The Freestyle Flex is Medela’s new double electric breast pump with wireless connectivity via an accompanying app, and is the top in its range of pumps. At £350 it doesn’t come cheap and is a pretty hefty investment. It’s not for the casual pumper (unless you have very deep pockets!), but for those looking to keep up supply, store milk for later use or perhaps prepare for continuing to breastfeed upon returning to work. For these purposes, it is a great option to consider.
Tested by Lauren Eads mum to Austin, 5 months:
It comes with its own roomy black tote bag to carry all your breast pumping paraphernalia, making it a lot easier to transport your gear easily, with room for a few personal items too. It also comes with an insulated carry bag with a moulded icepack to transport your milk in (Medela-sized) bottles at a safe temperature, a lifesaver when trying to get milk long distances and prevent it from spoiling. I was able to drive 4 hours with 4 bottles of frozen milk which remained frozen on arrival, allowing me to pop it all back in the fridge to defrost safely for use the next day. The internal bottle divider, which acts as an ice pack, can be removed turning it into a standard insulated carry bag, which means you could carry frozen bags of milk as well, with room for around 6 bags, or other branded bottles, or use it as a lunchbox for transporting food too.
The pumps themselves are super easy to clean with all the parts coming apart with ease, but isn't much different from a standard pump set up. The electric unit is where the money is really spent. It’s a solid unit with a touchscreen display and retained its charge for me for two weeks, when pumping an average of around 10 minutes everyday.
If the battery were to drop, it can be charged via a USB or mains plug, making it easy to keep topped up on the go. The unit works by first stimulating the nipple, (a kind of light tug), and then once the milk begins to flow asks you to activate the express function (a stronger tug), with the strength adjustable depending on individual comfort. It also comes with two sets of breast funnels to suit different shapes with a silicone flex around the rim for comfort.
The My Medela app runs alongside the pump allowing you to connect your pump wirelessly and track your pumping schedule and amount expressed, as well as feeds, nappy changes, sleeping habits, weight and height of your baby, and also offers information articles on common feeding questions. All of this is useful and handy for those with a need to track more carefully, but for me, these features were more of an added bonus than a vital feature. Regardless, the app is easy to use and can be linked via wi-fi to your pump allowing it to track your sessions easily, although it does require you to input the amount expressed manually for you to get the best out of it.
The best feature for me was the double pump itself, allowing me to dramatically reduce the amount of time I spent pumping. Not only did this reduce wastage and double what I was expressing, but the pump is also very efficient allowing me to express the same amount of milk far quicker than when using the standard single Medela electric pump I had been using previously.
For those with the cash, it’s a great investment in your baby’s feeding, but also yourself, affording you a more comfortable and quick breast pumping experience. It's not the only double electric breast pump available, and definitely not the cheapest, but it does offer the whole package, (although the bandeau bra to hold the bottles in place is sold separately) and offers more than your average pump. Spending hundreds is by no means vital to your ability to pump efficiently, but if you can swing it the Medela Flex is one of the best, and somehow makes pumping feel (a little) more stylish. Which can only be a bonus.