Quest for the Best Breast Pump: A Review of the Sonata, Medela’s Newest Hospital Grade Personal Pump
*I was given a complimentary product for purposes of this review. This post contains affiliate links. However, as always, my opinions are honest and up front, just like my disclosures.*
*New Review Alert! Be sure to check out my review of Medela’s Freestyle Flex, a newer, smallest and lightweight pump! Or check it out the Medela Freestyle Flex on Amazon.*
New moms who breastfeed are undoubtedly familiar with the dreaded sound of the breast pump. It can seriously be worse than nails on a chalkboard. But you don’t have to fear your pump anymore! I was gifted a Sonata pump, Medela’s newest product, to try out for review. The announcement of the Medela Sonata came just in the nick of time for me. I was recovering from a case of thrush and on the verge of weaning when I was given the chance to try the Sonata and it saved my breastfeeding experience. So I give to you my review of the Medela Sonata breast pump.
The Medela Sonata Smart Breast Pump is the quietest, most responsive personal-use breast pump with hospital-level performance. Many moms (including myself) experience one obstacle after another during their breastfeeding expedition. I personally couldn’t produce much milk at all and even less from pumping so I was anxious to see what I could get from the Sonata.
The Medela Sonata Smart Breast Pump is modeled after Medela’s Symphony, which is the pump that most hospitals use. When I use Sonata, I feel less pressure on my breasts but experience the same level of production when I finish.
The pump looks way more modern than older pump models, which remind me some kind of torture devices. The controls are not just prettier but they’re super intuitive and easy to use. The Start button is big and can be easily started if you only have one hand (which many moms do!). It also lights up so you can easily use it in the dark in the middle of the night (which again many moms have to do). This way you can use without waking baby or dad. The best modern upgrade though is that Sonata can be charged so you don’t have to stay tethered to an outlet! It’s super light weight and life changing to be able to move around and get things done while pumping. Yesterday I brushed my teeth, did my makeup and put away sterilized bottles. A far cry from checking Instagram tied up to the corner outlet.
The Medela Sonata Smart Breast Pump reduces pumping time through faster let-down and milk flow—in fact, it claims to remove as much milk as a breastfeeding baby—the most efficient breast pump of all. Sonata provides hospital-level performance at home. Sonata is responsive and offers consistent pumping everywhere. It uses sensors that can detect changes in moms as well as the environment that may impact vacuum pressure and it adjusts to give a strong pump whether you’re in your bedroom or on a flight.
For moms who have been in pain while pumping, the typical noise of a breast pump can send shivers down your spine. Say goodbye to that awful gut-wrenching sound! Sonata is much quieter than other pumps to avoid not just irritating mom, but also to avoid waking a sleeping baby or disrupting a work phone call.
Medela Sonata Smart Breast Pump also connects via Bluetooth with Smart Solution, a comprehensive breastfeeding support app. I haven’t had a chance to test this yet because it isn’t active until the New Year but you’ll be able to track your feedings, times, etc.
Oh and it has a timer! This may sound like a small feature, but as someone who pretty much forgot to time herself at EVERY pumping session, this is an excellent and NECESSARY new feature.
The pump’s parts are also majorly upgraded. They’re way easier to clean and milk won’t remain stuck in places that you can’t reach. They’re also intuitive for assembly purposes. In addition to the pumping accessories needed, the Sonata also includes four bottles, a carrying case with ice cube tray as well as a purse to carry it in. The purse isn’t something I would personally use but to each his own.
Check out the Medela Sonata Smart Breast Pump on Amazon for the best deal and free prime shipping.
*New Review Alert! Be sure to check out my review of Medela’s Freestyle Flex, a newer, smallest and lightweight pump! Or check it out the Medela Freestyle Flex on Amazon.*
New mamas, I have so much advice from what I have learned.
If you haven’t yet, check out my tips on breastfeeding for new moms. I hope they’re helpful!
Disclosure: As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I was given this pump for free for purposes of review.
Any idea on how it compares to a Spectra s1 or s2? I respond beautifully to the Medela Symphony but I’m not responding well to my Spectra and this sounds like a more deluxe Spectra. I’m trying to decide if I should buy one when they come out!- January 1, 2017
I sent the company an email to find out since I have personally never used that model. I will let you know soon!- January 3, 2017
Thank you 🙂 I can’t seem to find any comparison reviews!- January 3, 2017
When we set out to design Sonata, our goal was to provide moms with a breast pump that made things easier – with smart features that keep you connected, quiet when it matters most, hospital-level performance (inspired by our Symphony®) in a personal-use breast pump, and the level of care, quality, and research that only Medela can provide. Learn more about Sonata at MedelaSonata.com.- January 12, 2017
I have tried the Ameda Platinum (a hospital-grade pump I use at work everyday), the Spectra, the Medela Sonata, and the Medela PISA, and I do not think the Sonata is worth the money. I bought it because I was looking for a pump to use for work travel (i.e., not a huge hospital-grade pump like the Ameda Platinum) and hoped it would be gentler and as efficient as the Spectra, which I’d already tried but found a bit uncomfortable. However, it did not seem more gentle, and I got less milk from the Sonata than from either my Ameda Platinum or my Spectra in the same amount of time. I had to do a lot of hand compressions to even get the amount of milk that I did get out. I subsequently tried the Medela PISA, and actually got just as much milk as from the Sonata but without all the hand compressions. I concluded that the Sonata was not worth the money, and will be using either the Spectra or the Medela PISA as my smaller travel pump. This pump seems great if you want a nicer looking, and quieter, pump with lots of tech features, and don’t have any problems expressing milk, but is not top of the line in terms of comfort or milk expression, at least for me.- February 28, 2017
I am also VERY interested in this pump. I have a Spectra S2 and I rented a symphony for comparison. I didn’t see a diff from my Spectra to the Symphony. I really like the idea of this pump, but what I am really concerned with it how well it removes milk from the breast. I too would love to see a comparison.- January 3, 2017
I will let you both know when I hear back from my contact over and Medela. Happy you found this helpful!- January 3, 2017
How did you feel the milk output was in comparison to the symphony? I have rented the symphony after having the pump in style and have gone back and forth and know the pump in style does not do as well as the symphony for me. Hoping this may be one I can buy like the symphony.- January 3, 2017
I think the milk output I get is about the same as the Pump in style, however, it is a lot less painful to get there. I haven’t used the Symphony. During an appointment with a lactation consultant ( I have had a lot of nursing issues) she said the Symphony gets more milk. I am awaiting an answer from Medela and will post it here.- January 7, 2017
Milk yield is very individual and unique to each mom and can be impacted by many variables, including time between pumping sessions, length of pumping session, time of day, lactation stage, breast anatomy, and more. As a medical device, Sonata features two pumping rhythm options for you to choose from. The ‘Signature’ rhythm is inspired by Medela Symphony, so you can experience consistent performance and comfort as you transition from Hospital to Home. Sonata also includes a number of performance-focused features to customize each mom’s pumping experience and maximize volume output, including two unique pumping rhythms and responsive pump technology that adjusts to your body. We encourage you to learn more at http://www.MedelaSonata.com- January 12, 2017
Do you know the battery life on this pump? Can you pump while plugged in? Does it seem to have a difference in suction with plugged in vs battery?- January 6, 2017
You can pump when you’re plugged in and it is charging. I actually just tested this out this morning and it is definitely stronger when it is Plugged in.- January 7, 2017
Sonata’s battery will last up to an hour on one charge, but you can also pump while plugged in. The Lifestyle Rhythm includes the benefit of additional pumping time as it draws less power from the battery. 1 Hour of pumping time should give a daily pumping mom 3-4 sessions before she has to charge Sonata.- January 12, 2017
I wholeheartedly believe everything great, amazing and wonderful is invented by mothers. I remember the good ol’ days of manually pumping. I wanted to cry and so did my kid. I so wish I had this handy dandy, super sleek and CORDLESS (!) gadget back in the day!!- January 10, 2017
Hi! How does this compare to the Medela Freestyle?- January 12, 2017
I’ve put the question out to the brand and they should respond here soon! I’ve never used that brand.- January 12, 2017
thanks! will wait for their feedback!- January 12, 2017
Sonata weighs 2.2lbs and includes an integrated handle for a secure grip when moving from one stationary pumping surface to another. Freestyle weighs less than 1lb, fits in the palm of your hand, and includes a belt clip for mobile pumping.- February 7, 2017
I have not used the sonata yet but am curious to try it. I have used the freestyle and the pump in style advanced and found that the freestyle caused more plugged ducts because the suction was much less than the PISA. Also because of the lack of suction in the freestyle I got way less milk per pump time (30 minutes every 3 hours). The PISA would yield 8-10 ounces per breast per pump session versus the freestyle at 4-6 ounces per breast per pump session. So I am very curious if this just as good as the symphony only when it’s plugged in .- May 10, 2017
I wish I had that answer for you. Medela often checks in on these comments so perhaps they will know.- May 10, 2017
What’s the best spectra or sonata?- January 16, 2017
Spectra is hospital grade so it is a little stronger but Sonata is amazing for a personal use pump.- January 16, 2017
Is sonata hospital grade?- January 16, 2017
Which one is stonger in suction and good for personal use.
I appreciate ur help.
The ‘Signature’ rhythm on Sonata is inspired by Symphony, so you can experience consistent performance and comfort as you transition from Hospital to Home. Sonata is a single-user product designed for moms that have successfully initiated their breast milk supply. The Symphony Breast Pump is designed for moms who are initiating and building their breast milk supply in the hospital or NICU.- February 7, 2017
When I was pregnant, I purchased the Medela Freestyle through my insurance and a friend gifted me a PISA. I do not like the PISA much at all. The one I have has been used by a couple different people (I realize this isn’t recommended) . I don’t use the Medela parts with it, I use Freemie collection cups. I produce OK doing it this way. With the Freestyle, I also produce OK….although better than the PISA and it is portable so that’s important. My question is, is there a way to attach my Freemie collection cups to the new Sonata? I haven’t decided to purchase it yet (let’s be honest, $400 is a lot…) and I just wanted to get some feedback if possible before I make a decision. The Freemie cups are so convenient and stress free so whatever pump I buy, I want to be able to use them with the pump. I bought a conversion kit to use with the PISA that works just fine. Is there a way to attach the Sonata to the Freemie cups?- January 20, 2017
I’m not sure about this so I forwarded to the company. They should respond on this post soon- January 20, 2017
Sonata is designed to be used with Medela accessories and pump parts. There are several new Medela products that work exclusively for the Sonata Breast Pump! We also have available: Spare Membranes (#68055), Spare Parts Kit (#68054), Power Adaptor (#68050), Double Pumping Kit (#68053), and a Portable Carry Bag (#68052). All of these products are available in the Medela online store http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com- February 7, 2017
I ended up buying the Sonata. The Symphony is still my Holy Grail pump, but I just can’t justify buying one! The Symphony, for me, is quicker, more powerful, and efficient- however the Symphony is a $2,000 pump! I definitely prefer the Sonata to the Spectra. It is stronger and had better suction. It definitely shaves a few minutes off my pumping than when I use the Spectra s1. This review is spot on! Glad I read it. As for how it compares to PISA, I do prefer Sonata for its bells and whistles and it being more gentle on the nipples. Now that my dairy and soy allergy kiddo (15 months) is older and not nursing as much I’m needing to pump 5-6 times a day to keep up. It’s nice to not have the nipple pain! Thanks again for the review and recommendation.- January 30, 2017
I am currently pregnant with a rainbow baby (due in June) I am interested in trying out the Sonata but have been having a difficult time finding out if it’s a pump that might work well for me. I have two living children and used the same Pump for both of them but it stopped working well towards the end of nursing journey my second child. Experience has shown me that I respond very well to the Medela Pump in Style Advanced and to the Symphony. However, I also attempted to use the Ameda Purely Yours double electric with my second as “a leave at the office” pump but I wasn’t at all responsive to it so I gave it away to a mom that couldn’t afford a pump of her own or formula. I’m a little nervous to try the Sonata since it uses the same piston style action as the Ameda but comes from a company that I know makes excellent products. What is your recommendation: Stick to the tried and true I know my body responds well too (Pump in Style)? Or risk the unknown(Sonata)? I’ve tried contacting Medela but they aren’t really answering my questions about what to do if the Sonata doesn’t work well for me. Any help or suggestions you can provide would be wonderful! Thanks!- January 31, 2017
Well it’s hard to say since I haven’t ever used the Ameda, but I do find the Sonata to be a big step up from the Pump in Style. Having tried the Pump in style and the Sonata though I would definitely buy the Sonata if I had to choose. I forwarded your question to Medela so hopefully someone will respond soon!- January 31, 2017
Any update on how th sonata compares to the freestyle? Is the Sonata as portable as the freestyle is?- February 6, 2017
Have forwarded again to the brand!- March 29, 2017
This published with the wrong post. Can you please delete it?- February 7, 2017
Hello Ladies,- February 8, 2017
I currently own a PISA and would like to upgrade. Cant choose between the freestyle and the sonata. Any thoughts? The biggest feature that I was excited for with the freestyle was that you can be portable with it, is this really true?
Hi Fatima, I have never tried the PISA so I can’t speak to that or the Freestyle but you can be portable with the Sonata. It lasts for up to an hour on one charge so you can move freely around while pumping or take it with you on the go.- February 9, 2017
Thanks! What I meant by portable was being able to be after a toddler or maybe do some chores around the house. I’m having a hard time even imagining it, even though many say they can do all of those things with the freestyle, but is it really realistic without milk spilling or losing suction/latch? I realize the Sonata can be used without being plugged, but I assumed due to its bigger size (in comparison to the freestyle) that it would be a bit harder to move around while pumping. Anyone have any experience with either? thanks!!!- February 19, 2017
I was Also wondering if I’d be able to use my PISA parts with the Sonata? Thanks !- February 20, 2017
I just purchased this pump, and it’s doing a great job expressing milk. However, I learned (after opening it) that Medea does not make compatible storage bags For the Sonata. Super bummed because I always pump into a bottle on one side and bag in the other..and then dump the bag into the bottle. Any ideas when compatible storage bags will be on the market? I can’t return the pump because I opened it/tossed the box before realizing this. 🙁- February 11, 2017
I just sent this on to Medela. They should respond here shortly so be sure to check back.- February 12, 2017
Thank you! I hope I don’t deter anyone from purchasing the pump. I was shocked how much I pumped in such a short time! It felt much more gentle on the breast too-pretty amazing!- February 12, 2017
Thank you for sharing your experience and feedback. You are correct; pumping directly into the Pump & Save Bags is not possible with the Sonata Breast Pump, but you can pump directly into bottles and transfer to the bags for storing milk. If you have more questions please reach out to our Customer Service team at 877-633-3522.- February 21, 2017
Spectra is actually not a multi user hospital grade pump- it was approved by the FDA as a single user pump.(ie for one mom only) The term hospital grade is a marketing term and each company can “claim” they are hospital grade. In reality it comes down to how well the pump is designed and how consistent the performance is in different situations. I would stick to the proven brands that know what they doing as you only get one chance to do it right.- February 16, 2017
I ended up purchasing the Sonata because my Freestyle was not working adequately and I really need a pump I can carry around, especially while getting ready for work in the mornings. I’ve been using it for two days and so far I don’t think it’s worth the $100 difference between it and the Freestyle. I pumped exclusively with the Freestyle for a year with my previous child and when I tried to use it for my second child it definitely wasn’t on par suction wise. So maybe the Sonata will have a better life span? Won’t know for awhile obviously. The blue tooth feature is pretty useless with all the apps available. It is quieter than the Freestyle and PISA if that is an issue for you though. I do like that is has an “air leak” feature so you know if the tubes aren’t in completely. Much gentler than the PISA. But not much different than the Freestyle in my opinion when it comes to output and time spent pumping.- February 19, 2017
Do you (or Medela) happen to know if this is yet under the list for insurance companies to reimburse or is it only available for purchase at retailers? Thanks in advance!- February 21, 2017
I’m not sure about this but I have directed hte question to Medela.- March 29, 2017
At the moment Sonata is available from retailers. If it is helpful, here is a comparison chart that shows the Medela double electric personal-use breast pumps your insurance company may cover: http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/pump-comparison-1- April 18, 2017
I personally don’t think the sonata is worth the hype or 400 dollar price tag… I’ve been using it now for nearly 2 months now. It makes a constant air leak sound, I’ve swapped out bits of the parts to try and find the culprit to no avail. Some times a fully charged battery won’t turn the silly thing on!! The display lighting imho makes it difficult to see the level of charge. It expresses half what my baby can do. I just went to a lactation consultant and we did a weigh – fed – weigh in on the breast compared to my avg pump amount over a week. My daughter is getting 2oz per side when she feeds from the breast, sonata is lucky to get a full 1oz per side… I can no longer keep up with her demands during the work week while she’s in daycare. There’s so many more parts to wash and they aren’t the easiest for a quick rinse.
I’ll just stop there.- March 31, 2017
I almost forgot! And this is a biggie for me. But the way the pump top fits the bottle is horrible! It’s not counter balanced very well and if you knock it over it will leak a lot of breaatmilk! Be careful not to screw the pump top part on too tight, you’ll here it “pop” which means it’s no longer securely on the bottle. Lastly the inner workings of the pump parts on top of the bottle hold on to quite a few drops of milk. I have to separate the grey bottom from the yellow top slowly and not the whole way, then gently shake out those drops into the bottle.- April 1, 2017
Well I definitely agree that no pump is as strong as your baby. That goes without saying. I guess to each her own. I found it to be a huge improvement for me from the Pump In Style. And I would check with the company about the battery because mine never had an issue with that. If you have to pump all week, you should consider renting a hospital-grade pump. I hear they’re very effective.- April 1, 2017
Yes absolutely it is an upgrade from many other personal pumps. I started out with a completely different brand I got from my insurance company. But what urged me to give a hard critic was the claim
“The Sonata reduces pumping time through faster let-down and milk flow—in fact, it claims to remove as much milk as a breastfeeding baby—the most efficient breast pump of all. Sonata provides hospital-level performance at home. ”
It may or may not be a fit for another woman.This is the most frustrating part about finding the right pump. You yourself contradicted your own article agreeing no pump can perform like a baby on the breast.
My part here on this forum is simply to provide an honest review, like yourself. It was such a new product when I purchased it there weren’t many reviews, except for the ones like yours where the product had been given in exchange for a review. But as time has passed I’m seeing more and more reviews pop up that are just like yours, and just like mine. There have been quite a few reports on the device not starting (unplugged and showing a charge), back splash while pumping, poor draining into the bottle, ect. And I’ll admit there are others that haven’t had any problems with it at all. My advise, buyer beware. Know your return policy, if one at all. Contact Medela with any concerns, they are highly revered by lactation consultants. Bleeding new tech/products frequently go through a phase of kinks, or it could be a case of bad manufacturing. I don’t want to down play medela here, but there are some major consistent concerns with the Sonata that need immediate attention as more and more women report similar problems.
So what did I end up doing with my sonata? Well I use it as a back up pump and have been renting a symphony for 3 weeks now, which is a true hospital grade pump, and for me works much better. It’s still no breastfeeding baby, but the symphony comes much closer to pumping as much as baby feeds.- April 2, 2017
Sorry that you’re having this experience! We wanted to follow-up on some of the issues you mentioned above. If the air leak alert appears on your pump display it means air is escaping from your breast pump system and vacuum is not operating at optimal performance. To learn more about alerts, watch our video here https://youtu.be/yPcNagbH0CM. If you continue to have issues, or are dissatisfied with your Sonata, please call our Customer Service at 877-633-3522.- April 18, 2017
I have the Sonata, and also the Spectra S1, and a Pisa. The Sonata is not what it’s cracked up to be and honestly I find myself using my Pisa over all of them. The Sonata doesn’t get out any more milk than either of them and there are a few things about it I don’t like. First of all, the flange connectors or rather the assembly, is bulky and it makes it to where you can’t see your milk flow after it leaves your breast, also, the milk splatters back at the nipple because of the way the connectors are which is irritating. Also, the suction doesn’t “move” the nipple like the Pisa does and I feel like because of that it’s not getting all the milk out. Thirdly, I had my pump literally 2 weeks and it malfunctioned one day when I went to use it, I turned it on and it said “call” and it wouldn’t work so I called them and they sent me another one but low and behold this one did it after a month but I turned it off and back on and it was fine but still I spent $399.99 for this pump so I’m a little worried about why it said “call” after hardly any use. I wish I would have known about all this, I would have just kept to what I have and been happy but I gave into the hype and had to have it. I actually hacked it to where I can use my Pisa bottle connectors so I can see my milk flow so I’m glad I was able to do that but it still isn’t a great pump in my opinion.- June 23, 2017
Hmm, that sounds like a really frustrating experience. I wonder if other people have had similar issues.- June 23, 2017
I’d Like to share this Bugaboo Brand with you…
Please let me know what you think..- August 6, 2017
Of course we have heard of Bugaboo, have plenty of friends and a sister who love it!- August 19, 2017
I’ve been looking everywhere and felt this might be a good place to ask my question. Can you pump on one side without losing suction? I can’t seem to only pump on one side but maybe I’m not doing it right?- August 15, 2017
Yes, you can. You just have to put the tube into the hole to block the suction. It’s on the tubing itself…if that makes sense…- August 19, 2017
This is very helpful if direct breastfeeding is not possible because it initiates and maintains milk supply. Thus, this also works well in collecting breast milk at work or when you are away from your baby.- November 1, 2017
Another factor that I love about this is that all of its parts are fixable.
Yep! It’s really a great product, I must say.- November 2, 2017
I’ve had my sonata since Feb and I’m on my 3rd on I pump. at level 10 after a few months it begins to cut up and cut off I’m on my 3rd one In 9ms the company send out a new one fast, they are so nice but…. now I love this pump it does everything i need untill it acts up and since I pump around 50oz a day i can’t have it messing up at all because I become engorged and that is very painful. now its so quiet and I can travel with it and the battery life is very long but if you use it up to 8 times a day about 4 months in a row the battery will begin to stop working it won’t let you travel with out it being on a charger then it will stop flash call signs and it’s so frustrating …. am at my end with this pump I need something more reliable durable for extended 30 min pumps 6-8 times a day .- November 6, 2017
I have the pump…my baby isn’t born yet. I want to know if I can use pump and save bags with it- November 7, 2017
Yes, I believe you should be able to.- November 8, 2017
No – the way in which they’ve changed the connectors don’t allow for the pump and save adaptor to screw into it. You have to pump into Medela bottles.- January 21, 2018
Thanks so much for letting us know!- January 21, 2018
I am seriously considering buying the sonata! Can I use the same medela pump bottles from my old pump? Do they attach? I guess how many extra things have to be purchased and what is universal from other medela pumps?- December 12, 2017
No, you need special bottles that it comes with.- December 15, 2017
I’ve been able to use any Medela brand bottle. They changed the way the bottle screws into the connector so you can’t use any adaptor or pump into a bag instead. Medela brand bottles will fit into the connector.- January 21, 2018
I’m growing to hate this pump; in the first week of uses the first unit got the dreaded CALL error. This of course happened at Midnight (on Sunday), so Medela was closed; and I had to wait to call them the next day. Which I did first thing, and they promised to ship me a replacement overnight. And of course they didn’t ship util the next day. So without the pump for a couple days. Horrid!
Now the pump for the second time is showing the air leak symbol, and everything is attached; (took everything part and nothing is damaged and put it back to together again) tried a second of tubing and still no suction.
It is just not a trustworthy pump; at anytime it can just not work and leave you full (and super mad!)
I’d avoid it until they explain what the hell the CALL error is and have a better fix than claiming they will ship you one overnight; (and then waiting a day because there super lazy)- September 18, 2018