Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Breast Pump Review - Medela Swing

Past reviews : 
Avent Manual Pump review
Avent Single Electric Pump review

Apart from my Avent pump, I also bought a Medela Swing to speed up the process of expressing milk so I can pump both sides at the same time. I did not want to invest in a double pump as I didn't think it was necessary since I mostly pump at home.

Features (per Medela website)

    Efficient: pump more milk in less time, thanks to our 2-Phase Expression Technology
    Unique: ideal for daily electric pumping
    Comfortable: a range of vacuum levels and settings
    Easy to use: easy to assemble, use and clean
    Convenient: quiet and compact design, ideal for discreet pumping

My Review

The pump was easy to assemble after referring to the instructions. Just to highlight, what I learned from the shop owner is that it is very important to ensure that the pump valve is attached pointing to the same direction with the connector for Swing to work correctly. You can see the above picture, or click here for the Medela instruction manual.

Being an Avent pump user prior to this, Medela Swing has a totally different way of expressing milk. Instead of the petal massage, what I experience is their 2-Phase Expression Technology. For the first 2 minutes of pumping, the Swing will work in quick sucking motions, imitating a baby's suckle to stimulate the milk ejection reflex (MER) and to start the milk flowing. After two minutes, it will automatically switch to a slower, longer suction, imitating a baby's suck to get the milk out. 

What I like about the Swing is that I am able to adjust the suction strength according to my own preference or needs. One note of caution thought - do not set the suction strenght to be too strong! It may cause injury to your breast tissue and it really, really hurts! Higher suction strenght does not guarantee more or faster output. 

The other reason why I chose the Swing is that I can carry it around the house while pumping. I use mainly the battery operated module so rechargeble batteries are a must. Sometimes I even use hands-free pumping, something I couldn't do with the Avent electronic pump. Here's a very good article how you could DIY a hands-free kit.

In terms of noise, the Medela Swing is definitely more silent as compared to the Avent electronic pump. My hubby actually asked why didn't I get this pump much earlier, he could have a good night's sleep from the start!

One other thing I learned about using the Medela Swing is that I need to constantly ensure I do not tilt over too much while pumping, else the contents may pour out, or worse, flow back into the tubing. If the latter happens, I have to wash and dry the tubing. I bought an extra tubing in case of these accidents, and it actually did happen twice :( Lucky I bought the tubing else I can't use the pump at all.
Washing and maintenance

There are only 3 pump parts to wash - the connector, the valve and membrane (the thin white piece attached to the valve). Washing is a breeze as the parts are quite easy to wash. Just make sure you remove the membrane from the valve each time you wash the pump. I have to highlight this because I know of some mothers who never removed the membrane from the valve when washing their pump. I was also told not to sterlise the pump parts too often. For the valve and membrane, a 5 - 10 minute soak in hot water after washing is sufficient. Too frequent sterilization will affect the pump's effectiveness.  I was told the tubing does not require washing unless due to backflow of milk.

In terms of maintenance, Medela Swing have very few parts which require frequent changing. The most notable one of all is the membrane. It is a fragile piece but is extremely vital to the pump mechanism. One the membrane tore due to my rough handling, and I ended up not able to use the pump at all! Another time when I felt that the pump is not as efficient as before, all I did was to change the membrane and it is working fine again. Other stories I heard was the membrane gone missing while washing the pump, most likely it has gone down the basin drain! The spare membranes, valves and tubing can be purchased from most baby stores. I got mine from First Few Years at The Curve. For maintenance, the list of Medela offices in Malaysia can be found here (this is their FB page).

My average yield is 5oz per 30 minute session when using Medela Swing. Do note that the Swing operates on a 20 minute interval. After 20 minutes it will stop. If you think you still have more to pump, just turn it back on and switch to Expression Mode immediately. Sometimes on a not-so-good day, I can only yield 4oz with the Swing as compared to 5oz with Avent manual pump. I am not sure why, perhaps Avent's mechanism works better for me.

I do not have an issue with letdown, so within one minute of pumping the milk can already be expressed, although I keep to the 2 minute timing set by the Swing. I can complete one side within 20 minutes of less.

Though I have declared my love for the Avent manual pump, if given a choice of eletronic pump, I would chose this over Avent's pump mainly due to its portability, quietness and minimal maintenance issues. It would have been an added bonus if they have a nice pump bag to go along with it instead of the big ugly bag provided!


Geri said...

Hie .. this is a really useful review as I have bought a Medela Swing as well. Thanks for sharing and the tips :)

I'm gonna be due soon in about 3-4 weeks time :)

medela swing breast pump video said...

One of the things that several mothers like about Medela Swing is the fact that it is very handy, also, easy to use, despite of the fact that it only showcase a single pumping feature. Nevertheless, its 2-phase expression technology is indeed a head turner. This technology could truly mimic the babies’ natural nursing pattern.