Medela Pump In Style Advanced Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Founded in 1961 in Zug, Switzerland by Olle Larsson, the Medela Company now sells a variety of pumps and accessories in over 90 countries world wide while remaining a family run business. Medela is one of the most popular pump brands available in the United States and have been selling pumps here for over 30 years now. They also developed the "Corporate Lactation Program" in which they aim to support women breastfeeding and pumping at work by educating the companies they work for. Their mission to support nursing mothers is another thing you can feel good about when purchasing one of their pumps. We really enjoyed this pump for a multitude of reasons. Read on to learn more about this Best Value Award winning pump!
We scored this pump an 8/10 for efficiency, just below the Spectra S1 which received a 9/10 comparatively. The Pump In Style is designed with a "two-phase expression process" that is designed to mimic that of a baby nursing. This means the pump starts with a quick, gentle, repetitive tug which aims to stimulate your let down reflex (beginning of milk flow). Next the pump transitions to the full expression phase which is a slower, stronger and longer suction. This phase should produce the majority of your milk. The pump also gives you the option to either prolong or shorten the stimulation phase as you deem necessary for your most optimal milk production. We like that their two-phase expression process was also a feature in their manual pump we tested and loved, the Medela Harmony Manual.
This product received a 7/10 for comfort. It wasn't quite as comfortable as their Harmony Manual (a manual pump is naturally a little more comfortable) at a 10/10, or the Spectra S1 at a 9/10. Still, it received the third highest score, and really is a good pump for repetitive use. Our testers did notice some soreness around the nipple area with multiple uses, however this was very common across the board. The pump was still much more comfortable than many of the others we tested.
Ease of Use
The Pump In Style Advanced scored the highest out of all the pumps we tested in this category. We gave it a perfect 10 because there were so many aspects of this pump that made it easy to use. First off, the pump is directly attached inside of the tote. You simply unzip a small compartment that actually houses the pump. The plug is easily stored inside to compartment making it easy to just grab and plug in, or you can use the battery operated adapter. It is also easy to roll up the tubing and keep it stored in the same compartment. Next you simply grab the breast flanges and bottles, hook them up to the tubing and go! We also liked that since the breast flanges are separate from the tubing hook up, it was easy to make a "homemade pumping bra" out of an old sports bra by cutting two holes in the front for the breast flanges to slide through. Store bought or homemade pumping bras are nice especially when first starting to pump as it can take a while for your confidence and coordination to come together in order to hold both pumps and bottles while maintaining suction on both breasts. If you do not want to purchase or make your own pumping bra, the technique would be to get a good suction position on one breast, then make an "L" shaped hold with your inner elbow holding that flange in place while you place the other flange on your breast. Then you can have one free hand available to operate the pump while the other arm and hand are holding the breast flanges in place. Trust us, it's not as complicated as it sounds and definitely gets easier with practice!
We also gave this pump a perfect 10/10 for portability. This was our highest score for portability followed by a few of the other pumps at an 8/10 including the AVENT Comfort Double Electric and the Spectra S1 in the electric pump category. The reason we scored this pump the highest for portability is because the pump is specifically designed to be easily brought and used anywhere, whether it be home, work or even in the back of your car. The nice thing about it is the pump which is actually built right into the tote. It's not removable which can be both a positive and negative in many ways, but as far as portability goes, it makes things much easier. All you have to do is set your tote bag next to you, unzip the pump compartment, hook up your tubing to your breast flanges and you are off and running. Another great aspect to portability with this pump is its ability to run on batteries. It takes 8 AA batteries, which we know is a lot, but it was one of the longest running pumps in our dry run at over 6 hours! This time can vary depending on the settings you use and how long you pump for during each session, which is different for everyone. The pump also comes with an AC adapter to use when a plug is available. Our testers also tried the backpack version and we do not recommend it as highly as there was much less room for anything other than the essentials.
Unfortunately we had to give this pump a 4/10 on hygiene. There were many reviews stating problems with condensation building up in the tubing. We found this to be true and it actually happened very quickly after using the pump. About 6 pumping sessions in to use, we noticed some condensation, and the condensation increased with each use following. We did not notice that this affected the strength of the pump, but we were concerned with the risk of mildew building up after a period of time. We found the best thing to do in this case, was to replace the tubing. Even if you try to clean it and dry it out, it still had the same issue with condensation. The good news is the replacement tubing is easy to find. It is also a relatively cheap fix at less than $10 for a set of tubing.
This pump also scored fairly low on acoustics. In fact, it was our lowest scoring pump in this category. If you are looking for something quiet this is not the pump for you. Still, a lot of the pumps we tested were loud just based on their motor working hard to express milk, and, depending on how high a setting you put it on, it could get louder. One positive on the noise level is that if you pump at work, people can hear it, in which case they are less likely to walk in on your pumping session. This is a very popular pump in many work places and most people can recognize the sound. Our testers even had co-workers comment on how familiar with the sound they were, and that they waited to come through the break room until the pumping sound had stopped. However, if you are planning on being an exclusive pumper, this may not work for you in the middle of the night with your significant other and baby sleeping close by. It really depends on what your needs are. Many women choose to set their pump up in another location so it is always ready for them to pump at night, while other women choose to pump at their bedside.
This pump is meant for a frequent pumper. Either a mom who works or a mom who is unable to breastfeed and is exclusively pumping. It would also work for a mom who is trying to build up a big freezer supply in case their baby needs it later. If you are a stay at home mom, this pump will work, but some other electric pumps that can be freed from the bag may suit you better. If you are a mom who travels a lot or works out of the home, this pump is ideal and comes at a great value.
We feel that this pump is the best for the value out of all the pumps we tested, considering the amount of accessories included. With a list price around $300 it is slightly more than some of the other electric pumps we tested, but we felt those pumps did not compare to the quality of the In Style Advanced or the many functional accessories. Included with your purchase is the tote bag, the tubing, the breast flanges (different sized flanges are available if needed), 4 bottles with lids, both a battery pack and an AC Adapter, and an insulated cooler bag with an ice pack. The insulated cooler bag is not as big as that included with the Spectra S1, but is bigger than the other insulated bags provided with the other electric pumps in our comparative review.
We believe this pump offers an excellent value. It may not be the "Cadillac" like the Spectra S1, but it comes in more than $100 cheaper, and still gets the job done in an efficient manner. We really appreciated its ease of use and portability, as well as all the great accessories included. We also like how easy it was to use with a pumping bra. We see why it's become one of the most popular pumps out there for all of these reasons, and we'd highly recommend it as a great value for any family.