Disclaimer: I purchased Sonata myself and did not receive any compensation or products in exchange for my opinion. This is my personal, unbiased opinion of this breast pump. I am open to receiving products for review and will always post a true and unbiased opinion regardless of compensation. I am not a medical professional and share information purely based on my personal experiences and research.
I ordered the Sonata in the middle of the night during a power outage. It was an impulse order prompted by the need for efficient pumping without electricity. We do have a generator- but our power went out at 2:45am and we didn’t want to fire it up and wake the neighborhood unless it became obvious we would be down for a while. I had my eye on the Sonata for a couple months and was anticipating the release- so I guess maybe my purchase wasn’t a complete impulse buy. I digress…
It took SEVEN LONG DAYS for my pump to arrive because there are snow storms all across the country (including here on the West Coast) which slowed down travel. During that time I wished I hadn’t ordered and had just waited a few hours for Target to open so I could run and purchase the Sonata in store. But, by ordering online during the launch, I saved $50 and received a free accessory starter kit (more on that later). As of today, January 15th, it appears Medela is still offering the free accessory kit with purchase of Sonata on their website.
Why the Sonata? Well, I’m a difficult to get milk mama… my body requires a hospital grade pump and looooooooong pump times to get sufficient milk. I EP (exclusively pump) for my g-tube fed micro preemie, Elizabeth Joy. We’ve been at this milk collection business for just over seven months now. I will be posting our hard won milk journey in the coming weeks- so stay tuned. I hope our struggles and eventual triumph will bring hope to other mamas struggling with milk production. Anyway, the Sonata uses Symphony technology (my favorite pump). I used a Symphony exclusively during the 88 days Elizabeth spent in the NICU- one at her bedside and a loaner pump at home. Without the Symphony, my milk supply was incredibly low. So, this inspired me to look into the Sonata. It is more compact than the Symphony and rechargeable (which means I can jump up to help the toddler or baby or even answer the door to the unsuspecting UPS/FedEx/Postal worker).
I have been using the Sonata as my primary pump for about a week now. I use the rental Symphony 1-2x daily currently. My goal was to discover how the Sonata stacked up against the Symphony on the following criteria: length of time needed to empty, ability to fully empty breasts, kindness to nipples, breast health, total output, noise level, and ease of use.
Length of time: The Sonata takes about the same time for me to empty as the Symphony. Possibly a little faster (maybe due to the different membrane design). I love that the Sonata has the count up timer, so I know exactly how long I’ve been pumping. Sometimes with the Symphony I lose track of time and just keep pumping, so I don’t have a for sure time comparison. I should set a timer and actually pay attention.
Ability to fully empty breasts: Absolutely! Without a doubt the Sonata is just as effective as the Symphony.
Kindness to nipples: Much gentler than the PISA and Spectra on the nipples- maybe not quite as gentle as the Symphony (especially during the letdown phase)- but overall a kind pump to the nips.
Breast health: This is a biggie for me- some pumps lead to not fully emptying and causing clogs and resulting mastitis. No thank you. I have had ZERO issues with the Sonata so far. My breasts feel just as happy and healthy as they do with the hospital grade Symphony. I’m only a week in, but at this point I noticed issues with other pumps.
Total Output: I have continued to produce the same amount of milk as I do with the Symphony (which is more than with any other pump). Possibly in slightly less time.
Noise level: The Sonata is QUIET. Maybe a tad louder than Symphony, but quieter than every other personal use pump I’ve used. This is awesome when you want to have a conversation (ever have to make a phone call while pumping and your PISA is saying “pump on pump on pump on” (all Eper’s understand this… we swear our pumps talk to us). My husband noticed how quiet the pump is now– he doesn’t have to crank the movie to full volume or rely on subtitles if I’m pumping while we are watching a movie together.
Ease of Use: The Sonata is just as simple to assemble and use. I like the tube design, it stays connected well and doesn’t get as much condensation in the tubing as the Symphony. It is also simple to disassemble and clean the parts. You can connect via bluetooth to the MyMedela app and the pump will auto sync which is awesome. At the end, you just plug in your volume pumped and any notes you want to add.
The rechargeable battery— this means I can unplug from the adapter and move around with the pump as needed. It also makes pumping on the go much simpler!
Size- the Sonata is compact and lightweight- I can easily pick it up with one hand and move around if I need to.
Performance– hospital performance in a personal use pump. Yes please!
Insurance coverage– at this time, the Sonata is not covered by insurance. (Unless you are lucky to have a policy that lets you purchase any personal use pump and submit reimbursement like mine does… but I already used that benefit for this baby for my PISA Metro Bag). You should be able to submit your receipt for reimbursement to your FSA.
Price– at $399, the Sonata is slightly more expensive than the other Medela personal use pumps. However, in my experience so far, it is worth it for the superior performance and added features.
The assembly is heavy– valve/membranes/flange attachment is A LOT heavier- they are made of a sturdy hard plastic and is three pieces that snap together with a membrane that goes inside and then the flange and bottles attach. This means that even with my hands free pumping bra, I need to provide a little more support to prevent pulling on my breasts and to maintain a good suction. This isn’t a deal breaker (Yes, I can still hold my phone and manage to Facebook while pumping).
Extra parts avaliable only as a kit- A fellow EPing mama found the extra collection kit at Babies R Us. It’s a full kit and runs $54.99. I would love the option to purchase just the assembly and membranes (you can purchase membranes separately for $12.99).
Pump & Save bags are not compatible. I learned this the hard way. With my free accessory kit, I received two boxes of the Medela pump & save bags with adapters. I assumed they would work with my Sonata, after all, they were sent to me with my pump purchase. (Not to mention that the Target display for the Sonata includes pumps, a large section of the pump & save bags, and giant boxes of Medela nursing pads). For my first on the road experience with the Sonata, we had to travel two hours to the children’s hospital for my micro preemies clinic appointments. This is a full day outing. Normally, I load up a crate with a gobzillion supplies (yes that’s a real word in my dictionary). I was so excited to be able to fit my Sonata, a pack of pump & save bags w/ adapters, two Medela coolers, my pump bra, container of coconut oil, and two 5 oz bottles (just in case) into the Sonata travel bag. So much less junk to haul around. So much tidier! Yay! Well… we are on the road and I set up to pump and learn that the Pump & Save adapter will not connect to the Sonata assemblies. Well crapola! Thankfully, I had two bottles in the bag- I had to pump into the bottles and pour the milk into the bags while the vehicle was in motion (I was the passenger thankfully). I was super bummed… the idea of pumping into the bags on the road and slipping the bags into coolers meant less stuff to haul and less cooler space needed. This also meant, I had to use the same collection bottles for the entire day without adequate washing facilities so it was interesting to try to rinse them out and then store them in a cooler to reduce the risk of bacteria growth. I hope Medela fixes this ASAP. The adapters just need the little hooks to be lower so they can screw into the Sonata assembly.
Do I recommend the Sonata? Yes, absolutely, Yes! I wish it was avaliable at the start of my pumping journey. I have no doubt that with the convenience and simplicity of this pump, I would have been willing to pump more even with my fully nursing children (I HATED pumping and just didn’t do it). Most nursing moms agree, having a freezer “stash” is awesome– it means we know in a pinch, we have mamas milk to feed our baby. For mamas like me who have a very difficult time getting enough milk, the Sonata appears to be a no-brainer! I have not established my supply on the Sonata, so I cannot say if it would perform as well as the Symphony for those early weeks… but I’m guessing it would do a decent job.