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Willow Go vs. Willow 3.0: Which Wearable Breast Pump to Buy

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Note: This review is not sponsored and I bought both pumps with my own money.

UPDATE, May 23, 2022: Since writing this review, I have had several issues with the Willow 3.0 pump. Customer service from Willow is very frustrating. They ask you to go through dozens of pointless troubleshooting steps before actually sending you a replacement piece, which of course, immediately fixes the problem. I have had two identical issues with the Milk Containers, which is very frustrating. At this point, I only recommend getting the Willow Go, which is more reliable, likely because the pump itself is simpler.

When I found out I was having a third child, I decided to splurge on a wearable breast pump, namely the Willow 3.0. It wasn’t but three weeks postpartum that Willow announced their new, more affordable pump called Willow Go

Both of the Willow breast pumps are wearable, but they do have some important differences. I’ve put both to the test and have taken meticulous notes on my thoughts as my breastfeeding journey progresses.

Here are all the key things you need to know about Willow Go vs. Willow 3.0, including the subtle differences you won’t find on the brand’s website.

Willow Go vs. Willow 3.0 Price Comparison

First thing’s first: a Willow breast pump is expensive, regardless of which model you buy. These luxury pumps are hands-free, allowing you to pump without having to be “plugged” into the wall. You charge them and quite literally place them inside your nursing bra to start pumping. I often pump while I’m working at my desk, doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, you name it!

wearing the willow pump under clothes
Me wearing the Willow Pump – yes, to me, it looks like I have a much larger chest, but it’s really not that noticeable.

A Willow pump, no matter which model, is worlds better than the Medela Pump In Style-type models I’ve used in the past. You know, the ones with all the tubes, a big clunky box, and a requirement that you be plugged into the wall. ↓

medela pump example

But that flexibility comes with a price tag.

Willow 3.0 costs $499.99, and it doesn’t even come with milk containers. (Can you tell I find that very annoying?!) If you don’t want to pump directly into milk bags every time, you’ll need to add the milk containers to your order, which cost an extra $49.99.

willow 3.0 packaging

Willow Go costs $329.99, and you don’t need to buy extra milk containers. (Note: this pump does not allow you to pump directly into milk bags.)

willow go packaging

Both pumps are FSA/HSA reimbursement eligible, and many insurance plans will help cover part of the pump’s cost. My Cigna insurance plan took off $150 when I bought the Willow 3.0.

Here’s the price comparison between the Willow 3.0 (with the much-needed Milk Containers) and Willow Go:

Willow Go
Willow 3.0 + Milk Containers
Without Insurance Coverage
With Insurance Coverage
As low as $170.99
As low as $390.98

I should also add if you are a teacher, healthcare provider, in the military, or a first responder, you can save an additional $50 off your pump.

If price is a deciding factor for you, it’s pretty clear that the Willow Go is the way to go (pun intended). However, if your budget has a little wiggle room, I’d like to share my experience and the differences that actually mattered to me when it came down to it.

Willow Go vs. Willow 3.0 – Pumping Into Bags vs. Containers

I don’t find it practical at all to pump directly into the milk bags with the Willow 3.0. This feature is the main differentiator between Willow 3.0 and Willow Go, by the way.

holding willow 3.0 container with milk bag

When you pump directly into the milk bags instead of the milk containers, you can pump in any position. You can do yoga while pumping, you can pump laying down, you can bend down and tie your shoes… you can’t do that when you pump into milk containers or with the Willow Go.

But for me, I prefer pumping into the milk containers and pouring my milk into a Lansinoh milk storage bag. I get anywhere from 1-3 ounces of milk per side, and it makes much more sense, typically, to consolidate this milk and put 2-6 ounces into a single bag. 

pumping directly into the willow milk bags

It felt especially wasteful in the newborn days when I sometimes got less than an ounce per side. What’s the use in storing half an ounce in its own milk bag?

I’m also not a fan of the Willow milk bag shape. It’s not ideal for freezer storage as it’s circular and quite wide.

lansinoh bags vs willow bags

I prefer using Lansinoh milk bags, freezing the bag laying down, and then stacking them upright to save space in the freezer.

milk storage - lansinoh bags with willow pump

The Willow milk bags are too wide to fit into the freezer storage containers I have. I also didn’t have a wide enough flat space in my freezer to lay them down while freezing. Overall, the shape of them just isn’t ideal for freezer storage.

willow milk bags are horribly shaped for freezer storage
By the way, the only way I got this much milk on one side (3.6 ounces) is because my husband and I went out on a date, and I was desperate to pump when I got back. I personally wouldn’t normally be able to get this much milk on one side.

Finally, the Willow milk bags are expensive and sometimes out of stock. I can get 100 Lansinoh milk bags for less than $15, while I can get 48 Willow milk bags for $23.99. And you need two milk bags for each pumping session, mind you.

In sum, Willow milk bags will cost you $1 per pumping session, while Lansinoh milk bags will cost you 15 cents.

I just don’t find Willow milk bags practical or economical.

willow milk bags with labeling

So in reality, the main difference between these two pump models didn’t even come into play for me.

If you take the quiz on Willow’s website to decide which pump is right for you, the quiz questions are in reference to the physical flexibility you get with the Willow 3.0 milk bags. When you pump with the milk bags, you could be upside down, and no milk will spill out. If that’s important to you, then definitely keep it in mind. 

That wasn’t important to me, especially when you consider all the cons of the Willow milk bags, including the odd shape and the price.

But I did notice some more nuanced differences that, over time, had me reaching for one pump over the other.

Pros of Willow Go

Deciding which pump I like better has been a lot like finding a new mascara. You wear it the first day and have a neutral opinion. You may even love your new mascara by day’s end. But it really takes more than just a day to decide if you like it. After a week or two, you may find that you want to reach for a different mascara, even if you can’t quite put your finger on why.

That has been my experience with testing and comparing these two pumps. The first day I used Willow Go, I actually preferred it to the pricier Willow 3.0. 

In a couple of key ways, the handling of it was simpler:

  • You only have to press one button to start pumping (instead of two).
  • You can pour your milk out of the pump without having to turn any levers or do the god-awful “flip to finish” maneuver, which if you don’t get right, will spill milk all over your lap. (Note: I did end up mastering this flip to finish maneuver, but I found it incredibly frustrating the first couple of times I pumped.)
The “Flip to Finish” maneuver you must perform when done pumping (Willow 3.0 only).

I also noticed a couple of other pros:

  • It didn’t seem as loud as the Willow 3.0, though neither pump is horribly noisy.
  • My milk output was the same as the Willow 3.0, so both pumps seem to be equally powerful. Technically speaking, the 3.0 has up to -245mmHG maximum suction, and the Go offers maximum suction up to -280mmHG. Both of these suction strengths are compatible to hospital-grade breast pumps.
  • The parts are all dishwasher-safe! I love dishwasher-safe parts…
  • It holds more milk – up to 7 ounces per side (compared to 4 ounces per side with the Willow 3.0).
  • It’s cord-free!

So, at first glance, I was really enjoying the Willow Go and found myself gravitating to it instead of the Willow 3.0.

But after a few days of using the less expensive pump model, I started to notice some differences that had me longing for the Willow 3.0 again.

Cons of Willow Go

Honestly, the difference that bothered me most was I couldn’t see how many ounces I’d pumped in the Willow Go app.

I’m going to pause here on this point because this ended up being more important to me than I thought it would be. 

With the Willow 3.0, you can see how many ounces you’ve pumped on both sides, right in the app.

Willow Go vs 3.0 App

Because this pump is inside your bra, that’s very handy! If you’re in a space with other people, it’s kind of awkward to lift up your shirt or pull away your bra to discern how much you’ve pumped.

And even if you do look, it’s not exactly clear. You can get a general sense of how much milk is in the container – as in, it’s half full – but nothing precise.

willow go no output visibility
This is about as much visibility as you get – I can see there’s milk, but I don’t have any idea how many ounces there are.

Another reason I loved seeing how many ounces I’d pumped in the app is I knew when to stop pumping. I like storing 4 or 5 ounces of milk in a bag, so once I reached that exact amount, I’d stop. 

willow 3.0 pumping 3.8 ounces
I can see I’m only 0.2 ounces away from an even 4 ounces…
willow 3.0 pumping 4 ounces
Now that I’ve hit 4 ounces, I feel I can stop pumping and store it!

If you’re the kind of person that likes having the TV volume on 20 instead of 19, you’ll get an immense sense of gratification when you see you’ve pumped 3.8 ounces and can keep going a little longer to reach 4.

I also didn’t have to weigh the milk afterward to label my milk storage bag – I knew exactly how much I’d pumped. I came to love how this simplified the process of storing my milk. 

weighing milk from willow go pump
Taking the time to weigh my milk from the Willow Go, something I don’t have to do with the Willow 3.0.

A few other cons of the Willow Go that started getting under my skin over time include:

  • There are 5 pieces to wash and put back together (compared to 3 with Willow 3.0).
willow go pieces to clean
These are all of the parts you have to clean and sanitize with Willow Go.
  • You can’t adjust the expression levels in the app – you have to do it on the actual pump.
  • Pouring the milk out of the Willow Go proved to be frustrating and unpredictable.
  • You have to replace some of the parts somewhat often, and accessories are sold separately.

I’ll elaborate on this point, as well. With the Go model, you don’t have to remove any parts to pour out your milk into a storage bag. You simply remove the pump from your bra and tilt it so that the milk pours out of a small spout at the top of the pump.

However, this did not work smoothly for me. The milk would come out in a very slow stream sometimes and for no apparent reason. It would also have bursts of pouring out fast and then slow, causing the milk to have an entirely unpredictable path and thus making a mess.

It really bothered me that I could never just pour the milk into a milk bag without getting milk on the counter and the outside of the bag. I do not have this problem with the much more graceful Willow 3.0.

Final Thoughts: Willow Go or Willow 3.0?

So, I have both pumps and can take my pick as far as which one I want to use on a daily basis. And I definitely have gravitated toward the more expensive Willow 3.0. But not for the reasons others may think. I don’t care about the main feature difference, which is being able to pump directly into milk bags.

Rather, I love being able to see how many ounces I’ve pumped in the Willow app. I also like how smooth it is to pour my milk into bags, compared to the clunky experience with the Willow Go pump.

There are fewer parts to disassemble, clean, sanitize, and reassemble. And I can adjust the expression levels right in the app. 

These are all small differences, but they add up to save me time and hassle. Pumping is something I do every single day, so if I can save a minute here or there, I notice it.

Now, are these little nuances worth the big price gap between the Willow Go and the Willow 3.0? Maybe not.

They’re rather small qualms I have, and while I do prefer the Willow 3.0, I’m also quite impressed with the Willow Go. At its lower price point, it delivers essentially the same experience as the Willow 3.0. I can still pump anywhere without having to be plugged into the wall or untangle a mess of tubing.

I hope my experience and attention to detail will help you decide which pump is right for you. 

You really can’t go wrong with either pump. I can only say I wish I’d had this with my other two children! It has made the entire pumping experience much more convenient, and it’s helped me keep up my milk supply. 

Happy pumping!

14 thoughts on “Willow Go vs. Willow 3.0: Which Wearable Breast Pump to Buy”

  1. I agree with you, Willow customer service is rather irritating – they kind of ignore all the obvious issues with the pump and make you think you’re crazy (for example, for not mastering “flip to finish” – while spilling breast milk everywhere).

    Also frustrating that they don’t have visibility into new technology generations coming out. Who would buy an iPhone 12 in August, when they know 13 comes out in September?

    Still better than a traditional pump, but Willow is annoying.

    • 100% agree. These pumps are worlds better than the traditional plug-in-the-wall pumps with all the tubing – those were awful. But it’s frustrating that these are so expensive yet obviously have some issues.

  2. Just wondering what your issues with the containers were? I have a set and I quit using them because the pump acted like I couldn’t get them clean enough to work, no matter how many q tips I used to scrub it. I’m having my second next year and trying to be more prepared than the first time lol

    • The tiny, thin, circular plastic piece at the top of the milk container kept malfunctioning. It was either getting ripped or warped (or something, I don’t know), but container after container would stop working. If that tiny little piece isn’t perfect, the pump sucks in air and will not suction. The app will also report that it’s pumping 20-40 ounces in a single session, while it hasn’t pumped but a drop. This happened over and over again, and customer service kept saying I was using the pump wrong or not cleaning it right. I cleaned it according to their instructions by using a vinegar rinse, etc. The most annoying part is if that tiny plastic piece stops working, you can’t just replace it. You have to buy a whole new container. It got expensive. When it works, it’s awesome. But when it doesn’t, I’m left wondering why this super expensive pump isn’t delivering – especially when I need it to be reliable as I pump every day. The Go has been incredible and reliable. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles, but it’s what I use every day now because I can count on it.

      • That may have been what was happening to me also. It was a cleaning error I kept getting and I ended up switching to bags. I could get 2 pumps out of it usually then I would do the toothpick trick to empty them and reuse them. It kept me using just 2 bags a day instead of 8. I am working from home now and I am hoping I will be able to avoid pumping as much as possible. I still have my 3.0 so I’m sure I’ll pull it out and see if I can get it going.

  3. Thanks for this post. With the Willow Go. I’m concerned about the cleaning. I nurse at home but need to pump at work from 8AM – 6PM. Do we need to clean the parts after each pumping session? Also how loud is it? Would someone sitting next to me be able to hear it?

    • It is a lot of parts to clean, but there are two ideas. One is a lot of women refrigerate their pump parts at work so they can pump multiple times that day without having to clean everything each time. Take your pump home at the end of the day and clean it just once. The other idea is to get the steam sanitizer bags from Medela and microwave your pump parts in those throughout the day. The Willow Go doesn’t have any magnets on it so you can microwave it this way (do NOT microwave the Willow 3.0 as it has metal parts on it).

      You can definitely hear it. It’s not super loud, but my toddler will say something like “what’s that sound?” while I’m pumping around the house. Someone sitting next to you would be able to hear it.

  4. For the Willow 3.0 I see you can use bags to pump into or the reusable containers, which I agree either doesn’t matter to me. Can you see how much you’re pumping in the Willow 3.0 with the reusable containers, or do you have to be using the bags to see how much you have pumped?

  5. Thank you so much for your thorough critique and comparison of both pumps! I have been struggling on how to choose which one to buy because the Willow website is pretty vague on the differences and, until finding your review, the other reviews have been unhelpful. I am going with the willow Go and once I start using it I will share my experience here! Thank you again!


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