Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: Simplisse "Breastfeeding Companion" Dual Electric Pump

Until the Simplisse pump, all breast pumps were essentially the same.  With a set of cones, valves, and tubes, they suck milk from your breast with pure suction.  According to the Simplisse company and many mothers, this does not express milk the way that babies do, and will eventually cause damage to the breast tissue.  The Simplisse "Breastfeeding Companion" expresses milk with a rather complicated looking apparatus designed to create an experience more like nursing your baby.  Does it work? Absolutely! Is the pump perfect? Unfortunately, no. But even with its drawbacks, I highly recommend it, especially to mothers with lower milk supply or sore breasts or nipples.

  • The suction is very gentle and pain free, so that even with extended pumping on the highest setting, there are no suction related injuries to the breast or nipple. I hadn't used a pump for weeks before trying this pump, and found it very gentle.
  • It expresses milk amounts comparable to other pumps I have tried, in comparable amounts of time.  I don't pump regularly, so a good haul is around 3 ounces total.  The Simplisse pump is able to extract this amount in about 20 minutes of pumping.
  • The soft cups are very gentle to the breast.  There are no sharp edges or friction points for the breast or nipple.  The cups seem to work best when barely perched on the end of the breast, rather than being pressed into the breast like other pumps.
  • I experienced a very quick letdown for this pump, much faster than with other pumps.  This minimizes dry pumping that can be uncomfortable.
  • Awesome customer service! I got a reply via email to my question (I had lost a silicone ring in the dishwasher) within 2 hours even though I emailed them near the end of their customer service day on the Thursday before Memorial day. Free replacements were winging their way to me before noon the next day. They also do over the phone troubleshooting if you have any problems with assembly or functionality.
  • BPA free parts
  • A tote bag with cooler that is actually stylish and attractive.  When my husband first saw it, he asked if I had a new purse, not a new pump.
Simplisse Double Electric Breastfeeding Companion
  • The pump motor is very loud.  If I'm watching TV while expressing milk, I have to really boost the volume to hear.  Worst of all, I can't hear my baby from his bedroom in my living room if I have the pump on.  If you use a monitor, though, this wouldn't be a problem.  To overcome this, if I am using the pump during a nap, I turn it off briefly ever 5 minutes or so.  The noise can be minimized if the pump bag is turned to face a solid surface, like a sofa or cabinet.
  • The pump assembly has to be assembled very precisely.  If the bottle isn't screwed in tightly enough, or the breast shield portion is not snapped all the way on, the pump will not work. Because this pump requires an air tight assembly to work, you can't pump directly into a bag like you can with a Medela pump.
  • Few parts are available in stores or online. If you lose your silicone ring, or break the top of the pump assembly, you can't run out to your local baby or big box store to buy a replacement.  You have to contact Simplisse's (admittedly awesome - see above) customer service and order the parts through them. 
  • There is a learning curve for your breasts -- if you are used to using a standard-type breast pump, you often won't show much of a result for a few pumping sessions.  Most other reviews that I've read say that within 3-5 sessions, the milk output is comparable.
  • The pump is equipped for double pumping, but the suction declines significantly when using both sides at once.  I found it faster and more convenient to just pump one side at a time.  Additionally, since the cups work best when not pressed against the breast, it does not function at its best in a pumping bustier. The switch that is used to adjust between single and dual pumping does not click into place to let you know that it is in the correct double pumping position, so I am never sure if it is positioned correctly.
This is a great pump for women who don't let down for a traditional pump, suffer from nipple pain, or have sensitive skin.  I would also recommend it for women who plan to pump regularly, but not necessarily multiple times per day. This is not the pump for you if you need to pump 3-5 times daily, if you need to pump hands free or double pump, if you need a quiet/discreet pump, or if you are not able to wash parts after every use.  The way it works would be ideal for frequent pumping if only it worked better as a hands free or dual pump, however, the loss of suction and the inability to use a bustier make that a challenge.

Overall, I would give this pump 5/5 for functionality, 3/5 for convenience, and 3/5 for usability. Many of the drawbacks of this pump are due to it being a early model from this company. I very much look forward to Simplisse's future generations of pumps.

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