Comparing 3 Popular Breast Pumps

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My breastfeeding journey with the boys was different than I thought it would be, but I’m thankful that with Emily it has been pretty much a dream come true. I attribute the success with her to a lot of things, but mostly my past experience and having realistic goals set for both of us. I wrote a bit more about that in this post if you are interested in reading.

Pumping has been a pretty regular part of my breastfeeding journey as well and now that I’ve had about 8 months of experience with a few pumps, I thought I’d share a few thoughts and opinions about them here!

I used the Medela Pump In Style with the boys but not as much as I used it with Emily. Part of that is because I have nursed her for a longer time than the boys, and I also pumped more frequently than I ever did with the boys.

I received the Spectra S2 pump through my insurance company and was anxious to try something new to compare it to Medela. I received the Willow Pump from the brand itself as a gift to try it out.

This post is not sponsored, these are simply my experiences and opinions with these pumps!

one. two. three.

I try to breastfeed Emily as often as possible during the day when it’s time for her to eat. If I’m working and am able, Justin will bring her to me to nurse her. If I’m not able to nurse her, I’ll pump while he gives her a bottle of previously pumped milk from the fridge or freezer.

When she was a newborn and very sleepy during feeds, I would pump for a several minutes after nursing her to make sure my body was getting clues to continue to produce enough for her. And since she started sleeping through the night at an early age, I had to map out some pumping sessions to create a backup supply for her!

For the first few months I would wake up at midnight to pump while she slept. Then she would wake me up around 3:30 to nurse, and then again around 5:30/6:00 to nurse and be up for the day. I did this up until she was around 6.5 months old, I shifted my nightly pump session to around 10:00pm. So her last nursing session of the day is 7:00pm and then we would top her off with a small bottle of milk that I pumped the day before, then put her to bed. She would usually sleep until around 5:45/6:30 in the morning without eating during the night.

My supply has been slowly decreasing, especially at night, so we’re now giving her a small bottle of supplementation formula for her last “meal” of the day.

So now that you have a little bit of an idea of how I use my pump and how often, I’ll break down what I think of all 3 of them.

First up, the Medela Pump in Style. I’ve used this one the longest, and get it when I was expecting David. It has worked perfectly, I like that the suction strength is adjustable via a knob that you twist. The bag makes it easy to carry everything that I need with the pump in one place, from extra parts to storage bags. I’ve never had suction issues or any parts failing. There are a lot of pieces to wash and assemble when using this pump, but it’s very easy to set up. Overall I’d give this pump an A+. I really have no complaints with it.

Next up, the Spectra S2. This one is a bit newer to me and initially I didn’t love it. I didn’t feel like it was as strong as the Medela Pump in Style, and the suction pattern was different as well. I loved that it came with a timer, a nightlight, and had a few less parts to clean and keep up with. After using it more frequently I came around on it and now it’s my top choice for pumping every night. I keep the Spectra pump downstairs by the kitchen table, and the Medela lives upstairs in my office so I’ve got a pump in both places that I use them most! I’d give this pump an A. I really like it, it’s very easy and quick to set up, but I do feel like I’m not able to pump as much milk with this pump versus Medela Pump in Style.

The newest pump that I’ve been trying recently is the Willow Pump. This comes with a bit of a learning curve but the brand knows that and are ready to help you if you need it. It’s totally portable and can be discreet depending on what kind of top you are wearing. The two pumps fit into your bra and after turning them on and making sure they are positioned correctly, you just sit back and let them do their job. The app syncs up with the pump so you can see exactly how much milk each side is expressing, which is kind of awesome. There is a particular way to remove the pumps and turn them over to make sure you don’t lose any milk, so make sure you watch that information video. It’s very easy, but it has to be done a certain way.

The freedom I had while using the Willow pump was incredible. I could do basically anything I wanted to do. I know there are other hands free pumps out there but Willow is the most discreet and least likely to get knocked around if you are doing something with your hands (like dishes or laundry). I found the latch to be a little bit painful so I moved up a size in the flange and that helped significantly. I would still rank it as the most uncomfortable of the 3 pumps, but not in way significant enough for me to stop using it.

It’s expensive, requires special storage bags (the Medela and Spectra can both use Lansinoh and Medela bags), but is very easy to click together and use. I’d give this pump a B because it’s a little painful and I had one instance where the app didn’t connect to the unit so I wasn’t sure how much I was pumping.

P.S.  Here is a post that has some of my favorite nursing bras as well as some other post-partum favorites.

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Comments (18)

  1. Michele says
    Posted January 9, 2019

    I loved my Medela! I actually had three…for my first, I was given one by insurance AND a friend gave me hers, since she was unable to use it, so I had one at home and one at work. With my second, two years later, insurance gave me yet another one so I had it to leave in the car. Easy to use and very durable, especially since both of my kids stopped nursing directly from me at seven months and I pumped exclusively until they were each a year old. Like you, I supplemented with formula, because, at the end of the day, fed is best (even when I put breast milk in a bottle, people would take it upon themselves to comment on breast being best when we were in public. Uhg, people!)

  2. Agnes says
    Posted January 9, 2019

    Thank you for doing this review! So good to read some advice on breastpumps.

  3. Amber says
    Posted January 9, 2019

    I have always been a Medela gal, but after welcoming baby number 5 this last week i was excited to try the Willow pump for the ease of use with other young kids running around. I LOVE it but I will agree that it’s not as comfortable to use. I’ll take your tip in bump my flange size up to see if that changes anything. Thank you for that tip!

  4. Angela says
    Posted January 9, 2019

    This post reminded me how much I hated pumping milk! Never made much and finally had to put my medela pump away with my second daughter since I just wasn’t getting enough milk. Wish I had invested in a hands-free pump!

    Angela at Blush & Pearls

  5. Posted January 9, 2019

    This is so helpful! My first child is 20 months old and I have only used a Medela PISA and was interested in potentially trying the Spectra S2 and Willow with the next baby so it was great to see the comparison!

  6. Laken says
    Posted January 9, 2019

    You should try a manual breast pump! They’re only like $20 on Amazon! I got the Lansinoh one and immediately preferred it over my electric pump. It’s quick to set up, easy to clean, and I am able to pump 5oz in ten minutes easily. I’d never been able to get that much milk with my spectra s2! I didn’t think I’d like the manual but I just love it! I’d be curious to know what you think of it, too!

    • Kate says
      Posted January 9, 2019

      I actually have that same one and love it! Forgot to mention that because I was only thinking about electric pumps!

  7. Laura says
    Posted January 9, 2019

    I love this post! As an exclusive pumper for my 5 month old, I love reading the experiences of others. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

  8. Sara says
    Posted January 9, 2019

    I had to EP with my younger daughter and swear by the Spectra S1. I used the PISA with #1 and couldn’t imagine EP’ing with it because that sucker is rough. I have both the S1 and S2, and found that the S1 has significantly better suction (it’s not that it’s stronger it just works better) and I got a better output with the S1 than anything else I’ve ever used.

  9. H G says
    Posted January 9, 2019

    This post was extremely helpful!! Thank you.

  10. Rebecca says
    Posted January 9, 2019

    I have used the Medela Freestyle with my first for about 18 months. It was great because I was able to pump on the go. It wasnt as flexible as the willow but worked great for me.

    Something I have just learned is my insurance will cover not only the breast pump but breast pumping supplies (tubing, flanges, bottles or bags) for up to 2 years at no cost to me. I found a company who has been great, they send me a reminder email once a month for any needed supplies, place the order and then ship it out.

    • Lindsey says
      Posted January 9, 2019

      Hi Rebecca – would you mind sharing the company you’ve been using? Thanks!

      • Rebecca says
        Posted January 10, 2019

        I used 1 Natural Way. I know there are several medical supply companies who specialize in breaat pumps but this company seemed to have good ratings and was very responsive to all my questions.
        https://www.1naturalway.com/

  11. Sarah B says
    Posted January 9, 2019

    Perfect timing as I’m expecting Baby #2 in a couple weeks! I was happy with the Medela In Style with my older sonand this is good confirmation to stick with that! Have you had much experience with manual pumps? Would be curious if you have found them effective and thoughts on a favorite!

  12. Andrea says
    Posted January 10, 2019

    Was the suction still good on the Willow pump? How did the suction on the Willow compare to Medela?

    I am due in March and already own the Medela but considering buying the Willow, but I need a strong suction.

    Thank you!

  13. Nina says
    Posted January 11, 2019

    I LOVE my spectra. It’s so quite and lightweight. Once I found recommendations on settings I was pumping more then I ever did with my PIS. I highly recommend following Legendary Milk ok Instagram they give so much great breastfeeding and pumping advice it’s awesome!

  14. Megan H says
    Posted January 15, 2019

    So good to know! I had the Medela with my first, and purchased the Spectra for my second, due in April. Thanks for posting!

  15. Stephanie says
    Posted January 21, 2019

    Hi! did you happen to do a blog post on materity clothes? I thought you did but I cant find it now.