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.