Medela vs Spectra

You’ve been looking around for a while, and you’ve finally managed to whittle down your search to two of what seems like the best breast pumps on the market, now how do you go about making a choice? I don’t blame you if you’re feeling a little confused.

Trying to choose between the Spectra Pump and the Medela could be like choosing between fudge brownies and chocolate cake. They’re both scrumptious! So how do you do it?

By considering all the features, pros and cons and then making the decision based on which one is better for your individual needs. Without further ado, here’s the Medela Pump In Style vs Spectra S1 review.

Table of Contents

Review: Medela Pump In Style Advanced (PISA)

Medela is one of the most widely used brands today, and moms all over the world love it for a number of reasons which we’re going to break down here.

This brand dominates the breast pump market right now (compared to Spectra who is relatively new on the scene).


– One of the best pumps for travel
– Comfortable for women with larger nipples
– Ideal for women who need stronger suction
– Medela has a double pumping kit that comes with breast shields
– You can plug it in or you can run it on AA batteries
– It comes with 2-phase expression technology for more ease of use
– Every one of the parts in contact with the breast milk is BPA-free
– The pump comes with a freezer pack and a cooler bag which is removable
– Vacuum knob and adjustable speed
– Comes with Tote Bag included
– Includes valves, tubing, and membranes

Review: Spectra S1

Although new, this brand is gaining popularity very fast because of its amazingly affordable high-quality pumps. Moms all over the world are loving the versatility and comfort that comes with the use of Spectra breast pumps.

Here are some of their best selling points, and the reasons why they look set to one day overtake the competition.


– Great for working moms – ideal for daily use
– Excellent nipple stimulation – ideal for inducing lactation and for low milk supply
– Works nicely for smaller nipples
– Hospital-grade
– Comes with a built-in rechargeable battery and AC adapter
– Pump performance is powerful and gives maximum suction strength
– Closed system pump
– Single or double pump options
– Digital Controls
– You can set the speed and rhythm that is most effective for your body
– Allows you to save your favorite settings and set a program
– The suction is adjustable whether in expression or let-down mode
– Super quiet and lightweight
– 2-level built-in light
– BPA Free parts

What These Two Pumps Have In Common?

As you’ve seen, there are a lot of differences between these two pumps, but there are some great features that they have in common. These include:

– Both are double electric and they give you the option to function as a single pump

– They each have the option for battery power meaning that they are portable and easy to use for busy moms

– The retail price for both these breast pumps is almost the same, which is great because now you can go with the pump that you really want and not just the one that costs less

– They both allow you to control suction as well as the speed of the pump. This is great for personalizing the pumping session to whatever is more comfortable for you.

What Are The Differences?

The Medela Pump In Style Advanced breast pump also has some big differences from the Spectra S1 and the major ones that are worth mentioning are as follows.

Open vs Closed System

This is an important difference. The S1 comes with a closed system pump while the Medela has an open system pump. What this means is that the SI has keeps the milk from entering the tubes and the pump’s motor but the Medela does not have a barrier like that.

This means that with the Medela PISA you’ll have to frequently sterilize the tubes in an effort to keep mold from forming in them. Basically, I feel that a closed system pump is way more sanitary.


As previously stated, both the Spectra S1 and the PISA conveniently give you the option to run them off of battery power if you don’t have access to electricity, and this makes them extremely portable. But a major difference is that the S1 has a built-in rechargeable battery and the PISA does not.

Instead, it comes with a battery pack for AA batteries. This is worth thinking about depending on where you’ll be using the pump.

Pump Strength

Both these pumps are powerful and perform great, but we’re trying to find one that does better than the other, aren’t we? The Spectra S1 is listed as ‘hospital grade’, a label that denotes spectacular power.

The Medela Breast Pump doesn’t even begin to come close to performing the way that the S1 does when it comes to pumping power.

The PISA maxes out at 250 mmHg while the S1 goes to 280 mmHg maximum suction strength so it wins this category hands-down.

Pump Controls

While both pumps let you control the suction of the pump as well as the speed of the suction, the breast pump from Medela uses dials that you turn to control those settings.

On the other hand, S1 has digital controls. It even has a handy backlight so you can see what you’re doing in darker settings. In addition to all that, it has a timer which I think is super helpful for mommies on the go.


The Medela PISA comes with way more accessories than the S1 does out of the box. With the PISA you get all the pump parts that you need for getting started, including a cooler with an ice pack, a tote bag, and they even throw in some milk storage bag samples as well as a magnet for storage guidelines.

The S1 comes only with the pump parts. They don’t give you a cooler or tote which may or may not be a big deal for you. If you already have your own stylish bags then you probably won’t care for the one that comes with the PISA pump, but still, it’s something to consider.

The cooler, on the other hand, is super cool and I don’t think you’d want to miss out on that one. It comes with a contoured ice pack that fits perfectly around the storage bottles. That’s a really nice unique feature from PISA.

Pump Noise

Neither of these pumps is particularly quiet, but between the two, the PISA is noisier. You can just forget about pumping milk discretely. The S1 is much quieter and wins this category hands-down.

Final Verdict

As I said before, it will have to depend on the user because each mommy has its own unique criteria that must be met, but in my humble opinion, I think that the Spectra S1 takes the cup.

Although both these popular brands are great, Spectra S1 is slightly better because of the combination of digital controls and pump strength which makes it super-convenient for busy moms.

Also, it’s extremely comfortable which is a big plus as most new moms will tell you how sensitive their nipples can be during a pumping session. This gives the Spectra S1 a real edge over the Medela PISA.

As a new mom, you really cannot go wrong with either of these two pumps. Just consider all the features of both and decide which one will serve you better depending on your particular circumstances.

Need more breast pump options? See our comparison of 3 best Mandela pumps.

Go With The Spectra S1 if:

– You want a breast pump that feels as close as possible to a baby’s suckling
– You want a pump that won’t leave your nipples feeling sore
– You want to be able to adjust the suction and speed of the pump to your own particular rhythm
– You want to stimulate milk flow so you can finish pumping in the shortest time possible and with the least amount of irritation
– You want an affordable breast pump with the choice of single or double pumping

Go With The Medela Pump In Style Advanced If:

– You want a durable, dependable and affordable breast pump
– You want a pump with a powerful suction and letdown mode
– You want a breast pump that you can easily use when you’re away from home
– You want a pump that can run on batteries or that you can plug into a car adapter, very convenient for use in the car or while on a plane
– You have larger than average nipples and you need a pump that comes with large and extra-large nipple shields

Also Recommended: Spectra Baby S2 Double or Single Breast Pump

Among the many amazing features of the Spectra S2 breast pump is the design that really caters to the needs of moms everywhere who want an effective but comfortable way of pumping milk.

The powerful S2 makes pumping sessions a breeze by supporting supply in a gentle and efficient way.

All breast pumps from Spectra come with a closed system which is great for keeping your breast pump sanitary. This physical barrier between the milk and the pump not only ensures better hygiene but also enhances motor performance.

This hospital-grade breast pump is among one of the more affordable ones that don’t compromise on quality and it has a lot of glowing reviews from very happy customers all over the world thanks to its amazing technology and unique features that make things a little simpler for moms everywhere.

The maximum suction strength of 300 mmHg means that you won’t have to sit for hours on each pumping cycle. It also has the option for a single pump or the double which offers you even more convenience especially if you’re a busy working mom.

The Spectra S2 breast pump is super-quiet, comfortable, flexible and has digital controls that make pumping a breeze.

Common Problems With Breast Pumps

There are some common issues that the people you buy your breast pump from may not be advertising but that you should be on the lookout for:

– Some breast pumps are very loud, with a noise that sounds like a cross between a chugging train and a vacuum.

– Low-quality breast pumps also hurt your nipples and lead to painful conditions like cracked nipples.

– Some breast pumps have poor suction which means that they are not strong enough to induce lactation.

– Low-quality breast pumps usually come with non-closed systems which are very, very hard to clean when the milk gets inside the tubes.

– They have cheap motors that burn out in a few months of daily use which means that you have to replace them every 3 or so months.

– Manual pumps may seem like a good idea, but your hands will tire very quickly.

Both Medela and Spectra breast pumps are popular high-quality products that have great reputations on the market.

Neither of them has any of the problems listed above, but that just means that making the choice between them isn’t going to be easy. It never is when two great products are involved, but let’s put them toe-to-toe and see if one doesn’t come up on top.

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