One decision you need to make as a mom is to decide what to feed your baby. Would you buy formulas, breastfeed, or both? If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you might want to find out ways to make it easier.
As a stay-at-home mom, you may not think so much of breast pumps since you’d be home almost always, unlike working moms.
However, there are several situations that can prompt the need for one.
This device can come in handy if there is a need for you to embark on a journey or you just want to maintain your breastmilk supply while you are dealing with illness or treatment that is not safe for breastfeeding.
Perhaps your baby can’t or won’t nurse, you just want to feed your baby expressed milk, or you’re dealing with engorgement or low supply.
I’ve heard many moms’ opinions about Spectra vs Medela breast pumps and they share all they know in order to help other moms make an informed decision.
There are a variety of excellent pump options currently available on the market (not just Spectra or Medela) to assist your journey, whether you intend on pumping exclusively or to supplement your nursing routine.
You can find single, double, manual pumps, and electric pumps on the market. An electric variant is more time-efficient than a single pump or a manual one.
It is rhythmic, so you can have controlled suction to help keep the milk flowing, and it allows you to multitask, thanks to its hands-free option, which makes the most sense for most moms.
With the variety of breast pumps available, you’d want to find the best pump that suits your needs and lifestyle, since the best pump for one person may not be ideal for the next.
What’s great is that the cost of getting one for nursing moms are now covered by most health insurance plans.
You can inquire from your health insurance company about your specific benefits and what you have to do to claim your free breast pump.
There are several highly-rated breast pumps to choose from when you start pumping, but let’s put the spotlight on two of the most popular brands, Medela or Spectra, and see what makes them so special.
1. Medela Pump In Style
One of the most popular and trusted breast pump manufacturers, Medela incorporates its unique technology through the evolution of its several models.
This brand is widely used by moms today.
Its key features include:
- A double pump kit plus a PersonalFit breast shield
- Operatable on AA batteries or plugged in
- A 2-phase expression technology plus one-touch let-down button
- Adjustable speed and vacuum knob
- It comes with a removable freezer pack and cooler bag,
- It includes breast shields, membrane, valves, and tubing
- All parts that come in contact with breast milk are BPA-free
Note: BPA means Bisphenol A – A compound that has been found to adversely affect the prostate glands and brains of fetuses and infants
Spectra is fast gaining steam among the stiff competition in the US market though it hasn’t been around for so long.
Its most popular pumps are the S1 and S2 which are known as the “Cadillac” of breast pumps.
They are known in the pump market as hospital grade pumps with affordable price tags though the S1 is more expensive.
One may want to know if the two are the same or if they work the same way and why the S1 is more expensive.
There’s only one clear difference between the two.
Apart from the color, the Spectra S1 features a built-in rechargeable battery, while the AC-Adapter serves as a power option for the S2.
When deciding between spectra vs medela, your choice would depend on what you need it for.
The S1 is best for moms who need to pump frequently but cannot access a power source, moms who need to make trips or pump on the go, moms who work or moms who want to be able to move around freely without any cord.
The Spectra S2 is considerable for moms who don’t have a problem with pumping while attached to a power source, moms who have the need to pump a lot and moms who want to save some money.
The battery option of the S1 makes it a better option since it can save you when you may need to pump without access to power unless you are more interested in saving money than in portability, and you have no need to pump on the go.
The key features of the Spectra pump include:
- A great pump performance plus a maximum suction capacity of 280 mmHg
- Hospital-grade strength motor
- A closed system pump
- BPA free parts
- 2 level built-in light
- Lightweight and super quiet
It can be used as double or single breast pump.
Its digital controls allow you to set the rhythm and speed that is most comfortable and effective for your body and also has provision to set a program and save your preferred settings.
Also, you can adjust the suction, whether in expression mood or let-down mood.
Medela Vs Spectra Breast Pumps
For this review, I chose the Spectra S1 over the Spectra S2 because the S2 can only be used while plugged into a power source, while the S1 has the battery and can be used on the go.
The S1 is a better comparison to the Medela Pump In Style Advanced.
Spectra S1 vs Medela Pump In Style Advanced and their common features:
- Both pumps are double electric and can also function as single pumps. If you’d be pumping and breastfeeding at once, this feature would be a great advantage. It’s just as useful if you only need to express milk from one breast. The double pump option is less time-consuming, and you’ll be done in less time than you’d need while using a single pump. Also, if you’re nursing twins, a double pump will come in real handy.
- They are both portable and good for moms on the go because of their battery power options.
- Both pumps have almost the same retail price.
- Both Medela and Spectra pumps are hands-free, and that’s great for you if you want to be able to do other stuff while you pump. If you get a pumping bra, this hands-free feature is going to be a huge win for you.
- Both provide options to make your pumping session more personalized, such as the option to control suction and speed.
Just as there are similarities, there are also several differences worth mentioning between these two great pump options.
One big difference between the Spectra S1 and the Medela Pump In Style Advanced (PISA) is that the PISA is an open system pump while the S1 is a closed system pump.
This means that the S1 has a way to keep milk from entering the motor and the tubes of the pump, whereas the PISA doesn’t have a barrier.
The main difference lies in how the pumps are cleaned, and that’s important.
A closed system pump has provisions to prevent the backflow of milk into the pump’s motor or tubing.
It ensures great hygiene and does not affect motor performance. It doesn’t require much cleaning of the tubes either.
An open system pump, on the other hand, allows the backflow of milk.
To manage open system pumps, Moms let it run for a while on its own after pumping.
That way, excess milk in the system runs off cleanly without having any leftover in the pump motor.
A closed system pump is more sanitary, while an open system pump will require you to constantly sterilize the tubes.
While both pumps have the option of portability and can run on battery power, the S1 comes with a built-in rechargeable battery while the PISA has a battery pack that takes AA batteries.
Medela Pump In Style Advanced is an open system pump.
The backflow of milk in the PISA tubing can cause moisture build-up that would lead to molds growing in the tubing.
A tool that provides nourishment for the baby should never have such, so Spectra S1 beats the Medela PISA with this.
One way to manage this is to unplug the tube from the connector and allow the pump to run cleanly for a while.
The issue here is that no one wants extra chores, even for the least amount of time.
In this category, the S1 boasts of being the more powerful pump, and it does not disappoint. It’s listed as hospital-grade by the brand, and the label comes with some impressive pump power.
If you are low on milk supply, power pumping with Spectra will surely boost your milk supply to a certain extent.
It starts with a massage that invigorates your letdown reflexes so as to get the milk flow, just like it would be stimulated when you nurse your baby naturally.
It has a maximum suction strength of 280mmHg while the PISA maxes out at 250mmHg.
Suction and pump control
Both pumps allow you to control the pump speed and suction.
However, the PISA uses dials that you turn to control each while the S1 features digital controls, which also includes a back-light so you can see it in darker settings, as well as a very helpful timer.
If you need to pump at night with the light turned off, the nightlight feature of Spectra will let you see the control buttons and the pump display in case you need to make adjustments.
Since Spectra is a hospital grade pump, it means that its suction is great. The suction speed is weak and short, after which it goes into expression mode.
Here, the suction is stronger and slower, mimicking how your baby nurses.
With the adjustable speed feature, you can switch from the massage mode to expression mode until you get to a comfortable speed that suits your flow.
Medela PISA has limited adjustment when compared to the Spectra. It has an adjustable vacuum and speed, but you can’t control the speed separately.
It’s just one knob to increase the suction and speed.
The Medela PISA comes with a lot more accessories out of the box than the Spectra S1.
The PISA includes all of the pump parts you need to get started, a cooler with an ice pack, plus a tote bag.
It also comes with some samples of milk storage bags and a storage guidelines magnet in most sets.
The S1 does not include a cooler, ice pack, or tote bag. It comes with the pump parts only. However, this may or may not matter so much to some.
Neither the S1 nor PISA are particularly noiseless, but out of the two, PISA is really noisy – so noisy that you may even think you’re hearing random talking, hallucinating over the sound!
Most moms like to pump when the baby is sleeping, and this assists with your milk stash, especially if you have to go out the next day.
A noisy pump can disturb your baby’s sleep or even wake up your partner. Spectra is a lot quieter when compared to the PISA.
You can pump while your baby sleeps in the same room quite comfortably.
Availability of parts
Spectra S1 parts are not readily available in stores.
You might have to look online to get them, and are available without issues on Amazon.
One issue moms complain about with Medela PISA is that the suction results in sore nipples and painful pumping.
You need to be careful when placing your nipples in the flange, so you don’t end up with all pain and no milk.
Spectra is gentle, comfortable, and more efficient at pumping, giving you that fluttering feeling like when you feed your baby directly.
Now onto the different pros and cons of Spectra vs Medela breast pumps:
Medela PISA Pros
- Great quality flanges, shields, and bottles
- Parts are available
- Battery adapter makes it good for trips
- Flanges and shields are not difficult to clean.
- It comes with a number of out-of-the-box accessories, including a cooler with an ice pack, tote bag, and 4 bottles.
Medela PISA Cons
- Open system pump
- Suction is less than hospital-grade pumps
- Fewer options for pumping speed
Spectra S1 Pros
- Closed system
- Not as noisy as others
- Varying speed and suction on massage mode and expression mode
- Hospital-grade suction
- Can use parts of Medela with adapters
Spectra S1 Cons
- Inferior quality bottles
- Flange and breast shield are one single unit, making cleaning more difficult.
- Has not been in the US market for so long.
- Parts are not easy to find in stores.
It may be difficult to say that one pump is better than the other entirely, though the Spectra S1 seems to be an overall better choice.
Though both have the ability to make breastfeeding easier for you, the combination of the pump and power strength, digital controls, less noise, and comfort that goes with it, gives the Spectra S1 an advantage over the Medela PISA.
That said, each mom has her unique circumstances and preferences.
You’ll be able to decide the best pump option for you by considering the points in this comparison, while also taking into account your personal preferences.
Apart from these two pumps, other available options include:
1. BabyBuddha Portable and Compact Breast Pump
The BabyBuddha breast pump offers everything you need to pump discreetly and easily.
The hands-free design allows you to do other things while you pump and the device is very small and practical.
Moms are really happy with its quality, especially because it seems to pump milk more quickly.
2. Medela Symphony Breast Pump
The Medela Symphony breast pump is a great hospital-grade pump with Medela’s 2-Phase
Expression technology, so you get so much breastmilk out with the 50 to 250mmHg suction. It has a letdown mode that allows you to collect more milk by getting more stimulation.
It has a single and double pump feature, is very easy to use, and is extremely quiet.
Unlike other Medela pumps, this one is a closed system pump and can be used by more than one person.
However, this one’s expensive because it is more of a commercial-grade variant. It is also great for flat or inverted nipples.
3. Philips AVENT Comfort Electric Breast Pump
This pump is purely designed for comfort. Every feature from the silicone breast shield to the tilted design help moms to be more comfortable.
It has three different settings: low, medium, and high. It also features a stimulation or letdown mode.
If you have a problem with sore nipples from pumping, then you are going to love this one. It is also a closed system pump, which is more hygienic.
It’s lightweight and does not have a display screen of any kind. It has only five buttons for turning on and adjusting suction, and it’s really loud.
The best option, which is the double electric breast pump, doesn’t have a battery option, so you will need a power source to use it.
4. Haakaa Manual Breast Pump
If you are looking for something less expensive, and you don’t need to pump while doing something else or just want something to pump out some extra breastmilk, then you should consider this pump.
It is light, soft, flexible, and inexpensive. It is an empty high-quality bottle of food-grade silicone with a flanged top, which creates a natural suction with its design.
This can help to relieve engorgement or collect letdown as you feed or pump from the other breast.
If you just need to pump for an occasionally missed feeding or engorgement, this manual pump will be helpful.
5. Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump
It’s always good to have a manual pump available, whether you’re pumping a lot or just a little.
This manual breast pump by Lansinoh it well suited to serve this purpose. Its lever works to create suction that draws out breast milk.
This pump can get up to 250 mmHg of suction with each pump, which is as much as the electric variants.
The handle makes it possible for you to do a full pumping session if you need to without getting tired fast.
The pump has two modes: stimulation and expression mode.
There are also two breast shield sizes available, the regular 25mm and large 30mm, to help get a comfortable and close fit. All parts of this pump are dishwasher safe.
Storing Your Liquid Gold
Here’s how to keep your expressed breastmilk.
Firstly, you need to wash your hands before touching breastmilk, then get a sterile zip-seal milk storage bag or a glass or plastic bottle with a screw-on lid to store your breastmilk.
Chill the milk after pumping. You can keep it in a cooler with ice packs or in a refrigerator.
The milk can also be frozen if you won’t need it soon. Since you cannot refreeze breastmilk once its thawed, store milk in quantities you need for a normal feeding session.
In conclusion, technology has made it possible for even the best breast pumps to keep getting better.
It has made it such that moms can freely make their choice according to their unique preferences.
Depending on what you want, Spectra or Medela are excellent options to fit your pumping needs.
If you want to make sure you’re pumping enough breast milk for your little one when you’re on the move, you’re going to need a breast pump bag. Check out our guide for Best Breast Pump Bag in 2020: The Best Guide For Choosing Your Perfect Fit.
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