The Willow Pump Review

My Willow Pump Review

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I’m so excited today to be finally sharing my review of the Willow Pump! For those that don’t know, the willow pump is new(er) on the market, and is the first wearable, mobile and tubeless/bottle-less pump!

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I first found out about the Willow at the end of my breastfeeding journey with my middle son and was so jealous of those who were currently pregnant and able to try the willow! Fast forward a year later, and I was pregnant again! I was looking forward to trying the Willow pump when I had my baby. I remembered how hard it was to manage my time and make time to pump when I was away from baby with only two kids (much less three!). I knew this pump could only help me, especially going into “zonal defense” of raising three boys under the age of 5.

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Breastfeeding is probably one of the hardest (mentally & physically), but also the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. The bond I had with my sons through nursing was truly incredible. BUT the thing about breastfeeding that I dislike the most is …..

The pumping. The time it takes. The cleaning of the parts. The sound. Being tied down every couple hours.

Although I had gotten pretty good at multi tasking and figuring out how to be more efficient, I still hated pumping and dreaded it. Trying to juggle work, meetings, events for my older son…it was crazy, I feel like ½ the time I would have to pump in the car (using my ultimate favorite hands free Ollie Gray bra!)

Other times I would come home from being at work, or running an errand to find that the baby coulden’t wait and needed to be fed, regardless of how I tried to time it. This ultimately meant that the babysitter would be leaving me with an awake baby, needing to pump!  Trying to pump while being plugged into a wall with a  2 year old and a newborn is virtually impossible if you’re on your own. AND, yeah, sure you can pump while your kids sleep. But really?  Using your time while the kids are napping to pump is not really high on your list of things you want to do during that time!  

Imagine being able to live a life where you could make dinner while you pumped. Fold clothes. Hang up laundry. Put your makeup on. Blow dry your hair. Go for a walk.

You can.

Enter the Willow.

How does it work? You simply put it together (minimal parts), wait the initial 3-5 min stimulation phase, and you’re on your way once you hit expression (let down).

FREE TO DO ALL OF THE THINGS. Even lay down #winning.

I thought I would break down pros/cons of the Willow, if I like it better than my hospital grade, and my ultimate thoughts on the pump and whether it is worth getting.

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Pros of the Willow Pump:

1.     It’s wireless. You can literally pump anywhere, anytime! Rejoice, mama’s! Go for a walk? Yes. Clean? Yes. Read a book to your toddler? Yes. Prepare a snack or meal? Yes. ANYTHING you want to do, you can do.

2.     Not many parts and easy to clean: I love this about it, its so easy to clean and no super small part to lose.

3.     The bags are easy, and take up less room: I like the bag for the purpose of storage in the fridge, also when traveling I could fit more in a cooler than I could with the bottles!

4.     It’s Quiet: Anyone else feel like their pump sings to them? Do you have to press mute if you’re on a conference call while pumping because yours is so loud? Not with the willow!

5.     It’s Smart: Willow has an awesome app that helps you keep track of how much you’re pumping, what phase you’re in, how much battery life is left as well as great support If you have issues.

6.     Customer Service: The customer service and support team is excellent if you have any issues. There are so many different avenues available for assistance whether its chat, text or phone. Also, there is support on the app.

7.     Battery life is really good: I took the pump with me to NYC for the day and didn’t have to charge it all day and I used it 4-5 times!

8.     Compact & Easy to Travel with: As I mentioned above, I travelled with this pump to NYC (as well as Florida) and It was such a relief to not have my huge hospital grade pump. I swear I have to have a bag JUST for my pump and bottles! The willow can fit this in my purse/backpack and its so compact and much more lightweight. LOVE.

9.     FREEDOM!!! Need I say more?!

 

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Cons of the Willow pump:

1.     The learning curve is REAL. This took me a good 3-4 weeks to get the hang of and I am experienced with nursing and pumping. I could see if you are a new mom this could be hard to get at first. However, as I mentioned above, they do have good support and help via their app, phone, and text. Stick with it! Its worth it!

2.     It’s pricy: This pump is not covered by health insurance. However, if you have a HSA/FSA, you can purchase the willow using that (this is what I did so it wasn’t out of pocket)

3.     Bags: The Willow 2.0 holds 5 oz, so if you’re an over supplier like me, it can be frustrating to have to stop and put a new bag in. Usually this only affects me in the mornings when I have more milk. The bags are also a little expensive and can only be used once.

4.     Stimulation/Expression: The stimulation setting is already set and you can’t change in manually. For those that don’t understand, this is the phase before your milk lets down. This is probably the most frustrating part for me and what I wish I could change. I find I need a lot of suction during stimulation and I can’t adjust the suction until I’m in the expression mode.

5.     Charging: You can only charge one side at a time. I really wish that you could charge two in one with the charger.

Other things to know:

1.     You can only buy their items online (bags, flanges, etc.) on their website.

2.     The flanges only come in two sizes!

3.     I’ve found the most important part of the learning curve is figuring out your alignment! Once you have that down pat, it should be smooth sailing.

4.    Your bra matters. They have a few different ones on their website that they recommend, but I love the Cake Maternity Bra and the Ollie Gray’s nursing/pumping bra!

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So what pump do I like the best?

I find that I rotate and use both my Willow and my hospital grade for various reasons (as listed above). As most of you know, you get a pump through your insurance (hello, free!!) and regardless of whether or not you plan on using it, I would definitely get the hospital grade pump even if you think you only want to use the willow.

VERDICT:

All in all, I think the Willow pump is seriously the most amazing, incredible concept and feel so fortunate to be able to utilize one of these pumps! The fact that I can go for a walk, do household chores, drive, etc. while pumping makes me so much happier of a mom and less stressed. All in all, while the willow has some areas it can improve (which I’m sure they will- its only been out for a short time!), this pump is such an empowering tool for breastfeeding moms. Anything that makes #momlife and #nursinglife easier is a WIN in my book.

I definitely recommend this pump to anyone who feels they are going to be giving their baby a bottle 3-4 days a week. I still use my hospital grade pump at work because I’m usually sitting at a desk anyway, and its cheaper (no need to buy bags like with the willow) but I use my Willow on average once a day at home. I use it in instances where I need to do extra pumping session or if I’ve been out running errands. It allows me to not miss a beat taking care of my baby, older children, as well as do ALL OF THINGS we mamas do while still providing milk for my baby which I’m so grateful for!

Happy Pumping friends! Xo

Alex

** This post is not sponsored or affiliated with the Willow Pump. All thoughts & opinions are solely my own.

Postpartum Food Plan: Trader Joe's Haul & What my Meal Prep is

“Fourth Trimester” Meal planning!

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Outfit details: Coat | Similar coat | Boots | Sweater | Socks | Hat/gloves (sold out, keep an eye out for restock) | Leggings non maternity version | Similar sweater | Similar Sweater

Today feels like the monday of all mondays!! Had a horrible nights sleep (thanks preggo insomnia!!) which led me to oversleep, woke up to a freezing house and no power for 3 + hours…and then realized when I got to work I lost part of my car key!! Ouch! Rough start.

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Hope you all had a great weekend. I feel like I got soooo much done and I’m feeling so much better with where I’m at REGARDLESS of this morning LOL. Rooms are organized, baby clothes washed, most of my maternity clothes are in bags ready to be donated, and my hospital bag/diaper bag is ((almost))packed.

I wanted to share how I’m approaching food in the immediate 3-4 weeks postpartum (no doubt the hardest period…well..every stage is hard but that is the hardest!!). Obviously I will have help but I do 90% of the cooking in our house so I want to be sure that I have fast, somewhat healthy items readily accessible at my finger tips because life is gonna be reallllll busy with three little boys 4 & under.

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I don’t generally go to Trader Joe’s on a regular basis (strictly due to time) but I went there last njight to grab some items. I really love their frozen meals/veggie dishes that you can easily throw a lean protein in with and call it a meal! I definitely don’t plan on eating those every night but I stocked up on some so 1-2 nights a week we can lean on those to get us through the “fourth trimester”. I’ll also be sharing what I stocked up from BJ’s and Wegmans, and some freezer meals that I want (and hopefully will have time) to make in the next few days.

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Trader Joe’s Haul

So a few things before I list all of this…everything I bought was to try and make things easier for us during this period while still trying to maintain somewhat healthy eating habits. Also, I know some people might look down on frozen veggies, but they are actually just as good as fresh (if not better sometimes) because they are frozen right away and maintain their nutrients! I prefer fresh but when you have a newborn wanting to nurse 24-7 you gotta do what you gotta do!

  1. Seafood Paella- I haven’t tried this but hubby loves Paella so I snagged it.

  2. Their Veggie stir fried rices are AWESOME. These make a great quick lunch or dinner. You can add egg, or shrimp or chicken. I’ve added frozen shrimp in the past and its been so good.

  3. I snagged the chicken stir fried rice just because the veggie one was so good in the past.

  4. I bought this Pad Thai a few months ago and it was good-I added chicken!

  5. I bought this fusilli with veggies and basil for the boys. I thought it was a good change up from the usual plain whole wheat pasta I get them and easy for me to make.

  6. Fast breakfast for the kids if things are hectic- Toaster waffles.

  7. I haven’t tried this one yet but this stir fry looks awesome!

  8. More noodles for the boys-veggie tri color

  9. My hubby loves a good muesli so i snagged this one for him.


    Wegmans & BJ’s

Next: essentials from Wegmans and BJ’s. I have a membership at BJ’s (i totally recommend it if you have multiple kids!) and grabbed some things there to try to plan for quick, healthy eating. I also buy Club Pack’s at Wegmans so i here are snacks/foods I’m stocking up on for the 4th trimester.

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-Wegmans Family Pack Wild Caught Salmon (these actually taste really good for being frozen)
-Eggs (can be eaten at any meal!)
-Yogurt (Chobani from BJ’s)
-Apples -5 lb bag from BJ’s
-Alexia Sweet potato fries in bulk from BJ’s (great side to any lean meat/fish you are serving)
-Chivettas BBQ (big container from BJ’s)-we still grill this time of year and its a fast, healthy meal.
-At Wegman’s I snag any meat thats on sale and freeze it to save for a later date

Freezer Meals

The freezer meals I plan on making the meat/veggies and then freezing it (my hubby can make the rest of it!-all of the recipes from my site are linked here)

  1. Burrito Bowl- I cook the meat and veggies and freeze. That way all we have to do is warm and add fajita sauce and we are good to go!

  2. Bolognase- Make the meat and veggies and freeze-same as above. Add red sauce and some pasta or zucchini noodles and we are good to go

  3. Turkey Meatballs- I already have this frozen and ready to go! Just add pasta (for the kids) or zucchini noodles for us and we are good to go!

  4. Turkey Chili

  5. I have 2 meals from sunbasket coming this week that I’ll be making and storing for when I get home from the hospital or freezing!



I would loved to have had more time to make more and freeze it, but I think this will set us up for at least the first few weeks!! Fingers crossed.

Have a great day! xo

Alex




Meal Plan Monday & snacks I'm loving

Anyone else have a sunshine hangover? Can we all just skip work today and celebrate SPRING and no more snow?! Kidding...{kind of} Hope you all had a great weekend and are ready to get after this week!

Today I'm sharing a unique recipe... Pork is not something I have in my usual meal rotation but this meal is actually super tasty, healthy, and even kids like it because its more sweet than spicy. The Hoisin sauce I use to flavor this meal is pretty low in sugar and carbs which makes me love this recipe even more.

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Pork Stir fry with Snow Peas

Pork Tenderloin, cut into cubes
4 cloves garlic
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled & minced (2 tablespoons)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2/3 pound Snow Peas
1/2 Red & Green Pepper, chopped
Mushrooms
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup water
Rice

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1. Toss the pork with half the garlic, half the ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. 
2. While pork is marinating, start cooking the rice. Heat a skillet over high heat and add olive oil.  Add the remaining garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add mushrooms and peppers. When mushrooms begin to sautee/peppers soften (3-4 mins), add sugar snap peas. Cook for 2-3 mins. Remove into a separate bowl to cool. 
3. Heat the same skillet used for the vegetables and cook the Pork mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the vegetable mixture to the skillet when Pork is nearly cooked through. Add the hoison sauce and soy sauce to taste, cook until juices thicken. I like to add 1/4 cup of water as the juice thickens- I think it makes it perfect to spread over the rice! Totally up to you though. 
4. Serve over rice and enjoy!! 

Snacks I'm loving

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Also, I wanted to share a few snacks that I've been loving for me...and a few for the kids. My boys love the Nature's Bakery fig bars. I just saw today that they have an Organic Oat and Honey option so I snagged it and they LOVE them. I like how there is no high fructose corn syrup, that they're organic, and not too messy!

Strangely enough,  Neither of my boys like cow's milk. I don't really force it because I'm not super sold on cow's milk anyway...so we try to get their dairy through almond milk in their oatmeal, yogurt (Seb really isn't feeling it at the moment..hopefully that changes!) and various cheeses. These Horizon cheese stars are Max's favorites. I think he likes the taste as much as the different shapes :) These I have only been able to find at Target. Just what I need, another reason to "force" me to go into target..ha. 

I've completely overhauled my diet the last 3 weeks and cut out all sweets so finding alternatives for my sweet tooth has been a challenge to say the least. I've been loving the thinkthin Cake pops lately though. My favorite flavor definitely has to be the chocolate. Low sugar and it hits the spot after dinner when I crave something sweet!

Last but not least... is this Buff Bake Peanut Butter spread. GUYS. This is so freakin good. Not nearly as good as Nutella, or Peanut Butter Company  {{these are clearly off limits at the moment}},  but it certainly satisfies and packs some extra protein. Beggars can't be choosers at the moment so I'll take what I can get,  I love how these two treats are somewhat guilt free and help me satisfy that sweet tooth that never seems to disappear! 

Have a great week everyone! 

xo

Alex

 

10/11 Month Sebby

Hope you guys all had an awesome weekend! We had a great weekend with some fall festivities and definitely enjoyed the warm weather! I missed sending out Seb's 10 month update so I'm going to combine it with his 11 month and call it a day :) 

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So the big news would have to be we have a walker! Little man officially took his first steps just after he turned 10 months and he's fluently walking now.  It's definitely a bitter sweet moment! Hard to believe that I'm planning for his first birthday...

I definitely feel like this stage is where you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can actually read to him and he's interested, he can play independently, I somewhat sleep, he's starting to walk, and he's still nursing but he's eating real foods so not as much is on me! Bingo! 

SLEEP

Is so much better. He is up usually once a night to nurse and then goes right back to sleep. He sleeps about 7:15/7:30- 6:15/6:30 am. Some days (rarely, but it happened last night) I am lucky and he sleeps through the night. Its funny because no matter how much sleep I get I still feel exhausted when I wake up! Which is totally crazy because I am getting so much more rest than I was like 4 months ago. Anyway I think its probably because the 4 am wake up is a total buzz kill and its hard to fall back asleep after being woke up that early. 

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BREASTFEEDING/FOOD

Nursing wise he is still feeding about 4-5 times a day. His nursing is becoming more and more ninja like. I swear his legs are kicking everywhere and he grabs my mouth and face lol, We dropped his late afternoon feed and replaced it with some yogurt and moved his dinner up now that he is eating real dinner with us. Last week I had the worst week. I was totally sick from nursing-I had a clogged duct and it was so painful. I was achy, had the chills. Brutal. I feel like I've had a milk blister now too after the clogged duct. I know its from Seb eating less and less milk :( ughhhhh. Its so hard to get rid of the blisters and ducts when they are only nursing a few times a day. I know the end is near and I'm curious to see when he naturally drops his feeds. If I remember correctly it was just after Max's 1st birthday that he dropped his before nap feeds. 

His chewing has gotten so much better but I swear mealtime is like the longest. thing. ever. He clocks in at about 55 minutes to finish his dinner! He's pretty good with most foods except he doesn't really like eggs? Everything else we have given him he likes but of course his favorites are the standard kid foods like mac and cheese, grilled cheese, fajita, PB & J, pizza...He does eat what we eat though and has been doing pretty good with salmon, chicken and veggies. 

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BROTHER

I still can't leave the boys in a room together but they do play side by side a bit better now! I'm trying to teach Max that if Seb takes one of his toys, to give him a different one rather than grabbing it back which almost always results in tears from his little brother. He's always trying to show his little brother things which is super cute and I'm excited for when Seb can walk and run to play with Max.

PLAY

Seb pretty much loves any toy that is in our playroom thats Max's. He loves anything that he can push (mower, walkers, etc.).I would have to say his most favorite thing for sure though would have to be balls. He throws them and chases after them. Its so funny.. now when I tell him to kick he kicks the ball :) 

Likes
-Balls-chases them all over the house! 
-grilled cheese, fruit, yogurt, O's
-the walker
-sleeping with his lovey
-swimming
-bath time
-any toy that he can’t have
-talking
-reading

Dislikes
-being changed-he moves everywhere
-face being wiped
-being confined
-eggs

 

Until next month...when my baby is 1 (((omg)))

xo 

Alex