Medela's newest breast pump, the Sonata, promises to be smart and super effective
We Tried It: Medela’s Newest Breast Pump, the Sonata
What Is It: A new “smart” model from Medela that promises to make life easier for pumping moms
Who Tried It: Rennie Dyball, PEOPLE senior news editor
When my second child arrived prematurely, I was forced to become a pumping pro. Every three hours, around the clock, I logged sessions with my hospital pump to provide for my preemie. When she came home, the pumping continued — this time, on very little sleep and while practicing nursing. In short: pumping was life. Literally.
So when I returned my hospital-grade rental pump, I got in touch with Medela (whose Pump in Style was just perfect with my first baby) to try the Sonata, which they call the highest-performing of the personal-use pumps, inspired by their hospital-grade model.
It’s also the quietest, which makes a real difference for working moms whose conference calls don’t stop for pumping sessions. (Side note: exclusive pumpers and moms who work and pump outside the home are straight-up amazing. My hat is off to you.)
On the surface, the Sonata simply looks cool. My 3-year-old calls it the “spaceship pump” — I’ve tried so many we nicknamed them all — due to its sleek appearance. It’s also super modern with its digital timer display, easy and intuitive controls and even pleasant sounds and chimes (which can be muted if need be). Obviously, performance is the most important when you’re considering a breast pump, but when you are essentially forced to bond with a machine to produce milk for your baby, the little bells and whistles do make a positive difference!
I found that I pumped just as much, often more, with Sonata than with other pumps, and appreciated the portability so I’m not tethered to a wall outlet each time I need to use it. Sonata can also be paired with the MyMedela app to track your pumping — something most of us ounce-obsessed moms do at least in the early days.
Pros: Medela’s patented two-phase expression has always worked well for me. The suction is fast at first and then slows down, mimicking the way a baby nurses. Sonata also features two different suction “rhythms,” which the pump’s designer told me is like switching up your workout. It keeps your body guessing, so to speak, and I found it helpful with output.
The portability is a great feature so you can pump anywhere in the house. Multi-tasking at its finest, am I right, Moms? While some users may dislike the fact that the battery life will only sustain around four 15-minute pumping sessions, the designer explained to me that the trade off is in the power. The suction is much stronger on Sonata, I found, than the Freestyle, while the latter gets you way more battery life but with less power. So it’s a matter of personal preference based on your needs.
Sonata is the most comfortable pump by far. Enough said.
Cons: While Sonata’s parts are designed to be an ergonomic improvement over older models, I found that they trapped milk between the pieces. So for moms who want to catch every last drop, this could be an annoyance. The pieces are large and take up more space than most, but they are easier to clean, so for me personally, that balanced out.
Weight: It’s a little bulky (the pump itself is 2.2 lbs), and the shape relegates you to a separate bag (which comes with the pump), rather than the Freestyle, which can fit in a purse in a pinch.
Price: At $400, Sonata is an investment for most people.
Overall, I personally found Sonata to be an improvement over the Pump in Style (more power; portability) and over the Freestyle (better suction). The brand’s customer service is top-notch, too, so you can rest assured that you’ll get the support you need.