What are wearable pumps and why should I use them? Frequently asked questions answered by our experts

May 7, 2024

When wearable pumps were first introduced they were clunky and hard to use. Fast forward to today and wearables own 30% of the breast pump industry. If pumping is part of your baby feeding journey it’s important to weigh the pros and cons on whether or not hands-free is for you. Our lactation consultants answer some frequently asked questions below. 

Do wearables empty your breasts? 

Yes, they absolutely do. But it’s important to make sure you’re wearing your wearable pumps correctly. When using a pump versus putting baby to breast the device needs to drain your breasts during each session. If you’re not connecting the parts or using them correctly, this may not happen. 

It’s important to understand your pump, how it’s supposed to work and what every setting means. It’s a common misconception that wearables will cause nipple pain or clogged ducts due to low suction. This isn’t necessarily true. You may have the wrong flange size.  “There are different types of wearable pumps, different size parts and so much more,” says Bri McCoy, IBCLC. “Schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant if you have any questions around how to use your wearable pump.” 

Why use wearables?

Breastfeeding and pumping can feel so isolating. You’re on a strict schedule, making sure to pump every 2-3 hours, but what can make this even harder is being tethered to a wall! Wearable pumps give you the ability to continue on with daily tasks. If you work in an office, you can continue to work while pumping. And while at home knock some items off the to due list, or play with baby. There is no need for a dedicated pumping spot since you can virtually go anywhere.

How easy are they? 

With all things, there is absolutely a learning curve and like mentioned above if you’re not using them properly it could cause improper drainage leading to clogged ducts or mastitis. But this is true of any pump! Technology has come a long way in the last decade. There are even pumps that say you can be active (and even stand on your head!!) while pumping without losing any milk! 

Should I only use them as my extra pump?

Many breastfeeding families use wearable pumps as their main and only device. If worn, sized and cleaned properly your wearable pump could be more than enough to maintain your supply and meet your feeding goals. However, it’s important to note not all pumps are the same. Research your options, know your price point and reach out to a lactation consultant early and often to discuss what pumps are best for you. 

Can you tell I’m pumping? 

One of the best parts about wearables is that they are discreet–they fit within your bra or under a shirt. We also have first hand knowledge that you cannot hear them on zoom meetings.