The First Years Breastflow Memory Pump is the most technologically-advanced pump I’ve ever seen. Its motto is “Get ready to take the thinking out of pumping” – and for good reason. The motor’s touch screen allows you to enter pumping data such as the suction and speed settings for each breast and the amount of milk pumped for the last ten sessions. It also records the date and time of each pumping session. In theory, over time you are able to see which settings and times of day are most productive for milk expression. The touch screen is simple and easy to operate, and I love that you can clearly see the settings instead of having to twist a dial. The speed and suction settings can be adjusted independently, allowing the pumping session to be customized to your preferences and what works best for your body.
I am a stay-at-home mom who pumps occasionally. I found that being able to look back over my optimal settings is a useful tool when I haven’t pumped in a couple weeks and can’t remember what settings I used last time. I imagine it would be a useful tool for a mom who pumps daily as well. One feature I would love to see added is the ability to add notes for each pumping session. I often will pump one breast as one of my twins nurses on the other, or will begin pumping both breasts immediately after having nursed one or both babies. Factors such as those will impact milk volume output positively or negatively, and it would be helpful to look back at my last ten pumping sessions and see details like that. Regardless, the Breastflow Memory Pump’s ability to record date, time, speed and suction settings is pretty cool.
Breastfeeding advocacy side note: If you plan to use a pump for occasional bottles as I do, remember that pumps are never as efficient as a baby at the breast. Don’t stress if you pump only a small amount. As long as baby is gaining weight and having wet and poopy diapers, your baby is getting plenty of milk. Even the highest end pump is not as efficient as a baby at the breast. KellyMom.com is a fabulous resource for learning about breastfeeding and finding answers to virtually any breastfeeding or pumping-related question.
Double Pumping, Simplified
My favorite feature, hands down (pun intended), is the double pumping attachment. Normally you’d need to use a pumping bustier or hold one shield and bottle assembly in each hand when pumping both breasts simultaneously. The First Years has cleverly designed a handle that connects onto each bottle assembly, allowing you to hold both bottles in place with just one hand. The shield and bottle assembly attached securely to the handle, and I did not worry that it would fall off and spill my pumped milk. For each side, there is a two-part adjustment that allows a woman of virtually any size and shape to fit the shields over her breasts in a comfortable position. It was comfortable to hold in place, and really a brilliant addition to the pump kit.
Battery-Operated and Portable
The motor on the Breastflow Memory Pump is very compact and can be used independently from its carry bag. I kept it on my desk and found it to be fairly inconspicuous. It’s small enough to fit easily in a purse or desk drawer, and it can operate via a power cord or self-contained rechargeable battery. The battery held its charge well and appeared to maintain the same suction as when the motor was plugged into an outlet. The motor noise was comparable to other pumps I’ve used.
Soft Silicone Shields
There are two sets of breast shields included with the pump. I love that the shields are a soft silicone as opposed to the hard plastic of competitor’s pumps. If the suction is up very high, the silicone can essentially flip outwards, but you probably don’t want to have the suction that high anyway. It’s essential to have the right size shield or you could end up having your nipple tissue rub against the side of the shield and cause chafing. I ran into this issue while pumping milk for my babies in the NICU and had to go up a size. The Breastflow pump comes with two different sizes, which is a good start. However, I would love to see them offer additional sizes available for purchase, as it’s really impossible to know what size you might need until you are actually pumping. Not to overshare (but I’m going to), I was already using one size up from the normal shield size when I had the chafing issue. That means I had to go up two sizes. I chose to use the larger of the included shield sizes with Breastflow pump. While it appears to be a good fit, I wish that a pump in this price range offered a larger selection of breast shield sizes available for purchase separately.
Breastflow Bottle System
Two Breastflow bottle, cap, and nipple sets are included with the pump. The Breastflow nipple is designed to allow baby to bottle feed much like he nurses, allowing him to pause and control the amount of milk he receives. In theory, this allows baby to transition between breastfeeding and bottle feeding more easily than with a traditional nipple. I love the idea of this and I wish my five-month-old babies would use it. To be fair, I’ve given up on getting them to take any bottle lately (they prefer straight from the tap!).
You can pump directly into the Breastflow bottle and then transfer your milk to a storage bag, or you can simply screw on the storage cap or nipple. The bottle system, including the nipple, is BPA-free. I have always preferred using glass bottles, both for pumping into and for feeding purposes. Unfortunately, the Breastflow line does not currently offer any glass bottle options. This is really not such a big deal, as you can easily transfer the pumped milk to another bottle system, but I try not to put plastic into the dishwasher, which means that I have to wash these by hand. Competitor pumps such as Medela are compatible with glass bottles, so hopefully The First Years will follow suit and add a glass bottle to their line in the near future.
To Buy or Not to Buy
To Buy… The Breastflow Memory Pump may help you streamline your pumping routine and allow you to see patterns in your most (and least) productive pumping sessions. The double pumping attachment is a unique way to multitask, and the motor’s small size and battery make it highly portable. It also comes with the Breastflow bottles that would be pricey to buy separately.
Or Not to Buy… Moms who need a larger size breast shield or who prefer glass bottles over plastic may find the pump to be lacking in available accessories.