Medela makes a few great breast pumps that dominate the market: the Medela Pump in Style and the Medela Freestyle Flex.
Each of these pumps have their advantages: the Freestyle Flex is smaller, more portable, and has a battery pack, while the Pump in Style is a very effective pump that is often fully covered by insurance/is sold at a lower price point.
Here’s the pros and cons of each so that you can figure out the best breast pump for you.
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Medela Pump in Style versus Medela Freestyle Flex
Here’s a quick comparison chart of the three Medela pumps.
(There are now two versions of the Medela Pump in Style – the older Advanced and the upgraded Max Flow. There are also two versions of the Freestyle, but I’m not including the older Freestyle in this table because it is no longer widely available.)
Here is more detail on the pros and cons of these breast pumps.
Medela Freestyle Flex
The Medela Freestyle Flex is Medela’s newest pump. Lots of moms in our Facebook group really like it and find it both effective and comfortable.
- It’s a small pump (it can fit in your pocket) and is very portable.
- It has a rechargeable battery that lasts about 3 hours when fully charged.
- It has a timer that helps you track how long you’ve been pumping. It also automatically tracks your total pumping time in the Medela app for you.
- The pump parts easy to clean.
- The connector includes a backflow protector, which means no milk in the tubing.
- It is sold at a higher price point than other pumps.
- It’s new, and replacement parts aren’t as easy to get as they are for some other pumps because they are unique to this breast pump.
Medela Pump in Style with Max Flow
The Max Flow is Medela’s new, upgraded version of their Pump in Style Advanced pump. It is a double electric pump that is a great option for many working parents.
- The pump parts are simple and easy to clean.
- Like the Freestyle Flex, it’s a closed system pump.
- The tubing is easier to use/falls out less frequently than the Pump in Style Advanced.
- It does not have a rechargeable battery, so you need access to an outlet or an external battery pack.
Here’s a story showing how it’s put together and works:
Medela Pump in Style Advanced
The original Medela Pump in Style Advanced is a good quality double electric pump that will work well for pumping at work, as long as an outlet is easily accessible.
- It is an effective, quality pump at a lower price point than the Freestyle, Freestyle Flex, and many other breast pumps. It’s usually available through insurance at no cost.
- Because it doesn’t have a built-in battery, you may need a battery pack to pump on the go.
- It can be pretty loud.
- It’s a bit large and awkward to carry around.
- The pump parts can be hard to clean, as there are some hard-to-reach places, and sometimes the yellow valve gets stuck to the connector.
(No longer widely available)
The Medela Freestyle was Medela’s first portable pump offering. Medela is transitioning from the Freestyle to the Freestyle Flex, though you still may be able to purchase the original pump.
- It has a rechargeable battery, and can fit into a large pocket. It’s easy to use for pumping on the go.
- Because Medela is no longer focusing on the original Freestyle, it can be difficult to find replacement parts at a good price.
- It can also be pretty loud.
If you can afford the difference the Freestyle Flex and Pump in Style with Max Flow, I would get the Flex because of the flexibility for pumping on the go. If not, the Pump in Style is a great pump that will work well, too.
Remember, if you’re pregnant, you may qualify for a free pump through insurance. You can fill out a short form here and find out what you are eligible for.
I probably would not buy an original Freestyle or Pump in Style Advanced at this point, due to possible difficulties in getting replacement parts.
Effectiveness: Medela Pump in Style vs Medela Freestyle
Just for fun – here is an experiment I did years ago on the Pump in Style Advanced and the original Freestyle.
(It’s probably not very relevant anymore, given that both of these pumps are on the way out, but I’m leaving it up for anyone who finds unscientific pumping experiments entertaining.)
I owned one of each pump, so I decided to do a test to see which one helped me pump more milk.
I did the test by pumping for two full days with each pump – normally, I pump with the Freestyle at home and the Pump in Style at work, but for the purposes of this experiment, I carried them back and forth. I alternated the days so that any hormonal fluctuations (like getting my period) that might have an effect on my output wouldn’t skew the results.
Here are my Medela Freestyle vs. Pump in Style results:
Day 1 (12/10/13): Medela Freestyle
As I said above, I normally pump with my Freestyle at home and my Pump in Style at work, so I brought it to work and back with me today. Packing up all of my pump parts and getting the bag together reminded me why I keep a pump and pump parts at work and just transport the bottles back and forth. It is so much easier!
(I had to bring the PISA home with me, too, so that I’d have it for my first morning pump tomorrow. I’m sure that I looked very put together with my multiple breast pumps on the train.)
Here’s my output:
- Pump #1, 6:15am – 7.5oz
- Pump #2, 11:30am – 8oz
- Pump #3, 2:30pm, 5oz
- Pump #4, 6:45pm, 6oz
- Pump #5, 9:15pm, 3oz
Total for Day 1 of Pumping with the Freestyle: 29.5oz. A pretty good day! We’ll compare it to tomorrow.
Day 2 (12/11/13): Medela Pump in Style
- Pump #1, 6:15am – 7oz
- Pump #2, 9:15am – 8oz
- Pump #3, 2:15pm – 6.5oz
- Pump #4, 6:15pm – 4.5oz
- Pump #5, 9:15pm – 3oz
Just a general observation about the two pumps – since I usually don’t pump at home with the Pump in Style, it required a bit of an adjustment. I always use the battery pack with my Freestyle, and the chair I sit in isn’t really convenient to an outlet. Also, during the early morning pump, it’s easy for my baby to pull the tubing out with the Pump in Style. I might have to get up before her to pump next time.
Total for Day 2 of Pumping with the Pump in Style: 29oz. A little less than yesterday.
Day 3 (12/12/13): Medela Freestyle
- Pump #1, 6:00am – 8.5oz
- Pump #2,11:00am – 9oz
- Pump #3, 3:00pm – 5.5oz
- Pump #4, 6:00pm – 4.5oz
- Pump #5, 9:30pm – 3oz
It’s kind of weird how my body makes 9oz from 6am-11am, but only 8.5 overnight, no? I have no explanation for this.
Total for Day 3 of Pumping with the Freestyle: 30.5oz. Best day so far!
Day 4 (12/16/13): Medela Pump in Style
My pump throwdown was interrupted by a really painful clogged duct on my right side, which required me to pump much more often than normal to clear. I took a break from the experiment until it was resolved so that didn’t skew the results.
Here’s what I got when I was able to resume my normal pumping schedule with the Pump in Style:
- Pump #1, 6:00am – 8oz
- Pump #2,10:00am – 8oz
- Pump #3, 3:00pm – 5.5oz
- Pump #2, 6:30pm – 4.5oz
- Pump #2, 9:30pm – 3oz
Total for Day 4 of Pumping with the Pump in Style: 29oz.
Here are the Medela Freestyle vs. Pump in Style results charted:
It looks like the Freestyle is the slight winner, with an average of 30oz, as opposed to the Pump in Style’s 29oz. I prefer the Freestyle for other reasons, so it’s good to know that the milk output is slightly higher with it (for me, at least).
Obviously, this is not a scientifically rigorous experiment, and your results may be different. However, it’s good to know that, generally speaking, you are likely to get about the same milk output with either the Freestyle or the Pump in Style, and you can make your decision based on other factors like price and convenience.