I had my second baby, a sweet girl, in April. I also have a 3.5 year old and sadly, my breastfeeding journey so far has been less successful with this baby. While I primarily nursed my first child, I ended up exclusively pumping for this baby. For me, breast pumps are particularly inefficient, so my pumps weren't yielding much. To make matters worse, this inefficiency caused me to get plugged ducts. Thankfully, I found the Baby Buddha portable breast pump, which cut down my pumping time, increased my yield and (together with a supplement) eliminated my plugged ducts. The pump is tiny but more powerful, effective and efficient than even the hospital pumps that I've used. I've posted about it informally and keep getting questions, so I decided to do a more formal blog post. I also reached out to the company and got a 20% discount for you (see below).
This post describes my personal experience and shouldn't be taken as medical advice. You may have a different experience. Please direct any medical questions to your physician or lactation specialist. This post contains affiliate links and codes. Please see the Disclosure page for additional information.
In the hospital and for weeks afterward, my baby would fall asleep within a couple of minutes of starting to breastfeed. She lost 9.9% of her body weight in the hospital, so I had to introduce a bottle with supplemental breast milk in her first days of life. When that wasn't enough, I had to further supplement with formula. As much as I tried to nurse her, I still had to supplement, and within weeks she began to strongly prefer the bottle.
For me, pumping is particularly inefficient. I'd spend hours pumping and not producing enough. Out of desperation, I tried a number of pumps including the Medela Symphony, Spectra S1, and Freemie Liberty. With all of them, I would pump 30-45 minutes and still not feel like they had emptied me properly and as a result my supply was diminishing. I saw a mention of the Baby Buddha in a mom Facebook group and purchased it based on stellar Amazon reviews.
I was immediately blown away by the BabyBuddha pump. Here are the key features:
- tiny (similar in size to a small cordless phone)
- simple to use
- clear display (even in the dark)
- compatible with parts from all major brands
- closed system, which is more hygienic than an open system
- able to switch from single to dual mode by just sliding a switch on the y-connector
- charges with a USB cord
For me it yielded more than the other pumps in about half the amount of time. In fact, for the first week it increased my output daily before leveling off. I only wish that I'd found it earlier as I would have eliminated so much frustration!!
Where can I purchase the BabyBuddha pump/ how do I get the discount?
It's currently available only on the Baby Buddha website, and code BEST20 will get you 20% off.
Is it legitimate?
It is FDA approved and has stellar Amazon reviews.
What's in the box?
- BabyBuddha Smart & Rechargeable Breast Pump Unit
- Two (2) BabyBuddha Bottles & Nozzles
- Two (2) Bottle Bases
- Two (2) Bottle Hygiene Covers
- Two (2) Pump Covers
- Three (3) Detachable tubes (for easy cleaning)
- USB Charging Cable
- Detachable Lanyard
- Carrying Tote
Do I need anything besides what's in the box?
Technically you can pump and feed with just what's in the box. The flanges that it comes with are, however, on the small side so they won't work for everyone (see next section for details)
The good news is that the pump is compatible with parts from all major brands, so you can use whatever parts are most comfortable for you (see below for details).
How are the flanges / collection system that it comes with?
The included flanges come with a BPA-free silicone insert. The company describes it as a "soft cushion that mimics a baby’s lips." They actually do look really comfortable, but the collection system has a lot of pieces. I preferred to use the flanges and other collection parts that I was already comfortable with, so I didn't even try the included flanges, etc.
The included flanges are 24mm and reduced to 22mm with the silicone insert. You could use their flange without their silicone insert to increase the size somewhat. I understand that the company is expanding its product lineup to include more sizes. See below for how to use with alternative brands.
Is it easy to use?
It's really easy to use. It has a power button and then a button / trackball that you push to toggle between massage/stimulation mode (the mode with the "bacon" squigglies), and expression mode, and move up and down to adjust the level.
If you wanted to use the included flanges / collection system, you would need to boil them for 10 minutes first, which is typical.
It took me under ten minutes to both read the instructions and have it up and running with my Medela parts (see next section for how to hack to use with other parts).
Is it an open or closed system
It's a closed system.
If using the BabyBuddha components, the backflow protection is the silicone flexible half-sphere and white cap that screws on.
If using third party components you need to use a backflow protector. This one works with Spectra parts and this one works will Medela and Freemie parts (I haven't tried it with Freemie, but the company told me that).
More details on how to hack the pump to use with other parts is below.
Do I need to wash the backflow protectors?
The white cap never comes into contact with milk and should not be submerged in water or sterilized. The silicone half-sphere does, however, need to be washed and sterilized.
Would you recommend this pump to someone prone to clogged ducts?
Yes! My body doesn't respond well to most pumps. I discovered sunflower lecithin, which helped relieve my clogged ducts to some degree. But my clogs completely disappeared once I started using the Buddha!
How do I hack my Baby Buddha to use with Medela, Spectra, Pumping Pals or Freemie Flanges/collection systems?
People have been referring to this as a hack, but it's so simple that I wouldn't even call it that.
To use your Baby Buddha pump with Spectra or Medela parts:
- yank off the white connectors that are at the end of the short tubing running from the "y valve" (i.e., remove the white pieces that connect the tubing to the Buddha collection parts).
- connect the appropriate backflow protector
If you are used to using a Spectra pump, it's really intuitive -- just use whatever backflow protector and parts you used on your Spectra pump. I had been using a Spectra S1 pump with Medela parts (and sometimes Pumpin' Pals flanges). Once I removed those white connectors from the Baby Buddha, I literally took my long-stem Maymon backflow protectors off of my Spectra pump and attached them to my Baby Buddha, then I added the flanges/collection parts just like I would on my Spectra. I was up and running in just a few minutes without needing to sterilize anything.
To use your Baby Buddha pump with Pumpin Pals Flanges:
If you want to use Pumpin Pal flanges, you can follow the above and insert them into your Spectra flanges or into your Medela parts (basically same as how you would use them with your Spectra or Medela pump).
Whether you are using Medela or Spectra parts (with this pump or any other pump), I highly recommend these valves instead of the included valves or duckbills.
To use your Baby Buddha pump with Freemie collection cups:
Note that I haven't done this but got these directions from the company.
When using the pump with open system Freemies you will need to add backflow protection between the Freemies and the pump.
By removing the BabyBuddha components with built In backflow protection in the flanges the system is an open system and needs to be made closed again to protect the pump from any liquid or moisture getting inside the pump unit.
You can add the Freemie tubing to the long stem side of the backflow protection or use a Freemie adapter to connect it.
How loud is it?
The company claims that it's "impressively quiet" and won't draw unnecessary attention. I found it to be louder than my Spectra S1 and Freemie Liberty pumps. Walking down the noisy streets of NYC, people probably wouldn't notice the sound. In a quiet room, however, it's quite noticeable.
What settings should I use?
This is really a question of personal preference.
When you turn it on, it starts in massage/stimulation mode (which makes sense and is the opposite of how the Spectra works) and automatically increases its level and switches to expression mode.
I personally prefer to override the program and control it manually, so when I turn it on I quickly press the massage/expression toggle button twice to override the auto program. I experimented a bit and found that leaving it in massage / stimulation mode, level 1 yields the most for me in the shortest time. So all I do is turn it on and press the control button twice.
The massage / stimulation pattern takes some getting used to. It massages for a few seconds and then does a really long pull. It can be quite jarring if you aren't expecting it. It took me a while to get used to, and for weeks I'd kind of wince in anticipation of that first long pull but I got used to it.
Company Recommended Settings
For many people, starting in stimulation mode is too intense. The company recommends the following
- start in expression mode (yes the opposite of what you would expect)
- stay in level one until the nipples have warmed up to pumping, or a letdown is triggered
- once the letdown is triggered or you are ready for more intense pumping, switch to the stimulation mode. (Yes still backwards) stay at a comfortable level. You should never feel real pain.
- switch back to expression mode once your letdown has stopped.
- stay in level 1 and if you want, move up a level for higher strength (though for most people, it is never necessary to exceed level 1-2.)
- massage and RELAX.
- work with the pump and breast tissue to trigger another letdown.
- switch back to the stimulation mode once a letdown is triggered and repeat. Levels may be increased, but not always needed.
Other recommended settings
One of the members of my Facebook group for NYC moms of 2018 babies mentioned that she can't handle the pull and uses the pump only in expression mode, which is effective for her. I once absentmindedly started in expression mode and got a letdown quickly too, so it's definitely an option.
More thoughts on settings
I recommend that the first time you use the pump you stick to level one. The first time I used it I was getting so much milk in the beginning that I increased the level as I would with my other pumps, but my body didn't respond as well at higher levels.
Remember that machine is a mighty little beast. Even if you have used high settings on other pumps, you may not need to with this pump or may need to build up over a few sessions to acclimate to it. If you are having a hard time with that long pull, try starting in level one expression mode and then switching to stimulation mode.
I've met with a lactation consultant in the past and she recommends lubricating your areolas (not nipples) with olive oil before pumping. This may help make pumping with this or any other pump more comfortable.
Size / Portability
People, it is impressively small! You could easily slip it into the bottle pouch of a diaper bag or a small desk drawer. For a visual of how small it is, check out my original video review.
Is it travel-friendly / how long will a charge last?
It's definitely travel-friendly in the sense that it is really small and rechargeable.
In my experience, it holds a charge for about an hour of pumping (can be over multiple sessions).
Being rechargeable and small makes it convenient for travel, particularly on a plane ride or other times that you don't have access to an outlet. You could also hook it up to a rechargeable battery if you were going to be without access to power for a while.
Is it discreet / can I use it on the go?
As I mentioned above, it's not very quiet. If the noise doesn't bother you, you could use it with Freemie collection cups in public and cover up with a nursing shawl like this one (available at Amazon and Target). I've walked the streets of NYC pumping with the Freemie collection cups (albeit connected to my Freemie liberty) under this nursing shawl and no one looked twice.
Is the BabyBuddha good for undersuppiers / oversuppliers
From the online reviews that I've read, it empties oversuppliers more quickly / efficiently than other pumps.
I'm an undersupplier and find that it yields more milk in a shorter time than other pumps (12-16 minutes vs. 30-45 for me).
How strong / effective is it compared to other pumps?
I was blown away that the tiny Baby Buddha pump was so much more effective for me than the Spectra S1 (which is hospital grade), Freemie Liberty or Medela Pump In Style Advanced. Every time I've used the Baby Buddha, my letdown started within a minute (which is not the norm for me with the other pumps).
This section includes some information that I also covered above. Also note, that the Baby Buddha can be used with most (if not all) collection systems, so if you need to use a particular flange it shouldn't be an issue.
Spectra S1 / S2 vs. Baby Buddha
For those unfamiliar, the Spectra S1 and S2 are identical other than that the S1 is rechargeable, so it can be used without you being tethered to an outlet.
The S1 and S2 are hospital grade pumps and considerably larger and heavier than the Baby Buddha. Still, I find the Baby Buddha to be much stronger and more efficient than my S1. Many other moms in my Facebook groups have the same experience.
The S1 and S2 start in expression mode instead of massage / stimulation mode, which I find counter-intuitive. The Baby Buddha starts in massage / stimulation mode. It does, however, launch into a program when you power on. You can override the program by pressing the toggle button twice. Also, some people prefer to start in expression mode with the Buddha to get themselves ready for the long pull of stimulation mode.
Spectra P9 vs. Baby Buddha
The P9 is Spectra's portable pump. I've never used or even seen an S9 in person. Common consensus among those who have both the S1 or S2 and the P9 is, however, that the P9 is less powerful and yields less than the S1/S2. I and others have experienced that the Baby Buddha is more effective and efficient than the S1/S2, so it stands to reason that the Baby Buddha is more efficient than the P9.
Freemie Liberty vs. Baby Buddha
The Freemie Liberty includes a detachable clip so you can clip it to your pants. When you clip the Freemie Liberty to your pants, you can run the tubes under your shirt so they are out of the way and less visible to others. I suppose you could wear the Baby Buddha around your neck and tuck it in your shirt too. I, however, find it uncomfortable to wear the Baby Buddha around my neck and end up wearing it on my shoulder like a purse.
The Freemie Liberty is impressively quiet, which I can't say for the Baby Buddha.
Note that I received my Freemie Liberty as a PR sample. I was excited to try it. I personally yielded less with the Freemie Liberty than I did with either the Spectra S1 or Baby Buddha pump. Another friend does love it and uses it as her primary pump.
Medela Symphony vs. Baby Buddha
The Medelas Symphony is a hospital grade pump and exorbitantly expensive to purchase. It is commonly used in hospitals and lots of moms rent it to use at home. I used it in the hospital with this baby and rented it for a few months with my son. It's quite large and not rechargeable. I personally found it to be less comfortable than the Spectra S1 (which is smaller and also hospital grade) and not more effective than the S1. I can directly compare as I used the Symphony immediately before leaving the hospital and the Spectra two hours later. I can't directly compare the efficiency or yield of the Symphony and Baby Buddha as I used them over six weeks apart.
Medela Pump In Style Advanced vs. Baby Buddha
I used the Medela Pump In Style Advanced with my son (other than the couple of months that I had the Symphony). It's not rechargeable (although you can use an external battery). It's an open system, so there is risk of moisture entering the machine. It's also hard to see the controls on the Medela PISA without good lighting. The Medela PISA is an open system, which is less hygienic. Different people's bodies respond differently to different pumps. But based on design and hygenics alone, the Baby Buddha is superior.
I find the BabyBuddha to be not quite as comfortable to use as my Spectra (though perhaps it would be if I used the included soft flanges). Still the convenience of the size, efficiency and the increased yield make it my pump of choice. I tried going back to the Spectra once a few weeks in and my output with it was less than the BabyBuddha.
Another consideration is that the pump is new to market. So while it is FDA approved, no one has used it for a long period.
I personally am really happy with it so far and only wish I'd discovered it sooner.
To purchase the Baby Buddha pump, go to the Baby Buddha site and use code BEST20 at checkout for 20% off your purchase.