1. Rhodes, Jean CNM, PhD, IBCLC

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Medela, Inc., McHenry, Ill., offers The Symphony breast pump, the first breast pump with Natural Expression. Natural Expression incorporates the findings of recent breast-feeding research 1 by using a two-phase pumping program that mimics a baby's nursing rhythm: an initial, rapid-rhythm phase to promote "let-down" and then a slower, deeper rhythm for the most efficient milk expression 2 minutes later.


The Symphony includes pumping programs with options for both automatic and manual switching between pumping phases, based on the individual woman's needs. For added convenience, The Symphony is designed with just one knob that combines vacuum-level and the number of cycles per minute in the expression phase. If let-down occurs before the expression phase begins, it is possible to begin the expression phase manually by pressing the "let-down" button.


The pump is quiet, and has an adjustable vacuum for comfort. The Symphony allows women to easily switch between single-level and double-pumping. The pump also ensures overflow protection without compromising vacuum capability.


An LCD display indicates pumping phase, vacuum level, battery status, and other handling and service information.


For home sanitizing, The Symphony should be disassembled, washed, and rinsed before cleaning by boiling the component parts on the stovetop; microwaving can damage the parts.


The Symphony comes with full usage instructions as well as recommendations for storing breast milk and troubleshooting advice. The Symphony's program cards are available in English, Spanish, and French.


The Symphony is available in both a standard and a rechargeable battery version. Full battery pumping time is approximately 1 hour; battery recharge time is 12 hours.


The Symphony comes with a limited 3-year warranty. It can be purchased for $1,300; Symphony Plus (with rechargeable battery) costs $1,500. The Symphony may need to be special ordered. To find out the nearest sale location, call Medela's automated line at 1-800-TELL-YOU or visit For other information, contact Medela at 1-800-435-8316 or 815-363-1166.


Clinician's Review

Medela's Symphony, a two-cycle, hospital grade, multiuser pump, sets a new standard for breast pumps. The Symphony, per reports from patients, is very comfortable and efficient. It is also quiet, easy to use, clean, and portable. The two-cycle programming promotes a rapid let-down and more effective milk expression requiring less time than other pumps to empty the breasts.


Existing guidelines for duration of pumping do not apply to this pump because it commonly expresses all available milk within 10 minutes. The Symphony is especially helpful for working women or women with hospitalized infants. In our lactation consultation practice, the Symphony has also proven superior to other hospital grade and/or high-end pumps in cases of extreme engorgement, nipple trauma, and reduced milk production.


The developers of the Symphony have brought breast pumping into the computer age with microprocessor technology and software on a programmable chip card. The pump has the flexibility of altering pumping patterns as they are developed by simply replacing the chip card.


The drawback to this advanced technology is the cost per pump and its availability in hospitals and rental stations. Practitioners in maternal-infant health have an opportunity to promote successful breastfeeding by insisting on the best products for lactating women. One of these products is the Symphony.




1. Mitoulas LR, Lai CT, Gurrin LC, et al: Efficacy of breast milk expression using an electric breast pump. J Hum Lact 2002;18:344-52. [Context Link]