Elvie vs. Spectra Breast Pump: My Personal Experience as an Exclusive Pumper

For a little back story, I have been an exclusive pumper or EP, since Arabella was about 3-4 weeks or so. I wasn’t really planning on this route and truly just stumbled upon it as a result of breastfeeding struggles. For those of you that don’t know what exclusive pumping means it is essentially means that instead of physically breastfeeding Arabella for each of her feeds, I would pump and then provide her with bottles. Some women may do a combination of breastfeeding and pumping, but for me personally, only pumping worked best. Currently, I am no longer pumping. I pumped until Arabella was 5.5 months and am very proud of this accomplishment. I was only intending to breastfeed for 3 months, so the fact that I made it an additional 2.5 months means a lot. With that being said, I probably exclusively pumped for 4 months in which I used both the Elvie and the Spectra II.

I think to make things simple, I will just break each one down with it’s pros and cons. Keep in mind that this perspective is coming from someone who was an exclusive pumper, as well, versus someone who just pumps when away from baby (like at work).

**These are all more personal pros and cons. There is much more information on their websites, which I encourage you to check out.


Pros –

  • Can be done anywhere and at any time: This is probably the largest benefit of this pump. You can literally just insert and pump. You could be on a walk, driving, feeding baby, on a plane, etc.
  • It is not super noticeable when inserted: So personally, I felt like you could tell my boobs were massive when I had it in place, but John said he could hardly tell and most people, if I had them on, couldn’t even tell I was wearing them.
  • You can use almost any bra with these: You don’t need to buy any special bra for this pump. I just wore looser sports bras and was able to easily slip them in and out
  • You are not exposed when pumping: with other pumps, you can’t cover up entirely without a nursing blanket because of the connectivity, whereas with this one, you just slip them into your bra and pull your shirt back down.
  • You can easily pump while feeding baby at the same time: There is a very simple learning curve to pumping and feeding baby at the same time with baby in your arms. This makes pumping when baby feeds, much more doable. One of the hardest things is finding time to pump with a baby, so this makes it much easier to do.
  • Great customer service: I reached out to them a couple of times over different things and they were very quick to respond and extremely helpful in their guidance.

Cons –

  • Price: Insurance does not cover the entirety of this pump so you will pay a couple hundred more dollars for this pump depending on your insurance.
  • Leaking: My pump leaked a lot in the beginning. I spoke with customer service about this and they helped a bit, but I also realized that I maybe couldn’t do everything while I pumped. I needed to stay upright for the most part and not bend too much at the waste. Emptying them out, also helped.
  • It needs to be charged fairly often: You can probably get two to three pumps with it fully charged depending upon how long your pump time is. I personally, just would plug them back in after each use.
  • You can’t charge them at the same time: You can only charge one at a time unless you have two chargers.
  • I experienced a drop in supply with it: According to my lactation consultant, this pump is more effective for oversuppliers, so if you have a hard time with supply she recommended switching to a different option (which is why I have used both Spectra and Elvie extensively). She explained to me that the Elvie can have issues with efficiently emptying the breasts for some women, which can then lead to drops in supply. According to Elvie customer service, this may be because it is not latched appropriately. When my supply dropped, I was also just beginning to understand certain facets of being an EPer, so I may have contributed to my drop, unknowingly. It is hard to say.
  • Not entirely sure it is meant for exclusively pumping. Sadly, the motor/suction in one of my pumps did eventually wear down and I did have to reach back out to customer service.
  • You have to empty into bottles versus being able to pump directly into bottles that you can then just store in the fridge.

Spectra II

Pros –

  • Different settings: I liked that you could place the pump in different settings, easily. The Elvie also has settings, but I found the ones on the spectra to be more specific and helpful
  • Suction was very different and most likely stronger than the Elvie. According to Elvie, their pump is actually meant to mimic breastfeeding more closely, which is why their suction is not as “strong”, but I felt it important to specify this as a pro for this device because it may also be considered more effective at removing milk.
  • Long charge: The charge on this device lasted hours comparatively to the Elvie charge. I could complete all of my pump sessions and some with this device in one day (I believe the charge is technically 3 hours).
  • Many insurance companies will cover the extent of this pump

Cons –

  • Increase in irritation: I noticed that my nipples were much more sore using this device versus using the Elvie.
  • Unable to move around: You have to hold the giant pump the entire time and have to be very careful not to snag it on anything because otherwise it will pull.
  • You need a specific bra for this device: This was one of my biggest cons because it is very difficult to find GOOD pumping bras that you can wear all day. I have found that most women, just change into a pumping bra when it’s time to pump, but for someone who is an EPer and having to pump 6-8 times a day, having to take on and off a bra can be very time consuming.
  • It is very hard to do anything besides pump with this device. I originally used my Elvie most of the time, so when I started using the Spectra, I found it was much more difficult to do things. I felt like my Elvie didn’t give me freedom, until I moved to the alternative and realized just how much freedom I actually had.
  • Finding time to use this pump was difficult for me. I couldn’t quite figure out how to pump and feed at the same time with this device, but I know people do it (feed baby in a boppy while you pump). You can’t really do much of anything, so when you have a newborn but need to find 3+ hours a day to pump, the struggle can be very real.

Overall, there was good and bad to both. My personal opinion, was that for someone who is an exclusive pumper, being able to have more freedom with the Elvie was life changing. I know women use the Spectra often as an EPer, but I think it presents with a lot more challenges if you are going to be spending as much time as you do pumping. I think the Elvie is expensive, however, worth the money for the time and freedom I was given. I would be curious, however, to know if the Elvie actually decreases supply as my lactation consultant mentioned or if that is more related to user misunderstanding with pumping (there is a process to pumping that is important to follow, otherwise risk a decrease in supply). I think regardless, it is important to weigh your needs and wants. These pros and cons are going to vary momma to momma due to all of us living very different lives. I know this post was wayyyy overdue my friends, and I apologize, however, I wanted to make absolutely sure I could provide you with all of the details from my experience and make sure I used each each device adequately to give you an honest review. I hope this post helped some of and feel free to leave your questions below!




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