Spectra S1 vs. Medela Freestyle Flex – Which Electric Breast Pump Is Better?

Spectra S1 vs. Medela Freestyle – choosing the best breast pump between these two is not an easy task. It will all boil down to choosing what’s more convenient and important to you: a powerful and efficient or compact and portable breast pump. Read my detailed comparison and avoid choosing the wrong breast pump!

medela freestyle vs spectra s1

If you’re struggling with your choice: Spectra vs. Medela, you should know one thing: you can’t go wrong with either! But before you make your purchase, there are some things that you should know of – to make your pumping journey a lot easier. One of these pumps is stronger and more efficient, the other one is ultra-compact and lightweight.

Which one will be the best option for you? Let’s find out!

This article is not a substitute for medical advice. It contains affiliate links.

My Personal Choice
Spectra - S1 Plus Electric Breast Milk Pump for Baby Feeding - Convenient Breast Feeding Support
Medela Freestyle Flex Breast Pump, Closed System Quiet Handheld Portable Double Electric Breastpump, Mobile Connected Smart Pump with Touch Screen LED Display and USB Rechargeable Battery
Best Features
❤️ Powerful, effective, with closed system - just like hospital pumps, but lighter and quieter
❤️ Stronger, long-lasting battery
❤️ You can adjust more settings to your personal comfort
❤️ Perfect for frequent pumping and EPing
❤️ Cheaper than Medela
❤️ Ultra-lightweight - it weighs less than 1 pound
❤️ Compact size - it fits in all diaper bags (and even in your jeans front pocket)
❤️ Closed system prevents milk overflow and contamination
✨ Recommended by 3900+ moms
✨ Recommended by 730+ moms
Availability & Price
My Personal Choice
Spectra - S1 Plus Electric Breast Milk Pump for Baby Feeding - Convenient Breast Feeding Support
Best Features
❤️ Powerful, effective, with closed system - just like hospital pumps, but lighter and quieter
❤️ Stronger, long-lasting battery
❤️ You can adjust more settings to your personal comfort
❤️ Perfect for frequent pumping and EPing
❤️ Cheaper than Medela
✨ Recommended by 3900+ moms
Availability & Price
Medela Freestyle Flex Breast Pump, Closed System Quiet Handheld Portable Double Electric Breastpump, Mobile Connected Smart Pump with Touch Screen LED Display and USB Rechargeable Battery
Best Features
❤️ Ultra-lightweight - it weighs less than 1 pound
❤️ Compact size - it fits in all diaper bags (and even in your jeans front pocket)
❤️ Closed system prevents milk overflow and contamination
✨ Recommended by 730+ moms
Availability & Price

Key Differences Between Spectra S1 And Medela Freestyle

  • STRENGTH: Spectra is stronger than Medela which means in most cases it’s more effective and quicker at expressing your breast milk. It works better for frequent or exclusive pumping.
  • ADJUSTABILITY: Spectra settings allow for better personalization. With Spectra you can adjust the suction strength and speed separately for your convenience, with Medela the vacuum and speed only adjust together.
  • HOSPITAL-GRADE: Spectra is labeled as hospital-grade breast pump, the Medela Freestyle is personal pump, not hospital-grade.
  • MULTIPLE USERS: Spectra can be used by multiple users (with individual pumping kit), Medela Freestyle is designed and safe to be used only by one user.
  • PRICE: Spectra is much cheaper than Medela Freestyle Flex.
  • BATTERY: Spectra has better battery which lasts longer, plus an excellent durable motor with long life.
  • CHARGING: Spectra comes with an AC power adapter, while Medela Freestyle uses USB charger which is more convenient.
  • MOBILE APP: Only Medela breast pump has Bluetooth and connects with a smartphone app which allows you to track your outputs.
  • SIZE: Freestyle breast pump is WAY MORE compact and lightweight than Spectra which makes it better for travel.

Spectra S1 Or Medela Freestyle – My Personal Choice

In my opinion Spectra is better choice, especially if you’re looking for double electric breast pump for exclusive pumping. It’s strong almost as hospital breast pumps, but it’s much quieter.

is Spectra or Medela better? in my opinion spectra s1 is better than medela freestyle

Lots of settings and ability to personalized the suction and speed is a huge bonus, because we all have different sensitivity in nipples, and different milk supply.

Many lactation experts and moms recommend Spectra S1 as being helpful for establishing, increasing and maintaining breast milk supply.

I’ve never experienced ant problems with battery life or motor. I think Spectra is a great choice if you plan on having more children and want really durable breast pump.

Even though Spectra S1 is bigger and heavier than Medela Freestyle, it’s still pretty portable and I have used it on-the-go, and in my car a few times.

I also prefer Spectra parts, for me they are easier to clean than Medela parts, and I’ve never had issues with mold in the tubing!

Spectra has also more pocket-friendly price than Freestyle and this is one of the reasons why I chose it over Medela pump. Here’s the version of Spectra S1 that I’ve used.

Spectra S1 vs. Medela Freestyle – Full Comparison & All Differences

Let’s dive into more detailed comparison and choose which of these two options is a better double pump.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, there are many important differences between these two breast pumps.

Medela Freestyle Flex vs Spectra S1 - Electric double breast pumps


Spectra pump is quite large, there’s a LCD screen and 7 buttons that allow you to adjust settings like speed and vacuum, switch between Massage and Expression modes and even adjust the brightness of the built-in night light.

Medela Freestyle Flex is way smaller, it’s the size of a smartphone. In contrast to Spectra, Medela has digital control panel (which glows in the low light conditions) that allow you to adjust the strength and switch between pumping modes.

>> Unsure which Spectra pump to choose? Here’s my comparison: Spectra S1 vs. S2.

What’s Included

Spectra S1 vs Medela Freestyle - What's Included

Spectra S1 comes with AC power adapter, tubing with backflow protectors, duckbill valves and 2 wide neck storage bottles with nipples and lids. There are 2 sets of flanges included: 24mm and 28mm, other sizes can be purchased separately.

Medela Freestyle Flex includes USB charging cable and power adapter, tubing with backflow protector, 4 bottles with lids and 2 bottle stands. There are 2 sets of breast shields: 21mm and 24mm, other sizes are sold separately. Medela also comes with a PersonalFit Flex connectors which ensure the flanges connect to your nipples properly for maximum output.

What’s noteworthy, Medela pump includes a carry bag and cooler.

PRO TIP: You can also purchase Spectra pump with a diaper bag and cooler bag – it’s still much cheaper than Medela! Check out this set here >>


Spectra S1 is advertised as hospital-grade pump.

This is not an official term (at least according to the FDA), but what does it mean for the user?

It basically means that it has enclosed system which prevents contamination and the breast pump can be used by multiple users (each mom needs to have her own tubing, valves, breast flanges and milk bottles). Moreover, it’s just as strong, efficient and durable as the breast pumps used at hospitals.

On the other hand, the Freestyle Flex is not a hospital-grade pump and it cannot be used by multiple users. It’s a personal, single user breast pump.

This is a very important difference between Spectra vs. Medela.

How Do They Work – Strength, Speed, Adjustability

LCD display with buttons on Spectra vs. digital display on Medela Freestyle Flex

Spectra pumps and Medela pumps use 2-phase technology for expressing milk which is designed to mimic baby’s sucking rhythm to facilitate the letdown.

Each pump has massage/letdown mode which – thanks to fast suction it stimulates milk flow.

Once you detect letdown, you can switch to expression mode which has slower pace.

At any time you can adjust the settings to your preferences, and here Spectra is definitely a winner. It’s not only stronger at sucking the breastmilk, but it also gives you more options to personalized the settings. This means that it’s easier to find speed (5 levels) and vacuum strength (12 levels) that will be comfortable to you and allow you to get satisfying outcome.

Spectra S1 suction strength: 0-270 mmHg (close to hospital breast pumps)

Medela Freestyle Flex suction strength: 45-245 mmHg

Another important difference is that with Spectra you can adjust suction speed (cycles per minute) in expression mode, separately from the suction strength: from 38 to 54 CPM.

On the other hand, Medela Freestyle Flex speed doesn’t adjust independently, both the speed and strength change together.

What also differentiates these two breast pumps is that when you turn on Medela it will automatically initiate the letdown mode, while Spectra will start with expression mode and you will need to press one button to turn on the massage (letdown) phase.

It’s noteworthy that some moms stay in the letdown mode, while others use only the expression mode or switch between these two options. Everything depends on your personal comfort and milk supply/flow.

For many moms who have been using both breast pumps, Spectra turned out to be better option – it’s helpful for increasing the breast milk supply, and it works great for establishing and maintaining your supply. It’s not only more powerful and quicker at extracting breast milk, but it also have more adjustments for your personal comfort and satisfying volume.

Size & Portability

Which breast pump is more portable spectra or medela

Medela pump is much more compatible and portable than Spectra. Freestyle weighs about 0.6 pound and it’s ultra-compact (like a smartphone). It takes up little space in mom’s handbag or diaper bag. It can even fit in your jeans front pocket! This compact and lightweight design makes Freestyle a fantastic breast pump for travel.

Thanks to portable size, you can bring Medela Freestyle pump everywhere with you.

Spectra S1 is not huge, but it’s not small either. It’s bigger than Medela pump and it will take up probably your whole diaper bag. By the way, here you can check my favorite most roomy diaper bags.

Nevertheless, it is possible to travel with Spectra and you can also use it on-the-go. Thanks to rechargeable adapter you can express your breastmilk with Spectra even in your car!

PRO TIP: If you’re opting for a portable and small pump, but want something stronger than Medela Freestyle, I recommend you this Spectra 9 Plus. It’s almost as powerful as other Spectra pumps, but it’s tiny and weighs only 0.5 lb. It’s almost half Medela’s price!

Battery & Charging

Comparison of battery and charging Spectra S1 vs Medela Freestyle Flex

Both breast pumps have built-in rechargeable battery Spectra uses AC power adapter, while Medela comes with USB charger.

It takes 2-3 hours to fully charge Spectra S1 and the battery should last for about 3 hours.

On the other hand, Medela Freestyle needs about 2 hours to charge fully, which allows it to operate for other 2 hours.

According to moms who have been using both breast pumps, Spectra battery is more reliable and stronger. Some parents complain that after a few months, Medela Freestyle battery runs low after just a few pumping sessions.

What’s noteworthy, both breast pumps can be used when they are charging.

It’s really convenient that these pumps have rechargeable battery, because you won’t be chained to the electrical outlet. You’ll be able to pump, even if there’s no power outlet near you or if there’s a power blackout.


Both breast pump have similar amount of parts to clean. The main difference is that Spectra S1 has one-piece bottle connectors and breast shields which may be a bit harder to clean since there are more nooks and crannies. To avoid any residue, you can clean these parts in a dishwasher (just like Spectra bottles). But keep in mind that tubing, valves and backflow protectors are not dishwasher safe.

Medela breast shields are easier to clean and all parts (except for tubing) can be washed in a dishwasher.

There’s one more important difference I need to mention in this Spectra S1 vs. Medela Freestyle comparison – because it’s one of the main reasons for me to choose Spectra.

Parents rarely complain about mold or dirt in the tubing and I’ve also never experience such an issue. Unfortunately, I’ve heard that some moms had problems with mold in Medela Freestyle tubing. And since it’s basically impossible to clean tubing correctly, it may require frequent replacements which means extra costs. Medela Freestyle replacement tubing is available here.

Mobile App

My Medela App for Freestyle Flex Pump

Medela Freestyle uses Bluetooth and connects with a phone app. It allows you to tract your milk volume, as well as number and length of your pumping sessions. The app also notifies you when it’s time to recharge the pump. Both functions are very convenient.

Spectra doesn’t have a smartphone app.


These breast pumps are not completely silent or discreet. However, Spectra S1 seems to be working a bit quieter than Medela Freestyle Flex breast pump.


Spectra features night light with 2 brightness settings. It makes night pumping sessions much easier.

Spectra S1 Plus with nightlight

Spectra & Medela Pumps – Similarities

There are a few things that these breast pumps have in common. Whichever you choose, you’ll get single/double pump with enclosed system.

Closed System

Medela Freestyle Flex breast pump and Spectra S1 breast pump have closed system which prevents your breast milk from backing up into the tubing or motor.

Thanks to the closed system the air and bacteria cannot go into the tubing which makes pumping more hygienic. This is also the system that is used in NICU breast pumps as well as rental hospital breast pumps.

Single & Double Pumping

This is another feature that Spectra and Medela share – each breast pump can be used for single or double pumping. This means that you can drain both breast simultaneously or express milk just from one breast while nursing on the other breast.

Final Decision: Is Spectra S1 Or Medela Freestyle Flex Better?

Speaking from my experience, Spectra S1 is better option than Medela Freestyle, especially if you plan on pumping exclusively or want to mix breastfeeding and pumping.

This breast pump is stronger and you can change vacuum power and speed individually, which allows you to change settings to your personal comfort, sensitivity and milk supply.

Spectra pump is also considered to be hospital-grade, it has closed system and with personal pumping kits, this pumps can be used by multiple users.

Spectra has long-life motor which is awesome if you plan on having more kids (I used this Spectra S1 Plus with my 2 children!). Besides, the battery is strong and holds really well. Another thing that makes Spectra fantastic long-term investment is its durability and top quality. I’ve never had issues with mold in tubing (although it is recommended to replace it every 3-6 months for safety reasons).

What’s more, Spectra is much cheaper so it won’t ruin your family budget!

However, if the size of breast pump is more important to you than its strength or adjustability – Medela Freestyle Flex may be a better choice for you. It’s quite efficient too, but what distinguishes this pump is its compact and lightweight design. It’s the size of a smartphone therefore it easily fits in mom’s handbag or even a front pocket in your pants.


Reasons to choose Spectra S1 Plus

- It's a hospital-grade pump with closed system - it's the most safe and hygienic way to pump breastmilk

- Just as strong as hospital breast pump, more powerful than Medela Freestyle

- You can adjust suction power and speed to your personal comfort and sensitivity level

- Quiet

- Recommended for frequent or exclusive pumping

- Super durable motor, long-lasting battery

- WAY CHEAPER than Medela (even if you decide to get this set with tote bag and cooler bag, it's still almost half the price of Medela Freestyle)

Reasons to choose Medela Freestyle Flex

- Ultra-lightweight (less than 1 pound) and portable

- Compact size - it fits in a front pocket in your pants, just like your smartphone

- Easy to clean

- It includes a tote bag and cooler bag

- You can bring it anywhere with you, it's a great pump for travel

Medela Freestyle vs. Spectra S1 Plus – FAQ & Pumping Tips

Here is additional information about these breast pumps, insurance coverage and tips for hands-free pumping with Spectra and Medela.

Is Medela Freestyle Flex Covered By Insurance?

You need to check with your insurance provider as each company has different plans. But you should keep in mind that Freestyle Flex pump is an upgraded model and the tote bag, cooler and rechargeable battery is not covered by insurance. Most likely your insurance will cover the cost of Medela Freestyle Flex partially and you will need to pay extra for the bags and battery.

Is Spectra S1 Covered By Insurance?

Similar to Medela Freestyle Flex, Spectra S1 Plus is an upgraded model – its rechargeable battery is not covered by the insurance. However, you should be able to obtain this pump through your insurance and only need to pay a few dollars for the battery. Check with your insurance company to make sure they can cover your Spectra pump.

How Do I Pump Hands-Free With Spectra & Medela?

As you can see these are not hands-free breast pumps – they have all that tubing and bottles connected to your breast which you need to hold while pumping. The good news is that you can still enjoy hands-free pumping with Spectra S1 and Medela Freestyle Flex, you just need a special pumping bra.

The best pumping bra for Medela Freestyle Flex is this Medela Easy Expression Bustier (this bra works with all Medela double electric breast pumps).

The best pumping bra for Spectra S1 is this Kindred Bravely Sublime bra. It’s important to notice that Spectra has abnormal flanges which are compatible only with a few nursing bras. Here’s my ranking of the best Spectra pumping bras.

>> Would you prefer hands-free breast pump? Check out my other comparison: Elvie vs. Willow vs. Freemie.

Is Medela Freestyle Hospital Grade?

No, Medela Freestyle is not a hospital-grade breast pump. Even though it has a closed system, it cannot be shared with other users. This is a personal, single-user breast pump.

Is Medela Or Spectra Easier To Clean?

Both breast pumps are fairly easy to clean and dishwasher-safe (except for the tubing parts). Spectra may be slightly more difficult to wash by hand, because it has one-piece breast shield and bottle holder. On the other hand, Medela has separate flanges and connectors (less nooks and crannies).

However, Spectra seems to have less problems with mold in the tubing (I’ve never had any issue with it), but I’ve heard that some moms had problem with mold in Medela Freestyle after short period of using.

Is The Medela Freestyle Strong?

Medela Freestyle is quite strong, with maximum vacuum power at 245 mmHg, but it’s not as powerful as Spectra. Some mothers say it’s not sufficient for them and they prefer to use Spectra which is stronger and better for EPing mamas.

Which Brand Is Better: Spectra Or Medela?

Both brands, Spectra and Medela are super popular and respected in the US. Their products are functional and make new mama life easier. I do prefer Spectra a bit more – speaking from my experience it’s more durable.

But whether you choose Spectra or Medela, you can be sure you’ll get a high-quality breast pump with good suction, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg!

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for medical consultation or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts, and before you introduce tummy time. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. The article contains affiliate links – your support helps us run this blog!

Source of pictures:

Pictures of Spectra S1 belong to Spectra brand. Main source: https://www.spectrababyusa.com/ Additional sources: https://www.instagram.com/spectrababy_uk/ and https://www.instagram.com/spectrababyusa/

Pictures of Medela Freestyle Flex belong to Medela brand. Source: https://www.medela.com/

About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

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