Breast Pumps: My Experience with the Medela Symphony and the Spectra S1


If you plan on feeding your new baby breast milk and don’t plan to exclusively feed on the breasts, then you need to start thinking about breast pumps. Here are my experiences after nearly 7 months of pumping full-time. 

Medela Symphony: The top of the line breast pump

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a breast pump that suits your unique body and needs. Good breast pumps will help you to maintain or increase your supply while making the pumping experience more enjoyable. I originally got a Medela Pump-in-Style from my health insurance plan. I didn’t know anything about pumping at the time and I chose it because it was free, and it received a high review on the Medela website. I used it for two days and realized it wasn’t a good fit for me at all.  Since I wasn’t producing enough milk for my baby, I visited a lactation consultant and she recommended renting the Medela Symphony for the first three months to build up my milk supply. I gave it a try and I loved it so much that I continued renting it for several more months.  It works well to empty my breasts, is hospital grade, and has easy to understand buttons and parts.

Spectra S1: Portable perfection

When I went back to work, I realized that I needed something lighter than the Symphony. A breast pump that I could easily carry back and forth from my classroom to the pumping room. A lot of moms recommended the Spectra S1, so I decided to give it a try. 

Honestly, I didn’t like it at first. All breast pumps are unique — and I didn’t want to change from my tried and true Symphony. There are several settings to fiddle with which made the process of finding what worked for me a lot of trial and error. After experimenting with different ways of using it for two weeks, I found my sweet spot and then totally loved it! I find that it actually empties me better than Symphony! The really neat thing about Spectra S1 is that it has a rechargeable battery. You can easily take it to the airport or pump in the car if you have to go places.

Sharing parts between the Symphony and S1 breast pumps

By the time I got the Spectra S1 I had already purchased a lot of Medela bottles and pump parts which don’t fit on the Spectra breast pumps. I hated the idea of spending more money on all new sets so I did some research and found a way to “hack” the Spectra pump. I used an item called the Maymom Backflow Adapter. It’s a yellow piece that can connect the Medela pump parts to the Spectra backflow protector, and it works beautifully!

Other essential breast pumping items

Hands-free pumping bra: A good hands-free pumping bra makes double pumping easy. It also frees your hands so you can check on your phone or even do some work on your laptop while pumping. 

Lots of bottles and extra pump parts: The more parts you have, the less frequently you need to wash them! Additionally, if a part breaks you’ll have a backup ready, meaning you don’t have to wait for your new parts to arrive.

Coconut oil: When your nipples get sore or cracked, coconut oil is a safe and natural way to heal them back to normal. It is also a really good lubrication during pumping.

Breast milk storage bags: Great for storing milk in the fridge and essential for freezing your excess supply! A tip for freezing: I recommend laying the filled bag on something flat in the freezer so that it solidifies into a solid, thin rectangle. This will make storing and organizing your “stash” super efficient!