Saturday, January 5, 2013

The great debate: Medela Freestyle VS Ameda Purely Yours Ultra

I've seen a lot of online discussions between moms on which breastpump to buy, on what is the "best" currently available in the market. These questions are especially of concern for working moms who need something reliable and would put up with the demands of their lifestyle: pumping every 2-3 hours, 5 days a week, and a minimum of 6-months for those who wish to exclusively give their baby breastmilk and not supplement with formula milk. Among those available, two brands of breastpumps usually come up: Medela's Freestyle and Ameda's Purely Yours. The comments and praises of the pumps recommended by the moms in these online discussions come from their usage of either one of the two, and I have never encountered a mom who gave her recommendation based on her experience with both pumps.

And here's where I come in.

When I was breastfeeding and expressing milk for Jack-Jack, I used a Medela Freestyle breastpump. I used it for one year and 8 months until such time that someone needed it more than me and I already weaned from the pump. I donated it since we weren't planning to get pregnant sometime soon and it wouldn't be difficult to buy a pump when I'd need it again. Now, with Gabby, I'm using an Ameda Purely Yours Ultra. I've been using it for around 8 months already and with these number of months of experience with the pump, I can already safely say my opinions about the two of them.

From Medela:
Freestyle is our first hands-free, double-electric pump.
•Pump anywhere - no need to be near an electric outlet.
•Pump hands-free - the hands-free kit and mobility accessories give you freedom to relax or do other things while pumping.

Featuring the original 2-Phase Expression® technology - only found in Medela breastpumps. Through research, Medela learned that there are two distinct phases of how babies breastfeed.
1.Stimulation Phase - when babies first go to breast, they suck fast and light to stimulate milk flow.
2.Expression Phase - after milk flow or "let-down" starts, babies breastfeed with a slower, deeper suck, bringing out more milk faster.

Daily use - double pump - electric
Compact pump weighs less than one pound
Rechargeable battery
Two sets of PersonalFit breastshield sizes (when I bought mine, only the standard size was included then)
Microfiber tote
Adjustable speed/vacuum combinations
One touch let-down button
Digital backlit display
Pumping timer
Memory button
Cooler bag with contoured ice pack
All parts that come into contact with breastmilk are BPA-free

Medela Freestyle

From Ameda:
The Ameda Purely Yours Ultra offers all mothers— including full-time working moms—the flexibility, convenience, and styling they need and deserve from their breast pump.


The Ameda Purely Yours Ultra—with separate CustomControl suction and speed dials—doesn’t make decisions for you or limit your choices like one-dial, pre-programmed pumps. Dual adjustability allows you to choose from a total of 32 combinations— for the best comfort and milk flow every time.

CustomFit Flange System:
Every mother needs her breast pump flange to “fit” for the greatest comfort and best milk flow. Enjoy a good flange fit at your very first pumping and later as your body changes. Purely Yours Ultra features three of the most commonly needed flange sizes and easily adapts with four others available separately.

The lightweight Purely Yours Ultra offers professional performance and easy care wherever you go.

Designed to work with all Ameda electric breast pumps, the HygieniKit™ Milk Collection System features proven Airlock Protection™, a solid barrier which prevents moisture in tubing to help protect against viral and bacterial growth. The HygieniKit is dishwasher-safe and can even convert to a manual pump.

Ameda Purely Yours Ultra

Below are my take on the two:
  1. Weight: Both pump motors are light, weighing at just a pound each.
  2. Pump design/construction: Having no issues on which you can lug around as a full-time working mom, you'd probably take note of how the pump itself is constructed. The Freestyle's pump motor is rectangular in shape and fits at the palm of your hand. You can conveniently tuck it inside your bag, taking note to take out the battery so you (or your other stuff) wouldn't accidentally turn it on. The Purely Yours Ultra (PYU), on the other hand, is designed for desk top use and would fit on top of both your palms. It also has bottle holders which I use to hold the milk bottles before and after I pump. The PYU also has a closed system unlike the Freestyle, which means no air comes into contact with your milk, no milk particles comes into the tubing and the pump.
  3. Pump Control: The Freestyle has 2-Phase Expression® technology which simulates how a baby breastfeeds. It has the Stimulation Phase and the Expression Phase, both which you can control the vacuum level from L1 to L9. There is no separate control for the speed of each pump. The PYU meanwhile, has two dials which controls the speed and suction separately, so you can choose how you pump, i.e. slow and light suction, or fast but strong suction, etc. In this regard, I miss the Freestyle's Stimulation Phase as I feel it helped me let-down quicker because the speed and vacuum level of it's Stimulation Phase is really just like a baby's. Even if PYU has separate controls for the speed and suction, its fastest speed isn't comparable to the Freestyle. What I like about the PYU, though, is I can choose to have a deeper/stronger suction without slowing down the speed or have slower speed but the same suction I chose after my let-down, which the Freestyle does (as far as I could remember).
  4. Power: Freestyle includes a rechargable battery whereas for PYU, you have to provide your own 6 AA batteries for you to use it without the AC adapter.
  5. Breastpump parts (flanges, tubings, membranes): The Freestyle has 2 parts more than the PYU, which is the breastshield connector bodies (which are two parts) as the PYU's breastshield construction lets it connect to the bottles directly.
  6. Insulated carrier and ice pack: Both brands include carriers and ice packs for you to be able to take your expressed milk home in its freshest state as possible. Freestyle has one big ice pack, which has special curves on it to fit the 4 bottles included.

    PYU gives you 3 packs, one for each side and one at the bottom of the bag, to give your bottles surround cooling.
  7. Tote bags: Both have bags you can use to bring your pumps or even as an everyday bag, your officemates none-the-wiser that what you're using is actually included in your breastpump's box. The Freestyle's bag, tho, has light yellow lining.
  8. Cleaning: The PYU is easier to clean, especially the flanges as the whole part is clear and you can see where you need to focus your attention on. And their nooks and crannies aren't that hard to reach with a cotton bud. The Freestyle is a bit harder, as the breastshield connector is colored and there are holes that you can't easily reach even using a cotton bud. So it's best not to let milk dry up with the Freestyle parts else you wouldn't be sure if you've cleaned the parts thoroughly.
  9. Price: The Freestyle is more expensive than the PYU by around PHP5,000.
  10. Ease of use/hands-free pumping: I used the hands-free kit provided by the Freestyle so that I can play a game on my cellphone then or to doze off for 15mins without worry that I'll drop the shields and bottles. With the PYU, I have one hand free as the flanges have this tube-part (where the diaphragm is inserted) where I can hold both flanges with the use of my forearm and hand.

    Both pumps are easy to use. For the Freestyle, you press the buttons for your desired phase and vacuum level. For the PYU, you turn the dials. What I like about the Freestyle, though is the digital display which shows how much time has passed, so you know exactly how long you've been pumping already. There's also the memory button which allows you to store the length of time it takes you from the simulation phase and its strength to when you start your let-down and your preferred vacuum level.

Verdict: Despite it being hard to clean, I do miss the Freestyle as it's easier to bring around and I wouldn't have to worry about having short on power as the battery included can be used up to 3hrs. Both have pros and cons, but overall, either pump would be a very good companion to have when you want to continue breastfeeding after going back to work. In the end, it will probably boil down to cost. If it isn't a problem, I would suggest getting the Freestyle as it offers the ultimate portable breastmilk expression experience due to its 2-Phase technology. But if you want something that is less expensive but still get the power of dual pumping, get the Purely Yours Ultra.

Note: I started writing this before the Medela Swing Maxi was available and about to finish before I knew about it. Yes, I'm that out of loop when Jenny had a review about it here last month. I've had this drafted since August (I think) of 2012. In line with knowing about the Swing Maxi... I probably would have bought that pump if I knew about it and if it was already available when I gave birth last year April. Hope this helps!

Disclaimer: All opinions are mine. I've tried to be as objective as possible in expressing my thoughts regarding the two pumps. All are based on my experience with both pumps, the Freestyle from January 2010 to August 2011, the PYU from May 2012 up to the time of this publishing.


alih said...

Thank you so much!! This was a great review and answered many of my questions about the two pumps. I was wondering if you could input on the following - do you need a special hands-free bra for each of these, or can you wear a typical nursing bra that drops down? thanks!

patgrace said...

Hi Alih! Oh, yeah. I wasn't able to address that. The Freestyle has its own handsfree strapa which you attach to your nursing bra. The PYU on the other hand doesn't have that and if you want to be handsfree, you have to use handsfree bra or bandeaus like Pump Ease.

geraldhemsworth said...

What make the Medela freestyle breast pump unique and most sought are
its unique features. These features play a vital role in ensuring that
the mom and the baby are comfortable during suckling process. Some of
these features are that the mom gets so much milk in a short time, this
is relevant in that the baby will be able to feed more often to the