medela lifestyle image breast pump

Headquartered in Baar, Switzerland, Medela makes a line of breast pumps and other accessories that are designed for personal use as well as ones that are hospital-grade. They’re a research-based company that stands out among the pack for their intense research with medical professionals, universities, and customers. So it’s no surprise that many expectant moms, first-time moms, and those with infants who decide to breastfeed turn to Medela for their nursing needs. But what really sets the brand apart?

medela sonata breast pumpWhat Sets Medela Apart?

As noted, the Swiss company focuses on intense research before developing its products. The company has funded basic research on breastfeeding and breast milk and has developed an innovative medical vacuum technology.

In business for close to 20 years, Medela works closely with doctors, medical professionals, and educational institutions like the University of Western Australia (UWA) with which it has a longstanding relationship. But they collaborate with many other universities, hospitals, and research institutions around the world as well in order to conduct research, design, and develop its products. They worked closely, for example, with key opinion leaders and medical experts in hospitals to develop their medical vacuum technology that’s used in both personal and hospital-grade pumps. The company also frequently asks customers for their feedback to further refine and improve their products.

medela symphonyWhat Are Some Of Medela’s Signature Products and Technologies?

Medela’s Symphony breast pump, designed for hospital use, was the first in market to include a 2-Phase Expression technology that mimics a baby’s natural sucking patterns. It begins fast yet gentle to stimulate the milk ejection reflex then switches to a slow, deep rhythm. The device was designed after extensive research through pumping programs at UWA.

Other notable products from Medela include the Calma custom feeding device which simulates a baby’s suckling, swallowing, and breathing patterns during nursing so the baby can suck using a natural rhythm. A vacuum is created to help get the milk going, making it simply for moms to switch between breast and bottle. Again, this device was developed alongside research conducted with UWA.

medela swingHow Medela Products Work

Medela breast pumps are designed on the principle that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for new moms. And the company recognizes that breastfeeding can be one of the most challenging things a new mom encounters during her first few months with a new baby.

The pumps create a vacuum by suctioning in air and releasing it through ventilation, mimicking the same way a baby would nurse on the breast. The pump creates a vacuum to, in turn, create suction. This suction moves through the tubing of the breast pump and extracts milks from the breasts. Air then enters and exits the bottle to make room for the milk.

While all Medela pumps have a flexible membrane that prevents milk from getting into other areas of the pump, like the tubing or motor, their strategy differs from competitors. Medela’s membrane, called Overflow Protection, can be found at the breast shield connector or at the pump itself, depending on the model. Other “closed” pump designs, by contrast, include a protective membrane that can potentially impact how the pump works and even milk output, which can be frustrating for new moms, especially those who don’t have ample flows. Milk residue can also hide on the barrier, which can result in the growth of bacteria and microorganisms if it isn’t cleaned properly.

It’s no surprise, then, that Medela is the number-one recommended breast pump brand in the U.S.

What Are Some Top Medela Products for Personal Use?

Medela makes both manual and electric breast pumps, but if you want to speed up the process – ideal for new moms who are already back to work or have other kids to tend to – and be able to multi-task while you pump, an electric pump is the better investment.

The Medela Sonata Flex Double Electric Breast Pump will allow you to express breast milk from both breasts at the same time. It uses Medela’s patented 2-Phase Expression technology mentioned earlier, helping you get as much milk as possible for storing in the refrigerator and/or freezer, or feeding right away to your infant. The set comes with everything you might need to get started, including four 150mL BPA-free bottles and storage lids, a pair each of 24mm and 21mm PersonalFit breast shields, silicone membranes, bottle stands, a cooler bag, cooling element, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It’s even smart: you can use the MyMedela app to track your pumping sessions and baby’s growth, and access lactation information and personalized content. The app provides 24/7 access to lactation consultants via video chat, too.

Another option if you don’t need the extra bells and whistles or smart connected technology is the Medela Freestyle Double Electric Breast Pump, which comes with four bottles, two 24mm and two 27mm PersonalFit breast shields, a Calma nipple, hands-free kit, 10 Pump and Save bags (ideal for freezing), a Quick Clean Micro-Steam bag, 14 medela freestyledisposable nursing pads if you leak often, a Tender Care lanolin sample for soothing sore nipples, a cooler bag with an ice pack, and a carrying tote bag. The rechargeable battery provides up to three hours of pumping per charge.

Especially useful for on-the-go moms, working moms, and those who travel often, the Medela Pump In Style Double Electric Breast Pump With Backpack adds a convenient carry backpack for easily bringing the pump and all of its accessories with you. It comes with everything you’d need as well, including bottles and lids, breast shields, Pump and Save bags, Micro-Steam bag, disposable nursing pads, lanolin sample, and a cooler bag and ice pack.

If you’re not ready for such a big investment and just want a simple single pump you can alternate between breasts with, check out the Medela Swing Single Electric Breast Pump. It is small and lightweight, perfect for bringing with you when needed, and boasts quiet operation so you can discreetly use it at the office or other public places. It fits in your hand and has an adjustable suction knob for finding the right setting. The pump comes with a Calma nipple, two bottles and lids, two 24mm breast shields, and a drawstring carrying bag so you can pop it into your purse, briefcase, backpack, or diaper bag.

medela harmonyFor a simpler set with two pumps for simultaneous pumping, there’s the Medela Symphony Double Breast Pump Kit, which is compatible with hospital-grade Medela Symphony double breast pump rentals should you have one to try out or use after giving birth.

Finally, if you’re on a tight budget or you’re OK with manually pumping, consider the Medela Harmony Single Manual Breast Pump. Unlike with electric models, you will have to manually pump the handle repeatedly to express breast milk. But it still includes the patented 2-Phase Expression technology. It’s lightweight and the handle adjusts so you can comfortably pump at home and on the go using one hand. It comes with two bottles and lids, a bottle stand, one 24mm breast shield, and a Calma nipple.

Bottom Line About Medela

If you plan to nurse your child, and/or pump and bottle feed your child breast milk, Medela offers plenty of options to help make the process seamless and simple. Some babies have a hard time transitioning from breast to bottle which can be difficult for partners who want to be able to feed babies, too, and give mom a break overnight or in the early morning hours. And this can be difficult for moms who continue to nurse after going back to work, or who have multiple kids to take care of. Medela’s patented 2-Phase Expression technology, found across all of its breast pumps, can help make it easier since the nipples and bottle flow and suction mimic what it’s like to be on the breast so babies are comfortable, well-fed, and happy.

Check out a wide selection of Medela baby products at Best Buy Online

Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.