Spectra Breast Pump vs Medela 2021: Which is the Best Breast Pump for Mothers • Professional Momma

Spectra Breast Pump vs Medela 2021: Which is the Best Breast Pump for Mothers

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Which breast pump is better Medela or Spectra

The act of becoming a mother is one of the greatest works of creation. However, in today’s society doing what is best for your child while balancing the need to work can be a challenge, especially for mothers who choose to breastfeed. Having the right equipment is half the battle.

If you’re a first-time mom preparing to pump and work, you may not be sure what the right equipment is. You’ve probably heard moms throw around various names of breast pumps but it sounded like a foreign language to you.

All you really want to know is which breast pump is going to make pumping at work as easy as possible. 

Most insurance companies will provide working moms with one of the two most popular brands,  Spectra breast pump or a Medela breast pump. So, today we will be comparing the Spectra breast pump vs Medela breast pump, so you can make an informed decision when picking the best breast pump for you!


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spectra breast pump vs medela

This post contains affiliate links, please read our disclosure for more information. 


Do I Really Need a Breast Pump 

Mothers who work both in and outside the home know how vital a breast pump is in juggling their multiple responsibilities. However, you don’t want just any breast pump. You want a breast pump that’s going to be reliable and help you in reaching your breastfeeding goals.

If you’re a work-at-home mom who plans on always having your baby nearby, you may be on the fence about getting a breast pump. You should still take advantage of your free insurance issued breast pump.


Sometimes, circumstances arise when you just need a bottle of breastmilk for someone else to feed your child. On top of that, breast pumps can be an excellent way to keep up milk production when you are ill or have to be away from your baby unexpectedly. They can also help to relieve engorgement and keep your milk supply higher during times when your baby might not be nursing as often, such as when they aren’t feeling well. 

Now that you’ve seen the importance of having a breast pump, it’s time to check out the options to consider when choosing the best breast pump for you.


What to Look for in a Breast Pump

Believe it or not, there is a lot to consider when looking for a breast bump. To avoid overwhelming you during your search, let’s go over the main things to take into consideration and how they may impact your pumping journey. 

Manual, Single, or Double

The most basic types of breast pumps are manual, single, and double.

A manual pump is exactly what it sounds like, a pump that you manually have to pump. It can be great to have on hand in an emergency, but they are not as efficient as electric pumps. Also, they can cause hand fatigue quickly. Luckily neither the Spectra pump nor the Medela pump are manual breast pumps. 

A single pump is a type of electric breast pump that only allows you to pump milk from one breast at a time. It’s more efficient than the manual pump for sure, but you’re not going to want to spend time pumping two breasts independently. It’s not the best use of your time. 

A double pump is the most efficient because you can cut the pumping time in half.  With this pump, you are able to pump milk from both breasts at the same time. It is a necessity if you are a working mom or have more than one child you have to tend to. 

Most double electric breast pump models allow you to also use them as a single pump too. This comes in handy as you’re able to nurse on one side while pumping on the other.  I used this feature a lot to make sure I always had enough breast milk for daycare. 

The Spectra breast pump and the Medela breast pump are both considered double electric breast pumps. 


Open vs Closed System Breast Pump

The issue of whether to buy a closed system pump or open system pump is important when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. A closed system has a backflow protector that does not allow milk to flow back into the tubing or pump motor. This is the most hygienic option. However, there is still some maintenance that you must do with a closed system pump.

The spectra breast pump is a closed system. 

Open systems do allow the backflow of milk into the pump and tubing. With open systems, you must allow the pump to run on its own until any milk in the system has been flushed out. With this type of system, you must sterilize and clean the tubing and pump motor frequently to prevent mold and bacteria from building up.

The medela system is an open system. 

Being an open system or closed system doesn’t affect the functionality or efficiency of a breast pump, just what needs to be cleaned and what doesn’t. 


Comfort and Convenience

Until you try to manage pumping on-the-go, comfort and convenience might not seem as important. However, they can make a big difference in your experience. Ease of cleaning, size, noise, and how easy they are to carry are all factors that can have a big effect on your experience as a new mother.

Pump strength and speed are important too. In general, the breast pumps that you use in the hospital are stronger than those available as home models. Most hospital grade models are nearly double the suction strength of those used at home. Some home models do have adjustable suction, which can be important when you are engorged and might want to start out more gently.

Portability and weight are also important if you will be carrying it along with you. Noise level is another consideration. Many mothers will pump at night when the baby is asleep. You do not want a unit that will wake up your little one because as a new mother, sleep is your most important resource.

Some also include a night light and pumping timer, battery adapter, and soft case for storage. Many breast pumps also come with an ice pack and cooling bag for milk storage.

One accessory that you might want to purchase regardless of the pump you use is this, so that you can pump hands-free. Now, let’s get into the comparison of the Spectra breast pump vs Medela.


Spectra Breast Pumps

The first thing to consider is that all Spectra breast pump models are closed system pumps, which minimizes the amount of cleaning you’ll have to do as busy new mom.

The first model was the Spectra S1. This model is considered to be a hospital-grade pump, meaning it has stronger suction than most pumps. It also has a rechargeable battery, which means you can pump without worrying about being near an electrical outlet. This may not seem like a big deal right now but may mean more to you if you plan to pump at work or want the convenience of pumping wherever you are, like pumping in the car

Spectra S2 is also a hospital-grade pump, but it does not have a rechargeable battery and uses an AC adapter.

The Spectra S2 has technology that mimics the natural motion of the baby. With the spectra breast pump, the sequence starts with a massage that stimulates the letdown reflex to get the milk flows going, just like when the baby latches on. Then it starts with a gentle, slow shallow suction. This is followed by an expression mode that is slower and stronger, that mimics the baby nursing. Many mothers consider this to be more comfortable than Medela’s suction design.

However, there are some areas where it seems to be lacking in design. One of the main complaints is that the threads on the bottles can come off during pumping. At times, they can pop off if you move the unit while pumping. But there is hack to use medela pump parts and medela bottles with the spectra pump, eliminating this problem. 

Also, Spectra uses a flange and breast shield that are all one unit, which means that if you need to change sizes, you must purchase the entire unit. The unit does not need to be cleaned as often, but it is more complicated when it is time for maintenance.


Spectra Breast Pump Pros and Cons

Spectra Pros

  • Can be used as a single or double pump
  • BPA-free parts
  • Built-in night light
  • Can save preferred suction and speed settings
  • Hospital-grade unit
  • Comfortable, realistic suction action

Spectra Cons

  • Problems with bottle popping off while pumping
  • Shields and flanges more difficult to clean
  • No battery option on Spectra S2


Medela Breast Pumps

Medela is the first brand that many people think of when they think of breast pumps. This company has many decades of experience, and their pumps are efficient and well designed. They do not have as many amenities and features as Spectra, but they are reliable and durable. They also have a few advantages over Spectra in many areas.

The Medela Pump in Style is the most popular model. The regular Medela Pump in Style uses an open system pump that must be cleaned more regularly. You can adjust the suction speed and pressure of the pump, but you cannot adjust them independently. It has a dial adjustment, and as you raise the suction, the speed also increases.

Some mothers report soreness with the Medela due to irritation from the suction motion of the pump. However, sometimes this can be remedied with changes in positioning. In addition, Medela comes with different flange sizes so that you can find the most comfortable fit.

Medela comes with a few extras like an optional tote bag and backpack, which makes it easy to take along. They can also be used in many countries outside the United States, which is not an option with Spectra. The bottles and flanges that come with Medela are of excellent quality and durability. The threads on the bottles are deep and long enough to attach the bottles securely to the unit.

But wait, there’s more.

For 2021 Medela has an improved Medela Pump in Style that can give any spectra pump a run for its money. 

The new Medela Pump in Style with maxflow technology is a closed system pump with a rechargeable battery pack, and it is also considered to be a hospital grade pump.  Game-changer for sure. This gives it three of the major advantages of the spectra pump along with the same reliability of medela pump. 


Medela Breast Pump Pros and Cons

Medela Pros

  • Can be used as a single or double pump
  • Battery adapter
  • Dual voltage can be used outside the United States
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Replacement pump parts are easy to find
  • High-quality bottles and flanges
  • Breast shields and flanges can be purchased separately
  • Shields and Flanges are easy to clean
  • Can use other bottles, including glass bottles

Medela Cons

  • Cannot adjust speed and suction separately
  • Noisier than Spectra
  • Heavier than Spectra pumps


Spectra breast pump vs Medela

As you can see, both Spectra breast pumps and Medela breast pumps have advantages and disadvantages. Many mothers find workarounds by getting parts like a Spectra to Medela bottle adapter that will allow you to use Spectra bottles on a Medela pump. There are also parts that allow switching from Medela to Spectra pumps.

Some of the more common questions that many have, such as “is Medela Freestyle hospital grade,” or “what are the Medela Pump in Style pros and cons,” are a matter of opinion. While the Medela Freestyle is not as strong as hospital-grade pumps, it does have many of the other options that you find in hospital-grade units. When choosing between the Medela Sonata or Spectra S2, both of them are considered top-of-the-line and have many excellent features.

When comparing the Spectra breast pump vs Medela, there are many considerations. It all depends on how often and when you will be pumping. If you will be traveling often, the Medela Pump in Style might be the best choice. Even though it is a little heavier, it comes with more options for power supply, milk storage, and it is easy to clean.

The Spectra S2 would be the favorite if you will be pumping mostly from the comfort of your own home. It is the most comfortable option and has features that the Medela does not offer. It also has a more realistic action that many mothers find comfortable.

Which breast pump do I recommend?

As a single mom with a demanding job in healthcare, I was able to pump and breastfeed my daughter for 2 years using the Medela pump in style. I was first introduced to the medela pump in the hospital and loved it. Although my insurance issued medela pump in style wasn’t as strong as the hospital grade one I used after delivery, it still got the job done and allowed me to meet my pumping goals.

With the advancements in technology that have been made by medela, the new medela pump in style is what I would be buying if I needed to pump.

Which breast pump are you leaning towards? Let us know in the comments. 

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