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The Medela Sonata Pump Review

I don’t particularly like pumping. I’d rather nurse my baby than letting a robot suck milk out of my breasts. But hey… Mama’s gotta work, and mama’s gotta play. And so I pump. I pump so that the nanny has milk to feed said baby; and so that dad can take the lead while I go out or get a little me-time in the books.

Now, for many moms, pumping isn’t an easy feat. Finding a private place and carving time out to do it once or twice or even thrice a day; cleaning all of the pump parts; figuring out how to get the most milk out and stressing out the second your supply dips even an ounce; and, in my case, figuring out what to do with my littles while I pump for 20 or so minutes. Pumping is work -- it’s a sport, and it’s not for everyone. But what if the right apparatus and new technology could make the whole shebang much, much easier?

Smart pumps -- they’re a thing, and they’re here to challenge the very concept of a breast pump and how a breast pump should work. The goal: to make pumping a whole lot more convenient, easier and more accessible for all the lactating moms -- working or not -- out there. Leading breast pump brand Medela recently joined the trend with the Sonata, and I've put it to the test. Here are 9 things you should know about the Sonata pump, from Medela.

1. It’s so so silent. The decibel level stays around 50 dB, which compares to the sound of a quiet conversation or background noise at a library. You know what that means, right? You can pump wherever, whenever without raising eyebrows, waking up anyone during a nighttime session, or having to hike up the volume during a Netflix marathon. Triple thumbs up.

2. It’s compact and portable. Plus, it’s lightweight, and the interface has a sort of handle that helps you carry the pump around without fear of dropping it.

3. It has a rechargeable battery. So you can charge it at home overnight and throw it in your bag without needing another cord. A cordless pump also means that you get to move freely during pumping sessions. This will come in handy, especially at home -- you know, when you need to pump AND pack your toddler’s lunch and get him that toy he absolutely needs right there, right now (apparently). So. Many. Meltdowns. Averted. The rechargeable battery lasts three to four sessions -- enough to make it through a day’s worth of pumping, and a huge plus if you are traveling!

4. It’s a medical grade pump. Despite the fact that it is small and light, the Sonata can pack a punch. It features the same pumping technology than that of the Symphony, Medela’s hospital-grade pump. In short, this is what you want if you need to up your milk supply, pump more quickly and efficiently, or need a little help with a clogged duct.

5. It’s gentle. Though strong, the suction of the Sonata remains comfortable. It almost, *almost* feels like a nursing baby, but without the teeth and the hair pulling and the nose picking. But more than that, you can actually adjust the strength and rhythm of the vacuum; and the touchscreen buttons on the interface makes it easy to do so. So easy that you can actually change the suction speed with your toe or elbow. You know, in case your hands are busy helping your tot put his shoes on.

6. It comes with an app that records everything. If, like me, you can never remember when you last pumped or what boob you last pumped from, rejoice! The app is your very own pumping personal assistant -- no more guesstimating, more brain space for mama! You'll know your exact stats all of the time: how much milk you pump, what boob you pump it from and how long it takes you to pump it. Plus, you can compute all sorts of other information: like your baby’s feedings, his sleep and changing schedules, and his growth.

7. The app gives you 24/7 access to board certified lactation consultants. Many nursing moms need help with pumping or breastfeeding, especially at the beginning. So it’s a thoughtful addition to this pump's arsenal. All you have to do is subscribe to one of Medela’s plans (starting at $79/month), and you can chat with a breastfeeding specialist via video chat. If you aren’t so keen on paying a fee, the app also comes with evidenced-based articles that will help solve any pumping woes.

8. It’s easy to clean. The Sonata kit has six separate parts to assemble every time you need to pump: the breast shield, the shield connector, the connector cap, the membrane, the valve and the bottle. But all of them are bigger with fewer crevices, which makes them easier to wash. Plus, bigger means harder to lose.

9. Insurances are starting to cover it. With the steep $399 price tag (around $150 more than other Medela pumps), the Sonata isn't accessible to all the mamas whose pumping experience could benefit from all its smart features. So we're loving the fact that some insurance companies are starting to cover it, while others may offer it as an upgrade, at a discounted price.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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