Elvie breast pump, reviewed
Gurgle chief sub-editor, Catherine Smith tests the new Elvie breast pump and reflects on why expressing ourselves is coming out into the open.
Image: The Elvie: a silent, wearable breast pump
Breast pumps are having a moment. When an Instagram shot of a super-glamorous Rachel McAdams pumping mid-magazine photo shoot went viral last month, it kick-started a conversation about the realities of breastfeeding and work, babies and nutrition, and the mother load of juggling other duties with our love for our babies.
So here at Gurgle we were extremely intrigued by the launch of the Elvie breast pump – the first silent, cordless, wearable breast pump that you can pop into your bra while you carry on with your busy schedule. The Elvie is leading the charge of 21st-century lactation. It made its debut at London Fashion Week, in the bra of model Valeria Garcia; it connects to a Smartphone app so you can log your milk volume; and, crucially, it's hands-free – pretty much the holy grail for modern multi-tasking mamas.
The design is a triumph of modern minimalism; it resembles a large, smooth egg, and as such my first challenge was establishing where to insert the jack for the charger. It takes a couple of hours to fully charge, so you do need to think ahead to make sure it will be functional by the time you may need to use it.
I was initially sceptical of the Elvie's claims to silence, but it truly is as near as possible to inaudible; it emits a low hum that you'd detect in an otherwise quiet house but certainly not over any day-to-day noise if you were out and about or in an office, for example.
It's simple and straightforward to click the breast shield section to the bottle and Elvie claims it will fit into any nursing bra. In the interests of journalistic balance, there now follows an image potentially more reflective of the average nursing mother, rocking H&M and minimal make-up as opposed to Rachel's Versace and Bulgari look...
Image: Does my pump look big in this? Catherine Smith
I tried it in a couple of different bras and can confirm that a soft nursing bra is best, though it did also fit into a standard underwired bra. There are three breast shield sizes; take some time at first to work out which one fits you most comfortably.
Once it's in place, it really is simple to use. There's a play/pause button that you can easily reach once it's in place, or you can operate it from the phone app. You can also adjust the speed and intensity of the action, to find what works for you. I was super impressed by the fact that it begins with a slower action to trigger the milk letdown in exactly the same way that a baby would. The little bottle beneath the shield section holds 150ml; it unclips from the body of the pump with the touch of a button and is safely sealed with a firm screw-top lid.
In short, it gets the thumbs up: an innovative, intuitive design for the modern mum on a tight schedule. At £249 it's at the top end of the market, so if you're going to invest in it you might want to be sure you'll need it for a while. And although the app is brilliant for the hands-free potential (you could in theory wear this on the way home, for example, with your fellow commuters none the wiser) I'd say the 'pumping history' option is a bonus, not an essential.
I won't be throwing out my old faithful manual pump, but there's a place for both in the working mama's armoury. After all, I can't use my Marc Jacobs clutch bag on the nursery run or at soft play, but I still wouldn't be without it. Sometimes you need something a little bit fabulous. If you're registering for baby shower gifts, get your name down now.
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