If you’re returning to work and want to continue feeding your baby breast milk, a pump is a necessity. Even if you’re not working, you may need to leave your little one for more than a few hours, or want to have your partner give a bottle of breast milk from time to time. Heck, maybe you want to have a couple cocktails and need backup milk for when baby hunger strikes!
There are tons of other reasons a pump is helpful—easing engorged breasts, building a freezer stash for after nursing ends, helping with clogged ducts, giving sore nipples a break, having extra milk for making cereals and mixing into purees … but which pump do you need to get the job done?
As a full-time working mom, I knew I would have to find a convenient, easy-to-work-with pump. My little is the first grandbaby on my side of the family, so I knew I would have a lot of visitors in our house, too. As you can imagine, “discreet” was on my list of nice-to-haves. But how discreet can a breast pump really be?
I envisioned Madonna cone boobs and cords all over the place. I came to find that even with a hands-free nursing bra and a traditional double-electric pump, I felt exposed and tangled in wires. As I sat next to my husband on the couch and looked down at my pump working its magic, I thought, “I wonder if he can see my nipples pulling and stretching from over there.” The answer was yes. And I didn’t care. But if I wanted to avoid locking myself in my room or cloaking myself in blankets when guests were over and I needed to pump, then this mama was going to need a more low-key solution.
When I got to try the Freemie Freedom Deluxe Set, I was excited because it actually boasts that it’s discreet and literally fits under your shirt. What? How is this possible? It starts with rounded Freemie Collection Cups that surround the breast and catch the milk—not horns or cones, like most pump parts. They just slide right into a sports bra (Yes, any sports bra!), so no expensive hands-free contraptions are required. You’ll need a looser fitting shirt to accommodate the cups adding to your bust size, but who doesn’t have those around from the Buddha belly pregnancy days? I had to try it to believe it, but when I was mid-pump and my mom and dad stopped by unexpectedly, they didn’t even notice I was pumping. Success!
The unique shape of the cups does have a downside: You can’t attach a nipple and feed directly from them as you can with many pumps that deposit the milk right into a bottle. With the Freemie, you need to pour the milk from the rounded cups into a bottle or storage bag for feeding or storing.
The unique shape also produces a strange sound as milk fills the collection cups. It’s a gurgling sound that comes from the required position of the valve; it points down to the bottom of the cup so as milk fills up, the valve burps air and milk, hence the gurgle. The only other thing to note about the cups is that you do need to take caution to not spill the milk out by leaning forward or sideways too much. This can happen with any pump set up but with the Freemie cups, your movement is a tad more restricted because of the shape.
Like waiting in line at Chipotle, sitting down with your breast pump pal takes time—that’s unavoidable—but the amount of time it takes to clean and sanitize your pump parts is easier with some than others. The Freemie takes a bit of extra time because there are several parts, and the valve cannot be sterilized via boiling, steaming or dishwashing (It requires a thorough hand wash). The instructions are very clear on how to safely sanitize and clean everything.
Let’s talk mechanics. Many breast pumps have a letdown phase to mimic your baby’s suckling, where the pull of the pump is more rapid at first then becomes slower with longer pulls. The Freemie Freedom pump doesn’t have this letdown feature, but it personally made no difference to my milk flow. With other pumps, I would notice that as you turned up the power of the pump, the noise of the motor got louder and louder (like revving your car engine).
With the Freemie, I noticed a consistent quiet sound; as I increased the strength of the pull, the motor didn’t strain and get louder like I was used to. This is nice when you have a sleeping baby or you don’t want to turn your Netflix up to foghorn level to mask the mechanical sound. Another plus in the mechanics column is the strength. I found myself emptying my breasts in almost half the time than I was used to with another double-electric pump.
With the Freemie Freedom Deluxe Set, you get the pump, two collection cups, two sets of different sized breast funnels (25 and 28mm), two valve bases and two valves. They even throw in a spare valve and filter. To compliment what you get in the set, I suggest investing in a small bottle nipple cleaning brush to tackle the tricky soft plastic valve.
A quick note: I read a lot of reviews on the Freemie before trying it, and the biggest complaint I saw was that the collection cups were not see-through and fogged up. I was able to test both the original cups and the new ones that they include in their kits, and I totally saw the flaws with the original. The good news is the newly engineered cups work perfectly with minimal fogging, so don’t let the cups deter you from trying it!
Without a doubt, this is the best pump on the market for discreet pumping. As a working mom and as the girl-with-the-new-baby-everyone-wants-to-visit, this is the only pump that allowed me to stay in the room with my guests and not stow away in isolation for 20 minutes.
Where to buy: amazon.com