Monday, September 02, 2013

Review of the Breastflow Memory Pump by The First Years

I've been pumping and donating since Ivy was 2 weeks old. I've used two pumps, the Ameda Purely Yours and the Medela Personal Double Pump (see my review here). Breast pumps are a big investment and are usually non-returnable. You can't test them out in the store, so you have to go by reputation, cost, or word-of-mouth.

The First Years company just came out with a new double electric breast pump, the Breastflow Memory Pump (approx $179), and offered to send me one to test out. It's an upgrade of their earlier model, the miPump Double Electric Pump (approx $79). The big change from the old model to the new? An electronically controlled pump that can store data (time, duration, suction & speed settings, and volume on each breast) on the last 10 pumping sessions.

The Breastflow Memory Pump comes with a lot of stuff:
  • zippered cloth bag
  • insulated cooler bag that holds 4 bottles
  • reusable icepack
  • two Breastflow bottles, nipples, and covers
  • rechargeable pump with AC adaptor
  • tubing
  • two sets of flexible silicone shields (M and L)
  • a handle that allows you to double pump with just one hand
  • and, of course, two pumping kits

Okay, let's get down to how this pump performs. 

It is slow. Agonizingly slow. It sounds like a dying cow. It has 10 suction settings, but only 3 cycle speeds, the fastest of which is just 36 cycles per minute.

I need a much faster cycle frequency to get a good letdown response. I prefer Medela's 75 cycles/minute over Ameda's 30-60 cycles/minute. And I would probably use a faster cycle frequency at first if that were an option (as it is with the Medela Pump-In-Style). For more on cycle speeds, read my Ameda & Medela review.

I don't know if all women respond similarly, but it takes me much longer to pump a similar volume with the Breastflow Memory Pump than with the Ameda or Medela models. I imagine it would be relatively easy for the company to program faster cycle frequencies, since they are controlled electronically rather than mechanically.

I did a little experiment when I was testing this pump and timed how Ivy's suck patterns. When she first latches on, she nurses really fast, around 150 sucks/minute. Once my milk lets down, she slows down to about 80-100 sucks/minute. A good breast pump should come close to these patterns.

Pros of the Breastflow Memory Pump

It was fun to program in data from each pumping session, although I don't need to keep track for any particular reason. I wonder why the memory only extends to 10 previous sessions--why not 100? 200? If, as they advertise, the memory feature will help determine what settings get the best response, you'll need a lot more than a sample size of 10 to come to an accurate conclusion.

I like that the pump is small, rechargeable, and portable. The Ameda and Medela models both require a power outlet.

The optional handle lets you pump with just one hand. It's big and a bit awkward to hold, but it also frees up one hand. I used it about half the time. The other half, I just leaned over and balanced the bottles on my thighs.  I you really need your hands free--say you're pumping for all your baby's feeds or are at work--then I'd advise getting a hands-free pumping bra.

This pump comes with two sizes of flexible silicone shields. (They're labeled 1 and 2, but honestly I couldn't tell the difference between the two!) 

Includes an insulated cooler with a reusable ice pack.


Hands down, the biggest drawback is the slow pump cycles.

The Breastflow Memory Pump is an open-system pump. Like the Medela pump, contaminants can enter the tubing, work their way into the motor, and come back into your pumped milk. If you want a pump that won't contaminate your milk, or one you can share between users, go with an Ameda Purely Yours or Hygieia Enjoye. Both are closed-system pumps.

The First Years is not a WHO Code compliant company because of how it markets its infant feeding bottles. The only breast pump manufacturer that is consistently compliant is Hygeia. (Ameda sometimes makes the list, sometimes not.)

The pump kits have more parts than the Ameda or Medela. Not a huge difference for cleaning, but worth noting. On the upside, you can put all the parts--valves included--into the the top rack of a dishwasher.

Where to buy

Available at Target for $179.99


  1. Great review, Rixa. Really thorough and helpful.

    I just want to add that there's no need to buy a "pumping bra". Just take any old bra, cut a one-inch hole out at the nipple area on each cup, run the small end of the flange through the hole and voila! -- hands-free pumping. A lactation consultant showed that to me when my daughter was a week old, and I thought it was such a fantastic way to repurpose an old bra.

  2. Tabitha, I love that suggestions for repurposing an old bra! It would be a bit harder with the Ameda, since the flange doesn't disconnect...but with a slightly bigger hole you could probably do it.

  3. I have patients use a snug but not tight sports bra. Cut horizontal slits in each side. Then you slip the pump in. It works with the Ameda because you can slip the flange into the slits vs cutting a hole.

  4. I hate the miPump, which might be OK for occasional pumping if you're lucky but is not a good quality pump. Yet my low-income LC clients buy it, because it's a double electric pump that's vastly cheaper than any other pump on the shelf... then have their nipples damaged and/or their supply tank as a result. I can see the newer, more expensive version is not going to be a winner either, and will still probably snare some people who are scared of the Medela price tag. Sigh.

    1. Yep, I really don't think this pump would be good for someone who needs to keep supply going. If price is an issue, the Ameda Purely Yours is pretty inexpensive, if you buy the basic pump without all the bells & whistles. Either the Ameda or the EnJoye can be purchased second-hand with no safety concerns about contamination.


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