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Breast pumps are one of those vital tools that busy mothers find that they can’t do without. They are a brilliant way of expressing milk at a more convenient time. But, only if they are effective, comfortable, and make life less stressful.
Some products do this with ease by providing portable solutions with diverse settings and great accessories. Others are too much of a pain to use. That is why a lot of parents turn to either Spectra or Medela breast pumps.
Spectra vs Medela breast pumps.
In this guide, you will get to know more about some popular models in the Spectra and Medela ranges. Both of these breast pump brands are very popular with some interesting products and lots of happy customers. But, new parents may be a little unsure which brand to turn to for the best experience. That is why my extensive comparison and breast pump reviews of Spectra Vs Medela below should be able to help.
Choosing the best breast pump for your needs.
When picking the right model for you, it helps to consider a product from plenty of different angles and to research carefully. The more you know, the fewer negative surprises you will get when going to use this important and delicate device for the first time. It is important to look at the following.
The power behind the suctions
Whether it is an open or closed system
The different modes and settings for expression
The type of battery used and the addition of an adapter
The size and overall portability of the device
Whether there are any extra accessories, such as bottles, carry bags, coolers, or other helpful items.
Additional built-in features, such as timers and nightlights
The look and color of the device
The warranty that you get
This is a lot to think about. That is why I have broken down this Spectra Vs Medela comparison in these key sections. Hopefully, by the end, you should have a better idea of what to go for. This means choosing between these popular brands and seeing which model is the better option right now.
How does the pumping action of the Medela pumps compare to the Spectra?
Let’s start with the most important thing about these pumps, which is the pumping action itself. It is vital that any product has the ability to help you express milk in a comfortable and effective manner. But, some are better than others. Spectra is a popular hospital-grade breast pump among parents. The good news is that there are positive reviews for both of these brands. Still, there are some important differences to keep in mind.
Closed systems are often the system of choice for parents that have used breast pumps before. There are concerns that the open system isn’t as hygienic because they don’t contain the milk so well and they could become more difficult to cleanout.
The good news for any new parents interested in Spectra breast pumps is that both the S1 and S2 have closed systems. It helps to prevent contamination of breast milk. It seems that they are equally user-friendly in that regard. The pump is also pretty powerful for a good rate of expression at 300mmHg.
The Medela Freestyle is very similar in that it has the same close system pump with backflow control. This one isn’t quite as powerful at 250mmHg, but it still does the job very well. Just be aware that if you take a look at the Pump In Style model from Medela instead, this is an open system so may not be as easy to keep clean.
What other features are on offer with a Spectra breast pump Vs Medela?
A strong suction from a closed system isn’t enough on its own to turn a good breast pump into a great one. That is why some companies will use some additional features and settings to make the product more useful or pleasant to use.
The Spectra is certainly the more interesting product when it comes to the additional features and settings that you get for your money. First of all, there are 12 different settings available to help mothers find what is the most comfortable and efficient for their needs.
To make this even more appealing for long-term use, there is a vibration system in place. the idea here is that it is meant to mimic the sensation of feeding better than the suction of the pump. Opinions on this are sure to vary, but it is better to have the option there than to miss out entirely.
Finally, there is the massaging letdown mode/Massage mode. This additional feature should help to make the full experience even better.
By comparison, the Medela Freestyle doesn’t seem to go in for as many of these clever in-built functions. So, this could immediately make it seem like the inferior product on first impressions. However, as you will see further on in this guide, there is a different strength in their arsenal that could win you over.
Which brand provides the best battery? Spectra vs Medela Pump In Style?
Next, there is the importance of the power supply to the breast pump. Ideally, there will be a battery-operated system for great accessibility and portability, but with adaptors, as needed. But, there are some big differences between products, with some using rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries and others using standard AAs.
The latter is never ideal because of the costs and the risk of running out when you really need to pump.
Starting with the Spectra models again, there is a notable difference between two of the leading products in the range. This could be a problem because they sound and look similar. There is a Lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack in the S1, but you will need to use standard batteries in the S2. Another plus side to the S1 is the 3hrs of battery life. You can easily complete several pumping sessions with this battery life. Both of these models appear to have AC adaptors for use with a wall outlet.
It is a very similar story to Medela. The Medela Freestyle has a Lithium-ion rechargeable battery for that more reliable approach and the Pump In Style uses standard. One user warns that this means 8x AA batteries which is a bit excessive and potentially very expensive.
Are there hands-free solutions in either of these top breast pumps?
Another interesting feature in regard to the performance of these breast pumps is the use of a hands-free system. You might say that this is an unnecessary extra because you are happy to just sit comfortably in an armchair and let the pump get to work. But, there will be busy mothers that will be intrigued by this concept.
This is where we start to get into that secret weapon of Medela that I mentioned before. While the designers at Spectra are figuring out ways to make their machines vibrate and work to a more gentle rhythm, those at Medela are looking at the accessories and extra ways to make products more convenient for users.
One of the most interesting of these is the Easy Expression Brassier. This wearable extra means that you can set up the pump nice and comfortably in a hands-free device. While there are sure to be some mothers that feel that this is a bit over the top and not likely to be that comfortable, others could love it.
There is the potential here that this hands-free system will help busy mothers carry on with child-care or other important chores and multi-task in a whole new way. It is quirky, but could be a surprising deal-breaker.
How do these Spectra and Medela breast pumps compare in size?
Staying on the theme of portability, the size of these machines can also make a difference. The larger the device, the harder it is to carry it around or find space for it on a side table. The ability to transport a pump – either just room to room or when traveling – is important for busy parents. Both Medela and Spectra are aware of this, but both have different solutions.
The argument over whether size matters in the world of breast pumps is best summed up with the differences between the more popular Spectra and Medela models.
On one side, we have the Spectra S1. There is praise for how small and portable it is, and there are similar comments for the S2. It weighs just 3.3lbs, so isn’t going to be a strain to pick up and move from room to room. There is also the bonus feature of the thick carry handle at the top.
This is built into the design, rather than something flimsy that folds out and could break over time. The rounded shape also means that it should fit nicely and comfortably in the hand.
On the other side, we have the Medela Freestyle. This one weighs 5.2lbs. This might not sound like a lot on paper, but that is close to an extra two pounds and this is apparent in the dimensions. There are users of the Spectra S1 that like that it is “pocket-sized” – although this does depend on the pocket. Spectra pumps are lighter than Medela pumps.
This option isn’t heavy or cumbersome in any way. But if you have any familiarity with the Spectra models through friends and family, it could seem like a step-down.
Do you get free bottles with a Medela or Spectra breast pump?
Let’s be honest here. There is no such thing as having too many bottles if you want to express and store milk, or if you just like to have plenty of spares while others are in waiting to be washed or in a drying rack. So, it is always nice when companies provide some free with their pumps.
The Spectra S1 comes with 2 bottles to help parents get started. This is fine and nothing to complain about at all because those bottles seem to be of good quality. However, the Medela Freestyle comes with 4 bottles, instantly giving you double the capacity.
Again, these 5 oz bottles are well-made. Also, both companies are keen to point out that the plastic in these bottles is BPA-free. This means that you are getting a much safer product.
Are there any other helpful accessories with these Spectra and Medela breast pumps?
The best companies don’t stop at just adding a few bottles to the purchase. Extra accessories from the same company are a great benefit because you know you are getting something compatible and, most likely, of the same quality. In some cases, these accessories may just be sold separately. In others, they will be in the box to create a more complete package for new parents.
The Spectra S1 doesn’t offer all that much, which is where it may start to be a disappointment to some hopeful parents. The focus with this brand is more on the internal and built-in features than the extra kit. With that said, it does come with a cooler for those bottles of milk.
It is Medela that tries to bring people in with the extra gifts rather than the built-in features. The Medela Freestyle comes with a lot of interesting items. The carry bag is always going to be useful. But, it is the consideration to offer two sizes of breast shields that is the most impressive bonus.
It might not seem like much to all mothers but will make a massive difference to others. Of course, these features are on top of the Easy Expression Brassier. The Pump In Style machine does things differently and comes with a cooler bag instead.
What colors are the Spectra breast pump and Medela breast pump?
In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a particularly important question to ask. The color on the outside of the machine will have absolutely no bearing on the performance. But, I know that design can play a part in the decision-making process – especially if you want a device that fits the theme of the nursery or if you want traditional gender-based colors.
There is actually a big difference here and this could be a deciding factor if you are torn so far. The Spectra models follow more of a traditional approach with gender norms. The S1 is blue and the S2 is pink. Therefore, you might feel an urge to pick the S2 if you know you are having a girl, even with the negative factors mentioned above.
The Medela Freestyle is different because it is yellow. This more gender-neutral and “sunny” color is appreciated by those that don’t want to go for pink or blue – either because they don’t know the gender or they want to steer away from that sort of scheme.
Are there any other benefits to be aware of with a Spectra breast pump vs Medela?
Finally, we have to ask if there are any additional benefits here and there that you might find to be helpful when using one of these pumps. This is where we can highlight some of the little, or not so little details that don’t fit with other categories.
Let’s start with the Spectra models. For a start, you get a 2-year warranty on this machine and motor pump, which should be more than enough. It is also worth noted that this is seen as a quiet machine as parents aren’t annoyed by the noise from the pump or worried about disturbing other people.
The last thing that you want is some loud mechanical sound when you’re trying to be discrete somewhere at work or at a relative’s house. There is also a 30-minute auto-shutdown to save battery life and a nightlight for an additional benefit in the nursery. These features appear to be present in both the S1 and S2 models.
By comparison, the Medela products aren’t quite as beneficial. There is a 1-year warranty here which doesn’t offer quite the same peace of mind for new parents. There are also comments about the Freestyle being loud – or at least louder than expected.
A final benefit seen in both products is the ease of use when it comes to setting up the devices and getting that perfect experience. Both products use manual buttons instead of a touch screen. This can be more reliable, although perhaps harder to keep clean.
There is then an LCD display on the device to indicate the current setting and status. While neither is that high-tech, they don’t need to be to make this more user-friendly.
What about the cost of these Spectra and Medela breast pumps?
I don’t want to go into the aspect of cost here because while there are comments in reviews for both products discussing pricing and value for money, this can vary. There is every chance that you will find one of these models on sale somewhere or in an interesting bundle.
Spectra vs Medela breast pumps: which comes out on top?
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each brand to see how they compare overall. Spectra breast pumps have a lot going for them with the following and are the clear winner in Spectra vs Medela Pump In Style.
A longer warranty on a lot of their products
Lighter weight with the added benefit of the carry handle
A more powerful suction
Lots of great additional features like the nightlight, auto-shutdown, and a range of settings
A much quieter operation.
However, there is no doubt that Medela can provide a lot of value for their customers too. There are advantages here that you don’t see with the powerful and portable Spectra. These include the following.
The carry bag and Easy Expression Bustier with the Freestyle to help parents on the go.
The extra bottles
The choice to add an extra size in breast shields.
The more gender-neutral color scheme.
What this all means is that you have one company leaning towards providing a more convenient all-in-one and portable solution, and the other going for a more extensive package. Spectra can bring a lot together in that smaller system, but you don’t get as many helpful accessories. So, the final choice will depend on your priorities in this area.
Which is the best Spectra breast pump? The S1 or S2?
As I have spoken about both models when discussing the merits of this brand, we should see which is the better choice out of the two. I would stick with the S1 because while the specifications are very similar, there is that issue with the lack of a rechargeable battery.
Design-wise, you are choosing between pink and blue so there is a traditional gender color either way. You may even find that that sways you on your final choice.
Which is the best Medela breast pump? The Freestyle or the Pump In Style?
Again, there are a lot of similarities between these two products in terms of their style and performance. They both have some great features and both seem to be noisier than the Spectra options.
However, there are those two clear differences with the design and battery that will make a big difference. The Freestyle has a rechargeable battery and hygienic closed system pump while the Pump In Style uses regular batteries and an open system.
Is Spectra or Medela easier to clean?
Medela is easier to clean than Spectra. Spectra is a single-use breast pump that has been designed with comfort in mind. It has an ergonomic design, soft-touch silicone surface, and a quick-release valve for fast and easy cleaning.
Medela is a double-use breast pump that also comes with two breast shields so you can express milk from both breasts at the same time. This gives more options for pumping times as well as more convenience when it comes to storage.
Final thoughts on Spectra vs Medela breast pumps
In short, I would probably recommend the Spectra S1 the most because there is so much to this machine that mothers will love. The smaller shape and size make this easy to use but it is still powerful and diverse enough for a great experience. The additional built-in features help too.
You can also seek out some carry bags or other accessories sold separately if you feel that the package is lacking compared to the Medela Freestyle. Still, if you are drawn in by the idea of the helpful hands-free system and extra shields of the Freestyle, they may be worth the small inconveniences of the louder operation and weaker suction.
Take your time to compare Spectra Vs Medela carefully and see which is right for your needs.