First things first, congratulations for choosing to breastfeed your baby – the NHS and AAP both agree that breastfeeding is the safest way to feed your little one, and there’s plenty of evidence to show that breastfeeding can actually boost your baby’s immune system: Protecting them from allergies, infections and even asthma.
However, I know it’s probably the very hands on, and incredibly arduous breastfeeding process that make you here right now; and you must have compared a range of high-quality breast pump models, and finally arrive here, trying to pick between the Spectra S2 and the Medela Pump In Style.
To help you out, we’ve reviewed both pumps here: Highlighting the pros and cons of each model so that you have all the information you need to make an informed choice.
To find out more, keep reading!
In the Post
Medela Pump In Style Advanced (PISA)
Things We Liked
The Medela Pump In Style Advanced is a fantastic breast pump that’s obviously been designed with convenience in mind.
The pump itself is tiny, and weighs in at around 3lbs. Better still, it comes with a choice of two pump bags: an “on the go” tote bag, and a “metro” style satchel.
Far from being a simple deal-sweetener, these bags are actually built to integrate the PISA; boasting side openings and velcro fastenings that allow you to fix the pump in place, and use it without digging through the rest of your travel essentials.
They also provide you with plenty of extra space, so you may well find yourself throwing out your old travel bag in favor of these elegant and stylish alternatives.
In terms of the Pump In Style’s performance, we also loved the fact that both created a firm seal that didn’t nip or tug at the nipples. It’s comfortable to use and we never had any worries about spills or slips, which is always a big plus.
We were also impressed with Medela’s 2-phase expression technology.
This unique feature is meant to take all of the fuss and hassle out of milk expression by mimicking the rhythm of a natural feed.
This means the pump begins with light, but frequent pulls that are meant to encourage milk expression, before the motor kicks in properly and starts making a single continues pull to extract as much breast milk as it possibly can.
As most breastfeeding parents will know, using a breastpump used to be a bit of an art, but this two-phase technology does make the whole process a lot easier. It’s also worth noting that the motor in the PISA is quite powerful.
During the second phase of operation, we noticed that it created a good vacuum, and we never ran into any problems with the supply stalling or dropping off. The level of suction can be adjusted too, which gives you some freedom to experiment.
Overall, we have to admit that the Pump In Style worked a little better than we expected, and it’s also one of the most convenient breast pumps we’ve ever tried.
Things We Didn’t Like
Despite the fact that the Pump In Style performed well, there were a few things we didn’t like.
Firstly, the motor is quite loud – producing a continuous buzz that will become grating after a while.
Secondly, the level of suction isn’t fully adjustable. Instead, Medela have provided a dial with several preset levels of suction power.
This is fine, as long as you find one of these pre-set suction levels comfortable, but you might be disappointed if you wanted something that was more customizable.
Several mothers have complained that they find the PISA too rigid and inflexible and it’s probably worth thinking about whether you’d value a more adjustable breast pump before you purchase the Medela Pump In Style.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the PISA has been built for small and frequent feeds – while you’re on the go, or between naps.
To make it easy to use and assemble, Medela have chosen to link the suction cups and bottles using removable plastic tubing, and while we did find our PISA easy to use, we did also find that this design let some steam and milk out of the system.
The Spectra S2 is one of the most advanced breast pumps we’ve ever tested. It’s packed with useful features and it’s also incredibly user-friendly.
To give you a proper idea of its pros and cons, we’ve talked you through every aspect of using the device, right from the moment we first received it.
Things We Liked
Straight out of the box, one of the first things we noticed was the Spectra S2’s ergonomic shape and attractive appearance. It looks like a sophisticated gadget and it’s also surprisingly feminine which is a pro in our eyes, given how plain and utilitarian most breast pumps tend to be.
We were also pleased to see that the Spectra S2 was small and light. Admittedly, it is a tiny bit larger than the Medela PISA’s pump unit, but it also weighs less, so it’s easier to transport.
This might seem like a small concern, but it is worth considering the time you’ll spend lugging your pump from place to place. If you intend to travel a lot, those 1-2lbs of reduced weight will make things a tiny bit easier for you.
The differences weren’t just aesthetic either: Under the hood, the Spectra S2 boasts a fully customizable, digital motor.
Unlike the Medela’s dials, the Spectra’s control unit enables you to specify the exact frequency and strength of the machines suction – allowing for the sort of granular fine tuning that’ll suit any parent.
You can save your presets too, so if you spend some time working out what you like, the S2 will be ready to spring into action whenever you need it.
The motor is also slightly stronger, which makes the S2 a superior choice for mothers who are struggling to produce enough milk.
In fact, the Spectra S2 has a (well-deserved) reputation for encouraging milk flow, and it’s a favorite of mothers who are suffering from an insufficient milk supply.
Finally, we also loved that the Spectra S2 is a closed system, which means that it has solid filters between the pump tubing and the milk collection kit.
This makes it much easier to prevent steam from escaping, and it also makes it easier to keep the pump clean.
Oh, and the Spectra also boasts a couple of interesting little extras – like a night light that’ll allow you to pump without waking your little one, and an auto-off in case you fall asleep while it’s in use.
Things We Didn’t Like
There were a few things we didn’t like about the Spectra S2 though. Firstly, it’s worth noting that it requires a power socket to work.
The older Spectra S1 was battery powered, but Spectra have decided to do away with this functionality because their improved motors drained normal batteries too fast; leaving us with a system that has to be plugged in to work.
Now, this isn’t a huge issue for those of us with plenty of spare sockets, and we do think the high-quality motor makes up for it.
That said, you should consider the way in which you want to use the S2 before you buy.
If you’re intending to take it to hospital or on holiday, you’ll need to make sure there’ll be ample socket space available or you might find yourself without a working machine.
Secondly, it’s worth noting that the Spectra S2 has a habit of vibrating when it’s in use.
Again, this isn’t a huge problem, but you will need to find a safe place to rest it while you pump, otherwise you run the risk of watching it vibrate its way straight onto the floor!
The Spectra S2 does make a fair bit of noise too. It’s definitely quieter than the Medela but we found that resting it on any uneven surface produced a buzzing sound that will keep restless babies awake.
That said, the Spectra is an exemplary system that offers an incredibly customizable pumping experience.
Once you’re used to scrubbing out the filters – and you’ve found your favorite presets there really isn’t a better pump on the market. The Spectra’s also a very gentle pump, particularly considering the power of its motor, and we’d be hard pressed to recommend anything better.
If you’re still struggling to find the perfect pump, it might be worth looking into Aeroflow. Aeroflow specialize breast pumps, and they offer a service that matches breastfeeding mothers with a pump that’ll suit their needs. This service is insurance-only, but if you have coverage it can be a very useful way to explore your options and find a good pump.
Overall, we do think that the Spectra S2 is a better pump. It’s digital interface, high-quality motor and closed-system design make it more user-friendly, and we do think it was slightly more efficient too.
That said, the Medela is still a fine pump, with special features that make it perfect for the travelling mother.
If you want the very best pump that money can buy, pick the S2, but if you think you’ll be frustrated by the lack of battery pack and the absence of an integrated carry case, the Medela is probably a better fit.
It’s also worth spending some time thinking about the special features too: If you think the nightlight and auto-off functionality would come in useful you should definitely opt for the Spectra S2, but if you’re scratching your head over whether you’d actually use them, it might be worth sitting down to work out which pump will actually meet your needs.