Medela Freestyle vs Spectra S1: Comparison Review


The Medela Freestyle vs Spectra S1 has 7 differences and 13 similarities. Read on to find out more.

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Have you heard about the updated Medela Freestyle and do you want to compare it to Spectra S1? They are both spectacular breast pumps and if you’re a new mom, it maybe quite a struggle to choose between them.

The Medela Freestyle Flex though is a relatively new breast pump, released just last 2019. Spectra S1 on the other hand has been in the market way longer but it’s quite interesting to see how the Flex measures up to the S1.

medela freestyle vs spectra s1_8
pic from Medela website

(I also wrote a comparison article on the Spectra S1 vs S2 right here, if you’re interested.)

In this article, I’ve researched thoroughly the differences and similarities between Medela Freestyle Flex vs Spectra S1. I’ve also included the pros and cons regarding their features, so you can easily decide which breast pump would work best for you.

Let’s start with a quick feature comparison of the Spectra vs Medela breast pump below.

Medela Freestyle vs Spectra S1: Feature Comparison Table

This is best viewed on a desktop. Check out the features of the Spectra vs Medela breast pump below.

FeaturesMedela Freestyle FlexSpectra S1
Weightless than 1 pound3 pounds
Pricemore expensive than Spectra S1Cheaper
Set Packagemore accessories than Spectra S1Adequate accessories
Hospital-GradeNoYes
Personalized SettingsAvailableAvailable
Warranty1 year2 years
Customer ServiceExcellentMixed reviews
Rechargeable Batterycharge for 2 hours to get full 2 hours of powercharge for 4 hours to get full 3 hours of power
Closed SystemYesYes
BPA Free PartsYesYes
Suction rateGreat- maximum 270mmHg245mmHG
Universal voltage100V-240V / 50-60Hz100V-240V / 50-60Hz
QuietYesYes
2 Pumping ModeAvailable – Massage and Expression ModeAvailable – Stimulation and Expression Phase
Single and Double PumpAvailableAvailable
Accessories– Easy to find online
– Has PersonalFit Flex Breast shields, which claim will give you 11.8% faster milk flow
– Easy to find online
Auto Shut Off– Turns off after 30 minutes IF there is no user interaction with the pumpShuts off after 30 minutes of pumping time
Built-in Light For Night PumpingAvailable on motor (control) unitAvailable on breast pump
ComfortableYesYes
Easy to cleanYesYes

Read a more detailed info on the differences and similarities between the two breast pumps below.

What’s The Difference Between Medela vs Spectra Breast Pump?

Weight 

The Medela Freestyle Flex is so much lighter, weighing less than 1 pound compared to Spectra S1’s 3 pounds.

medela freestyle vs spectra s1_2
pic from Medela website

It’s compact and lightweight, which is helpful especially if you’re going to the office or on a trip.

Price 

The Medela Freestyle Flex is way pricier than the Spectra S1. But that’s probably because for the whole set, you’ll get more from the Medela Freestyle Flex

Set Package 

Medela Freestyle Set includes:

  • (1) breast pump with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • (2) 21mm PersonalFit Flex™ Breast Shields
  • (2) 24mm PersonalFit Flex™ Breast Shields
  • (2) PersonalFit Flex™ Connectors
  • (4) 5oz/150ml bottles with lids
  • (2) bottle stands
  • (1) tubing
  • (1) carry bag
  • (1) cooler bag with a cooling element
  • (1) power adaptor with USB-C charging cable

Spectra S1 includes:

  • (1) Spectra S1 Electric Breast Pump
  • (1) 12 volt AC power adapter
  • (1) detachable power cord prongs
  • (2) Spectra bottles
  • (2) Spectra backflow protector
  • (2) Spectra duckbill valve
  • (2) Spectra tubing
  • (2) Spectra flange 24mm
  • (2) Spectra flange 28mm

So in short, with Medela Freestyle, you get 4 bottles with lids, 2 bottle stands, a carry bag, and a cooler bag with a cooling element. 

Which the Spectra S1 doesn’t have. Well, they have at least 2 bottles.

You can also sell both at a really good price, not just because they are high-quality breast pumps, but also because of a feature called “closed system.”

Hospital Grade 

Not all breast pumps are considered as “hospital grade” and that is the case with the Medela Freestyle Flex.  Medela’s hospital-grade pump is the Medela Symphony though, in case you’re wondering.

Spectra S1 however, is a hospital-grade breast pump.

Hospital-grade means it’s one of the strongest pumps in the market (270mmHG max suction) and other people can use it, as long as they use it with their accessory kit.

Personalized Settings 

The Medela Freestyle Flex has a separate motor unit to control the pumping mode. This motor unit can also be connected to the MyMedela app.

medela freestyle vs spectra s1_5
pic from Medela website

The MyMedela app allows you to track your pumping and breastfeeding sessions. It can even record diaper output, sleeping habits of your newborn, and more. It can connect easily with Bluetooth, making it convenient and seamless.

Some moms though have mentioned the screen of the control unit is a tad sensitive and at times, unresponsive.

The Spectra S1 on the other hand doesn’t have a separate control unit nor an app. You can easily adjust the pumping mode right on the pump itself though.

What’s neat about the Spectra S1 though is it can automatically save your last pumping mode session. So you don’t need to adjust it next time you pump some milk.

Warranty 

Spectra S1‘s breast pump has a 2-year warranty and its accessories have a 90 days warranty.

The Medela Freestyle has only a 1-year warranty on its motor and 90 days warranty on other parts.

On that note, one mom complained how hard it was to get Medela to honor its warranty when the battery stopped working. But some moms said they had an easier time getting their parts replaced. 

Awesome Customer Service 

Spectra S1 has very responsive and quick customer service, which moms love. While Medela has mixed reviews about its customer service, especially with regards to replacing its battery.

Similarities of Spectra S1 vs Medela Freestyle

The Medela Vs Spectra breast pump have some things in common so let’s get to that while discussing the pros and cons of each of their similar features.

Battery 

Both the Medela Freestyle vs Spectra S1 have rechargeable batteries which is a super convenient feature. 

Imagine the hassle of plugging in a breast pump, only to have the power go out. Or looking for an outlet in your office or a public place. Which you won’t experience with both the Medela Freestyle and Spectra S1, so long as the batteries are working fine.

This rechargeable feature is also helpful for CS moms or those with back pain and you want to avoid bending over to plug in your breast pump all the time.

Charge the Spectra S1 for approximately 4 hours to charge, to get its full 3 hours of power.

medela freestyle vs spectra s1
pic from Spectra website

The Medela Freestyle Flex only needs 2 hours of charging (for the first time), to get a battery life of 2 hours.

But here’s the thing, there are some mixed reviews about the battery life of the Medela.

Some moms are saying it doesn’t fully charge and others have mentioned battery issues, with the pump completely dying on them. If you find yourself in this predicament, try rebooting the Medela by pressing the on/off button for around 10 seconds, as some users have suggested. Call also their customer service and request for a replacement asap.

Anyway, it’s highly recommended to fully charge both pumps to prolong their battery health.

Take note to only use the power adapter and cable that comes with your breast pump for safety purposes.

Closed System

The Medela Freestyle Flex and Spectra S1 are both closed system breast pumps. That means it prevents the breastmilk from entering the tubing or motor while pumping. 

This blocks air or bacteria or for molds to form in the tubes, which can contaminate your milk.

BPA Free Parts

Spectra S1‘s containers and accessories that come in contact with your breastmilk are all BPA/DEHP free. Same as well with the Medela Freestyle Flex.

For the Medela Freestyle Flex, the materials that come in contact with the milk are made of the following: 

  • Breast shield: Polypropylene, thermoplastic elastomer •Connector: Polypropylene, silicone
  • Bottle: Polypropylene
  • Lid: Polypropylene
medela freestyle vs spectra s1_3
pic from Medela website

Suction Rate 

The Spectra S1 has a motor suction rate of 270mmHg.

That’s considered powerful, giving you more milk output per session at a lesser time.

medela freestyle vs spectra s1_10
pic from Spectra’s Instagram report @vashtie

The Medela Freestyle Flex is also supposed to have the same maximum suction rate but it seems it can only go until 245mmHG. Some users have also mentioned that they can’t seem to use the maximum suction rate and will usually use 4 to 5 out of 9.

There’s also a lot of mixed reviews about how much milk some moms are getting from the Medela Freestyle. 

Below are some examples of pumping sessions from real moms (from online forums), to give you an idea of how Medela Freestyle Flex‘s suction performance: 

  • Pumping 3-4 times a day, 30min each, level 4 at the beginning and then changing slowly to 6. Gets at least 200ml a day.
  • Pump 15 mins every 4 hours, not regularly though, starting at start out on 7, then bump it up to 8 or 9 but can still get 6-8 oz every pump

Some users have also complained about the weakening suction power of both breast pumps after several months of use, more so for the Medela Freestyle Flex.

Universal Voltage 

Both the Medela Flex vs Spectra S1 have the same universal voltage of 100V-240V / 50-60Hz so you can practically use it any place and in any country.

Super Quiet 

Both the Medela vs Spectra breast pump have a really quiet motor at 45DB. 

The noise level is similar to a refrigerator or is between a hushed library setting and hearing a conversation in a quiet suburb. Quiet enough not to wake up your baby and discreet enough for pumping at work or outdoors and quiet.

pic from Instragam @wonderfullyale

2 Pumping Mode 

The Medela Freestyle vs Spectra S1 has both the same 2 pumping modes, but they have different terms for it. Plus there are also slight differences with these pumping modes.

Let’s go first with the Spectra S1, which has massage and expression mode.

Spectra S1 Pumping Mode

The Massage mode is for stimulating the letdown reflex by using the motor’s suction strength range from levels 1-5. Once the milk is flowing, you can turn to Expression mode, with a suction strength level of 1 to 12.

The Expression mode has also 5 varying cycle speeds, while the Massage mode has only 1 single cycle speed.

Medela Freestyle Flex Pumping Mode

The Medela has 2 Phase Expression (which means pumping mode, basically, just like the Spectra S1.

It has the Stimulation Phase, which is the fast sucking pumping mode to stimulate milk flow. Then it has the Expression Phase, the slower sucking mode for more comfortable and efficient pumping.

The Medela Freestyle has also an adjustable suction mode, with its level starting at L1 up to L9.

However, it doesn’t have any speed settings. So that means, you can’t make the pumping go faster or slower. You can only control its suction power.

Now here are the pros and cons of the adjustable pumping mode of both these breast pumps.

medela freestyle vs spectra s1
pic from Medela website

Pros of Spectra S1 vs Medela Freestyle Flex Pumping Mode

The pros of this 2 pump mode feature are, you can choose how fast or slow you want to pump. 

This can be helpful if you’re quite familiar with your baby’s nursing patterns and you want to mimic that with the Medela Freestyle or Spectra S1.

Both breast pumps start with the Expression mode but you can adjust it with no issues. 

Cons of Spectra S1 vs Medela Freestyle Flex Pumping Mode

The cons of these 2 pumping mode are actually more for first-time moms.

Since you’re not yet familiar with your baby’s nursing patterns, it can be quite overwhelming to find the right setting combos for pumping.

And both have varying suctions modes. Spectra S1 even has 5 cycle speeds for the Expression mode!

So with all those pumping mode options to choose from, it can be quite a hassle for a new mom who just wants to pump milk at the most comfortable and quickest setting possible.

Turns into Single and Double Pump 

You can use both the Medela Freestyle and Spectra S1 as a double or single pump and can easily adjust the setting for both.

Accessories 

It’s quite easy to find both accessories for the Medela Flex vs Spectra S1 online. It’s available on Amazon, Target, Buy Buy Baby, and Bed Bath and Beyond.

FYI, Medela Freestyle Flex is only compatible with their PersonalFit Flex Breast shields, which they claim will give you 11.8% faster milk flow, compared to regular shields. Just throwing it out there.

Anyway, back to finding accessories online.

Most users said that when it comes to buying in a physical store, some people are saying it’s pretty hard to find the accessories. So it’s better to order extra accessories online. 

And when you order online, consider these other tips, as given by other moms online:

  • The set of flanges or breast shields that’s include in the set might not fit you, so get one that suits you. Here’s the flanges or shield guide for the Spectra and Medela.
  • Pumping Pals flanges can be used for Spectra S1 breast pump
  • Spectra is also compatible with Medela and Avent storage bottles
  • You can use a Maymom flange adapter, to use a Medela spare part
  • Get a hands-free pumping bra, so you can pump and do chores at the same time
  • Buy also a carrying case, if budget permits, or other cases that can fit your pumping breast set

Automatically Shuts Off 

Both the Medela Freestyle and Spectra S1 stops automatically after 30 minutes, but take note of a slight difference:

Spectra S1 shuts off after 30 minutes of pumping time. Medela Freestyle Flex turns off after 30 minutes IF there is no user interaction with the pump.

Also, the Medela beeps after 15 minutes, reminding you of how much you’ve pumped.

Built-in Light For Night Pumping 

Both breast pumps lights up, so it will be easy to see the settings at night but there’s a slight difference.

The Medela Freestyle Flex‘s motor or control unit lights up when the breast pump is switched on. The Spectra S1 has no control unit, but its pump has a LED built-in light, which has 2 light modes.

Comfortable

Both breast pumps are comfortable to use, according to many users.

Although there are mixed reviews regarding its suction strength and battery, (more so for the Medela Freestyle), both breast pumps have been so far, stellar in providing a gentle pumping experience.

Easy to Clean 

Both the Medela Freestyle Flex and Spectra S1 are easy to clean, compared to other brands. The parts are easy to assemble, disassemble, and clean.

Some mom gave a tip though to get some Nenesupply duckbill valves for the Spectra S1, as all those cleaning can stretch and tear and this valves will help ensure an optimal suction.

Medela vs Spectra: Which One is Better?

The Spectra S1 seems like an obvious winner for a number of reasons:

  • It’s been in the market longer
  • It has more positive reviews of it online
  • Way cheaper than the Medela Freestyle Flex (which is a new model, by the way, just released last Nov 2019)
medela freestyle vs spectra s1
pic from Spectra’s Instagram

But don’t easily disregard the Medela Freestyle. It has its advantages:

  • It’s way lighter and super portable
  • Comes with a handy control unit that connects to an app to easily track your pumping sessions and other data
  • As comfy as the Spectra S1

Some moms have also reported an increase in their milk supply when using the Medela Freestyle Flex. 

Probably because of their PersonalFit Flex Breast shields? So that’s something to consider.

If it’s possible to rent both, try it out and see which suits you better.

But if you’re after reliability and price, Spectra S1 is the better breast pump. If you want a more compact and handy pump, then Medela Freestyle Flex is more suitable for you.

I hope this article has helped choose between the Medela Freestyle vs Spectra S1.