Medela Freestyle Review: What I Learned Pumping 100,000+ ml of Breast Milk

Medela Freestyle Review: What I Learned Pumping 100,000+ ml of Breast Milk

I’ve pumped over 100,000 ml of breast milk over 1,000 pump sessions.

I’ve used $2,000 hospital grade pumps (the Medela Symphony), $200 pumps (the Medela In Style) and $35 manual pumps (the Avent Manual Comfort).

Poppy was born 6.5 weeks early, so she wasn’t able to breastfeed right away. She had to work on her suck/swallow/breathe reflex, so she was fed through an NG tube and via bottle in the intermediate nursery.

That meant that to establish my supply, I had to pump.

When I was discharged from the hospital, I lost the 24/7 access to the Medela Symphony hospital pumps I was using in the first few days of her life.

We were given a Medela In Style from Ryan’s sister, which was not strong enough to maintain my supply as a preemie mama.

So the day after we were discharged, while Poppy was under the blue lights getting bilirubin therapy, Ryan and I jetted out to buy a strong pump.

After testing 4 different pumps and hours of painstaking research I ultimately bought the Medela Freestyle.

After a metric shit ton of uses, here’s my Medela Freestyle review. (But if you still aren't decided, check out my full review of the top 7 best electric breast pumps).

medela freestyle review

Here’s what I love about the Medela freestyle, and why I chose it over the several other options on the market after using 4 different pumps.

Efficiency in Maintaining Milk Supply

As a preemie mom, I needed a strong, efficient, hygienic pump to maintain my milk supply since my baby wasn’t able to help out in that department.

Here’s why I chose the freestyle for this purpose:

The Freestyle is the strongest, most efficient non-hospital grade pump in the Medela suite. I was nervous after we were discharged that my supply would suffer without the Symphony, but the Freestyle maintained it beautifully.  

Portability

Pumping is already a bit of a drag (let’s be honest here), so one of the things I love about the Freestyle is that it is so portable, making the pump a little less frustrating to have to use every few hours.

  • Size. It’s extremely portable and small. I often pump while doing chores with my hands free pumping bra and I just tuck the Freestyle into the bra or into my pocket so I don’t have to carry it around.
  • Portability. It’s also come with me on planes, trains, and automobiles (lol but seriously). I used the Freestyle on a flight to Austin without anybody noticing, and I often pump in the car or while working. I’m able to walk around, fold laundry (juuuust what you want to be doing, right?) and get shit done while pumping.
  • Pumping noises. The Freestyle is also quiet. It’s not as quiet as the Symphony but much quieter than the In Style. This is partially why I’ve been able to pump in so many places (that and it’s small size). It’s not so quiet, though, that I don’t feel self conscious about pumping while I’m on the phone. I’m pretty sure people can hear that., but, #momlife #noregrets.

Hygiene & Sanitation

Tragically, a baby recently became gravely ill from a harmful bacteria on breast pump parts. Preterm babies are especially at risk for this, which is part of the reason we chose the Freestyle, too.

  • Closed system pump. The In Style and many other brand’s comparable models aren’t, which is bad news bears for sanitary reasons. I already have enough on my hands with a brand new baby (and a premie at that); the last thing I want is to have pump issues because some milk got into the motor and it’s all moldy.
  • Easy cleaning capability. You can fully disassemble the pump parts so you can clean it completely. I boil my parts every few days for 10 minutes to make sure Poptart doesn’t catch the plague.

Features & Display

Suprisingly, the Freestyle even trumps more expensive hospital grade pumps for it’s display. It’s got…

  • Programmable settings. You can program your pump to remember your pump settings. For example, if you switch to level 8 after 5 minutes, you can tell your pump to do that every time. To be honest, I haven’t used this feature much, but I imagine that it might be useful.
  • Pump session timing. It also times your pump! This is a feature that even the Symphony doesn’t have. I can’t imagine how long (or short!) I’d be pumping if I didn’t have this feature. This mama tends to forget to set her stop watch 😉
  • LCD display. So I can see the timing at night. I know that might not seem like a big deal, but let me tell you, when you’re pumping in the middle of the night and don’t want to turn on any lights to wake up your bambino and you’re in a tent or something (or just you know, in your room like a normal person), it’s necessary to see how long you’ve been pumping lest you think you’ve been pumping for 20 minutes and it’s only been 2 like I’m want to do.

Accessories Pack & Extras

The pump comes with a host of accessories and bonuses. This is worth mentioning though shouldn’t be a factor in whether you roll with the Freestyle or not.

  • Hands-free pumping capability. So, the Freestyle comes with a hands free pumping capability. They’re straps that hook onto your nursing bra and the pump, but to be honest, I’ve never used them because they weren’t super effective or secure to me. I bought a hands free pumping bra from Amazon instead and use that several times a day.
  • Starter pack. It comes with a pump carrying bag, a bottle cooler & ice pack, the hands free adapters, and a starter pack of breast pads, freezer bags, bottles and a few others things we’ve never used.

Those are the great things about the Freestyle. But, as with any honest review of any product, there are some cons as well.

Pros

  • Small size; easy to tote around
  • Quiet
  • Closed system pump (sanitary)
  • Easy to clean
  • Programmable settings
  • Timer on pump with LCD display
  • Hands-free pumping capability
  • Comes with excellent starter pack.

The Not-So Good Things About the
Medela Freestyle Breast Pump


medela freestyle

Alright, so there are a lot of plus sides when it comes to this pump. But what is it lacking?

Since I’ve used it over 1,000 times to pump a metric ton of breastmilk (my math might be off), here’s what it could improve on.

Price

The Freestyle is one of the best consumer grade pumps on the market, so it comes with a price tag to match. It was extremely important to me to feed Poppy only breastmilk because of her precarious position as a premie (and frankly, a $500 pump is cheaper than a year’s worth of formula — the good stuff, anyway), so it didn’t really phase me, but it will be a factor in your purchasing decision.

The Battery

You’ll probably not experience this, but while we were on our road trip, my pump’s battery started to falter.

By the time we returned from our next trip, it had kicked the bucket. Medela was great and quickly sent us a new pump motor with just credit card proof of purchase, but that meant that we had to “rent” a pump (luckily for free from our public health unit) for a couple of days while we waited for it to arrive.

Post-Clean Performance

I’ve found that after I’ve disassembled the pump to clean the parts, if the silicon parts have even the slightest bit of water or dust on them, it breaks the seal between flanges and silicon gaskets, which compromises the efficiency of the pump for the first pump after you wash it.

I’ve learned to deal with this by just pumping for a bit longer after I reassemble from a wash. It just needs to seal itself off again and isn’t lasting.

Cons

  • More expensive than some popular alternatives
  • Our battery packed it in
  • Performance of pump is less efficient right after a cleaning.

So there you have it; everything you wanted to (or didn’t want to) know about the Medela Freestyle electric breast pump.

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