Medela Freestyle vs Spectra S1 – which is the best breast pump?
The compact and powerful breast pumps available on the market today make it easier to work, travel and get things done all while expressing milk for your baby (aren’t moms amazing?!).
Two exceptionally portable breast pumps, the Medela Freestyle Flex and the Spectra S1 have features that put them at the front of the portable pump pack (say that five times fast).
While both the Freestyle Flex and Spectra S1 are portable, they each have unique features that make them suited to different moms. Read on to find out about the features of these two portable pumps so you can decide which will work best for your family.
Note: this blog post probably contains affiliate links, which means we may receive small commissions from purchases made through links in this post (at NO extra cost to you). You can read our full disclosure for more information.
Medela Freestyle Flex Review
The pump unit on the Medela Freestyle Flex weighs less than one pound and can slide into the pocket of your diaper bag. It is one of the smallest breast pumps on the market. Even though it is tiny in size, this pump has enough suction power (up to -245 mmHg) to be used for very effective single or double breast electric pumping.
The Freestyle Flex comes with a rechargeable battery that holds power for about two hours. The USB connection makes it convenient to charge your pump in the office, the car or even on an airplane.
The touch screen display is backlit for easier use at night. Another helpful feature of the Freestyle Flex is the automatic syncing via bluetooth to the free MyMedela app. The app makes it easy to track the times and duration of your pumping sessions. This feature is especially important when you are working to establish your breastmilk supply.
Similar to other Medela breast pumps, the Freestyle Flex uses 2-phase expression technology that is designed to help moms produce more milk in less time. It mimics a baby’s natural suckling by switching from fast rhythm to slow rhythm. There are 9 different levels of suction that you can adjust easily with the touch screen display.
The pump unit has a lanyard so it can be worn around your wrist. In order to make this tiny pump completely hands free, you will need to purchase the Easy Expression Bustier separately.
The Medela Freestyle Flex Breast Pump includes:
- 1 breast pump,
- 4 breast shield (21 mm and 24 mm)
- 2 connector sets,
- 4 five ounce/150mL bottles with lids,
- 2 bottle stands,
- a carry bag,
- a milk cooler with ice pack and
- a power adaptor with a USB charging cable.
- Very small and portable,
- the bottles and the breast shields are interchangeable with all of the Medela breast pumps,
- there are very few parts to clean/replace,
- bluetooth syncs to an app to track pumping sessions, has a built in counting-up timer.
- The speed and strength of suction is the same for both breasts,
- it can be noisy on higher settings,
- suction is adjustable but speed is not.
Spectra S1 Review
One feature that sets the Spectra S1 apart from other portable breast pumps is the ability to adjust the cycle speed (how many times the pump “sucks” and releases per second). Women’s bodies respond differently to both the suction strength and timing of the suction, so being able to adjust these levels could result in greater milk production. It has 12 suction levels and can go up to a maximum suction strength of 270mmHg.
A “massage mode” simulates the natural suckling of a baby in order to stimulate letdown. The Spectra has a 30 minute timer that turns the pump off automatically. It is also built to remember the last settings used and will automatically replicate those unless programmed otherwise.
The makers of Spectra are moms, lactation consultants and registered nurses. They designed the pump to mimic breastfeeding as closely as possible through adjustable cycle speeds and suction levels, the elimination of possible backflow contamination, and a super quiet motor (45 decibels).
The Spectra S1 Plus includes:
- an electric breast pump,
- 12 volt AC power adaptor,
- 2 Spectra bottles,
- 2 Spectra backflow protectors,
- 2 duckbill valves,
- 2 tubes,
- two 24mm flanges and two 28 mm flanges.
- Massage feature to stimulate letdown,
- adjustable cycle speed,
- 12 suction levels,
- portable and lightweight,
- memory feature for settings,
- Not hands-free pumping,
- more parts to clean/keep track of.
4 Benefits Of Using the Spectra S1 or the Medela Freestyle
Choosing either the Spectra S1 or Medela Freestyle Flex will help you successfully pump because of their many useful features including:
- Portable: Whether you need to bring your breast pump with you to work, while you travel, or tote it around your house while chasing other kids, both the Spectra and Freestyle Flex pumps are lightweight and easy to carry.
- Rechargeable: Both pumps will hold a charge without being plugged in for 2 hours (Medela Freestyle Flex) and 3 hours (Spectra S1)
- Powerful: The Medela Freestyle Flex and Spectra S1 are both on the more powerful end of vacuum suction, with the Spectra being 25 mmHg stronger.
- Dishwasher Safe: Pumping parts that come into contact with milk can be washed on the top rack of the dishwasher
How to Choose Between Medela Freestyle and Spectra S1
- Do I want to pump hands-free while on the move? (Choose Medela Freestyle Flex and make sure you grab the Easy Expression Bustier)
- Would I prefer the convenience of a USB charger? (Choose Medela Freestyle Flex)
- Might I need higher power of suction in order to express milk? (Choose Spectra S1)
- I want to track my sessions with an app (Choose Medela Freestyle Flex)
- Would a built-in nightlight be helpful? (Choose Spectra S1)
- Am I worried about too many parts to clean and/or lose? (Choose Medela Freestyle Flex)
- Is money tight for this purchase? (Choose Spectra S1)
- Am I worried about my breast pump being too noisy? (Choose Spectra S1)
- Do I want the pump to be as discrete as possible? (Choose Medela Freestyle Flex)
The Final Word on Medela Freestyle vs Spectra S1
Both the Spectra S1 and Medela Freestyle Flex are revolutionary breast pumps compared to pumps even a couple of years old. Manufacturers are making pumps that are portable, easy to use and maintain and powerful enough to make pumping less stressful and more productive.
If you are a working mom or plan to travel often, the Medela Freestyle Flex is the clear choice. The tiny size makes it simple to use and transport and features like the session tracking via the MyMedela app will make your pumping experience more enjoyable.
Moms who are less concerned about pumping away from home and more concerned about milk supply and customizable features should definitely consider the Spectra S1. The features that make this pump quiet, gentle and effective were thoughtfully designed by other moms and breastfeeding experts.
The Medela Freestyle Flex and Spectra S1 are portable and powerful breast pumps that will be a great investment for any breastfeeding mom who plans to pump.