Ok, here are my pros and cons of the top two contenders for best double electric pump. The two I will review were the two I used for my daughters: the Avent ISIS iQ Duo double electric breast pump for my first (shortly after it came out) and I was pumping for 9 months, every weekday, 2-4 times a day. For my second, I went with the Medela Freestyle and have been pumping every weekday, 1-2 times, for 6 months.
Features common to both: Both pumps are adjustable in strength and frequency of pumping action, and both can be customized with soft breast shields (these come standard with the Avent IQ). Both are now BPA free (although when I used the Avent IQ Duo, it wasn’t, but Medela has always been BPA free). Both can also be used as a single pump if you want to, for example, pump one side while your baby feeds on the other (I never managed this as the daughter would be distracted, but it seems like an efficient use of time). Both come with a carry bag, basic bottles, cold packs, and cool packs. Both are compact and look reasonably presentable (the Avent even more so), if you forget to stow it in a desk drawer before a meeting.
Medela Freestyle Specific Features:
- Hands-free use: Freestyle earned its name because it can be clipped onto the belt and the horns are worn hands-free. Unlike previous Medela pumps that required additional accessories and Medela brand bras, these can be used with most nursing bra brands and styles. HOWEVER, I found the hands-free system uncomfortable. This may have been a feature of being relatively well endowed (about 36E/F, while breastfeeding), but it didn’t really help me in the end. However, I still appreciated the compactness and cordless operation, especially when my pumping situation at work was influx.
- Cordless/Rechargeable: According to the handsfree, it wouldn’t be much help if you needed to plug it in. So the Freestyle can be charged and then used for a while before needing to be charged again. I don’t remember how often I charged it, but it was probably after several hours of pumping.
- Ready to travel: Plus, it works on 110-220V outlets and comes with a variety of travel adapters.
- Adjustable force/speed: The Freestyle has adjustments you can make: to the strength and speed of the pumping action. These are controlled by the up and down buttons on the main device and have a range of around 5 settings. There’s also a “let down” button that you can press after the milk starts to flow, and it will speed things up and intensify them by about 1 notch each.
Specific features of the Avent Isis IQ Duo:
- Intuitive Force-Speed Controls: The main winner of the Avent IQ Duo is its intuitive control system. It works a bit like cruise control in your car! The controls are on the electric pump horn, rather than on the main pump unit. The motorized horn looks a bit like a regular hand pump, and you can use it like one, except it will control both horns. But pump at the frequency and intensity you want by squeezing the lever as often or as far as you like. This is especially useful for stimulating the descent. Once the drop is achieved, adjust your pump speed/intensity to whatever feels good that day, then press the blue button and the pump will continue on this setting until you change it again. To change it, what do you do? Simply start squeezing the handle again to regain “hand control” and reset the blue button afterwards. There is nothing easier than this.
- Best storage bags: Ok, this is definitely tangential to the main point of choosing a good breast pump, but the bottle storage bags that came with the Avent Duo were easier to use than Medela’s. They are two tubular bags lined with thinsulate that hold one bottle each (two if you squeeze them) and soft gel packs. The size of the bags fit better in my laptop bag or backpack than Medela’s large bucket. (On the other hand, the Medela travel bag was better than the Avent one: smaller and easier to fold up if I put the Medela in something else.)
- Soft funnels as standard: The Advent comes with soft chest pads included. They also have these little bumps that are supposed to help stimulate let-down. I’m not sure if they did, but I prefer soft chest pads to hard ones.
What is the end result? Well for my second daughter the Medela Freestyle was suitable as we were moving from the US to the UK and traveling a lot. On the other hand, with my first daughter, I pumped longer and found it to be a less onerous task overall. This was for a number of reasons, but I wonder if the ease of pumping contributed with: Avent ISIS iQ Duo.