AN ESSENTIAL READ FOR PUMPING MOMS: THE NAYA BREAST PUMP REVIEW
Parenting is a challenge and motherhood can be stressful, so it’s exciting when we find products that make life easier.
My husband read a NY Times article about breast pumps when I was in my first trimester with our second child. He told me "I'm a little nervous sharing this article with you because I know it will cost us several hundred bucks." I travel quite a bit for work and pump a lot. At least 3 times a day in the office and 6-8 times a day when I'm away on trips. I've pumped on trains, plains, automobiles, at a 76ers basketball game (Kobe's last in Philly), an Eagles football game, a New Zealand All Blacks rugby game, etc. You get the picture. I need a good pump. I pre-ordered the Naya breast pump and this is my review after a month of use.
I’m a working mom. I estimate I have pumped approximately 1000 times total with my first child. I used a Medela Pump In Style Advance (PISA) and still have it as a back-up. I work in the finance industry and have no technical or scientific knowledge or skills other than my ability to do simple home repairs. And I can change a diaper and give a bath like a pro.
Cliff Notes Version
If you are thinking about purchasing the Naya pump and can make the investment, do it.
I’ll cover the following categories in this review: Portability, Style, Functionality, Learning Curve, The APP, Customer Service, Improvements Suggestions, Some Math.
NAYA Pump Review
Where you can use it. With most pumps you learn very quickly that you need an outlet. But then ideally you would like a private place to pump. These two concepts are often in conflict – power and privacy – or leave you in a not so nice closet. The Naya charges up to 100% in about 6 hours and will last you for 10+ pumps. You can pump anywhere. No disposable batteries required. No car adaptors. I discovered on my first night sans baby how SWEET this is – I pumped at a nice little desk, untethered.
The website says 180 minutes total pumping on one charge and this matches my experience. Once the pump battery life dips below 30%, I tend to charge it overnight. They don’t have a car adaptor, but just plan in advance to charge up so you don’t run on empty.
It’s also pretty quiet. If there’s background noise like on a train or plane, you can’t hear it. Well, you may be able to, but no one else can.
A comment on plane travel. This will be great to use in flight. I am concerned that the water in the tubing will be an issue when going through airport security. While Naya recommends draining the tubes to avoid this, it is not realistic to accurately refill the tubes inside an airport and I cannot do this every time I fly. I’ll tackle that if the water is ever questioned, and airport security has always been great when I put a pump and 3 days of milk on the belt and say ‘that’s breastmilk and a pump.’
Weight. The Naya team touts how light the pump is. I am conscious of weight because I commute by train and walk about a mile round trip door to desk each day carrying ‘my stuff.’ During my first commute with the pump I felt the Naya was heavier than the PISA. So I got out my mail scale to compare.
To be fair Naya is hospital grade, so a better comparison would be to a typical hospital grade pump which I have been told is heavy, unportable, and unwieldy from friends who have rented them. As you can see, the Naya is slightly heavier than the PISA, but definitely not enough to deter someone from buying this product.
An interesting situation that came up on the weight differential – the Naya Breast Shield Assembly (BSA) is heavier than the PISA Flange/Valve/Bottle/Tubing and there’s a noticeable difference on your breasts when wearing the assembly to actually pump (the BSA is an all-in-one flange and tubing system compared to the Flange/Valve/Tubing of the PISA). Since the BSA is a silicone flange with hydro-suction technology and must be filled with water to work, it is a heavier assembly to attach to your breasts as compared to the PISA. With the additional weight of the Naya BSA, I didn’t feel an appropriate amount of sealing of flange to breast with the design of my pumping bra ‘Pumpease’ which worked great for the PISA. I have since ordered and use the Simple Wishes hands-free pumping bra and the extra material around the flange creates a confident seal of flange to breast.
The Naya motor is ever so slightly wider than the PISA motor too. This means I needed to use a medium sized tote and not my small one to get the pump, parts and cooler in a bag. Not a big deal, but if you live your life by ounces and inches, it is a difference. I don’t need much of an excuse to buy a new bag, so I’m ordering the MZ Wallace Metro Tote in a medium or large for a stylish stuff-it-all-in bag.
Travel abroad. I spent two (separate) weeks in England while pumping with my first child and learned that even if you have a converter you will ruin the PISA motor if you plug it into a non-American outlet to pump. Fortunately, I always travel with a hand manual pump so I had to use my little hand pump for 4 full days – a wrist workout to make a physical therapist proud! For my second trip to London I traveled with about 30 batteries to keep reloading the PISA battery pack (it does about 1.5 days on 10 batteries). In this regard the Naya is SO MUCH BETTER. It recharges like your computer does abroard. Recharge it, take it off the charger and pump. It should not fry the motor. Naya’s FAQs state this. I have an international trip in 3 months and can confirm back. In theory, you should be able to buy this if you live in Europe and just get the battery pack to charge it full time.
The Naya is a sleek looking pump. There is no denying that. I’ve gotten more than a few compliments on it. But I’m going to get picky here. The tote that comes with the pump to carry all of your parts (BSA, bottles, pumping-bra) has a strap on it. If you carry the tote and pump separately, the strap drop of each is long enough to shoulder each separately. But let’s go back to my aforementioned commute. I would like to be able to attach the tote to the top of the pump and still have a reasonable strap drop (9”) to carry it over my shoulder. But once you attach the tote on top of the pump, you pull the strap down the length of the tote and it slots into metal cleats on the pump so it loses all of the strap drop (see arrows in photo below). It is not adjustable, so it's one length. While I suspect there is a very logical reason for the tote strap drop to be minimal when it’s attached to the pump, I’m a shoulder bag girl and would like it longer. Also, when traveling I believe it is more functional to carry your rolling bag, computer/purse, and pump (which doesn’t count as a carry-on) as compared to another bag with your pump in it. Maybe I’m being too particular, but this style decision irks me.
How well it works. I wanted to use the pump extensively before I considered this question. I have used the pump for a solid month while working and during my first overnight trip away from my baby. After you get the hang of the set-up and iron out any bugs (see the ‘Learning Curve’ section), it works fabulously. It gets the milk out. Comfortably.
Breast Comfort. Firstly, the main difference between the Naya and other breast pumps is that it uses a water based suction system (instead of air suction) that they say more closely resembles the sensation of breast feeding. My baby was 11 weeks old when the Naya showed up. I had been building my supply using the PISA. When I first used the Naya, I wondered if the investment was worth it. I was not convinced. I continued with the Naya for a solid week back at work and then I had a day, where for logistical reasons, I had to use the PISA for 3 total pumps. Oh my - what a difference. My breasts felt wrangled after the PISA as compared to the Naya. Without that logistical hiccup, I would not be near as assertive on this subject – the Naya is so much more comfortable on your breasts and nipples to express milk. It's also pretty cool to watch how the piston stimulates the silicone flange to be similar to a babies mouth. I have done my first overnight away which required 6 pumps a day. The improvement in comfort was substantial. When I look at my upcoming travel schedule, for the comfort reason alone the investment is worth every penny.
Do you pump more milk using Naya vs other pumps? I think this is such a difficult question to answer. How do you actually know? My output varies day to day by a few ounces. Did I drink enough water? If I eat oatmeal or eggs for breakfast, does my body produce more milk? I can tell you with the PISA and my first baby I pumped about 35 ounces a day when traveling. I just pumped 36 ounces in a 24 hour period with the Naya. But every baby is different and every mom is different. Are some pumps more comfortable and allow your body to respond differently? I believe so. Am I happy with the output my body generates from the Naya ? Yes because it is what my baby needs and I’m comfortable using it.
4) Learning Curve: The set-up
If you have been using another pump and know how to put that together in a flash, you will get flustered. I remember when I got my PISA with my first baby. Nothing was coming out and I thought the pump didn’t work. But my little chunker was gaining weight so I knew there was milk in my breasts. It took a few, perhaps 10 attempts, with the PISA to get it down pat and efficiently working for me. The Naya is no different and I think the learning curve may be even more frustrating if you already have used one brand of pump.
My advice: 1) watch all of their how-to videos once before you attempt to use the pump and at least one more time after you have tried to use the pump and 2) read the instruction book & FAQs. If you are making this kind of investment, you need to educate yourself on the product. We have all done it: opened up something new and just expected it to work without reading the instructions. READ.
Once I got the hang of the components, it was quicker to set-up and pump on a routine basis. It is quicker to clean the components on a daily basis. No question it saves time which is precious with a little one!
My struggle points were seating the puck on the motor and getting the right amount of water in the BSA tubing. The puck is at the end of the tubing and has to be seated on the motor to create the pumping itself. Watch the how-to video – you have to have the puck in a closed position, align the tube with the little indentation on the motor and rotate it in place. My husband figured it out and showed me – I have the motion down now, but it took a little adjusting.
Getting the right amount of water in the BSA's took more adjusting. First, I just filled the BSA with water and thought I’m good. I had way too many air pockets. Likely 40% air. So I watched the video again. This time I pinched the tubing and got out all of the air and actually filled them with too much water as the puck was open and full of water so there was no way to seat it onto the motor. I let out a little bit of water and seated the puck and no milk came out. There was still too much water in the BSA . Since then I have learned to fill the BSA at the sink and 1) get out all of the air, seal the BSA , 2) either put the puck on the motor housing or drop the puck down the counter to your knee and depress the puck and 3) open the BSA and stick your index finger into the silicone flange to get out the last little bit of air and water and reseal. You should be able to put your index finger comfortably into the silicone flange that your nipple slots into. I have actually found my nipples are more comfortable and I express more when the BSA is slightly less full so that my nipples go well into the assembly and the milk can easily come down into the bottle. You will have to experiment with water in the BSA and suction strength to find your own sweet spot.
Regarding the suction, with the PISA I placed the dial at a 3 because any more HURT my nipples. With the Naya, I actually prefer to use it at a 5 or halfway to full strength. I think there are a number of reasons for this. The Naya is gentler on the breasts so you can comfortably have it at a higher suction level and because I use less water for my nipple to be further into the BSA, I need more suction to express. That is just my observation based on what works for my body.
5) The APP
At first you think there is an app for everything so who cares. Until you have to use it. My first day back at work, seriously my first day, the train home was 45 minutes late. Normally I would be in a tizzy that I was missing a feeding and mad at the trains. Ok, fine I was, but since I had my pump and it doesn’t have to plug in, I just suited up under my scarf and pumped on the train. I looked down under my scarf and felt I needed more suction. So instead of reaching into my tote bag and getting out the pump to increase suction – I used my phone. I opened the app and just changed that 3 to a 5 and felt like the coolest person on the train that day. I used a phone app to get more milk out folks.
Inventory tracking. I was able to inventory my entire supply of milk on the app and track when it was used. I know how much is in the freezer and fridge and when it will expire (you can change the expiration schedule based on your milk’s shelf life and how you freeze it). Then you know exactly how much you have if you must leave for a long trip or if you are slowly but surely using your supply for whatever reason. Even if you don’t own the Naya breast pump, I would recommend downloading the app and using it for the inventory tracking feature.
Pumping and nursing tracking. The app syncs with the pump and syncs back the length of the pump session. You then add your output in ounces for each breast and it goes into your inventory. You also can add in your nursing sessions so you can see the daily schedule of your nursing and pumping. I would like to see them add a right or left breast option on the ‘nursing log’ so you can track which breast you finished nursing on. That would help my exhausted state and inability to decide which breast feels fuller. A very unscientific and sometimes unreliable method i use to remember is to place a ponytail holder on the side I pumped last!
Other App improvements. A few things I’ve noticed on the app. The timer turns on and shows you how long you have been in flow or stim mode during a pump session only when you are actively in the app. If you navigate to another app, the counter restarts because it doesn’t keep timing in the background. Fortunately, after you are done pumping, you can sync with the pump and it will then tell you how long you pumped and you can add your ounces. Ultimately, I know exactly how long it was running, but it’s annoying mid-pump when I’ve typed an email, totally forgotten when I started, and have to guess how much longer I should pump.
In the quick links on the ‘+’ sign, there is no option for ‘bottle feed’, only ‘formula feed’. I believe this is because you have to go to your inventory count and select what kind of milk you are using. I think the ‘+’ sign should have a ‘breastmilk bottle feed’ option that quick links to inventory similar to how the ‘pump session’ quick link opens up pump details to log.
6) Customer Service
I have used all of Naya’s customer service features – phone call, email, app, etc. And every experience has been great. When I received the pump, I signed up for a conference call with them. They called me from a calendar booking I made online. Jolie, who is also a lactation consultant, talked me through various questions I had about my pump experience and was very helpful. She told me about using my index finger to gauge the right amount of water in the BSA as well as trying the Simple Wishes pumping bra. I have emailed Naya pictures of my BSA with questions and they have gotten right back to me.
I noted some suggestions regarding the shoulder strap length and app improvements, but I look at how the BSA works on the motor and would love it if they made a manual Naya pump with the hydro- technology . It can’t be that hard (ok, I’m not an engineer, but still!). I carry a manual pump with me as back-up when I travel and in my purse if a work dinner runs late and I need to quickly pump off the last 4 ounces of the day. Plus, when you go to football games it’s easier to carry a manual pump into a stadium rather than trying to explain to the security guards what the pump is and why you should get a reprieve on the bag rules.
8) Some Math
I am a finance person. Much to the chagrin of some friends and family, I cannot help but understand things in dollars and cents. Having a child is an investment – each child will cost upwards of $200,000 to the average middle-income family until the age of 18. It starts when they are born, if not before. The most basic thing you provide a newborn baby as a mother is nourishment. You can either breastfeed or formula feed. Breastfeeding is free but one must consider the cost of food needed for the additional calories a mother should consume to nourish her body to create the milk and the cost of a pump for when a baby is not with the mother. Is the Naya breast pump expensive at $1000? Yes. However, a year of formula is even more expensive. I’m going to use the numbers from the Naya website because they are about the average of the formula costs I’ve seen.
You are saving roughly $4,000 by breastfeeding over formula feeding. You can certainly buy a less expensive pump. You have to evaluate your situation by considering how much you are away from your baby. How much do you value your comfort? Will you stop breastfeeding earlier if the pump isn’t as comfortable? To be fair, I stuck it out with my first baby and pumped ‘uncomfortably’ but I can tell you the minute I could pump wean I did and I loathed that pump. And I pump a lot. For those who pump a lot, the investment is certainly worthwhile. As I stated in the beginning I estimated I pumped about 1,000 times with my first. So that comes out to $1 per pump. How much is your coffee habit? Mine is $2 at my local place.
The bigger question is, what will you do with the rest of the savings? With my first baby I told my husband my breasts paid for a vacation we took to England. Given we are done at two children, I’m using my savings to invest in a wardrobe that fits my mom bod. I’ve started with some lasting pieces from Teat and Cosset, which I plan on wearing long after I stop nursing! And my husband also loves the easy zipper/snap access of everything :)
This review is NOT sponsored and Olivia was not compensated by Naya Health nor Teat & Cosset to write it.
Olivia wrote this detailed account of her experience with the Naya pump while working full time, raising her two children and breastfeeding/pumping. We want to thank her for devoting her time to writing an invaluable blueprint for any pumping mother.
xoxo, Teat & Cosset