Breastfeeding: It’s a love/loathe kind of thing, isn’t it? I love it for the intimate moments it gives me with my newborn, but loathe it for the insane strain it puts on my poor nipples…especially when I attach them to a machine that’s somewhere between utilitarian dairy equipment and medieval torture device. That’s why I was totally intrigued by the hands-free Freemie Liberty, which promises a mobile and discreet pumping sesh—so mobile and discreet, you can do it unnoticed at your desk. Here, how my experience played out. (For the record, I tested over a laptop—but a laptop I used at home.)
First, let’s talk about the setup. I followed the instructions to a T—boiled the parts, rinsed them with hot soapy water, dried ’em off—then got to work assembling the pump. It was fairly intuitive (i.e., easy to visualize what piece went where), but the crystal-clear diagrams were a good checkpoint to ensure success. One caveat: The trickiest part was inserting the tubing into the milk collection cones. It’s so airtight, the tubes only *just* fit. Oh! And don’t forget to charge the pump ahead of time. (More on that later.)
OK, so here’s how pumping went. I sat down with my laptop, clipped the pump to my jeans (that’s where a fully charged pump is key so you don’t have to plug in and be attached to an outlet), tucked the collection cups into my bra…and nothing. I couldn’t even feel a light suction. Here’s the lesson learned: The Freemie is discreet, but it works best if you can position the cups in a bra that’s super-duper taut against your chest. I traded my maternity bra—which runs tight and loose depending on my milk supply—for a tighter-fitting breastfeeding tank and voilà! Suction.
Here’s what I loved. The suction I just mentioned? It was totally gentle. Full disclosure: I actually had to ask my husband to take a peek to make sure that my boobs were indeed being milked. (They were.) Another cool part about the Freemie: The pump is actually of the hospital-grade variety, so after just a minute or two, I already had an ounce in each cup. Damn.
We need to talk about Turbo Mode. You achieve this functionality when you adjust the settings to the slowest suck and release cycle. (For me, I went all the way down to level one with the speed.) That was when the magic happened and I really saw the power of this pump—i.e., milk just started flowing out. (FYI, I felt more of a pull on my nipples in Turbo Mode, but it was still nothing compared with the pain I’ve felt with other pumps I’ve tried.)
There’s also a sleep timer. One of the perks of the Liberty model is that it comes with a sleep timer for moms who want to doze while they get the job done. For me, this was a no-go since a) I was worried about spillage and b) I was writing this story.
The final word. I like this pump. Would I actually use it in a meeting? Maybe. The problem is that the cups are large enough to look a little bit awkward and you still have to strategically tuck all the tubing out of sight. But in a pinch—say, while you’re on the road or pumping privately in your own office—it’s pretty great.