Spectra vs Medela - Which Breast Pump is Better?

February 19 2020


With so many options, trying to decide between different breast pumps can be hard. Really hard! After all, moms have enough to think about before baby comes. Rest assured, you’re not alone. 1 Natural Way is here to help you choose the right pump for you.

1 Natural Way carries a number of the best breast pump brands – from Ameda and Lansinoh to the new Elvie Pump – but it’s Medela and Spectra that we get the most questions about.

Medela Breast Pumps

If you ask 10 moms to name breast pump brands, it’s a pretty good bet that all 10 will mention Medela. With over 59 years of dedication to breastfeeding moms, the Medela brand is top-of-mind for a reason. Medela offers a variety of popular pumps to fit many lifestyles, from the hands-free Medela Freestyle Flex to the Bluetooth-enabled, potable Medela Sonata.

Spectra Breast Pumps

Spectra breast pumps are loved by moms for being quiet, gentle and full of thoughtful features to enhance the pumping experience. Spectra Baby USA came on the scene in 2011 and their products – including the award-winning Spectra S1 Plus and the Spectra S2 Plus – have quickly become some of the top-selling breast pumps.

Which pump is right for me?

Your personal needs are the most important factor when choosing the best pump for you. Consider these questions:

  • Will you be pumping on the go or at work?
  • Do you have multiple infants to pump for?
  • Do you think you’ll primarily be pumping during the day or at night?
  • Do you have a comfortable, discreet place to pump, or will you be pumping in a more crowded area (like the living room, the kitchen, or a not-so-private lactation room at work)?
  • How often will you pump?
  • Do you plan to exclusively pump?

1 Natural Way has breast pump choices for every need and situation and will be sure to guide you into the right one.

Side-by-side comparison: Spectra S2 Plus vs. Medela Pump in Style

Many moms get stuck choosing between a couple different pump options. To help you out, here is a side-by-side comparison of two of the most popular breast pumps - the Spectra S2 Plus and the Medela Pump In Style Advanced (PISA).


Feature Spectra S2 Medela PISA
Reviews from 1 Natural Way Moms 4.9 stars out of 5 4.8 stars out of 5
Pump Strength Hospital strength (max 270 mmHg) Personal (max 240 mmHg)
Pump Controls 2 Phase Pumping with expression and massage modes 2 Phase Expression Technology with one-touch let-down
Portability Lightweight (3.3 lbs.), no battery adapter Heavier (4.7 lbs.), but comes with battery adapter for easy pumping on the go
Noise Level Very quiet - can pump in the same room as a sleeping baby Some noticeable sound, not as discreet
Special Features Included night light for nighttime pumping, timer Battery adapter, soft case for storage
Closed System or Open System Closed system with backflow protection Open system
Warranty 2 years on pump motor, 90 days on parts/accessories 1 year on pump motor; 90 days on parts/accessories

Single or double electric breast pump

Both models can be used as a single or double breast pump. This is great if you’ll be pumping a lot because you can maximize your milk production and minimize pumping time.

Adjustable suction speed and vacuum

The Medela Pump in Style Advanced and the Spectra S2 Plus breast pumps are both designed to mimic the actions of a nursing baby, maximizing milk flow.

Both pumps have different settings for let-down and expression. The massage mode stimulates the let-down reflex to encourage milk to flow, using a short and shallow speed (this mimics how a baby nurses when she first latches). The expression mode has a slower, stronger suction for maximum milk production once the milk is flowing.

Additionally, with both the Spectra and the Medela, you can change the speed of suction and the strength of the vacuum. This is ideal because every woman is built differently and has different pumping needs.

The biggest differences in suction and vacuum between the Spectra vs Medela pumps are:

  • The Spectra S2 Plus allows moms to adjust the suction speed and strength separately, making it easy to customize pumping sessions. The hospital strength vacuum offers excellent suction.
  • The Medela Pump in Style has adjustable speed and vacuum settings controlled by a single dial (speed and suction cannot be adjusted separately). Some moms find this pump easier and more straightforward to use than the Spectra because it takes the guesswork out of when to switch to expression mode.

Open system vs closed system breast pump

The difference between a closed system and an open system is that, in a closed system, there is a barrier between your breast milk and the pump. This means that breast milk can’t flow backwards into the tubing or the pump, which keeps the milk away from potentially harmful bacteria.

The Spectra S2 has a closed system and the Medela PISA has an open system. Of course, both systems need to be cleaned and sterilized. However, in a closed system, the tubing does not need to be cleaned regularly because no milk is flowing through it.

Special features and portability

Both pumps come with different sized breast flanges/shields and bottles for milk storage, as well as all the tubing, valves and other parts you need to get started (both come with everything you need to start pumping). Moms find that Medela replacement parts are readily available at many retail locations and, of course, online.

The Spectra S2 has a couple extra features that moms love - a night light for nighttime pumping, and a timer. It’s also very quiet and discreet, which moms appreciate. It’s lightweight, but doesn’t come with a battery adapter (the S1 Plus features an inbuilt battery).

The Medela Pump in Style is more portable with its included battery adapter and dual voltage which makes it possible to pump in another country. A Pump in Style backpack and tote option are also available (usually as an upgrade) – with the pump built right into the bags.

Summing it up: Spectra S2 Plus vs. Medela Pump in Style

In the end, it’s all about what’s right for YOU and which pump most closely addresses your needs – but here is a recap of the benefits of both pumps.

Pros: Spectra S2 Plus Breast Pump

  • Hospital strength double pump with great suction is good for moms who have low milk supply or will be pumping a lot.
  • Quiet operation is a benefit to moms who will be pumping outside of the home or at work.
  • Night light makes nighttime pumping easier.
  • Separate adjustable suction speed and vacuum settings give the most control and customization over pumping sessions.
  • Closed system ensures milk cannot flow back into the tubing or pump.
  • Moms say the suction feels natural - like a baby suckling. They love the different cycle settings to ensure the best milk production and the most comfort.

How the Spectra S2 compares to the Medela PISA

The S2 breast pump is lighter, quieter, and has a closed system (that is arguably more hygienic). Moms can adjust the suction speed and vacuum strength settings separately for optimal comfort and a more natural feel.

Pros: Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump

  • Very easy to use with one-touch let-down and single dial adjustable settings for speed and vacuum.
  • Included battery adapter means that moms can pump anywhere without worrying about finding a place to plug in.
  • Dual voltage for traveling outside of the USA.
  • Replacement parts can be found easily (no emergency overnight shipping).
  • Compact case makes it easy to transport (and other bag options are available).
  • Moms say the pump is easy to set up and use. They love how simple clean-up is.

How the Medela PISA compares to the Spectra S2

The Medela breast pump comes with a battery adapter for easy pumping anywhere, and the compact case and optional tote bag and backpack make it easy to take with you. One-touch let-down and an easy to use dial makes it simple to set up and pump. Pump accessories are available at many retail stores in addition to online.

Which pump to use comes down to your preference. The Medela PISA and Spectra S2 are both quality pumps that have helped feed hundreds of thousands of babies. There is no wrong answer - choose the pump that feels right for you. If you have questions, call us at 888-977-2229 or text us at 419-740-4306. Our customer service team is always happy to help.

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