings to ensure milk flow.
The battery charge lasts me through almost a whole day of pumping, which is typically four times a day.
How to clean the Elvie
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Aside from the Hub, everything is dishwasher safe on the top rack or can be cleaned and sterilized in boiling water or a microwave sterilizer. However, it’s incredibly important to make sure all of the parts are completely dry before using them again – I’ve found that if the breast shield seals are even slightly wet, it will affect the suction.
The Hub itself should only be wiped clean with a damp cloth. I occasionally have some milk splash up onto the Hub and into its crevices but have found a soft toothbrush works to gently remove any dried milk.
Notes on milk overflow
Initially, I had some issues with milk overflow. Milk would back up into the plastic on the Hub, making it difficult to clean. After reaching out to customer service via email, I discovered I’d been using the wrong size breast shield. My output increased as soon as I switched shields, and my overflow practically disappeared.
The customer service representative also told me that after hearing from other users who experienced overflow, they released a firmware upgrade (1.7.0) in October 2019 to improve the milk volume algorithm and increase the accuracy of the overflow sensor. Since upgrading my firmware through the app, my overflow issue has completely resolved.
If users experience overflow, aside from getting in touch with customer service, the representative suggested wearing a dark-colored bra or shirt, as the color contrast helps the auto-sensor detect the lighter-colored milk.
About the Elvie app and data privacy
I reached out to Elvie via email to ask about data privacy, and a company representative said all data is kept totally private and not shared with third parties. Their website provides full details on how the data is stored anonymously. If you choose to operate the pumps manually without the app, be sure to open it periodically to check for software updates.
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The downsides are very small in relation to how much I love this pump. First, I wish it came with a sturdy carrying case instead of two small velvet-like drawstring bags that aren’t at all practical for carrying the pumps.
Second, the Elvie isn’t completely discreet. The pumping sound and the lights on the hub – which can’t be turned off – are definitely noticeable. The lights shine through most of my shirts, and while it’s a lot quieter than any other pump I’ve used, if you’ve ever pumped before and happen to be sitting near me, you’ll definitely know what’s going on. I’d feel comfortable using it in a noisier location where the sound would be masked, but not in a quiet setting.
The bottom line
If you’ll be pumping for any regular amount of time, the Elvie wearable breast pump is worth the investment. It truly gave me my life back, taking the hour-long feeding process with my baby down to minutes and giving me the freedom to pump on the go. I can enjoy the extra time I have with my baby and provide her with breast milk with confidence – a win-win.
If it’s within your budget, I recommend getting the Elvie Pump Double, for convenience’s sake. However, a single pump is fast and efficient enough that you could get away with simply switching sides to pump both breasts.