This is the second part of my Elvie Pump review with details on everyday use and other little bits of information. Check out my first impressions video and the first post where I comment on the claims before continuing!
The Elvie can be positioned anywhere on the breast according to nipple direction and this is explained in the manual. The problem can come when trying to get it to stay in place in the bra as the session goes on. Sometimes I end up holding the pump, which defeats the purpose of the pump. At the risk of providing too much information, but being necessary to help you, my breasts are (thankfully) clinging on to their round shape with my nipples seeming to point up and out towards my arms. This means the Elvie Pump needs to sit on top of my breasts and outwards slightly rather than neatly in the front and centred. Sometimes I feel like I need some scaffolding and I have on occasion used a nursing pad to boost the height of the pump! I’ve tried a few different bras and bra sizes and the tighter bras work best for me so I’ve never used the bra extenders. In fact, some kind of bra tightener would be good. My angle of use is probably why I look like I’ve had dramatic breast enhancement surgery!
I think there is a particular breast shape that suits the Elvie and one of my breasts is not that shape which could explain the leakage which I think comes from not being able to maintain the vacuum. As my breast empties, changes shape and reduces in size, it can lose the “latch” and start to leak. Once the breast shield is wet, I have to unlatch, wipe up and continue although by then, I would be completely soaked in milk. This soaking drama also happens if milk comes squirting out before I’m ready then attaching the Elvie Pump becomes a slippery nightmare. Breastmilk can be so hazardous but that’s for another post!
Sometimes I can’t seem to get a good ‘latch’ so pumping takes a long time because the breast isn’t being stimulated as it should. I’m not sure what to do about this – I’ve tried reattaching several times but it doesn’t seem to work. This also results in the leaking and soaking as described above. The lesson here is that if you cannot feel the stimulation, stop and start again (and again).
Even with a good latch, if I’m engorged, again, the pumps might leak. When that happens I get leakage from the larger breast (rather than the noticeably shrinking breast!). This is not only messy and inconvenient, it’s bizarre – surely we express to get relief from engorgement?
There are two breast shield sizes in the box and it looks like other sizes will become available as spare parts in the future although as the point is strongly made in the manual that we must pick the correct sized breast shield, they should have been available from the launch. It’s not clear from the manual what the detriment is if the breast shield is the wrong size although I suspect the results would be pain and/or leakage as a minimum. It was easy to use the nipple sizer which is on the shield but it’s more awkward to use the nipple positioner markers at the sides, simply because they are at the sides rather than at the top. I think it’s just a case of practising. It would be extremely helpful to have the shield size printed onto the actual shields. I have to compare shields so I can see which shield to put on which side which is annoying as I should just be able to pick up a shield and go.
The manual says the pump can be used with nipple cream to reduce friction although I have not felt any friction myself as you pick the nipple shield according to your nipple size. I used nipple cream to repair the damage of some disastrous early breastfeeding latches but made the mistake of spreading it on my areola. This made the breast shield too slippery and resulted in leakage. You have been warned!
The bottles come with a lid so they can be used to store the milk in the fridge. I mainly store my milk in storage bags or traditionally-shaped bottles which fit in the bottle warmer. My tip is to always use the spout (without the valve)! The shape of the bottle increases the risk of a tired mama dropping the bottle or spilling the milk while pouring without the spout so use the spout – it’s so much easier!
The manual warns that the Elvie Pump gets warm whilst in use. I would expect this as it is a mechanical device and body heat will also warm it up. The advantage is that the milk is comfortably warm to provide to a hungry baby when freshly expressed. I only notice the warmth of the pump once I remove it.
The Elvie Pump really should have USB C charging because this is the latest technology and it would charge the pumps quicker, especially for the price being charged and the fact that there is no mains or battery back-up or plug (with adapter). At a push I could get six small feeds from one charge so I’d have to plan any very long days out or long-haul travel around charging points!
The pump is guaranteed for 500 hours of use which doesn’t seem much but would give me 1000 30 minute pumping sessions.
The bottle and breast shield are made from hard plastic which makes me worried about dropping them. I do drop bottles and the shape of these makes them even easier to drop. Of course, a traditional bottle shape would not work though! So far, I’ve not broken anything.
The storage pouches for the pumps are tiny so no good for carry spare bottles when out and about. They can just about fit a fully assembled pump.
An unexpected bonus of using the Elvie Pump is that it has helped me with breastfeeding. Not only did it give me the break I needed to heal my sore and cracked nipples, it helped me figure out which way my nipples were actually pointing so I could latch my baby on properly.
I’ve tried to make this as detailed as possible so that you can make an informed decision before investing. I like the idea of a (technically) hands-free/in-bra breast pump because it has given me some freedom, flexibility and choice (I have a ‘traditional’ pump too) but the leaking and soaking part is especially irritating, as is the short battery life and lack of USB C and plug. I am aware of one other similar pump but I cannot justify purchasing it just to compare.
Overall, I’m glad I purchased the Elvie Pump as it has given me back my dignity while expressing but I just wish it wasn’t priced in the luxury bracket.
Feel free to contact me to ask any further questions on using the Elvie Pump!