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Handsfree expressing cups and wearable pumps

When I was exclusively expressing for my daughter in 2014 I spent countless hours scrolling through Facebook, Amazon, and Google trying to find options that would make my journey easier. I quickly saw that there were limited options, especially for hands-free expressing.


In fact, there was only one option – Freemie Handsfree Collection Cups.


But only if you lived in North America or were willing to pay more than double the cost of them in postage. I managed to get hold of some off eBay, but only managed to express half of what I normally could, and being a low-supply mother already, I realised they weren’t going to work well for me.


Over the weeks and months, I saw numerous Facebook posts (in the exclusive expressers group I had joined) about how great they were though, so, I knew they could be a great tool for exclusive expressers.



When I thought up my business in early 2016 the premise was that I was going to make it easier for the expressing mothers of Australia to access products, so that they did not have to suffer the physical and mental strain that I did.


So, the very next company I contacted after Spectra and Maymom was Freemie, and asked to be a stockist. They had a stockist in New Zealand who had been servicing Australia for a year or so (of course just after I finished my journey) but they agreed that I could sell them in Australia. And I become the first, and only, Australian-based Freemie stockist.


Around 2018 news of the first truly handsfree/wearable pumps came out – the Willow and the Elvie (I forget which came first). Willow was USA-based and Elvie was UK based, so of course shipping to Australia was either not available or outrageously expensive. I investigated importing them to Australia – but it’s a whole different ball game between importing plastic to importing electrical items, and so unfortunately it was not a viable option for such a small business.


Then 2020 rolled around and with the reduction in international flights, shipping options became very limited and unfortunately, it became too difficult to get the Freemie Collection Cups from overseas.


However, also around this time, other brands of hands-free collection cups and wearable pumps exploded onto the market. And so I decided to replace the Freemie Collection Cups with the Milkeaze Cups – partly because they were Australia based, which would make shipping easier/cheaper, but also to support a fellow Australian business.


And in late 2023 I added the Rumble Tuff Go Cups to the shop to offer a slightly cheaper alternative. These cups hold as much milk as others (approx 280mls) but have more a slimline shape.


For anyone who has ever expressed, or maybe even if you haven’t, it's easy to see why handsfree collection cups or wearable pumps are so popular. Instead of having regular flanges (or ‘horns’ as Freemie called them in their explanations) sticking out, making it impossible to hide them under clothing, you can put round cups in your bra and then put a loose-fitting t-shirt or top over the top.


Sure, they make you look like you have had a decent implant, but they’re at least somewhat concealable.


Also, having your hands free to hold, feed, or play with your baby or even to do other activities like cook dinner or work in an office, makes them very appealing.




So, is there a downside to them?


Well, unfortunately, yes there is.


It appears that for many*, they just do not drain the breasts as much as regular pumps/flanges do even the hands-free cups attached to a good quality hospital-grade pump. The theory is that it has something to do with the shape of the part that sits against the breast.


It is for this reason that I, and many other lactation consultants, do not recommend them for exclusive use or when trying to increase the supply with a breast pump. Click here for tips on using a breast pump to increase milk supply.


However, they can be useful in these situations where the only other option is to skip an expressing session because you need your hands free for whatever reason. It might be better to remove some milk rather than none at all.


So, is there any brand of wearable pump that is better than the other?


I do not have specific experience with any one brand, but from listening to my customers, clients, and reading numerous Facebook posts, the short answer is no, there does not seem to be one brand that works better than the others.


But just like regular flanges, it can be just as important to make sure the user is using the correct size inserts (the insert should be the same size as the correct size regular flange). Click here for a sizing guide.


So, in summary, hands-free cups and wearable pumps can be very appealing to anyone who needs to express but also wants their hands free and/or for it to be somewhat concealable. Unfortunately, though they may not drain the breasts as well as regular flanges, so should not be relied on exclusively or to increase the supply. Using the correct size insert can also be important.


*There are some who get just as much as these as regular flanges.


If you want help with expressing please feel free to get in touch.


If you want to learn about breastfeeding before your baby is born, consider doing a breastfeeding class - www.cherishedparenting.com.au/breastfeeding-newborn-class-perth

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