Updated August 2018
The Medela Sonata is my all-time favorite pump and my everyday go-to right now. Besides having some handy bells and whistles, it’s more comfortable and more efficient than other pumps I’ve used. To give you some context, I’ve now used the Medela Pump in Style Advanced (PISA, with my first baby), the Hygeia Enjoye (with my second baby), the Spectra S2 (got this one free from my insurance company with my second), and the Sonata. See also: Breast pumps we recommend. Full disclosure: I received this as a free sample, but these opinions are my own.
Although I’m usually able to breastfeed my baby on-demand (I work from home), I still need to pump a few times a day. I pump not only to create stock, but also to help boost my supply when/if I need to.
The Sonata is the most comfortable pump I’ve used because you can personalize the rhythm and the strength of suction. Other reviewers agree that the Sonata is very gentle while still providing effective suction (this is a hard balance to strike).
In my opinion, exclusively-pumping and working moms would benefit the most from this pump, as it seems to extract the most milk of any pump I’ve used — and in the shortest amount of time. Since the endgame with any breast pump is milk output (efficiency), I believe this is by far the best feature of the Sonata.
The Sonata is unique for its smart features, namely the ability to connect to the MyMedela app, which tracks all manner of pumping data, such as daily milk output, battery life, session length, phases, levels, etc.
The Sonata has other neat features I like, although they aren’t necessarily one-of-a-kind. First, it is quiet. And I mean very quiet — so much so that users rave about being able to use the Sonata discreetly in offices, in public, on conference calls, or in the middle of the night.
It’s also small, lightweight, has a (sort of) handle for easy carrying, and a rechargeable battery which lasts for about 3 – 4 sessions, or approximately an hour. For comparison, the Spectra S1 has a battery life of about 4 hours. If long battery life is super important to you, you’re better off with the Spectra. For many women, this battery-charging feature is a major bonus, and is usually found only on the higher-end pumps. At home this means you can move around more freely, even doing things like brushing your teeth or putting on makeup while pumping. At work or while out and about, it means freedom from outlets. It’s also great for travel (airplane bathrooms, oyyy).
I am not alone in my love for the Sonata’s clock/timer feature, which allows me to visually see the duration of each pumping session; instead of tuning out and forgetting how long I’ve been pumping, I always know my exact stats (the PISA and Enjoye don’t have this feature). If you’re pumping to increase your supply, it’s very important to know the duration of each session. With the Sonata, you’ll know exactly how long “past empty” you need to pump (experts suggest that pumping for 5 minutes past empty will signal your body to create more milk next time). For me, this feature is seriously non-negotiable.
Lastly, the Sonata is nice looking — it’s got a sleek design, with a backlit touch screen (another great feature for dark rooms or the middle of the night), and is really easy to operate with one hand. Yes, my PISA now looks comparatively antiquated next to this one!
I have to say that the biggest downfall of the Sonata pump is the parts – other than the shield and the bottle, the rest of the parts are not compatible with any other Medela pumps, including the PISA. HUGE bummer. Though there are a lot of pieces to wash, and at first it’s kind of tricky to figure out how to assemble, you get the hang of it pretty quickly.
Some reviewers have complained that sometimes milk gets stuck in the tubing, but I’ve never had that issue. In fact, the Sonata is a closed-system pump and is designed with a milk barrier that’s placed at the breast shield connector, which keeps milk from passing into the tubing.
But still: the Sonata is my absolute fave right now. And nobody paid me to say this. Note that there just aren’t that many reviews out there on the internet right now because it’s so new, but there are definitely many quality complaints. That said, I haven’t had any quality problems with mine.
Having used both now, I do think the Spectra S1 is very comparable to the Sonata in almost every regard except for the “smart” capabilities and the professional-looking bag, which holds everything you need. Thus, if your insurance company offers the Sonata, go for it! If not (and you’re paying out-of-pocket), I might consider spending a little less for the Spectra S1, which lists for $225 (vs. $288, though they say the “retail price” is $399 — who knows). It’s about a $65 difference. You be the judge.
Overall, for its efficiency, comfort, and practical features, the Sonata is a fabulous option for pumping moms who can afford it.