When I was pumping, every minute that I was tied to my pump—tubes and bottles awkwardly hanging from my pumping bra—counted as time I couldn’t be doing something else, whether that was holding my baby, sleeping, working or doing any of the million other things that there never seemed to be enough time for (baby books, I’m looking at you!).
Thankfully, wearable breast pumps are changing the game. By sitting inside your bra and collecting milk, they leave you virtually hands-free to do other things—though it’s also perfectly acceptable to do absolutely nothing, too. (Promise, that baby book can wait till another day!) These hands-free breast pumps allow both more freedom (no wires) and discretion (you can keep your shirt on) than pumping with a standard pump and pumping bra, though they still come with some limitations—you may not want one as your primary breast pump, for example, and some devices can be fairly frustrating when it comes to actually extracting the pumped milk.
“Wearable breast pumps are a great option for on-the-go occasional pumping, especially for working or traveling parents,” says Jessica Madden, MD, FAAP, IBCLC, a breastfeeding medicine and infant feeding specialist and the medical director of Aeroflow Breastpumps. But Dr. Madden doesn’t recommend opting for a wearable in place of your regular wired pump. “This is because wearable breast pumps have less suction power due to their mobile nature. For this reason, wearable breast pumps are not recommended to replace regular use for breastfeeding parents with low milk supply or those who are exclusively pumping,” she notes.
Still, in a word, wearable breast pumps provide portability, shares Erin L., mom of two, who exclusively pumped with her second child and often used the Willow pump. “I love that it made me less tied to a traditional pump and that I didn’t feel like I had to rush home to pump if I was out,” she says, noting that she was able to pump everywhere from driving in the car to hanging at a friend’s house to sitting on a Zoom conference call. (Your wired pump could never.)
Kate A., a mom of three, who also used the Willow, agrees: “It allowed me to do so many things at once, but primarily, allowed me to be there for my other children and fix their meals and not be tied down to a plugged-in breast pump.”
Here’s a roundup of the best wearable breast pumps, with expert and real-mom reviews, so you too can pump with some newfound flexibility.