First time round, my decision to buy a breast pump went like this: I waited until I knew breastfeeding was definitely happening for us, because a pump is quite a bit of money. I went for the brand that I’d most heard mentioned. At that point, I wasn’t thinking much beyond my first baby, but I did assume that this one breast pump could be used for subsequent babies, and that I’d be able to sell it on once I had finished with it.
I was wrong on both counts.
I had no idea about closed pump systems or open valves. The breast pump I’d bought was an open valve system, meaning that my milk can work its way into the tubing and main system of the pump, where the old milk particles can be circulated back round the whole system via the air from the pump. To read about this in more detail (and I really suggest you do!), check out this link, which explains it all far better than I could. Why you shouldn’t buy, sell, or borrow a second-hand Medela Swing Pump.
Fast forward and I’m pregnant with my second child. I remember Sam’s reaction when I told him that no, actually, we wouldn’t be using or selling the perfectly decent and expensive breast pump that we had sitting in the loft. There was no way I was going to use my old breast pump for a new baby, knowing I couldn’t guarantee it was fully clean and properly sterilised.
At that point, I hadn’t decided whether I was going to bother with a new pump. Arlo hadn’t taken to bottles at all, so all the pumping I did for him was a bit unnecessary in the end. And this time round there was no pressure to sort out regular bottle feeds in preparation for a return to work. I resolved to wait and see how I felt when the newborn haze was over – whether I’d be eager to regain some breastfeeding independence, or whether I would be happier feeding 100% from the breast , taking no effort to express at all.
But if I did decide to get a pump, I already knew the one I wanted. This time round, I wouldn’t be settling for anything less than a closed valve system. I had my eye on the Ardo Calypso breast pump. I had been following Ardo on Twitter for some time, and my hand shot straight up when they tweeted asking if any breastfeeding bloggers would be interested in trialling their pumps.
For the past three months, I have been using the Calypso breast pump, and I also had the hospital grade Carum pump on loan for a few weeks.
Having never used a hospital grade pump, I was really intrigued to try the Carum. Would it make a massive difference to the personal breast pumps I had used? The answer is yes. The Carum is a very powerful pump, designed with mothers needing to establish and maintain supply in mind. It’s a large stand-alone unit, not one you can sit on your lap, and so is definitely designed for use in one setting rather than being a travel pump.
I was very impressed with its effectiveness, but as someone who is very much an occasional pumper, the Carum went way above and beyond my needs. I know little to nothing about expressing to establish or maintain a supply, so I don’t feel qualified to talk about how the Carum might be able to help with that – suffice to say that I suspect the Carum would suit that need very well. But if your needs are anything less than this, then I think you need look no further than Ardo’s personal pump, the Calypso.
Trialling the Carum has actually made me even more impressed the Calypso. Because the Carum is so efficient, I was expecting the Calypso to be disappointing in comparison, but my assumption couldn’t have been more wrong. The Calypso is a really brilliant little machine, more than capable of meeting my needs.
I have been using the Ultimate Double Breast Pump set (also known as the Calypso-to-go), which comes with just about everything you need. This is a real piece of kit. There is one big, travel-friendly bag containing everything. Within that there is a compact coolbag containing six bottles and cooling elements (this would be perfect if you pump at work, or need to travel without your baby and pump whilst you are away). There are also two drawstring bags included, you could use one of these if you just needed to travel light with the pump and a couple of bottles. Basically, any transportation configuration is possible with this set. It’s perfect for occasional expressing, and it’s also great for mothers who need to express frequently.
Ardo’s Calypso is definitely the pump for me, everything about it just works. The size is perfect, it’s super quiet (nothing like an awkwardly loud revving noise to alert everyone in the nearby vicinity to the fact that you are expressing!), and more than enough power for an occasional user like myself – the first time I used the Calypso, I got 10oz of milk in three minutes (5oz each side, yay for double pumping!). With Arlo, 5oz was the most I ever got in one sitting, if I was lucky, and if I spent 20 minutes expressing.
Double pumping literally makes the job twice as fast, although you don’t always have to double pump, you can use the Calypso as a single pump too. The downside to a double pump is that there is twice as much to wash and sterilise, but the convenience of being able to express twice as fast make me very reluctant to ever want to go back to using a single pump again.
(All the bits that need to be sterilised if you are using the double pump kit)
I really love all the little extras that come with the Ultimate Calypso set:
Reusable breast pads – I LOVE reusable breast pads, SO much comfier than scratchy disposables.
The hand pump adaptor – it just screws onto one of the bottles and simple as that, it’s now a hand expressor – PERFECT for when you spend that first full day or night away from your child. The idea of taking your full pump seemed a bit overboard, or didn’t even enter your mind, but you suddenly realise you really need a bit of relief from the surprise engorgement that just crept up on you. We’ve all been there.
The useful leaflets, not just on pumping, but on breastfeeding too. I really could have done with knowing how to unlatch a baby from the boob – I didn’t figure that out for a good while. These sorts of things tell me that Ardo are a company that really care about breastfeeding, and not just whether you want to buy their product or not.
And, of course, Ardo pumpsets feature my biggest must-have: a closed valve system.
From their website: Ardo pumpsets have a closed collection system, impermeable in both directions, which has been verified by an independent testing laboratory. The silicone membrane pot integrated into the PumpSets ensures a 100% barrier between the breast milk and any pathogenic agents. This VacuuSeal technology protects both the breast milk and the breastpump from contamination and guarantees optimal hygiene.
The pumps I have been reviewing have been loaned, not given. Because these pumps have the potential to be re-used by as many mothers and for as many babies as possible, thanks to the closed valve technology. This means that Ardo breast pumps are also available to hire from their website as well as to buy outright.
Ardo breast pumps are WHO code compliant. You may or may not be surprised to hear that not all the big name pumps are.
My memories of expressing for Arlo involve drawn out pumping sessions producing a mere 2oz at a time, straining to hear the TV over the noise of the pump, and then long-winded, fruitless efforts to tempt him to actually drink the stuff from a bottle. That’s the reason I wasn’t all that fussed about bothering to express for Rory. But the Calypso makes pumping quicker, easier, and less noisy. Rory may not be a huge bottle fan either, but at least my breast pump completely takes the hassle out of expressing.
The Ardo Calypso is a really, really good breast pump, I wouldn’t settle for anything less now.
I have been sent the Ardo Carum and Calypso breast pumps on loan for the the purpose of this review.