Introduction

I’m a PhD student at UNC Chapel Hill, I’m exclusively pumping and do five sessions a day, two at work and three at home. I was lucky that my mom paid for one pump and insurance paid for the other. Rosalind at Women’s Birth & Wellness Boutique helped us decide that the Hygeia EnJoye was the best fit for my needs. However, the durable medical equipment supplier that my insurance used didn’t offer Hygeia, so I chose a Medela Pump in Style Advanced. I keep the Hygeia at home and stash the Medela at Mercury Studio Durham, NC in a locker.

Overall Experience

I like my Hygeia better than my Medela based on how they work. The Hygeia has two separate dials, one which controls strength and one which controls speed. The Medela has one dial that controls strength and a button that changes speeds to either fast (for let-down) or slow. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I feel like it’s easier to respond well to the pump when I can have more control over it. Both pumps are around the same size and weight. The Hygeia at full speed, full suction is louder than the Medela.

The Hygeia comes with a set of buttons to record and play back sounds that can encourage letdown, but I never got in the habit of using them. I just occasionally accidentally play the sound of myself accidentally hitting the record button. It would be nice if there was a way to cover these so they don’t get bumped.

Cleaning

The Medela does one thing better – it’s really good about not getting milk or moisture in the tubes, and the Hygeia tends to have a problem with that. However, it’s easier to clean out the Hygeia tubes because they’re softer and bigger. I clean the Hygeia tubes this way:

  1. Soak them in warm soapy water
  2. Run tap water through them
  3. Blow gently into one end with your mouth about an inch away to clear out most of the water.
  4. Pour some rubbing alcohol through the tube and squeeze it through the tube from the outside.
  5. Hang from the middle and squeeze out any additional liquid.

There are other methods but this is the one that I’ve found to work best. So far I haven’t needed to clean out the Medela tubes, I just let the pump run for a few minutes without the flanges if the tubes collect a bit of moisture. Both the pumps are about the same in terms of the ease of cleaning out the flanges and bottles.

Components

With either pump, I would recommend keeping some spare parts around for convenience. Extra bits are easy to come by for the Hygeia if you plan in advance – the Boutique has them, or you can order them through their website. If you friend them on Facebook, you can watch for sales, which they seem to offer every month or two. They sell spare parts kits with extra filters, tubes, flanges, etc. Medela parts are more widely available, at stores like Target and Walgreen’s, but you can use Medela parts with your Hygeia pump!

The components of both seem equally sturdy so far, after four months of regular use for the Hygeia and two months of regular use for the Medela. There are two differences I would note:

  1. Hygeia containers have the oz marks printed onto the side and they wear off very quickly, whereas Medela is molded into the plastic.
  2. Medela valves involve a fiddly little flap (membranes) that can fall off and go down the drain, while the Hygeia valves are sturdy rubber duckbills.

Summary

I 100% feel good about getting my Hygeia first, and if I could have only one, it would be the Hygeia. I also feel good about the fact that it’s a closed system, so I can pass it along safely after I’m done – or send it to Hygeia for their recycling program. However, I’m not disappointed with the Medela at all, and it definitely earns its spot at the office (where I don’t feel like taking the time or space to clean even more parts) by not getting milk in the tubes. Both have slight advantages and disadvantages in different areas, and finding which one works better for you will depend on what you prioritize.