Some of the most popular breast pumps brands on the market are Spectra and Medela. These two brands offer the first time, and experienced mother’s high quality, durable and reliable manual, electric and hospital grade breast pumps at competitive prices. In this review guide, I’m going to give you a detailed comparison between Medela pumps and Spectra pumps in each category.
About Spectra and Medela Brands
Spectra Company is comprised of a team of registered lactation consultants, nurses, and mothers. The company provides breast pumps (manual, electric and hospital grade breast pumps). The International Board of Lactation Consultants has certified the company.
On the other hand, Medela has been around for more than six decades. Olle Larsson founded it in Zug, Switzerland in 1961. The US branch is headquartered in McHenry, Illinois. More than one million moms here in the United States rely on Medela pumps. Now that you’ve got a basic overview of each brand, it’s time to compare some of the products offered by these two brands.
Medela Pump in Style vs. Spectra S2
Now that you’ve decided you’ll be an exclusive pumper or want to pump at work, you will need a breast pump. The Medela Pump in Style and Spectra S2 are double electric breast pumps and one of the most popular breast pumps among moms. As a mother of three, I’ve had firsthand experience using these two pumps and here is my honest review.
When my first born child Alice was born, I invested in Medela Pump in Style Advanced because I had already decided I would be on EPing. As a stay at home mother, I would pump anywhere from 4-10 times a day using this pumping schedule. Pump in Style compact size made it easy for me to pump on the go, I could easily pump in my car or even when away from home.
When my second born came through, I had was lucky to acquire Spectra S2 through insurance. Because I’m an exclusive pumper, I wanted something that could get the job done in less than 10 minutes. Both pumps served me well and below is my honest comparison
Spectra S2 versus Medela Pump in Style Advanced Features
The S2 and PISA are the most common breast pumps from the two popular brands. But how do they fair when compared? Which pump offers the best features than the other? Let’s find out below.
a) Pumping methods
Both Medela and Spectra S2 pumps can be used a single or double breast pumps. Single pumping will allow you to breastfeed on one side and pump on the other breast. Double pumping will allow you to pump more milk in less time, typically less than 10 minutes on average. If you need to pump at work, you can get either of these pumps to express milk fast within the 5 minutes break at work.
You can pump hands free using these breast pumps, and to make it easier, you can invest in a pumping bra. (See the one I recommend here). So you can ideally multi-task while pumping.
Verdict: It’s a tie
b) Suction Speeds
The Spectra S2 is considered a hospital grade pump so that you can expect great adjustable suction speeds. Just like I did, you can power pump using Spectra S2 and get increased milk supply with 5-7 days. The letdown mode in Spectra S2 stimulates letdown. The second mode is the expression mode which imitates how a child nurses. You can adjust the speeds from letdown to expression and reverse to find the perfect speed that works for you.
The Medela PISA features adjustable speeds, but the only problem is that you can’t adjust them separately. Its equipped with only one knob to adjust the suction and speed. Increasing the suction also increases the speed.
Verdict Spectra wins
c) Closed System
A closed system doesn’t allow milk backflow to the motor or in the tubing, but an open pumping system does. It’s great for maintaining hygiene and for motor performance.
Different mothers can share closed system pumps. Most of the hospital grade pumps have these feature, and that’s they are available for rent. The Spectra is a closed system qualifying it as a hospital grade pump while Medela is an open system. Open systems require thorough cleaning and sterilization of the tubing frequently to avoid mold growths and other bacteria.
Verdict Spectra wins
d) Noise Level
If you’re going to pump at work or at night when the baby is sleeping, investing in a quiet pump for discreet pumping is a must.
The Spectra USA is a quiet pump you can use to pump at work or in the same room where your baby sleeps. You can also pump when the lights are off because the motor unit is equipped with a nightlight that brightly displays all the pump buttons and controls.
Compared to the Spectra pump, the Medela PISA is a bit louder but not as loud as other pumps such as Ameda Purely Yours.
Some breast pumps will suck the hell out of your breasts leading to painful sore nipples. So you have to be extremely careful when choosing a breast pump. In my few years I used this pump, I can assure you that I could hardly notice the difference. All the pumps are gentle on the nipples and will give you the “breastfeeding” feeling when pumping.
Sometimes sore nipples can be as a result of poor flanges placements. Just like a breastfeeding mother would get sore nipples due to poor latching, you can also get sore nipples if you don’t use the pump well.
Will you breast pump help you pump on the go? Let’s find out. Medela PISA comes with a battery pack, and so you can carry it anywhere and pump on the go. You can pump anywhere anytime without requiring electricity. Unfortunately, the Spectra S2 doesn’t have a battery pack, but luckily you can purchase a car adapter and pump when in the car. On the other hand, S2 is lighter than PISA and its also affordable than any other hospital grade breast pump. So if you’ll need to pump in areas without electricity, like out when camping, Medela PISA is the way to go.
In terms of accessories, Medela offers the best and high-quality accessories than Spectra.
Medela PISA bottles and nipples are one of the best you can get. You can sterilize them in boiling water severally without losing any threading on the bottle. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with S2 bottles. The threading is so badly done such that a single move mid pumping will mess everything. Additionally, if you sterilize the water bottles in boiling water, they tend to lose their strength and shape as well. What’s more disturbing is that the flange/breast shield that comes with Spectra S2 are also not so good compared to Medela Flanges.
Luckily you can purchase Spectra S2 to Medela PISA adapters. This way, you’ll be able to use Medela breast shields with your Spectra USA S2.
Spectra S1 Vs. Medela Freestyle
The second in my spectra vs. Medela comparison is Spectra S1 vs. Medela Freestyle. These two pumps have great reputations in both new and experienced mothers. Deciding on which breast pump is the best can be a daunting task because they’re all high quality and durable pumps. But if you’re struggling on which is the best, here’s my in-depth Spectra S1 and Medela Freestyle comparison.
Spectra S1 Vs. Medela Freestyle Comparison
Spectra Baby USA S1 electric breast pump
The spectra USA S1 breast pump is designed to give you the efficiency you’d get with a hospital grade breast pump. Additionally, it’s a closed system- this means that there is a barrier between the pump motor and the breast milk.
The suction strength offered by the S1 is incredibly good. You’ll get a 250mmHg to a maximum of 300mmHg suction strength. Compared to Medela Freestyle, the Spectra S1 is super quiet allowing you discreet pumping sessions. The 12 different suction levels make this pump perfect for any new mom out there. You can adjust to the suction level that works perfect for you.
You don’t have to worry in case you doze off when pumping thanks to the auto shutdown feature. Your pump will auto shut after 30 minutes. Compared to Freestyle, the S1 is relatively cheaper.
Medela Freestyle Breast Pump
Unlike the Spectra S1 which only comes with one sized flange, Freestyle comes with two breast shields of different sizes. That’s an added advantage for moms who don’t use standard flanges.
The pump comes with two bags, one cooler bag and the other to carry your pony. It comes with four bottles, unlike the S1 which comes with only two bottles. Extra bottles mean that you have more storage option.
Just like its name suggests, this pump has a hands free option that will allow you to multi-task. You can buy the Easy Expression bustier to make your pumping session even more hassle-free.
Which Breast Pump is Right for you?
The four breast pumps in this write up are pretty solid options for moms who pump daily. Not only will they help mothers express milk faster but also increase milk supply.
But taking into consideration the differences, here is what I can recommend:
- The Spectra S1 is a solid choice for working mothers because it’s so quiet. If you’re on a budget and still want a pump that delivers, the S1 is a cheaper option.
- The Medela Freestyle is a pump for mothers who won’t mind spending extra dollars to buy additional accessories required to complete the pump.