Last Updated on March 29, 2023 by Jada Glover
There are many brands of electric breast pumps available. For breast pumps to be effective, they should balance both suction, strength, and speed to most naturally mimic your baby suckling at the breast.
Two of the best double electric breast pumps currently on the market are the Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow and the Spectra S2 Plus. Both of these pumps are high-quality with hospital-grade suction capabilities. They are popular among busy breastfeeding moms that use a pump regularly to pump breast milk.
Let’s dive into the highlights of the Medela Pump In Style vs the Spectra S2. This will allow you to determine which model is best for you.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links, and that means that I may earn a commission if you buy something (at no additional cost to you). Read my full disclosure here. I only recommend products I use and love and recommend to my clients.
Medela Pump In Style Vs Spectra S2: Which One Is Best?
My top choice and the pump that worked best for me is the Spectra S2 Plus. It is comfortable, quick, quiet, and super efficient. In my professional opinion and based on personal use, it is far better than the Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow.
There are many reasons moms choose to buy breast pumps. One of the top reasons is if they are planning to return to work or school, and will be away from their baby for an extended length of time.
Breast pumps also come in handy if you aren’t able to immediately feed your baby at the breast after birth. Or, if your baby isn’t nursing often and removing milk effectively.
Pumping is really the first strategy to stimulate your breasts in order to encourage your body to make more milk (after nursing at the breast of course). There is not one best breast pump on the market, but certain models seem to work better for more moms than others.
The best pump for you is the one that fits you best, is comfortable, and effective at removing your breast milk. Every mom’s pumping experience will be different and will vary based on many factors. These factors include things like flange fitting (see graphic below), changing pump parts, frequency of pumping, and use of pump settings.
My Experience with the Medela Pump In Style Vs the Spectra S2 Breast Pumps
I’ve used both the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Flow model and the Spectra S2 after having my son. Please note though that the Medela Pump In Style Advanced has since been replaced with the Medela Pump In Style MaxFlow.
A friend gave me a new Medela In Style Pump that she had. Additionally, I had already purchased the Spectra S2 when I was pregnant. I got this because I knew I was going back to work and needed to pump while I was away from my son.
I prefer the Spectra S2. The reasons I like the Spectra S2 include the following:
- Very lightweight for transporting to/from work
- Super quiet
- Easy to learn to use
- Has all the right settings for both suction strength and cycling speed to most naturally mimic a baby nursing at the breast.
I also loved that the Spectra S2 had a light in case I was pumping at night and a digital display. The timer on the display is how I kept track of both my break periods at work while pumping and how long I pumped each session. I aimed for about 15 minutes each pumping break, which allowed for a second milk letdown.
I will also add that the Spectra S2 wins among my Lactation-credentialed friends when it becomes a topic of discussion. One of the downsides to the Spectra S2 is that I felt like I was always washing pump parts.
There are 6 individual parts for each side to wash with warm soapy water at the end of the day. In between sessions during the day, I put my parts in a Ziploc bag and refrigerated them. That’s why buying an extra set of parts is helpful.
Side-by-Side Comparison of the Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow vs. the Spectra S2 Plus
Here’s a breakdown of the key features of each of these pumps so you can compare them side by side.
|Feature||Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow||Spectra S2Plus|
|Price||$$$ (click here to check current price)||$$ (click here to check current price)|
|Type||Double Electric Breast Pump (can be used as single or double pump)||Double Electric Breast Pump (can be used as single or double pump)|
|Digital Display with Timer & Light||No display with timer or night light||Yes, digital display with timer and night light|
|Suction Strength Settings (how hard it pulls)||10 levels||12 levels|
|Speed Settings (how often it pulls)||2 Modes: Letdown/ Massage and Expression|
Not fully customizable
|2 Modes: Letdown/ Massage and Expression|
Adjustable levels with suction and speed.
|Comfort||Not as many options and cannot be adjusted per breast.||More suction and speed options for maximum comfort and milk output.|
|Weight||1.18 pounds||3.3 pounds|
|Noise Level||Moderate||Whisper Quiet|
|Customizable Settings||No||Yes, more settings and more customizable|
|Flanges Included||Includes 24mm flange size only||Includes both 24mm and 28mm flange sizes|
|Power Source||Requires 8 AA batteries (not included) or AC Adapter (pump may not be as powerful running on batteries)||AC Adapter only for electrical outlet |
(Spectra S1 includes a battery pack for more portability, with all the same benefits as the Spectra S2)
|Auto Shut-off||Yes, after 30 minutes||Yes, after 30 minutes|
|Warranty||1-year on motor; 90 days on parts||2-year on motor; 90 days on parts|
Medela Pump In Style Vs Spectra S2 Benefits
The Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow is built based on the idea of portability. That’s it’s main advantage.
You can pop 8 AA batteries in it, and away you go. It does come with an AC adapter to plug it into the wall too.
It is also lighter weight compared to the Spectra S2. The Medela weighs a mere 1.18 pounds compared to the SpectraS2 at 3.3 pounds.
The Medela pump does offer one less part that you have to clean at the end of each day. That’s a benefit for moms that are always doing dishes and washing pump and bottle parts. Doing the dishes could be a full time job on it’s own in my house.
Medela Pump In Style Vs Spectra S2 Disadvantages
Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of the Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow.
- Cost: The Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow is more expensive. This model is newer to the market. But newer isn’t always better. I prefer an older workhorse like the Spectra S2 model.
- Display: The Medela pump has no digital display, timer, or light. But the Spectra does. The timer comes in handy when you’re working and trying to determine how long you’ve been pumping. I used it all the time. The night light on the pump is also helpful when you’re pumping at night.
- Suction Features: The Medela only allows you to adjust the suction strength (how hard it is pulling), not the speed/frequency at which it is pulling.
- Flanges: Out-of-the-box the Medela only includes one flange size which may or may not fit you. The Spectra includes two sizes. Your flange sizing can greatly impact how much milk you’re able to pump, and the size you need may change from right after birth compared to a few months down the road. Refer to the graphic below or the pump manufacturer’s guidance for flange fitting.
- Noise level: No mom wants everyone to know that they are pumping in the office. The Medela is louder by comparison. You also don’t want to wake up your sleeping baby if you’re pumping at night.
- Battery use: Yes, it can run on batteries. But I wouldn’t rely on the batteries to make a pump the most effective at doing its job (battery levels can vary drastically). Plus, 8 batteries is a lot of extra money to be shelling out!
- Warranty: The warranty period for the Medela is a year less for the pump motor, compared to the Spectra model. That can make a big difference if you need to replace the motor.
Before we move on I do want to mention that the effectiveness of removing milk from the breasts is an important part of the overall milk equation for milk production. However, it is not the entire picture.
If you’re interested in learning about how other factors affect your milk supply, like what you eat and how often you’re pumping, be sure you check out my e-book – The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Milk Supply Fast. Or, fill in the form below for FREE tips on increasing your milk supply.
Spectra S2 Overview
The Spectra S2 is a hospital-grade, professional-grade, double electric breast pump designed to help breastfeeding moms quietly, comfortably, and easily pump milk. The Spectra S2 offers a variety of accessories like bag adapter attachments.
This allows moms to pump their milk straight into milk storage bags instead of needing to pour milk from bottles to the bags. I used these same adapters when I was pumping for my son and working out of the home full time. They were serious time-savers!
There are also two sizes of flanges included with the Spectra S2 – 24mm and 28mm. Correct flange sizing is very important to ensure you’re removing milk efficiently during a pumping session.
There are also replacement parts available. These parts include the duckbill valves and backflow protectors, which are essential if you’re a mom that pumps a lot.
Many moms don’t know that breast pump parts should be replaced every so often according to the pump manufacturer’s guidelines, or when they notice a rip or tear. This can affect milk removal while pumping because the milk can’t be drawn out of the breast efficiently.
In general, pump parts should be replaced every couple of months if you’re using your pump parts daily. These parts can rip, develop holes, and just get worn out from daily use.
What Is the Spectra S2 Plus Pump?
Here’s an overview of the Spectra S2’s key features and why I think it takes the cake vs the Medela Pump In Style pump.
Double pumping: The Spectra S2 breast pump allows moms to pump both breasts at once. This can save time and help stimulate milk production through double stimulation.
Closed system: The pump’s closed system helps prevent milk from backing up into the tubing or motor. This reduces the risk of contamination and makes cleaning easier.
Adjustable suction and speed: The Spectra S2 breast pump has simple controls with easy to read settings, customizable suction strength, and speed settings that can be adjusted. This allows you to tailor the pumping experience to your comfort level and maximize milk output.
Nightlight and timer: The pump has a built-in nightlight to help moms see what they’re doing during late-night pumping sessions. It also has a timer that can be set for up to 30 minutes to help moms keep track of how long they’ve been pumping. This pump turns off automatically after 30 minutes and remembers your settings for your next session.
Quiet operation: The Spectra S2 is known for its quiet operation, which can make pumping more discreet. If you’re having to pump at work or at night and trying not to wake up your baby this pump’s noise output is ideal.
Lightweight and portable: The Spectra S2 is relatively compact and lightweight (although heavier than the Medela, it is still light to carry). It can be easily transported to and from work or other locations. It has a convenient handle on top making it easy to grab and go to your desired pumping spot.
Accessories: Out of the box, the Spectra S2 comes with a range of accessories, including two breast flange sizes, two milk collection bottles, two duckbill valves, two backflow protectors, a power adapter, and a user manual. If you need more accessories, you can get the double bundle Spectra S2 option (which is way worth it in my opinion).
Power: Because it plugs in to an electrical outlet, you don’t have to rely on batteries or it suddenly going dead on you. You can however buy a separate battery pack like this TalentCell. Attach it to your pump for on-the-go pumping like in the car. Or you could purchase a breast pump car adapter.
Medela Pump In Style Overview
The Medela Pump In Style is a popular breast pump designed for moms who need to express breast milk regularly. It is a double electric pump, meaning it can pump milk from both breasts simultaneously. This saves time for busy moms.
Up until recently, Medela sold a Pump In Style Advanced version as well as a MaxFlow version. Now, only the MaxFlow is available from the manufacturer.
If you need a more advanced Medela breast pump with more features and customization settings, look into buying the Medela Sonata Smart Breast Pump. It is much pricier, but comes with a nice display and other features.
What Is The Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow?
The Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow is a double stimulating pump that offers a range of features and settings to meet the needs of busy moms who are often on the go and need to express breast milk regularly for their baby.
It is designed with portability in mind and can be used with either an AC adapter or 8 AA batteries. This allows moms to pump on-the-go or in places without access to an electrical outlet – like in the car or at a park.
Similar to the Spectra S2 Plus, one of the key features of the Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow is its two-part expression technology. The idea with this is to create a more natural sucking experience, mimicking the natural suckling pattern of a baby.
The pump starts with a fast, light sucking motion to stimulate the milk letdown reflex. It then switches to a slower, deeper sucking motion to express milk more efficiently.
What Is the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump?
The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump is a double stimulating electric breast pump, but is no longer for sale by Medela. The Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow model is considered the replacement.
Using a Secondhand Breast Pump
Keep in mind if you do get a secondhand breast pump, it can be contaminated with bacteria, mold, and viruses. Additionally, the motors or parts may simply be worn down from use and it may not be very effective at removing milk.
You are better off buying a new one. You can usually get reimbursed by your health insurance if you buy a new pump. Or, they offer some allowance towards a new breast pump.
Both the Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow as well as the Spectra S2 Plus are both closed systems, which is a huge plus. If I were you, I would stay away from any open system pumps. These can cause your milk to become contaminated if there are moldy areas inside the pump that can’t be properly sterilized.
A closed system prevents milk from entering the tubing or motor. Both of the breast pump models discussed allow for a physical barrier between the pump itself and the milk collection kit (bottles, flanges, etc.).
And please don’t be tempted by the cheaper breast pumps on the market. They are cheap for a reason!
Some of them can actually cause tissue damage to your breasts if they reach their suction pressure too quickly or take too much time to build up the right amount of pressure. Ouch!
When looking at the Medela Pump In Style Vs the Spectra S2 breast pumps, I recommend the Spectra S2 breast pump.
Overall, both the Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow and the Spectra S2 are excellent breast pumps that offer strong suction, comfort, and attachment options. The choice between them comes down to personal preference and specific needs.
If you only value portability (size/battery use), the Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow might be the right breast pump for you. However, if you prioritize affordability, comfort, greater customization, timers/lights, ease of use, whisper quiet noise level, and double the warranty period, the Spectra S2 Plus is the way to go.
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