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Over the course of pumping breast milk for my first born I picked up some ticks and tricks, and for a lot of the time I was effectively exclusively pumping for him. I went back to work at four and a half months, and having a breast pump is the only way I could continue producing milk for him. I picked up massaging tricks to increase and promote production, helpful supplements to take, (and what not to take!) what food to eat to help production, and how much water I needed to drink to make sure I stay hydrated as well as producing as much as I possibly could.
In the end I stopped directly breastfeeding him at about 11 months, but was able to keep producing breast milk for bottles for him until about 16 months. I’m pretty happy with this; I do occasionally wonder if I could have gone longer, but I’m proud of what I have been able to achieve considering the things which were put in the way.
I Found an Easy Way to Keep Breast Milk Production Going Strong
Two a half years later, this time with son #2 I have decided that I am willing to spend a little bit more on the equipment to make my life easier; with two boys to look after now I have even less of an opportunity to take the time out to pump. Enter the Freemie Collection Cups! (Amazon Link) Freemie pitch these as the only hands-free and concealable breasts pump milk collection system, and they’ve been around for a while now; the system was only recently released when my first son was born. It was about 6 weeks after my second child was born when I headed to Amazon to finally pick up a set of these bad boys.
My Review: My Thoughts on Pumping Breast Milk with the Freemie Collection Cups
IMPORTANT NOTE: I use the Freemie Collection Cups with the Spectra S1 Breast Pump. It is not listed as a compatible product on their website, but I purchased a set of aftermarket parts from Maymom on Amazon. (Check out the Maymom Tubing Kit for Freemie Cups)
The Freemie Breast Pump System
So a traditional breast pump system has a breast shield which is sometimes called a flange or funnel; this is the part that actually fits over your breast. This shield connects to a mechanism which differs from pump to pump which includes the actual connected to the shield, a valve, and accompanying membranes, as well as a mechanism to connect either a bottle or breast milk collection bag. The Freemie Collection Cups are similar in the sense that they require a number of different components, but it is the collection cup itself which collects the breast milk as opposed to be going into separate bottles.
The shields actually snap to and sit inside the collection cup, and together both of these components house the mechanism and valves. The result is an all in one unit which you can slot into a standard bra, you don’t even need a pumping bra to use this! Bonus, as any pumping mother can attest, having bottles dangling from your boobs comes with a whole world of issues!
How concealable are Freemie Breast Milk Collection Cups?
Kinda. Depending on how big your boobs are, and what top you’re wearing at the time, the freely collection cups are reasonably well concealed.
For the most part I found that I could still see them picking up just over the top of my singlet or feeding bra (since I still wore one to accommodate direct breastfeeding) and as my boobs are on the smaller side there was certainly a marked jump in the peaks coming off of my chest. Freemie advertise that you can pump anywhere, in front of anyone, and while yes this is true I certainly wouldn’t count on them not even knowing what you were doing.
You’re going to have (in most cases) bigger boobs than normal, tubing coming out of somewhere (though the options here are actually quite good) and you’ll be connected to a pump which is buzzing away. If anyone knows of a silent pump that works as well as my Spectra S1, please let me know and I will be absolutely purchasing one, if not two! I used the Freemie Collection Cups to pump in front of my husband, my sons, and my mother. That’s about it. (edit: at 4 months post partum I was pumping on the drive to and from work, and at 7 months postpartum I had my pump in the storage compartment of my stroller as I took both of my boys to the park for the hour; I was power pumping for milk supply!)
Core Features of the Freemie Collection Cups
- The cups and flanges join together- you don’t have to connect separate bottles or breast milk bags which hang on the outside of your clothing
- The tubes are long enough that they can be concealed by your clothing; I tuck mine back under my bra and then under my shirt
- Not having dangling parts in front of you means you can continue to do other things- like tend to baby- or pump in front of other people you are comfortable with
- Each collection cup can hold up to 8 ounces, which is pretty amazing
- The cups are compatible with quite a number of leading pump brands – check out the current list of compatible pumps on Amazon
What is in the Box
- Genuine Freemie Collection Cup Set
- 2x 25mm shields, and 2x 28mm shields
- 2x outer shell ‘cups’
- 2x valves
- 2x mechanisms
- Instruction Manual
Comparable Breast Pump Systems to the Freemie Collection Cups
There really isn’t anything else quite like the Freemie Collection Cups out there in terms of something concealable – something that doesn’t involve bottles hanging from your chest. The closest thing I can find is the Willow Wearable Breast Pump, but that will set you back (at the time of writing) a pretty $479.99 and to be perfectly honest I would rather buy eight sets of the Freemie Collection Cups – it’d save me washing them so often! It also looks as though the Willow has to pump into its own collection bags, so there’s another added regular expense on consumables that you can’t use again. The Willow milk bags are only able to hold 4 ounces, where the Freemie Collection Cups can hold up to 8 each, so not having to change over bags part way through pumping session is a massive benefit to me.
Does Breast Pumping Hurt with the Freemie Collection Cups?
I actually find the Freemie shields more comfortable than the ones that came with my Spectra S1. I have a feeling it is due in part to the fact that the pressure applied back to the covered breast is more consistent, whereas a traditional shield / mechanism set up basically dangles off of you, requiring you to find ways to counter gravity as the bottles fill up. That said, I do find traditional shields easier to work around when massaging to make sure I’ve collected as much milk as possible, probably also do to the coverage of the Freemie cups. It is for this reason that I cycle in between the traditional ones and the Freemie ones, favoring the Freemie ones.
Pumping Breast Milk with Freemie Collection Cups – My Tips
- Don’t lean too far forward! I really can’t stress this enough, there were a number of times that I was on all fours trying to clean up the floor and the milk ended up coming up through the valves and down the tubing. Perks of using a hospital grade pump and compatible accessories, I had a backflow protector which stopped the milk from reaching the pump itself, but it is certainly something to keep in mind. Freemie do make a point of this too, so make sure you heed this advice.
- Practice pouring out liquid before you use the system for the first time. Again another suggestion from Freemie, and from a number of reviewers on Amazon, fill the assembled collection cups with around 6 ounces of water, and practice pouring it out into a bottle or milk bags. It is actually quite easy once you get the hang of it, and the best advice that I can offer is to pour with confidence; taking it to slow will result in the milk dripping back up the outside of the collection cup, and unfortunately go to waste. Although it hasn’t happened to me with the Freemie collection cups there certainly has been a number of times where I’ve been close to crying over spilt milk. A great tip I’ve read is to use a traditional shield as a funnel for whatever you’re pouring in to. Genius!
- Don’t microwave sterilise your parts. You’ll need to boil the parts before the first time you use them for five minutes, but after that it’s a warm soapy water wash and air dry. Sticking them in a microwave steriliser could damage parts, which would be a terrible shame. It has been a little bit tricky to get used to that idea, since historically I have sterilised everything from my young boys, but there you go.
- Make sure the valve is turned in the right direction. First, make sure you attach them in the first place (I didn’t the second time I used them, which was a pain at 3am!) then check that they’re turned correctly. If your valves are not turned the right way you risk milk coming in to the shield and likely leaking all over you. Honestly, if someone says they’re having issues with the milk leaking their bra isn’t tight enough, the system hasn’t been clicked together properly or their valves aren’t attached correctly…there really aren’t many places it can go wrong.
In Conclusion – I love the Freemie Collection Cups!
Since I’m pretty close to exclusively pumping breast milk for my second child, the Freemie Collection Cups are a blessing I wish I had the first time around.
They’ve been a logistical lifesaver for my family; particularly overnight when I’m not only feeding my son but pumping as well to make the most of those overnight hormone peaks, or when I’m home alone with two boys who are both after my attention.
If you’re a busy mother like me – go and check the Freemie Collection Cups out for yourself on Amazon here <<