Medela Symphony Breast pump vs. Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced Breast Pump

It is not very often that you get a comparison comprised of two different breast pumps but that are manufactured by the same company. The reality is, however, that once we as mothers have come across a particular brand that we trust and deem to be of good quality, we tend to stick with that particular brand. The problem is that even within one particular brand there can be multiple products, each serving the same purpose but through different means and methods.

Due to the vast majority of breast pumps that are available on the market, we thought it well to take a closer look at different types of Medela Breast pumps on the market. Medela has always been a trusted brand and a good quality product, one that parents have come to rely on to help them through motherhood.

Today we are comparing two of Medela’s best sellers on the market: The Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced Electrical Breast Pump and the Medela Symphony Breast Pump

Personal use vs. hospital grade

When comparing the two breast pumps from Medela, it is important to keep in mind that the Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced is a classified as a “Personal Electrical Breast Pump” while the Medela Symphony Breast Pump is referred to as a “Hospital grade” breast pump. We will discuss the benefits of each classification as we touch on each individual pump’s special features below.

The contents

Here is a quick summary of what you can expect to find when purchasing either the Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced Breast Pump Kit or the Medela Symphony Breast Pump:

Medela Pump-in-Style Breast Pump Kit Medela Symphony Breast Pump
1 x Double Pumping Kit 1 x Hospital grade breast pump
1 x Battery pack (8 x AA batteries not included 1 x Container stand
2 x 24mm PersonalFit breast shields 1 x Quick start card
4 x 5 oz./150 ml milk bottles, lids included 1 x Cord protector
A 9-Volt AC adaptor 1 x English Symphony 2.0 program card
1 x Cooler bag 1 x Instruction manual
1 x Contoured Ice pack
1 x portable, black microfiber bag.

If the table above seems like a whole lot of mumbo jumbo to you and you still have no clue as to what you are getting, let us help you break it down.

Should you purchase the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump, you will receive the actual breast pump, all the accessories required to actively express breast milk (except for the batteries required  to pump without electricity), a charger, four milk bottles and a cooler and travel bag to store breast milk in. Nipples for the milk bottle are not included and you may have to purchase an additional set of breast shields if you are unable to use the 24mm breast shields.

The Medela Symphony Breast Pump, in a nutshell, is only the breast pump/machine itself.

You will need to purchase an additional Pumping kit in order to actually be able to use the breast pump. This usually comes as a disappointment to most moms as you still have to purchase additional accessories but the reason why Medela sells these kits separately, is simply because the Symphony is classified as a hospital grade breast pump and the pump can be used by multiple users as long as each user has their own personal Pumping Kit.

Two-phase expression technology

Manufactured by the same organization, the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump and the Medela Symphony Breast Pump both feature the signature Medela Breast pump trademark: Two-phase expression technology.

This simply means that once the breast pump is turned on, the Let-down mode is initiated during which the breasts are stimulated. This prepares the breasts for optimal milk expression. After 2 minutes of breast stimulation, the pump will automatically transition to the second phase, Expression mode, during which milk will actually be expressed into the containers.

This impressive technology leads to faster, more efficient milk production as breasts are stimulated beforehand. This two-phase expression technology is designed in such a way to mimic your baby’s natural nursing rhythm, also leading to better results when expressing milk.

Open system vs. closed system

medela symphony

The Medela Symphony Breast Pump is a closed system breast pump. The pump makes use of two pistons that create suction as they move up and down as opposed to air being circulated through the machine by means of a sucking motion, deeming it safe for multiple users to utilize. This also means that no condensation occurs within the tubes and no milk particles can stay behind, a major advantage seeing that you don’t have to deal with any condensation or mold build-up within the tubes.

The Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump on the other hand makes use of an open system. While an open system often provides better suction in personal breast pumps, milk particles can find their way into the tubes, leading to mold nesting in the tubes if not cleaned properly.

medela pump in style

Should you choose the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump, you might have to replace the tubes on a regular basis to ensure that your breast milk does not become contaminated.

We suggest that you run the pump with the tubes detached from the bottles for a minute or so after usage which should clear up the condensation.

Suction power

Most hospital grade breast pumps will provide better suction than a breast pump designed for personal use simply because it contains a bigger “pump” (Think of it as industrial versus a home device). This is also true for the Medela Symphony Breast Pump.

The Symphony provides excellent suction power and has been recommended to mothers who wish to build up or increase their milk supply. While the Symphony does provide better suction compared to the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump, it should be noted that the Pump-in-Style Advanced does have relatively strong suction power and that it is very effective in emptying your breast of breast milk. Of course, it will take a little longer to empty your breasts with a personal breast pump compared to the time it will take with a hospital grade breast pump.

Power supply and portability

The Medela Symphony Breast Pump always needs to be plugged in before it can be used. That, and its sheer size, makes the Symphony very uncomfortable to travel with. The Symphony breast pump alone weighs 7.9 lbs. and measures in at 13 x 8 x 10 inches. This breast pump is best suited to be used in one place only.

The Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump however, is a real treat to travel with. Not only does the pump come with a convenient travel bag, it also contains a cooler bag and contoured ice pack that will enable you to store and cool four x 5 oz. milk bottles. The breast pump can be operated using the AC adaptor that is included or without electricity by means of the battery pack that relies on eight x AA batteries to function. We also suggest that you invest in a car charger for your breast pump if you are going to be traveling a lot, available for purchase separately.

Single or double pumping

Both the Medela Symphony and the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump Medela Pump-in-style offers you the option to express either one breast or both breasts during a single pumping session. Should you wish to only express milk from a single breast, simply detach the second milk collection kit.


The Symphony and Pump-in-Style Advanced breast pumps are both very simplistic in the sense that they are easy to operate and without a multitude of buttons and complicated settings. Setting up the pumping kit can prove to be a little tricky at the beginning with all the tubing and shields but once you get the hang of it, it shouldn’t take you more than 30 seconds to set everything up and start pumping.

Affordability and durability

While moderately expensive compared to other electrical breast pumps, the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump still offers good value for money. Aside from the practical travel bag and cooler bag, you get a good quality breast pump with good suction power that is a breeze to travel with. The only disadvantage of the Pump-in-Style breast pump is that you may have to replace the pumping kit on a regular basis to avoid mold issues. The pump itself is fairly durable and should last a few years before giving any trouble. Unfortunately, due to its open system, you won’t be able to resell your breast pump once you are done with it.

medela symphony

The Medela Symphony Breast Pump will certainly cost you. Compared to personal-use breast pumps, the Symphony is very expensive due to its larger pump, duel use and hospital grade classification. Keep in mind that you will also need to purchase a pumping kit separately. This breast pump, however, does provide excellent suction, uses a closed system (meaning that you can sell it again without any health concerns) and it will last for many years to come.

If you already have your heart set on the Medela Symphony Breast Pump but you are unable to afford it, be sure to check for rentals at your nearest hospital. You will still need to purchase your own pumping kit but renting a Symphony will be much more affordable, depending on how long you plan on breast feeding of course.

Noise factor

Breast pumps are noisy; there is just no getting around it. As to be expected, the larger pump within the Symphony is bound to make a little more noise than your Pump-in-Style Advanced breast pump would.  You should, however, be able to express breast milk discreetly behind closed doors. We don’t suggest that you go making any phone calls while using your breast pump though!


Unfortunately, the open circuit system used in the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast pump will require you to clean your breast pump extensively in order to prevent any milk contamination.

To clean the Pump-in-Style Advanced, disassemble all of tubes and shields and run the tubes through cool, clean water in order to get rid of any visible build-up within the tubing. Once clean, gently soak the tubes in warm, soapy water for a few minutes and rinse again with clean, cool water to prevent any soap from staying behind. Leave tubing out to dry completely.

We also suggest that you run the pump with the tubes detached from the bottles for a minute or so after usage which should clear up the condensation.

While the Medela Symphony has a closed system, you will still need to clean the tubing and membranes much in the same way that you would clean the Pump-in-Style breast pump. First, you have to remove the pumping kit accessories from the breast pump and disable the tubing and membranes. Rinse tubes using warm, soapy water and follow with clean water in order to prevent any “soapiness” within the tubes. Leave tubes to dry before assembling the system again.

Medela Symphony vs. Medela Pump-in Style

Medela Symphony vs. Medela Pump-in Style

Now that we have briefly touched on all of the main components and compared the Medela Symphony Breast Pump to the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump, you might still be wondering which breast pump is best. The answer, in this case, is very dependable on what your personal needs are.

If you are looking for a light weight breast pump with good suction that is easy to travel with, the Medela Pump-in-style is your perfect match. If, however, you are more interested in establishing and building up milk supply in the fastest time possible and you don’t mind that the pump will stay in one place, we suggest that you opt for the Medela Symphony – Its incredible suction power will not leave you disappointed. Don’t expect to use the Symphony on the go though, as it only operates using electricity and it rather heavy to travel it.

To recap, we’ve compiled a table for a quick reference to the two different breast pumps for your convenience:

Pump-in-Style Symphony:
Personal use Hospital grade
Two-phase expression technology Two-phase expression technology
Open system Closed system
Suction power: Good Suction power: Great
Power supply: Electricity and batteries Power supply: Electricity only
Portability: Easy to travel with, features battery pack Portability: Heavy, best used in one location
Double pumping kit included Double pumping kit excluded
Able to express either one or two breasts at a time Able to express either one or two breasts at a time
User-friendly: Yes User-friendly: Yes
Durability: Good Durability: Great
Cost: Moderate to expensive Cost: Very expensive
Will need to purchase new pumping kit on occasion Will need to purchase new pumping kit on occasion
Noise factor: Moderate Noise factor: Moderate to high
Cleaning: Extensive cleaning required to prevent mold Cleaning: Extensive cleaning on occasion required
Good for: Moms that are constantly on-the-go but requires good suction power Good for Moms who wish to establish milk supply and don’t travel a lot

Happy shopping!

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