I bit the bullet and purchased the double Elvie Pump, all £449 of it! It was a significant purchase for me, not least because I already have a couple of pumps which were already considered to be pricey. £449 is a lot of money for something which had next to no reviews (there was only one video review available at the time I purchased it) and if I had purchased in the first release, well, at that time I couldn’t find anything even if it did exist.
If you haven’t seen my first impressions video, check it out first.
I have used Elvie’s first product, the Elvie Trainer for the pelvic floor, so I am familiar with the Elvie aesthetic and use of technology. The Elvie Pump makes many promises and after feeling like an intensely farmed dairy cow using my other pumps, I wanted to see if, and how this would improve my pumping quality of life. The Elvie Pump tagline is “Fits in your bra, and your life. Pump anytime, anywhere. Wearable. Silent. Hassle-free. Smart.”
The Elvie Pump fit into all of my nursing bras. The Pump comes with bra extenders which extend the front flap part of a nursing bra. I have not tested them as I have not needed to use them.
The Elvie Pump is a better fit into my life than traditional electric pumps. I can walk around, answer the door, use my laptop, make up a bottle and just about feed my baby and change his nappy. Winding him, however, is tricky. I prefer to do this over my shoulder but this doesn’t work with the pumps in the way! Also, don’t bend over to pick up anything (stuff on the floor, baby in a Moses basket) – do it the right way and bend your knees. The sensor will think the bottle is full and pause the pumping. They didn’t mention that Elvie helps with back health too! It’s easy to start the process again by pressing the pause/play button on the top of the pump or using the controls on the mobile phone app.
The shape fits in fairly well under my nursing clothes so the clothes drape over what looks like very large breasts rather than it being obvious that there is a pump or two under there. I’d probably feel quite conscious with the pumps under my tighter tops so I’ve bought some loose-fitting nursing jumpers and chunky cardigans to deal with that.
You can pump in most places rather than “anywhere” and as for “anytime”, timing was less of an issue for me. You can’t pump whilst driving (it says in the manual) and doing it as a passenger was tricky and had me constantly scared of an emergency stop lest I lose a nipple or two. You might want to err on the side of caution and stop the car for 20 minutes to express. Other than that, I haven’t expressed outside the comfort of my own home.
As for silence, you can hear it but it is exponentially quieter than the other pump I have. You can hear a tiny “whoosh” sound when expressing in the dead of night. During the day, provided all is well I doubt anyone else can hear it and I don’t have to turn the TV up to hear over the din. Sometimes my pump makes a clicking sound which assume happens when a vacuum is not achieved, making me sound like an android. When all is well, it is definitely discreet in that sense and makes me confident that I can wear it in public.
The Elvie Pump is not quite hassle-free. The components, especially the bottles, take a very long time to air dry so I have needed to use my “spares” so I can rotate the dry equipment. This is probably due to the awkward shapes, especially of the bottle and valve and to a certain extent, the spout. The bottle and the valve are trickier to wash so make sure you have a flexible bottle brush. I use one with a sponge on the end to get all corners of the bottle. The instructions say you can dry the parts with a cloth but for some parts this will be awkward and I think that air drying reduces the risk of spreading bacteria.
There are 5 washable parts and as a person that hates washing up, this doesn’t fill me with joy, especially as the shape of the components makes it fiddly. The parts can be placed in a dishwasher but I use my pump several times per day and I couldn’t wait for a full dishwasher (if I had one), and then for the dishwasher to finish each cycle, before having to use the pump again.
The manual says the Elvie Pump takes two hours to charge. I haven’t actually timed this although it does take hours. The pump comes with charging cables but no plug! This is somewhat annoying considering the price. I therefore have to buy a USB charging plug separately or keep my laptop on for a couple of hours with two USB ports in use (for two pumps). As a mama on maternity leave, I am not glued to my laptop, as opposed to a mama at work where I’m in front of a computer all day, so I do find this annoying. How am I supposed to charge on the go, in other people’s homes or abroad? The Elvie Pump has no space for batteries should they run out of charge and no capacity for use whilst plugged in. They specifically cannot be used whilst being charged. This is the worst aspect for me as I can only get 3 uses out of each charge which is not a full day of pumping.
The Elvie Pump itself is smart. The app, not so much although I still use it occasionally.
With a good seal, the Elvie Pump is very efficient at getting the milk out. I can express a high volume in a relatively short time. The pump seems to work by engulfing the whole areola and nipple and stimulating the areola and immediately surrounding breast tissue which is just like breast feeding. It’s hard to describe but rather than just sucking the milk out by pulling on the nipple, there is a kind of rolling and pushing action which works its way around the areola. It feels like it adjusts pressure and the place where pressure is applied to further make it realistic. The pump automatically switches from stimulation to expression once it detects milk in the bottle which is both helpful and essential because you cannot see the bottle when the pump is in use. That’s the smart part of the Pump.
Sometimes the pump has leaked and I can’t figure out why. That’s not so smart! Perhaps a troubleshooting section should go into the manual but as there isn’t one so I assume us early purchasers are the real-life testers! I’m happy to be corrected but that is the impression I get. Even when I get a good latch, somehow sometimes I end up getting soaked in milk. That’s simply no good when out and about and I really don’t know how to fix it. I’ve tried readjusting, different shield sizes, different bras, staying still. I just don’t know what to do.
It’s easy to use the app and set up the pumps. Initially it looks like it has great features but if you’re really into accurate statistics, the app could do with some improvement.
You can control the pump by turning it on and off, and adjusting the speed of the pump so it’s convenient to turn both on and off at the same time. I’ve never adjusted the speed because the firm grip at the first level is plenty for me! It can hurt if you have cracked nipples but this soon subsides and I found it less painful than breastfeeding.
The levels indicator is incredibly inaccurate. It’s fun to watch and see the levels increasing but it has never correctly detected how much milk is in the bottles. I always have to manually correct it after each session which you do by going to the history, tapping edit then tapping the arrows on the “estimated volume” screen.
The battery indicator on the Elvie Pump App is the best part and probably the most accurate thing. It’s interesting to see just how quickly battery life reduces and how much power each session takes. It’s also good for seeing how much battery life is left and that even when fully charged, I’ve never seen the pumps at 100% battery life. For me, I need about 30% of batter power per session so I need to charge my pumps before the red light comes on at 20% life remaining.
I have found that the recording of each session is incredibly temperamental. It doesn’t record properly if you start and stop without using the app, for example, when I need to change one bottle because it has filled before the other. I don’t tap “stop session” because this will stop the other pump so I manually stop. I then find that pump disappears as if never used! Or I might just have to get on and pump without messing around with the app because babies are unpredictable and if I start the app later on and try to record, it doesn’t always work. I have thought I was recording many sessions only to find that nothing has saved to my history so I couldn’t even manually add or adjust a volume record. If this is down to user-error, then an instruction guide should be included as to how to use it, especially if this is the tech that makes the pump so expensive. The pump can be used without the app so that’s what I do most of the time.
The rest of my review will continue in the next post!