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Is the $1,000 Breast Pump Really Worth It?

Photograph by GettyImages

When I first heard about the Naya Smart Breast Pump, I was intrigued and annoyed: Intrigued because its patented hospital-grade HydroComfort flange promised to gently massage the milk out of my breast by using warm water; annoyed because it cost $1,000.

My personal hatred for pumping is no secret, but I have to admit I was intrigued. Would it really be soothing instead of jarring? Would it purr like a newborn kitten instead of wheezing like an asthmatic vacuum? Would it really empty the breast better than a regular pump, which was first patented 164 years ago?

Fast-forward a few months and Naya announced its subscription program: $299 for three months (then $99 per month until it’s returned) is a lot more palatable than $999 upfront—especially for a mom who doesn’t pump that often—so I decided to give it a go.

A few days later, a gorgeous box arrived at my doorstep. Upon unpacking it, I already loved it so much more than my ugly insurance pump, although I was bummed to discover it didn't come with the chic carrying case it had been pictured with.

Photograph by Naya Health

The setup process was cumbersome. The flange takes about 10 minutes to fill with warm water and involves massaging the water down into the hose while holding the flange overhead.

I have to admit, however, that the pumping experience was nothing short of wonderful. Rather than my poor, battered nipples being sucked into my old pump's flange (I have ordered special-sized flanges and STILL deal with this problem), the Naya flange gently hugged them and massaged them with warm water. I'm not kidding when I say it was like a spa for my nipples.

I didn’t achieve letdown the first time, but once I did, I actually saw a slight increase in production on my underperforming right breast, which always got pinched with my old breast pump. It also did a slightly better job emptying the breast, although there was still enough milk left behind that it warranted a quickie manual expression.

They say you only need to replace the water every two weeks, but there’s a big design oversight there: The warm water becomes cold over time, and if you don’t replace the water or suspend the whole contraption in a warm bucket of water, you're going to be pumping with cold water. I tried it. My nipples didn't enjoy it and neither did I.

The big question: Is the $1,000 breast pump really worth it?

I absolutely loved that it can be used without a power cord, so no more sitting in awkward corners or on the floor to pump. That being said, the design is also a little unstable—the bottles can fall off the pucks and the flange tends to tip over while cleaning it—so if you need to pump and rinse it in a public place, you’d want to bring something to rest it on.

Some other flaws to note: The machine isn’t really that quiet (but definitely sounds better than my old pump) and the parts are clumsy to tote around (one reviewer commented that even with the $89 bag there wasn’t enough space to carry extra accessories). That, and if you don’t close it just right, it can—and will—shoot water all over you.

Another feature that left me cold but is sure to be a thrill for other moms was the app, which keeps track of how much you pump, as well as allowing you to track how much you freeze and how much Baby eats. I probably would've enjoyed that more as a neurotic first-time mom, but as a second-time mom, it didn’t spark my interest.

The big question: Is the $1,000 breast pump really worth it? I hate to admit it, but, yes, it is. My old breast pump was fine, but the Naya Smart Pump was such a nice indulgence during those hard months where even taking a shower seems like an unreasonably luxurious activity.

The company does provide information on requesting it through insurance, but my HMO laughed their heads off and sent me the lamest, ugliest pump they could find instead. You can use your FSA and request a partial reimbursement, and the good women at Naya provide that information on their website.

When you break it down, the rental costs $3.30 per day. While $999 is a lot of money, it is a closed system pump, so you can resell it when you finish your breastfeeding journey so someone else can enjoy the luxury of the Smart Pump.

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