A Working Mom’s Sonata Breast Pump Review

Sonata Breast Pump ReviewFor those readers who are pregnant and weighing the pros and cons of the various breast pumps out there, we hope today’s Medela Sonata breast pump review will help you decide. When Kat and I became moms, many considered the Medela Pump In Style Advanced to be the be-all and end-all of breast pumps, but that’s changed — so we were thrilled when Reader R offered to review the Sonata.

Some of the Sonata’s features are:

  • 2-Phase Expression Technology with one-touch letdown button
  • Connects with Smart Solution to the MyMedela app
  • Medela’s quietest personal-use breast pump
  • Hospital performance
  • Touch screen display and control illumination
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery

The Sonata is available at Amazon, Target, and Buy Buy Baby for $359. This post contains affiliate links and CorporetteMoms may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!

We’re able to bring you today’s Sonata breast pump review thanks to Reader R, who emailed us to say:

Someone suggested on your recent survey that you have reviews for some of the new pumps on the market. I just want to offer my services in reviewing the Medela Sonata pump. I love it so far in comparison to the PISA [Pump In Style Advanced] and Symphony I used with my first baby.

We wrote back and said YES PLEASE, and so she wrote down more of her thoughts — HUGE THANKS to Reader R for this Sonata review (after the jump)…

 

Reader R’s Sonata Breast Pump Review

Late into my pregnancy with kid #2, I looked into buying one of the new, “higher-tech” pumps that just came onto the market. I looked for reviews of the technology online, but there were almost no personal reviews out there about these newer pumps. I turned to CorporetteMoms readers for help, but no one had tried them either. So I took the plunge blindly and wanted to pay it forward a little bit by sharing with the community my experiences with one of these pumps—the Medela Sonata [affiliate link].

With kid #1, I started off with the Medela Pump In Style Advanced [affiliate link]. It was perfectly fine. I got milk from it, but very slowly. While breastfeeding always went well enough, pumping a decent amount was always a struggle. But that’s mostly just me and not the particular pump. When I went back to work, I splurged and rented a Medela Symphony. This was an improvement over the Pump In Style. It felt vaguely more comfortable, was quieter, and maybe it was just my imagination but I think I got a little bit more milk in a little bit less time. Even so, my milk supply gradually dropped after I returned to work and by the time my kid was eight months, my supply was gone completely.

So when I went to get a pump for kid #2, I was all too aware of the difficulties I had pumping and of the fact that I might not be pumping all that long in the end. I only heard bad things about the pump provided by my insurance company, so I decided it would be worth the investment to buy a good pump and maybe to spend a little more in the hopes of a better breastfeeding experience.

I ended up buying the Medela Sonata, which Medela advertises as its “Smart” breast pump. The technology is apparently inspired by the Symphony pump but at a much lower price, so I figured I’d give it a go. Overall, I really liked the pump and felt it was worth spending the extra $100 over the Pump In Style. (Of note, some of the other new pumps on the market cost hundreds of dollars more, and that was a factor in my decision).

What I Loved

  • This is a great pump for the office. The best feature is that it runs on a rechargeable battery, so you can give it a good charge and then pump nowhere near an outlet. Turns out there are no convenient outlets to my desk, so this works out really well. It also worked well when I was home because it allowed me to get up  and take care of baby or get something from the kitchen, all while pumping. It also has a useful carrying handle.
  • The pump is super quiet.
  • I also felt like I got more milk out—and faster—than with any of my prior pumps, but I am starting to think this depends so much on your individual body that it is hard to say it will work for everyone. In the early days I could pump 4 ounces in 12 minutes, which is half as long as it ever took me with the pumps I used for kid #2. Nonetheless, it did not make my milk supply last any longer than the first time.

What I Liked

  • The “smart” technology was pretty neat, but I didn’t use it a lot. The pump connects via Bluetooth to an app to track your pumping. It will track the length of your pumping sessions, but you still need to enter the amounts. I rarely took the time to enter the data, so I didn’t get a lot out of the analysis, but it could be cool if you wanted to do it.
  • It’s bigger and slightly heavier than the Pump In Style but still pretty portable. I didn’t love carrying it every day, but it didn’t really weigh me down.
  • The bottles and flanges are interchangeable with other Medela pumps, but the rest of the parts were not. However, I felt that the Sonata parts were easier to clean—none of those tiny little membranes you somehow need to scrub behind.

What I Didn’t Like

The tubing is poorly designed and quickly began to fold over itself where it connects to the pump, compressing the airway and eventually cracking the membrane. However, when I complained to Medela, they quickly replaced it.

The Verdict

I think that the Sonata is not currently covered by insurance companies. If your insurance gives you a pump you like, I don’t know that it’s worth spending the significant extra money for the Sonata. But if you are looking at having to buy one
out of pocket, it’s a very good portable option.

Which pump do you use, or which ones are you considering if you haven’t bought one yet? What will your insurance cover? If you’ve tried any of the pumps above, what was your experience with it, and would you recommend it to other moms? (And again, HUGE thanks to Reader R for this excellent Medela Sonata Breast Pump review!)

For more information on pumping breast milk, check out our post, Tips for Pumping at the Office: A Working Mom’s Primer, where we’ve gathered all of our best advice and resources on pumping at work, including Pumping at Work 101How to Pump When You’re Traveling for WorkBreastfeeding and Type A WomenWhere to Pump When You Need to Pump in Public PlacesThe Best Clothes for Pumping: A Poll, and How to Pump in a Different Office (on Corporette)—and more. We also share links to some of the best advice from readers.

Social media images via Stencil.sonata breast pump review - image of a baby bottle

Comments

  1. Anonanonanon says:

    Thanks to this reader for sharing! It has reminded me that I need to request a list of pumps covered by my plan at my next appointment, so I can decide if I’m going to go that route or need to add a pump to the budget. This looks like a great option!

  2. Allison says:

    I used the Medela PISA for #1. When expecting #2, my insurance was covering the Spectra S1(?), so I went for it, knowing I’d have the Medela as a backup. I love the Spectra. It doesn’t hurt at all, it a lot quieter, and has a rechargeable battery, which is awesome as I travel for work. It’s bulkier but so far I haven’t touched my Medela this time around.

  3. +1 to everything. For me the quietnessof the Spectra alone is a reason to splurge for it. But it’s also way more effective.

  4. Casey says:

    I’m actually pumping with my Medela Sonata as I type! I’m on baby #1, so I don’t have anything to compare this to, but so far I really like it! My only complaint is that the app quite frankly is awful- it’s super glitchy and honestly, not all that helpful. But really…I don’t really need the app, I just find it strange/frustrating that the quality of the app in no way compares to the quality (or price) of the pump.

    App issue aside, I’d definitely recommend the Sonata. And side note- my insurance (tricare) paid for it in full :)

  5. Spectra EPer says:

    The Spectra is great and not that expensive, relatively speaking. My insurance covered the S2 (like the S1 but needs to be plugged in, so S1 is more expensive & my insurance didn’t cover). I used the Symphony at first because a lactation consultant scared me into thinking if I didn’t rent it I would not protect my supply. Eventually I switched to my S2 and it’s more comfortable and fewer parts to clean. I like that it has a timer and nightlight.

    I ended up buying an S9 as well, Spectra’s smaller, battery-operated pump from Amazon for around $140 (have also seen on jet.com for less), and have been very happy with that for travel & using at work. Especially since the fancy pump bags cost around that much, I felt the S9 was a much better purchase for me rather than trying to carry a larger pump around.

  6. Onlyworkingmomintulsa says:

    Further to yesterday’s potty training discussion, we started potty training my now 2.75 year old two months ago. He does pretty well at home, but at friends’ houses and daycare, he still has almost daily accidents, often poop. His daycare teachers regularly put him on the potty, but when he gets outside and starts playing….poop happens. Same thing when we are at visiting friends and family. It’s like he has toddler FOMO and doesn’t want to stop to use the potty. Any tips of getting a kid to just get to the potty to poop? More time needed? He doesn’t seem to have issues holding it in and is not afraid of the potty, but poopy pants sure don’t seem to bother him either!

    • Onlyworkingmomintulsa says:

      Weird, dupe post, please ignore!

    • Unfortunately, this seems to be a phase that a lot of kids go through. Both of mine have. The only thing I’ve had much luck with is taking kiddo to the bathroom at regular intervals, but that’s a lot more effective with pee than poop. When kiddo DOES make it to the bathroom for poop, she gets lots of rewards and praise!

    • If you aren’t averse to a little screen time, there’s a Daniel Tiger episode about using the potty. I have the song permanently embedded in my head now. (“If you need to go potty, stop and go right away”…and now I’ve triggered everyone else’s earworms. Sorry.)

    • Anonymous says:

      We went back to diapers/pullups for 6 months and tried again, at which point we had success. We were having accidents at home though, and in the tub, and I really wasn’t sure my son knew when he was about to poop – sounds like your situation might be a bit different.

  7. I have a Medela Freestyle sitting in my closet and collecting dust. What the heck do I do with a pump that will never get used again?

    • Do you know anyone who is pumping/planning to pump that may want it? My best friend gave me hers to have as a spare – I just bought new parts on amazon – and it was great because I didn’t take the PIS home during the week, if I needed to pump at home I used the freestyle. Pumping is so much easier without having to schlep the pump!

      • anne-on says:

        +1 – my Pump is style made it through my cousin, and my SIL’s two kids. We all swapped out or boiled the bottles/flanges and bought new tubing, worked like a champ for the whole time (5.5 years since I got it) and as far as I know is still holding up well though I think SIL is about to wean.

  8. My insurance (Federal Blue Cross) only covers the Ameda Purely Yours (or an Ameda manual pump). With baby #1 I used the Ameda at work and used the Medela Harmony hand pump if I needed to pump at home. At that time, I was not teleworking, so I only pumped once in a while at home. With baby #2 I knew I’d be teleworking 1-2 days per week, so a coworker and I are splitting the cost of renting a Medela Symphony for the office. We are usually only in the office at the same time once a week, so we haven’t had a scheduling issue, and the shared cost is much more doable. When I telework I use the Ameda electric pump, but I did request and receive a brand new one from insurance before baby arrived because I’ve read that the motors tend to wear out after a year or so on the personal use pumps and I used my original Ameda daily for around 18 months! I use the Pumpin Pals angled flanges with all 3 pumps to minimize hunching over.
    Here’s my thoughts on these 3 pumps:
    Medela Harmony: If I could I would use the Harmony hand pump all the time — I found that it is most like nursing because of the slight variability in speed since I’m not a machine. You also have complete control over how intense the compressions are and it is intuitive to adjust by changing how much you squeeze the lever. It is super fast even if I need to do both sides and consistently gets more milk than an electric. Unfortunately doing this 2-3X per day isn’t realistic and would probably result in a repetitive stress injury.
    Ameda Purely Yours: This pump is fine. My favorite thing about it is that it is a closed system, which many of the other electric personal use pumps are not. There is NEVER milk in the tubes, and I have never even had any condensation or other moisture in the tubes. I’m never concerned about hidden mold or mildew. The speed and suction can be adjusted separately. This is generally a good thing, but the speed range is too small IMHO. My biggest complaint is that it is loud. Like hard to have a phone conversation loud. I generally don’t work while pumping because I find my production is terrible when I do, but if you need to talk on the phone while pumping this is not a great choice. It’s also annoying that it has 2 membrane-type parts for each horn (though the membranes are less delicate than the medela ones) and that the horns are bulky and awkward to clean. I think for a closed system pump this is a good choice if your insurance covers it. If I was buying a pump it probably wouldn’t be my pick for the $ it costs to purchase, but I don’t think its worth buying a different pump at this price range if you can get this one for free. It is reasonably portable — I was able to take it on a trip recently and get the pump, parts, accessories, ice, and milk all into my large insulated lunch box.
    Medela Symphony: My 2 favorite things about this are that it is a closed system and that it is very quiet. If I’m listening to music on headphones I don’t really notice the sound of the pump, which helps me relax. I wouldn’t say that it is faster than the Ameda per se, but I can definitely get more milk in the same time without having the suction way up. This feels more gentle, which definitely makes pumping more pleasant. I haven’t tried travelling with it, but it seems like it would be awfully bulky and heavy to transport. I am pretty frustrated that despite it being a closed system, there is frequently condensation in the tubes even after I run the pump for a while after I’m done. I don’t understand how a cheap Ameda system can avoid this but the fancy hospital pump can’t. Cost is the other potential downside — if I didn’t have someone to share the rental cost with I would probably have bought a second pump, but by sharing the cost we get a great pump that should overall be at a cost similar to buying another one.
    It is annoying to have 2 different types of pump parts to deal with, but at least I can use the same bottles, bottle adapters, and bag adapters for both sets. It would be more annoying if the bottle threads were different on the two sets of parts because it would multiply the number of parts needed by a lot. With baby #1 I had 2 sets of parts that I alternated for the Ameda. Now I have a set for the Ameda and a set for the Medela, and each has its own pair of bottle adapters and bag adapters to go with it. This has worked okay so far, though it helps that DH generally washes the bottles/pump parts.
    Overall I agree with the reviewer that reactions to different pumps and to pumping generally are very personal, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The 2 global recommendations I have are (1) try Pumpin Pals and (2) get a new pump for each baby unless you started out with a hospital grade pump. I hope that my reviews can help someone — picking a pump can be so overwhelming!

  9. Onlyworkingmomintulsa says:

    Sorry for dupe post above!!

    Further to yesterday’s potty training discussion, we started potty training my now 2.75 year old two months ago. He does pretty well at home, but at friends’ houses and daycare, he still has almost daily accidents, often poop. His daycare teachers regularly put him on the potty, but when he gets outside and starts playing….poop happens. Same thing when we are at visiting friends and family. It’s like he has toddler FOMO and doesn’t want to stop to use the potty. Any tips of getting a kid to just get to the potty to poop? More time needed? He doesn’t seem to have issues holding it in and is not afraid of the potty, but poopy pants sure don’t seem to bother him either!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Love my Spectra. I actually have the S2 at work and S1 at home. It’s quiet, I get a good amount of milk even after 8 months, and I’ve used the nightlight feature quite a few times. It’s bigger but I haven’t had to transport it much at all. I have a Medela handpump if I’m traveling (haven’t had any work trips)

    • LadyNFS says:

      I also have an S2 at the office (from my insurance company) and an S1 that I keep at home / lug with me to Court (from another mom who received it from insurance and didn’t love it, so she gave it to me). This is first child so I can’t compare to other pumps, and I’m only 2 weeks back at work. But having the 2 pumps makes my life easier – especially since the S1 is rechargeable and doesn’t require an outlet to pump. When I’m in court or otherwise, I don’t even take it out of the bag. I’m happy with both pumps, but can’t really speak to supply, etc. since I’m new at this. I do notice that I’m not able to keep up with my kiddo’s needs every day, but that could be more a function of my body / adjusting to pumping rather than the pump. It’s getting better but still not there yet. I frequently talk on the phone while hooked up to the Spectra and no one seems to notice the sound.

    • Knope says:

      This is my set up too! I also have not been able to keep up with my child’s demands, but I’m sure that’s my fault and not the pump’s. Otherwise no complaints.

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