Pros and Cons of Medela and Ameda Pumps
October 20, 2008 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Have you used both the Ameda Purely Yours and the Medela Pump in Style Advanced? Which do you prefer and why?

I've been using the Ameda for 4 months now and I'm not sure it's doing a very good job. After pumping for 15 minutes, I'm not getting anything from the pump but can still hand express quite a bit. Maybe I just need new valves or something but I'm thinking about buying a Pump in Style since everyone seems to use that one. I liked the Ameda because of the closed pumping system but if it's not as good at the job, I'll switch. So I'm hoping there's some lucky woman out there who has had experiences with both and can tell me what they prefer.
posted by otherwordlyglow to Shopping (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I know the hospital where I gave birth rented pumps. You might want to see if you can rent the Medela (the hospital grade one is very similar to the pump in style) before you buy. I haven't used both - but I had no problem using the Pump In Style. I got great results.
posted by Wolfie at 3:31 PM on October 20, 2008

I've only used the pump in style. But: after a few months with the pump in style, I too found that I couldn't get very much by pumping alone, and I always ended up hand-expressing. I think pumps just get less effective after a while (your body figures out it's not a baby?).
posted by Badmichelle at 3:34 PM on October 20, 2008

After four months of pumping, it's worth getting your pump checking out as you might, as you say, have valve issues. You might also call your friendly lactation consultant- mine hooked me up with some different flanges that were a lot more comfortable and I started getting more milk for the time after that. I use the Pump in Style myself, and I know women who have had the same issue you are asking about with the Pump in Style, so I'm not sure that changing pumps will solve your problem.

I do also know some women who simply have to start working a little harder at the pumping- massaging during pumping can help increase production. Pump at the same time every day, as well.
posted by ambrosia at 3:55 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Replacing the valves (little white flaps) on my Medela pump parts after several months of regular use made a huge difference for me.

(I used the same attachments with both a hospital-grade pump & the Pump in Style. I didn't notice much difference in output between the two. New flaps made both much better.)
posted by belladonna at 4:19 PM on October 20, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah, I thought about renting. I had an Ameda hospital pump for a little while and don't think it was all that great either. But the place nearby rents the Medela so maybe I'll try that out. I should add that I've always had low supply issues so I'm looking for every advantage I can get.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:20 PM on October 20, 2008

Best answer: So I've answered my own question and figured someone might benefit. As I said, I own an Ameda Purely Yours. And now, I also own a Medela Pump in Style Advanced (the backpack version) and after using both for about 2 weeks, have some thoughts on the differences.

Packaging: The APY is a small free-standing appliance. The PISA is attached to the inside of the backpack. It's easier to move the APY around on my desk and it's way more portable as a single object since I can just throw the pump into something else and don't have to lug around the whole case like I do with the backpack of the PISA. The APY wins on this score

Weight: Since the APY is free-standing, it's WAY less weight. I imagine the pump alone from the PISA is still heavier than the APY but I can't be sure since it's stuck inside the backpack. APY wins.

Pump Housing Design: The PISA is prettier, with all it's nice colors and pretty fonts. It's a better object but I love that you stand the bottles for the APY on top of the pump. Those stupid bottles are always falling over because of the tubing pulling it over so having the built-in stand on the APY is really nice. But the APY isn't quite so pretty. For functionality, the APY wins. For aesthetics, the PISA wins.

Controls: The PISA makes a big deal about its 2-Phase action. It starts out at a faster more shallow suction and then switches to deeper longer suction, supposedly the way a baby would. There's one dial for speed/suction and a button to switch from Let-down to regular mode. Personally, I prefer the two-dial control of the APY - one for suction and one fore speed because you can better customize the action and make it do the 2-Phase thing yourself.

Noise: They both make a similar wheezy drone which you will come to loathe. The PISA is slightly more annoying but on top of the wheeze, the APY has a beeping noise which is equally aggravating. Neither one wins here.

Tubes: The APY tubes plug into the pump base at one jack and then have caps that snap on to the top of the shields. I prefer this action to the PISA where the tubes connect to the pump individually and then press into the back of the shields. The PISA system is just fussier and I always feel like I'll going to wreck the tube ends. Advantage: APY
However, the APY requires that you insert a little silicone diaphragm between the cap and the shield and that diaphragm piece is a total pain the ass. It always come out btwn sessions and often gets in the way of the caps when you snap them on. And the diaphragms come loose during cleaning and because they're translucent, they're really easy to lose. So, I prefer the snap top of the APY but the diaphragm thing is a pain. Also the tubes connect to the PISA shields right where I want to fold my arm over them to hold them up to me so it's much easier to end up putting a kink in the tubing which then stops the suction and makes everything mess up.

Plastics: The PISA comes with an entirely BPA-free system. I had to buy a whole set of new bottles and tubing for the APY which comes with a BPA set. That sucks. PISA wins for being non-toxic!

Bottle Design: I love the bottle design of the PISA. Because of the way they're shaped and perhaps the type of plastic they used, you can see right into the bottle while you're pumping. Plus, the marking on the bottles is much clearer than on the APY. PISA is way ahead on this one.

Shields: I switched out the PISA shields for slanted ones so the comparison isn't really fair but the PISA ones are more comfortable.

Comfort of Use: The backs of the shields on the PISA have a weird round threaded hole that looks like something is supposed to screw into it but I don't know what and it makes for an extremely ouchy experience to hold the bottles and shields up to your chest since the sharp edges of the openings dig into your arms. The APY is much more comfoprtable to hold up to your chest with one arm across the bottles.

Function: The PISA definitely seems to work more efficiently and faster. I get more milk more quickly with it but that might also be an unfair comparision since I'm using a totally new PISA along side a 4-month old APY. The APY *should* still perform well given that it's only 4 months old but I wonder if the PISA will also seem to lose power after the first couple months.

Container: As mentioned the PISA is mounted inside a backpack. The APY came in a backpack but was totally removable. The PISA backpack is much nicer than the APY one but I wish I could pull the pump out of it.

Cooler: The PISA comes with a nice 6-bottle cooler. It's a little large but it is nice. It would be better if you could make it smaller when only needing to transport a few bottles but it's well made and seems very durable.

Closed vs. Open System: The main selling point of the APY is that it's a closed system. Milk can't get into the tubes because of those annoying diaphragms. That's not the case with the PISA, in which it's totally possible to get milk into the tubes and even backed up into the pump housing. That's kind of gross but if it's just for personal use, you should be fine. On the other hand, you need to get any milk out of the tubes if it gets in there or it'll mold. Yuck. Ameda has the Way Clear Advantage here. If you're worried about contamination, don't buy a used PISA.

Overall, I think the PISA works better but I wish the pump was removable and that it had finer tuning controls. Also, the placement of the tube jacks on the shields is stupid and it's uncomfortable to use it with one arm draped across both bottles. But some of the design-y aspects of the system are nice! wish it had the closed system of the Ameda but I'm not overly worried about that since I bought it new. The PISA is much more expensive but after you add in buying a whole new set of tubing and bottles for the APY, you're getting closer to the price of the PISA. Plus, more stores have parts for the PISA - they're a much more common machine so if you need replacements, it's way easier.

So now I have both and while neither is ideal, I use them both. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be an expert of breast pumps, but life is mysterious.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:08 PM on October 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

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