Head-to-Head: Medela vs. Motif

Being hooked up to a milk machine (a literal one, not a baby) multiple times a day is no joke. For breastfeeding moms that need to pump throughout the day, be it to return to work, maintain or increase supply or build up an emergency stash, it takes serious work! You’ve got to dedicate the time to sit there, pause whatever else you’ve got going on to set to this important task, and spend what feels like an eternity washing and sanitizing bottles and parts. Chore does not even begin to describe what a pain pumping is! Add to the fact that with all the different types of pumps on the market, you may end up with something that isn’t the best fit for your lifestyle, and you’ve got a real recipe for trouble. 

So here I am once again, sharing my trials and tribulations and hard-learned lessons so you don’t have to repeat them! I have had the privilege of using two different breast pumps throughout my breastfeeding journey, and I’ve come to tell you a little bit about each of them.

The Medela Pump in Style is one of, if not THE most prominent breast pump on the market today. Medela is the most trusted and recognized brand in breastfeeding and pumping support, and for good reason; they do a great job educating moms and developing products that help nursing moms reach their goals, whether they exclusively breastfeed, exclusively pump, or a mix of both. I myself completed their online course, Medela University, which I found extremely helpful when I was pregnant and looking to learn the ins and outs of breastfeeding as a first time mom. The Pump in Style was my first breast pump and the only one Medela offered that was covered by my insurance at the time, so I took it. 

My second breast pump was the Motif Medical Duo (which I received courtesy of Aeroflow Breastpumps for my honest review and this sponsored post). I hadn’t heard of Motif Medical before, so I was excited to learn about a new brand and option on the market and am excited to share it with you guys.

For sake of taking an in-depth look at both pumps, I thought I’d break these down by comparing both pumps side-by-side through a range of what moms look for in a breast pump. I’ll be rating the pumps on their parts and user-friendliness in setup and clean up, ease of on-the-go, and results of pumping sessions.

Pump Parts & User-Friendliness

As one should with any breast pump, I made sure to read the manual with both pumps. That being said, I did find the Motif Medical manual a little easier to read and follow along with. The Medela manual was extremely detailed and covered everything, and while it’s helpful, it’s also overwhelming. 

Both pumps are fairly easy to set up. All the pump parts fit well together and make sense when following the manual. However, I significantly prefer the Motif Medical valves to the Medela valves and membranes; the Medela membranes always feel so fragile and are so finicky when attaching bottles and bags to pump in to. I always have to wash my Medela membranes separately because they can easily come out of my dishwasher basket or even melt in high heat, but with the Duo, the membranes and valves are united in one convenient part that I have been able to put in the dishwasher with ease. 

 Duo Membrane

Duo Membrane

 Pump in Style Valves & Membranes

Pump in Style Valves & Membranes

The Duo does have more parts when it’s fully assembled, however it also has a fully closed system that prevents back pumping, so milk is highly unlikely to make it into tubing. This happened every so often with my Medela Pump in Style, so it’s nice not to have to worry about it! The tubing itself is much nicer on the Pump in Style, as it is firmer and smoother in texture than the Duo's. I also prefer that the Medea's tubing is clear, but I suppose the Duo being a closed system means you wouldn't need to worry about checking for moisture.

 Pump in Style tubing

Pump in Style tubing

 Duo tubing

Duo tubing

The pumps do have very different displays and modes of operation. The Pump in Style is switched on by a dial which sets the intensity of your pump session, and automatically begins a stimulation cycle which switches to letdown mode after a few minutes. It is a very analog display and doesn’t have much to figure out; you just plug everything in, turn the dial and go. 

On the other hand, the Duo comes with a full digital display and a couple of different buttons. It operates on 10 different levels of intensity, and lets you choose whether you’d like a stimulation cycle or to head straight into letdown mode. It also has a memory feature to record your preferred modes.

 Duo display

Duo display

 Pump in Style faceplate

Pump in Style faceplate

All in all, the Duo has more pump parts than the Medela and a little more of a learning curve as far as ease of use is concerned, especially if you aren’t a manual reader (though I think anyone who’s about to attach a piece of machinery to their boobs should be). Both are pretty easy to set up, but since it has fewer parts and buttons, the Pump in Style takes this category.

On the Go

As someone who spends a minimum of two hours in traffic Monday-Friday, I live a mobile life, and highly value things that are easy to grab and go. When originally getting a breast pump, I didn’t really think much about pumping at work and my constant commuting, which was honestly a fatal error on my part. I knew I would be home with my son for his first six months, and I was thinking that was the length of time I would nurse him for, so I didn’t give it a lot of thought.

Now that he’s ten months old, we have continued breastfeeding, which created the need for me to pump at work. My insurance only covered the Medela Pump in Style, and I took what was given to me, not pausing to consider if I had any other options that would better fit my needs and lifestyle. My Pump in Style did the job upon my initial return to work, as I had a private place and time to pump. However, upon the start of the new school year, I no longer had either; the office I had previously used to pump in was now occupied, and my time to sit down and pump was extremely limited, as with new students it became hard to find the 20-25 minutes I needed daily. I started having to pump during mealtimes or meetings after school, which was extremely inconvenient, as the Pump in Style is fairly loud to use around other people (awkward in and of itself, honestly) and not a mobile pump; it is corded, and heavy, so it needs to be plugged in and placed on a flat surface, with the user seated. Not very useful for a mom who is always on the move.

 Pumping & Driving: Multi-tasking mom!

Pumping & Driving: Multi-tasking mom!

Thankfully, my friends at Aeroflow Breastpumps came to the rescue and sent me my Motif Medical Duo, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! I no longer had a time or a place that was convenient to pump, but I always have my commute time. What a better way to multitask and make my endless drives a little more bearable than to put them to good use and be able to get a pump session in while driving! The Duo is cordless and super light, which makes it so easy to pump in the car while it sits on my lap. And it’s so nice and quiet that I have no need to turn up my tunes; the machine truly works at barely above a whisper! It also has a built in timer in the display, so I no longer had to set a separate one on my phone. And even if I were to forget and get too busy or distracted to keep an eye on the Duo’s clock, it automatically shuts off after 30 minutes to keep users from overstimulating their breasts! The Duo truly took something that had been causing me loads of worry and anxiety and made it possible for pumping to be stress-free and breezy with my busy schedule, and that in and of itself is so invaluable!

Pumping Results

I have been mutually blessed and cursed with an oversupply for most of my breastfeeding journey; I have always been able to pump more than my baby needs, and thankfully always have a little stash going, which I now quickly burn through since being back at work. All this to say, I have been incredibly fortunate never to struggle with milk production issues; however, I have come to expect consistent results from a pumping session as my daily output is nearly always the same. So long as I pump 15-20 minutes, I’m usually able to get 6-9 ounces out of my superboob, and 3-5 ounces out of my slacker boob. I found this to be true for both the Pump in Style and Duo pumps, so even though there are significant differences in the styles, parts and mobility of each pump, they seem to create the same demand and pull the same amount of milk. 

I will say that the Duo is pretty limited as far as options of what to pump into; the pump comes with two bottles, and Motif claims that wide neck bottles, such as the Tommee Tippee ones our family uses, fit with an adapter. I didn’t find that to be true, so I was limited to pumping only into their bottles to later transfer into my son’s Tommee Tippees or milk storage bags. I think Motif Medical would be smart to roll out further parts, as well as bottles with more capacity for moms that are able to produce more; I often found myself cutting my pump sessions short to avoid overfilling and spilling from their bottles, which hold about 6 ounces when filled to capacity.

So there you have it! This post honestly took me forever to write, because I had to thoroughly use both pumps for at least a few weeks to get a real feel for each, and I wanted to be sure to give mama users/shoppers ALL the facts. 

TLDR: The Pump in Style, while a great choice and certainly old reliable, is easily trumped by the Duo if you are a busy mama. Being able to pump in the car, on my couch or over the stove prepping dinner has been a game changer and made pumping so much easier, more accessible, and simply less dreadful to do.  I will be eternally grateful to Motif Medical and Aeroflow Breastpumps for working together to bring moms a lightweight, quiet, portable yet super powerful breast pump! 

Happy pumpin’!

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