Breast pumps are every breastfeeding mom’s saving grace! Using a quality breast pump is one of the easiest ways to ensure there’s always an adequate supply of milk available, even when mom isn’t around! Two of the market leaders in the breast pump world are most definitely Willow vs Spectra. What are the differences between these two models and how do their features compare?
The main difference between a Willow and Spectra breast pump is that, unlike conventional breast pumps, Willow works inside your bra. This means there are no cords, wires, bottles, or external tubes. Both pumps use a closed system, meaning there’s a barrier between the milk and the pump.
- Willow vs Spectra pumps compared – differences and similarities
- Willow pump review
- Spectra pump review
- Is Spectra better than Willow?
Willow vs Spectra pumps compared – differences and similarities
Knowing which pump will suit your circumstances best is important to create a stress-free breastfeeding process. It’s, therefore, crucial to know what features are on offer from each pump. Read on to find out!
Available Willow pumps:
Willow currently has only one pump available which has however been upgraded in the last few years. While the Willow Gen 3 is the current pump in use, let’s look at how it evolved over the last three years.
- Gen 1: Willow’s first all-in-one in-bra breast pump made it easy for moms to pump anywhere, anytime. It offered quiet operation and discreet pumping.
- Gen 2: Gen 1 got upgraded in 2019 and improvements made it easy to align mom’s nipple in the flange. Easier assembly with quick snaps and compatibility with reusable containers made the process easier.
- Gen 3 – Willow Pump Wearable Breast Pump: This is the current model being used by many moms around the globe! New innovations like two new lower suction levels, softer pumping rhythms and the Smart Suction technology make this upgraded model a firm favorite!
Available Spectra pumps:
Spectra has three breast pumps on offer – the S1, S2 and S9. Let’s have a look at the differences between these models!
- Spectra S1: The S1 is a double electric breast pump allowing you to pump both breasts at the same time. The S1 is bigger than the S2 and has a rechargeable battery.
- Spectra S2: While the S2 is smaller, it doesn’t feature a rechargeable battery. All other features of Spectra are the same for both models. I’ve listed these in the S2 feature section further down in the article.
- Spectra S9: A sleeker option designed for busy moms. It’s smaller, more discreet, and pumps up to 250mmHg.
Feature comparison between Willow and Spectra
I’ve listed a few of the more common features to consider when you’re comparing these two brands. Knowing how they stack up will make it easier to pick a favorite!
These two models couldn’t look more different! The S1 looks like a conventional breast pump with tubes and breast shields. The Willow, on the other hand, is made up of two components that fit into mom’s bra. Willow has no tubes and cords.
The Spectra S1 comes with two 24mm and 28mm flanges which are connected directly to Spectra’s wide neck bottles. Willow Gen 3 features two flanges with three sizes to choose from – 21mm, 24mm and 27mm. Milk is pumped from the Willow straight into specially designed disposable bags – Willow Pump Spill-Proof Breast Milk Bags – which can be frozen or stored.
Battery & charging
Both of these models have built-in rechargeable batteries. While the Spectra S1 requires only one charger and can recharge in 4 hours, the Willow Gen 3’s built-in battery charges in 2 hours. A full battery on the Willow will easily allow an average of five pumping sessions.
Ease of use
The Willow Gen 3 has a learning curve when you first start using it. You’ll have to learn to align the breast shields properly to get them to work properly. The design of the Willow pump could make it harder to see what’s going on.
The Spectra on the other hand, despite having more components, (tubes and cords) is considerably easier to use and it works every time! The S1 turns off automatically after a period of inactivity.
If you’re on a tight budget, the Willow might not be your first choice. Willow Gen 3 is considerably more expensive than any of the Spectra models. An advantage of the Spectra S1 is that the milk is immediately pumped into your bottles.
Willow, on the other hand, pumps milk into disposable bags. The cost of these bags can add a significant amount to the overall cost. To get an idea of the amount of bags you’ll need, it’ll be helpful to read – Breast Milk Storage Bags Vs Bottles.
Willow pump review
It’s clear that the Willow Pump is one of the more common breast pump choices. Extensive features and portability make it easy to see why!
- Fits in your nursing bra for ultra-convenience
- No cords, tubes or dangling bottles
- Offers 7 levels of suction
- Sensitivity setting for comfort
- Continuous suction technology ensures leak-proof pumping
- Smart Suction technology automatically transitions and adjusts based on your unique needs
- Easy to assemble – only two parts
Why consider it
The Willow pump is a great choice because, by fitting into your bra, it offers discreet pumping! Two parts make it easy to assemble, clean, connect and use with no cords or wires to fuss over.
- Convenient cordless design
- Can pump while sleeping or laying down
- Creates freedom to pump anywhere
- Continuous latch prevents leaking
- Only one charging device
- Can be more costly than other models
- Learning alignment can be challenging
Is Willow a hospital-grade pump?
In general, Willow doesn’t outrightly advertise their breast pump as being hospital-grade. However, their website has the following message:
“Willow has seven levels of suction in the Expression phase that are comparable to most traditional double electric and hospital-grade.”
Knowing this means moms can safely use the Willow! For a more detailed comparison on how Willow stacks up to other wearable brands, consider reading comparing it with Elvie and Freemie.
Spectra pump review
Spectra breast pumps are very popular among moms. Despite being the older model, the S1 is still the most popular of the two.
- Natural Nursing Technology allows a comfortable suction level mimicking natural breastfeeding
- Portable and rechargeable
- Can easily be used as a single or double pump
- Backflow protector creates a physical barrier between milk and pump motor ensuring the pumping process remains hygienic
- Vacuum suction levels offer 15 instead of the normal 12
- Suction levels can be adjusted for each breast
- Pump has a night light to make pumping at night easier
- Auto-off feature after 30 minutes in case mom falls asleep while pumping
Why consider it
The Spectra S1 double electric pump is a worthy choice because it’s easy to use and much quieter than its usual competitors. Its separate modes for suction speed and strength mean you can customize it to suit your unique needs.
If you’re considering one of the Spectra models, my article Medela Sonata or Spectra S1 / S2 is a must-read!
- Quiet operation
- Hospital-grade pump
- Extracts milk quickly
- Dual or single pumping option
- Bulky compared to other pumps
- Limited breast flange size
I’ve included a short clip to see how easy it is to assemble the Spectra breast pump!.
Is Spectra better than Willow?
When it comes to choosing the better option between the Willow Vs Spectra, the experts in my life – my fiance as well as my sister – both unanimously agree that the Willow Gen 3 is a clear winner!
This is largely a result of the “in the bra” feature which makes it super discreet! Without tubes and cords, it’s easy for the mom to carry on with normal things without having to sit down for the pumping process. With only two pieces, it’s easy to assemble, use, and clean! While the Willow is costly, it’s ideal for busy moms who’ll appreciate a hands-free option!
Last update on 2024-02-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API