This review has been a long time in the making. When I was pregnant with my now 3 year old I received my first Freestyle Flex pump by Medela. Spoiler alert: it’s the same exact pump as the pump being offered with the new cups, only a different color scheme. So going back a few years I remember trying the Flex for the first time while weaning and I wasn’t able to tolerate the feel of suction. So following that initial experience and then totally weaning, well I haven’t picked it back up, until now.
This review is going to be very 50/50. While on par with my original feelings about the Medela Freestyle Flex, I would be lying if this “new” pump resonated with me any differently.
I really wanted to like this pump, the size is ideal and I know a few moms who had success. So jumping back into the saddle with the Flex, I gave it every effort hoping I’d love it.
But I just can’t.
The Medela Freestyle Flex has two modes; the Stimulation mode to trigger a let down and Expression mode to actively draw out milk at a higher volume. This pump is all bark and no bite, for me. The Stimulation mode truly makes my skin crawl. (Tonight) As I gave it one last shake before this review I felt myself getting anxious while wildly attempting to change modes because of how this mode/suction was making my nipples quiver. The best way to describe this mode’s feel is quick tiny tickles to the nipple. Even as I turned up the suction hoping to trigger a let down, all it did was upset me further. Since I was super uncomfortable with how this pump was making me feel, there’s no way I’d be able to achieve a let down. So I pushed the touch screen icon and switched it over to Expression mode.
The Expression mode is way more tolerable in my opinion, but not the lower levels. Even when increasing the suction levels while using this pump, I still find it only slightly effective. Even though I’m actively and successfully expressing milk, I still find this pump to pack more of a punch in the pump itself. I don’t feel “the pumps power” is reflected in the actual suction strength or pattern in the flange.
Can I pump with the Flex? Yes, if I were in a pinch this pump would be better than nothing. Due to its small bark and little bite I feel I need to pump longer to move as much milk as I’d expect in a pump I respond to. I think if there was less emphasis on this strange vibration thing they’re trying to do with the Flex and more actual pull within the tunnel they’d have a more effective pump.
Little details. This pump is small but it’s loud. It’s not like a “omg that’s a loud pump” it’s a, “where’s that weird low tone vibration sound coming from" kind of sound. Not the end of the world but the volume of the motor doesn’t reflect in the output of this pump, that’s all I’m sayin. As for the screen, it’s a touch screen. This touch screen has proven to be a bit finicky. When I’m trying my hardest to go from Stimulation mode to Expression mode, I cannot for the life of me get it to switch fast enough. When I pop this pump in my pocket, I accidentally pause it. So, yea the screen is kind of unreliable. I have had moms express to me they wish they could lock this screen, I can’t say I disagree with them.
Okay let’s end on a positive note. The cups.
When these cups launch for sale, there will be a line out the door. I will say I have really grown to love these cups. There’s only three pieces, yes three. The shell, the flange and one piece that makes up the duckbill and backflow protector. This setup really couldn’t be any easier to clean and assemble, that’s the truth. I also love that they “lock” together. The flange half has a nipple that locks into a molded shell half; this way they’re not coming apart in your bra. This design also makes it that much easier when assembling. As for hacking these cups, let me start by reminding you they’re a closed system cup. Since they're closed you do not need any additional parts when hacking, only cups and your pump. I have been able to pull the yellow pieces off the ends of the Medela tube and use with any other pump I’d like. With the cups coming out for individual sale this summer, I’m sure they will have this all figured out for the moms who choose to use with other pumps.
Now not everything can be perfect, there’s one flaw I have found with these cups. Unless you have a heavy and fast let down you may never experience this issue, but like clockwork every time I feel a let down come on it follows with a lot of “sloshing” noises in the flange tunnel. At first I thought it may have been a fluke, but it happened every.single.time. I use these cups. Good news is that it doesn’t backflow into my bra. Following a let down then hearing the milk build up inside the tunnel, with every suction pull more milk gets released into the cup. The only thing I can say about this is that with this fabulous three piece design comes this one flaw; the duckbill cannot keep up with a heavy stream of milk. However, if this happens to you don’t freak out, just let the pump carry on and the milk will eventually empty into the cup.
Little details about the cups. If I had it my way these would be silicone flanges, but they’re not. In this case, for me, beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll take these cups they way they are if I must.. but let’s consider silicone next time Medela! These cups only are designed to hold 5ounces. Yes, you can overfill them up to approx 9 ounces but do keep in mind, that’s not how they’re meant to be used (not a big deal). Pouring these cups excites me, strange I know. I love pouring these cups, it’s so easy and they never make a mess. Since the pour hole is at the top of this tear drop shaped cup, they rest easily into any opening and pour like a dream.
For reference I'm a 36DD and find these cups sit nicely in my bra and dont give me the Dolly Parton effect.
I think my opinion on this combo is pretty obvious. Personally I would skip the pump and invest in two sets of these cups ✌🏻
**at this time, I do not believe the silicone replacement parts are available for sale yet- which is kind of goofy if you ask me. But they have to be coming soon, right?!**