Once you’ve decided that you are going to breastfeed your child, you should start planning as to how you can make this journey easier. Pumping can and will be of immense help. The New Medela Pump In Style with MaxFlow and Spectra S2 are the most selected breast pumps. When I compare the Sectra S2 to the Medela, the Medela gets my vote for its upgraded breast shield design and hospital-grade performance.
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Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style with MaxFlow (PISM)
Both the Spectra S2 and New Medela Pump in Style with MaxFlow seem to get out the same amount of breastmilk. The Medela PISM does look better than the Spectra S2 in that it has a more subtle and stylish look to it, making it even more modest to take to work and other places. Silicone rims on each shield of the Medela PISM are more comfortable and suction better than the Spectra S2. Unlike the Spectra S2, the Medela PISM does not have light nor does it show you what suction level you’re at.
Your Pumping Needs
If you plan to work or be away from your little one for extended periods of time, then aim at pumping and storing milk starting right after you’ve given birth to make sure you have sufficient stash. Not only that but while away keep pumping to ensure your supply doesn’t decline. There are great tips and tricks that you can use to store your liquid gold and going forward you will find out, breast milk can be stored for a couple of hours to up till a few months.
Now you will be questioning which breast pump you should invest in. There are single, double, manual, and electric pumps in the market. An electric one makes the most sense since it’s more time-efficient than a single or a manual, it’s a hands-free option so you can multitask and it’s rhythmic, so you will have controlled suction to help get the milk flowing.
See all the best breast pumps for a full breakdown of the top contenders.
Single or Double Pump
Both Spectra S2 and Medela pumps can be used as a single or a double pump. That’s a great advantage to have especially if you’re breastfeeding and pumping at the same time, or if you need to express milk more from one side.
A double breast pump will be a lot less time-consuming and will get you done in half the time a single does obviously. If you have twins or are pumping at work, a double will suit your needs a lot more.
Both pumps are hands-free and if you invest in a pumping bra it is going to change your world. You can multitask while you’re pumping, so whether you’re a working mom or a mom on the go, having the ability to do other things while you pump is a huge win in our world.
You’re probably wondering what in the world is a closed or an open pumping system. The difference is primarily about how each is cleaned and trust me it’s important.
A closed pumping system does not allow the backflow of milk back in the tubing or the motor. It does not affect motor performance and ensures great hygiene. Because of that, multiple users can use this pump, though I normally discourage people from sharing pumps. It won’t be as hygienically risky with a closed system as it would be with an open one. Not much cleaning of the tubing needed either.
An open system, however, is quite the opposite and does allow for backflow. Moms tend to let it run on its own after they’ve finished up with pumping. That lets any excess milk in the system run cleanly without leaving any leftover in the motor. It is still highly recommended to sterilize and clean the tubing frequently to prevent it from getting moldy.
Both the Spectra S2 and Medela PISM are closed system breast pumps.
See some of the science behind selecting a breast pump.
Adjustable Suction Speed
The Spectra S2 and Medela PISM are both hospital-grade breast pumps which means their suction capabilities are great. If you’re on the lower end of the milk supply, then power pumping either of these will be sure to help boost up your supply to an extent.
Both breast pumps start with a massage that stimulates your letdown reflex to get the milk flowing like it would be activated when a baby latches on. The suction speed is short and shallow. Following that, it goes into the expression mode which is a slower, stronger suction; imitating how baby nurses on a breast. As the speed is adjustable, you can go back and forth from massage mode to expression mode until you find a speed that works well with your flow.
A perk of the Medela, that the Spectra does not feature, are the micro-vibrations that you’ll feel when pumping — another feature to mimic baby’s natural sucking and vibrations when nursing.
While the Medela PISM has an option to adjust the suction speed, it does not have an option to adjust vacuum and speed separately as the Spectra S2 does.
Many moms prefer to pump at night and at work. The downside of pumping at night or at work can be the noise levels of the pump. The constant chugging sounds can wake up your sleeping baby when you’re at home and be distracting if you’re trying to discreetly pump at work.
I think the noise level of Spectra and Medela is pretty similar to each other. If anything, the Medela is said to run louder if the pump isn’t sitting flat on a surface. With the Spectra, you can comfortably pump in the same room as your baby the lights turned off. I mention the lights since Spectra has this awesome feature of a nightlight that will let you see the pump’s display and control buttons in case you need to make any adjustments (unlike the Medela).
For those familiar, Medela PISM is quieter than it’s original PISA (Pump In Style Advanced) model.
Comfortable to Use
This is where the Medela PISM really takes comfortability up a notch. Instead of using plastic and typically uncomfortable flanges for pumping, the Medela’s flanges, called PersonalFit Flex™ breast shields, are designed with silicone around the rims. They are also oval-shaped, rather than round, allowing for an overall better fit.
The silicone and oval shape allows for better suction when pumping and doesn’t feel as rough and awkward as the traditional breast shields that come with the Spectra S2.
Medela’s bottles are the traditional yellow-capped bottles that you’ve seen with previous models.
Spectra’s bottles are a complete miss, unfortunately. The threading is so little that there is a risk of the flanges coming off the bottle if you happen to move around mid-pump. Not only that but if you sterilize in boiling water, the bottle tends to lose its shape and sturdiness.
The valve that comes with Spectra doesn’t seem to have a very long life. Especially since removing it requires giving it a good strong pull which doesn’t help its cause. You can, however, use Medela’s valve and membrane with Spectra’s kit and that should work fine.
Spectra has the breast shield and the flange as a single piece as opposed to two different units. Not only does that make cleaning such a pain, but it also means that in case you need to go up or down a size, you would need to buy the whole unit. You can purchase different breast shields and flanges separately with Medela. It’s easier to purchase single units instead of buying the entire kit.
Needless to say, Medela accessories are of a much higher quality than Spectra’s.
Medela comes with a battery pack which means you can use it anywhere even if you don’t have access to a power outlet. Much more convenient for pumping outside of your home. Unfortunately, Spectra S2 currently does not have a battery pack but you can separately purchase a car adapter if you wish to pump in the car.
Compared to the Spectra S2, the Medela PISM is lighter to carry. The Spectra does have smaller dimensions though so it doesn’t take up as much room.
- Closed system
- Hospital-grade suction helps out with low milk supply
- Varying frequency and suction on both massage and expression mode
- Costs less than the Medela PISM
- Gentle and essentially painless pumping – has more of a natural feel
- Not as noisy as other pumps
- A nightlight that lets you see the display and control in the dark
- With the use of adapters can use parts from Medela
- Closed system
- Hospital-performance increases milk volume by 11.8%
- Max flow micro-vibrations mimics baby nursing
- Great for travel with a battery adapter
- PersonalFit Flex™ breast shields (silicone rim)
- Excellent quality accessories (bottles, flanges, shields)
- Shields and flanges are easy to clean
- Includes cooler bag, pump bag, and battery pack
- Breast shield and flange are one single unit
- Inferior quality bottles
- No battery option
- Relatively new brand to the USA so limited availability
- Cannot separately adjust vacuum and suction speed
- No nightlight or display to show suction speed
- More expensive
Here are what people are saying about these breast pumps:
4 stars, 38 reviews – buybuybaby.com
4 stars, 275 reviews – buybuybaby.com
FAQs about Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style MaxFlow
What bottles are compatible with Spectra S2?
Directly: Avent glass and plastic wide neck bottles, Mam glass and plastic bottles, and Dr. Browns wide neck bottles.
With Spectra Bottle Adaptor: Lifefactory glass bottles, 4 and 9 oz., Evenflo glass and plastic bottles, Dr. Browns glass and plastic regular neck bottles, Medela glass bottles 4 and 9 oz.
With Kiinde Pouch Adaptor: Kiinde Feeding System
With two Papablic Adapters: Comotomo Baby Bottles
How long should I pump?
It depends upon your specific circumstances, but a good rule of thumb is 10 to 15 minutes the first few days after delivery, then around 30 minutes each time (or until the milk has slowed down and breasts no longer feel full).
Is Spectra compatible with Medela?
Not completely — Medela’s accessories are much better than Spectra’s.
In order to use Medela’s higher quality bottles and flanges with Spectra pumps, you must buy a Spectra bottle adapter.
What is the difference between Spectra S1 and S2?
The Spectra S1 is aqua blue and white and has a built-in rechargeable battery, while the S2 is baby pink and white and has only the AC-Adapter.
What is the difference between Medela Pump in Style Advanced and Pump in Style MaxFlow?
The biggest difference between these two breast pumps is that the PISM is a closed system (rather than open) and features silicone-rimmed oval-shaped breast shields for pumping (rather than circular plastic ones).
Why would I need a breast pump?
There are many situations for which you might want to consider a breast pump. Some of the most common are:
- to maintain your milk supply when your baby isn’t nursing or isn’t nursing well.
- to increase your milk supply or to induce lactation.
- because you’ll be away from your baby at work, or for other reasons.
Although the Spectra S2 has been a popular breast pump for a while, we recommend the Medela Pump in Style MaxFlow overall. The improved closed-system design is huge, allowing women to pump safely without the risk of mildew buildup. In addition, this is the first time I’ve seen an improved breast shield (flange) with a silicone rim and oval shape — allowing a more comfortable and effective way of pumping.