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Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style

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Which of these powerhouses is for you?

A breast pump is a significant investment. You don’t want to risk spending a lot of money on an item you can’t return, only to find out it doesn’t meet your needs.

To help you choose between the Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style, we list the basic specifications of both, let you know the similarities and differences between the pumps, and share their pros and cons.

Medela Pump in Style vs Spectra S2 - All You Need to Know

The Medela Pump in Style is the quieter of the two pumps, is incredibly comfortable, and the built-in battery pack allows you to pump on the go. However, the Spectra S2 has a clear digital display, a built-in night-light, and you can adjust the suction strength and speed separately, all features the Medela lacks.


Product Comparison Chart

Product Spectra: S2 Plus Electric Breast Pump Medela: Pump In Style® MaxFlow™
Price Check Price Check Price
Weight 3.5 lbs 1 lb
System Closed Closed
Timer Yes No
Modes 2: letdown/massage & expression 2: letdown/massage & expression
Cycle speed settings Letdown: 1 cycle speed, expression: 5 cycle speeds N/A — combined with suction into 9 levels
Suction 12 levels N/A — combined with cycle speed into 9 levels
Settings selection +/- buttons +/- buttons
Display Digital No
Night-light Yes No
Bottles 2 included with lids, cap discs & nipples 4 included with lids & cap discs
Bags Tote bag included Cooler bag & microfibre pump bag
Cooler Included Included
AC sdapter Included Included
Batteries No — batteries are not required Battery pack for 8AA batteries. Batteries are not included.
Car sdapter Not included — available separately Not included — available separately
Warranty 2 years 1-year parts warranty

Product Overviews

Should you lay your money down on the Medela Pump in Style or the Spectra S2? Let’s take a look.

1. Spectra: S2 Plus Electric Breast Pump

Best Breast Pump for Nighttime Pumping

The Spectra S2 is a user-friendly breast pump with a handy digital display. This display allows you to know exactly which settings you find comfortable and not to crank up the pump past your comfort level accidentally.

There is a built-in night-light, which is extremely useful for nighttime use. Plus, the noise levels are low for an electric breast pump, so if you pump at night, you are unlikely to wake the entire household.

However, on the downside, the Spectra picks up where it left off. This can be quite a shock to the system if you forget this, get set up, turn on the pump, and jump right into an intense expression mode instead of the pump’s letdown mode.

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Pros

  • Allows you to adjust suction strength and speed separately.
  • Quiet enough for nighttime pumping.
  • Built-in night-light.
  • Digital display allows you to adjust settings quickly.

Cons

  • Doesn’t reset to the letdown mode after use.
  • No battery option
  • Tubing can randomly disconnect.

Product Specs

Weight 3.5 lbs
System Closed
Timer Yes
Modes 2: Letdown/massage and expression
Cycle speed Letdown: 1 cycle speed, expression: 5 cycle speeds
Suction 12 levels
Settings selection +/ – buttons
Display Digital
Night-light Yes
Bottles 2 included with lids, cap discs, and nipples
Bags Tote bag included
Cooler Included
AC adapter Included
Batteries No — batteries are not required
Car adapter Not included — available separately
Warranty 2-Year warranty

2. Medela: Pump In Style® MaxFlow™

Best Breast Pump for Occasional Mobility

More than just a pump, the Medela comes with everything you need to start pumping. This includes a stylish cooler bag and ice pack, two different nipple shield sizes, two bottle stands, and four Medela bottles with lids.

You can use the Medela Pump in Style as either a single or double breast pump, and the functional bottle stands mean you can pump from one side while your baby feeds from the other, without worrying about the bottle falling over and spilling your precious liquid gold.

The new model of the Medela Pump In Style® with MaxFlow™ technology has 2-Phase Expression® Technology, which Medela says mimics a baby’s natural suckling patterns, rhythms, and strengths.

There is a 6-foot power cable for comfortable pumping at home or work, or you can use the external battery pack that comes with the pump. The battery pack takes 8AA batteries which gives you roughly 2 hours of pumping.

Pros

  • PersonalFit Flex™ breast shields are incredibly comfortable.
  • The battery pack allows you to pump on the go.
  • All parts in contact with milk are BPA-free.
  • On the quieter end of the breast pump noise scale.
  • Parts can be sterilized in the microwave.

Cons

  • The pump vibrates, which can become annoying.
  • There’s no display to tell you which suction level the pump is set on.
  • Cannot adjust suction strength and speed separately.

Product Specs

Weight 1 lb
System Closed
Timer No
Modes 2: Letdown/massage and expression
Cycle speed settings N/A — combined with suction into 9 levels.
Suction N/A — combined with cycle speed into 9 levels.
Settings selection +/ – buttons
Display N/A
Night-light N/A
Bottles 4 included with lids and cap discs
Bags Cooler bag and microfibre pump bag
Cooler Included
AC adapter Included
Batteries Battery pack for 8AA batteries. Batteries are not included.
Car adapter Not included — available separately
Warranty 1-year parts warranty

In-Depth Feature Comparison

How do the two pumps measure up on the features that matter most?

Settings

Being able to fine-tune the settings on the Spectra S2 means you can alter both the cycle speed and the suction level.

The suction speed is how many times in a minute the breast pump sucks, and the suction level is how hard it sucks. The Spectra has one cycle speed in the letdown mode, simulating the fast, more frantic sucking of a hungry baby. In expression mode, there are five speeds.

This combination of cycle speed and suction level control allows you to fine-tune the way the pump withdraws milk from your breast.

Meanwhile, the Medela Pump in Style cycle speed and suction settings are preprogrammed. This means you have a choice between one of the nine settings, but you cannot, for instance, slow the cycling down while keeping the suction at the same level.

Winner

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Portability

Both the Medela Pump in Style and the Spectra S2 are mains operated pumps that you plug into a wall outlet. In addition, both Medela and Spectra make a car adapter so you can use the pump on the go.

However, the Medela Pump in Style has a separate battery pack. The battery pack is basically a plastic box into which you put 8AA batteries. You then plug the Pump in Style into the battery pack, and you’ll get roughly six 20 minute pumping sessions or two hours total.

If you choose to use the battery pack, you can use rechargeable AA batteries. Our advice is to buy 16 rechargeable AAs, have one set in your battery charger and one set in the Medela battery back. That way, you’ll always have spare, charged AAs.

The battery pack makes the Medela a relatively portable pump that you can use on vacation or if you will be moving between several rooms at home while you pump. However, it is not a practical “hands-free” pump because it is too bulky to wear or carry.

On the other hand, the Spectra S2 doesn’t have a battery pack or an option to use it with an external power source. As a result, the Spectra is brilliant if you will be pumping in one spot at a time, but not so great if you know you’ll want to be mobile.

Display

The Spectra S2 has a digital display. The display shows you how many cycles per minute and what suction level you have the pump set to. It also has a timer that displays how long you have been pumping.

On the other hand, Medela Pump in Style doesn’t have a display to either let you know which setting you have the pump on or for how long you have been pumping.

This may not seem like a big deal. After all, if you’ve been pumping often enough, you know what settings work for you, and you can always use a clock or your phone to time how long you’ve been at it, right?

Well, yes, you can, but — your pumping needs change over time. What worked for you yesterday may not be the best setting today. If you have tweaked your settings, it can take several sessions to remember where you want them, especially if you are struggling with a lack of sleep.

Also, having the timer and the settings on a digital display gives you one less thing to think about and organize. This is especially true in the night, when the Spectra’s built-in night-light lets you quickly and easily set yourself up, then sit back and pump away.

Winner

Where Will You Use it and How Often?

How often and where you plan to use your breast pump is a significant factor in the Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style Maxflow debate.

Do you plan to use your pump from time to time, maybe to build up a supply in the freezer for the occasional day away from your baby? Then an efficient pump that you can use sitting in one place is suitable.

However, if you will be regularly moving between locations, perhaps pumping at work, moving between a couple of rooms, or at the home of a friend or relative, then a pump you can use in different locations could have the edge.

While both pumps have a car adapter that will allow you to pump on the go, only the Medela Pump in Style has a battery pack that will enable you to pump without being tethered to the wall.


Frequently Asked Questions

These are the questions about these two pumps we hear most often.

Is Spectra S2 a Hospital Grade Pump?

There is no set standard for what can be considered a “hospital-grade” breast pump, and manufacturers often use the term for marketing purposes (1). This phrase doesn’t reflect how powerful or efficient the pump is.

People who have breast pumps marketed as hospital-grade are split over whether or not they are any more effective than other pumps.

The closest thing to a definition of hospital grade is that these pumps are considered, by the manufacturers, to be suitable for multiple people. In that case, the Spectra S2 is not a hospital-grade pump.

What Is Better Spectra S1 or S2?

The only difference between the Spectra S1 and S2 is that the S1 has a rechargeable battery. If the ability to pump without being connected to an outlet is important, go with the S1. If not, the S2 does precisely the same thing and is more affordable.

Can You Pump Directly into Storage Bags with Spectra S2?

You can pump directly into storage bags with the Spectra S2, but you have to buy an adapter that fits your bags and the pump.

What Bottles Are Compatible With Spectra S2?

With the Spectra S2, you can pump directly into Phillips Avent bottles without an adapter. Alternatively, you can pump into regular Evanflo, Lifefactory, Medela, Tommy Tippee, Kindle, and NUK bottles, but you will have to buy an adapter.


Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style MaxFlow: Who Wins?

If you are likely to want an element of mobility, the Medela Pump in Style Maxflow will give it to you, although it is by no means something you can use while you wander about for long.

If mobility isn’t a deal-breaker for you, then choose the Spectra S2. Not only do we like the digital display, timer, and built-in night-light, but it is around two-thirds of the price of the Medela Pump in Style.

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Headshot of Jenny Silverstone

Edited by

Jenny Silverstone

Jenny Silverstone is a professional writer, editor, and most importantly, the loving mother of two. Jenny's goal at Mom Loves Best is to help the other moms like her who are struggling and trying to do their best but feel totally overwhelmed.