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What I Love Wednesday—Medela Freestyle Breast Pump

2011 June 1
by bvoboril

If you don’t want to read about breast and breast milk, STOP READING HERE!

But if you’d like to know about the breast pump I’ve been using, this is the post for you. As with all my posts, I’m not claiming to be an expert. BUT, I have learned a lot about this particular area because it consumed my life for 6.5 weeks while Ethan was in the NICU. So I hope it helps a future mom or two out there!

This week’s product: Medela Freestyle Breast Pump

A breast pump is a big ticket item on the baby gear list. Everyone has a different opinion and every website recommends something different. And if you are like me, you don’t even understand exactly how you’ll be using it!

I was bombarded by questions:

  • should I borrow a friend’s pump?
  • should I rent a hospital grade pump?  And what is a hospital grade pump?
  • should I buy a new retail pump? What brand?
  • how the heck do I use this thing?
  • and the list goes on

New or Used?
After tons of researching, I decided to buy my own pump. I look back and now see that taking a hand-me-down pump from a friend would have been OK, as long at I replaced all the accessories. But I’m 100% happy with my decision to go new. Retail pumps are not meant to last forever like hospital grade pumps, so they will probably only make it through two babies, if that. If you get a used pump, it may break down on you or be less powerful than it was originally, which can affect your supply. Also, if you are going back to work or exclusively pumping, a new pump is just as important as a crib or stroller…you will use it every single day, sometimes up to ten times per day! Worth every penny.

Speaking of cost, I didn’t think I’d get such an expensive item for my showers. So I researched like crazy and then  bought my Freestyle on Ebay. It was brand new, sealed, and saved me a lot of money. The pump is a brand new model, so at the time I was pregnant it was $375 at most retail stores. I got it for $250. Not bad! Since then the price has dropped to $341 at Target.

This said, if you are talking about a hospital grade pump, it is absolutely fine to go used…they are built for heavy use!

There are three basic types of breastfeeding moms:

  1. Exclusively Breastfeeding Mamma. This mom is not working and can be with baby 95% of the time in order to provide food whenever baby needs it. Technically, this type of mom doesn’t give her baby ANY bottles or pacifiers, but that isn’t very realistic. You will probably want dad to give baby a bottle every now and then, and you’ll need to leave milk for the babysitter when you want to go out…even if it’s just for a very short time. In this case, a pump is necessary, but not used as much as with the other two types of moms.
  2. Working Mamma. If you are planning to go back to work, like I was, then it’s especially important to get a good pump, because you KNOW you’ll be using it every day for as long as you plan to breast feed your baby. You will start out as type #1, because hopefully you’ll have maternity leave. But when you return to work, you aren’t going to want to lug a huge pump with you to and from work, so that is a big reason to choose a pump like this…more on that in a minute. You also want something that is good quality and won’t poop out on you after a few months of use.
  3. Exclusively Pumping Mamma. Maybe you are a mom with twins (or more!) and find it too difficult to breastfeed both, or maybe you tried but had trouble getting your baby to latch successfully but still wanted to provide them with the best food available. It’s a lot of work, but is a great option if necessary. I thought it might be the path I would have to take with Ethan being premature! After a lot of hard work, I became the first type of BF mom. You need a really good pump if you are this mom–hospital grade is a very very good option if you are planning to provide breast milk for six months to a year!

I think the Medela pump works for any type of mom, but especially type #2, Working Mamma. Here are some reasons I love it!

The Medela Freestyle is a tiny pump…it can literally fit in your pocket!  It even comes with belt onto which you can clip the pump. It sounds crazy, but it really comes in handy if you don’t have a pocket!

Some pumps are attached to a bag, but this one is not. It takes up hardly any space in the nifty bag it comes with. There is plenty of leftover room for your storage bottles, insulated cooler, and other pump accessories.

Two-Phase Expression Technology
This means that the pump mimics how a baby would nurse. It starts out with quick, short pumping for a bit, then switches to longer pumps to simulate ‘let down‘. You can adjust how your pump does this too…custom to what you like/need.

Time Saving
Because this is a double pump, you get done fast! I can’t imagine having a single pump…it is so much more efficient to do both at the same time. BUT, if you don’t need to do both, you have the option to do one at a time. Yes it only saves 15-20 minutes, but believe me, at 2am it makes a difference.

This may sound funny, but I LOVE the timer on this pump! You think it’s easy to keep track of when 20 minutes is up, but it’s not. Especially when you are dead tired and/or really distracted. The front display tells you exactly how long you’ve been pumping so there is no guessing. Sometimes time flies and sometimes it crawls…this timer is great.

Auto Shut-off
Sure, laugh it up! But get back to me after you fall asleep and end up pumping for two hours! (This actually happened to someone I know…I’m not kidding!) For me, I spent my pumping time on the computer and would sometimes lose track of time. At 30 mintes this pump shuts off. So there is no chance of an all-night pump-a-thon.

Cooler & Ice Pack
This pump comes with a little zippered cooler and a contoured ice pack to use for storing your milk at work during the day. I used it to store milk I pumped in the middle of the night so I didn’t have to go downstairs to the fridge. It was perfect!

Hands Free Kit
This pump boasts that it’s ‘hands free’. Yes it comes with little strappy things that hook onto your nursing bra clips. And yes, they do work. But what’s even easier, is to get yourself a cheap, back closure sports bra. Cut holes in the cups, stick your breast shields through, and PRESTO, you have a hands free pump. And you just saved yourself $20 and the headache of hooking up the strappy things.

A Few Recommendations

  1. This pump comes with a set of SoftFit breast shields (the ‘cone’ part), but I recommend trying a set of Medela PersonalFit breast shields. They come in different sizes and are MUCH more comfortable than the SoftFit. I don’t know who can use the SoftFit—I hated them.
  2. Get a couple sets of breast shields and a couple extra Medela Freestyle Spare Parts Kit…have a three sets of accessories which saves some midnight washing time. I like to throw mine in the dishwasher too, so if you have extras it makes this easier.
  3. Speaking of washing—DO NOT listen to the stories about boiling your pumping supplies. The nurses and lactation consultants at the NICU said warm water and dish soap is more then sufficient.
  4. Get yourself some Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags. (Use another brand at your own risk…I did and was sorry). You fill these with pumped milk and lay them flat to freeze. This takes up WAY less space in your freezer and they are easy to mark with the date and volume. DO NOT trust the volume markings on the bags…write it on there every time or you will have no idea how much milk is in the bag.
  5. No matter what, feed baby or pump every 2-3 hours, especially in the first few weeks. If baby sleeps more than 3 hours, pump. If baby sleeps through the night? Pump. Gotta get the milk going!  Eventually you’ll be able to go all night, but not until your milk is regulated.
  6. Probably the most important recommendation: Sign up for a breastfeeding class and join a support group!!!
One Response leave one →
  1. Amy Voboril Kohlhepp permalink
    June 1, 2011

    I’m here to say that I LIVE and depend on my breast pump! I have the medela Pump in Style and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I use it everyday and have since the day I brought Annette home from the hospital.
    One of my best friends is a SAHM and pretty well off…so she bought pretty much every fancy baby thing you can think of. She bought the medela PIS for almost $500 brand new. Since she was a SAHM she used the breast pump maybe ONCE, she GAVE me her brand new Medela PIS. BUT I will say that if she didn’t give me hers, I would have bought a new one.
    When I went back to work I was pumping twice a life revolved around the pump (similiar to you Becky when Ethan was in the NICU).
    One thing that is a bit different with the Pump In Style is that it comes with a nice back pack to carry all of your breast pumping necessities. If you are going back to work full time I highly reccomend the pump in style. My other girl friend only pumps twice a week and likes the freestyle better since she just pumps from home. My students would always see me with my little black backpack and ask me what was in it since I had to carry it with me everywhere :) And another thing is that Medela is VERY sturdy. Those bottles have been through the ringer, along with the cooler carrying case and ice pack, and they still look brand new. Great quality. Plus I love the little window insert on the cooler carrying case, since Annette goes to daycare I put her name card in there so Aunty knows that it’s hers. I’m anal about putting her name on everything (it’s a teacher thing I guess!)..

    GREAT blog Becky! I’m so behind on mine :(
    Congrats on being an official SAHM!!!

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