Since the birth of my newborn son on July 24th, 2011, I have utilized the Medela Symphony Electric Double Breast Pump with great results.
Breastfeeding can be very discouraging the first few days due to the slow start of breast milk production and it is extremely helpful to use a breast pump not only to help get things started but also to help create an easy feeding schedule with your newborn.
While at the hospital, I was giving a lower-quality electric double breast pump by Ameda. It was very slow, the speed and pressure was extremely fickle and hard to control and it pinched.
The Medela Symphony Electric Double Breast Pump is on an entirely different level compared with the Ameda pump I experienced at the hospital. I have rented the pump from The Upper Breast Side in Manhattan for about $100/month. This breast pump retails for between $1300-$1500 so it would be unreasonable for most people to buy it.
First and foremost it is extremely easy to control and use. There is such a variety of pressure options that it is essentially painless. If you use it with a breast-pumping bra you will forget that you are even pumping. It is also nice because during a pumping session you can increase or decrease the pressure throughout as necessary for your comfort.
For the assembly and maintainance it is fairly easy. There are 6 parts to assemble to use each breast pump but after doing it a few times (and you will) it is very easy to do and remember. There are only two small negative points to the pieces.
The first negative concerns the small white rubberized piece which seems very delicate and easy to misplace. I have used the pump for three weeks now and have not lost or broken this piece but it doesn't hurt to have an extra package of replacement pieces handing if one rips. The good news is that if you do lose one or rip it, since you are using a double pump you should be able to get through until you can get to the store.
The second negative about the product pieces is the tubing. In my experience one of the two tubes consistently gets a bit of breast milk inside. While it is annoying, it is very easy to clean the tube by running water through it to clean it out and then lasso-ing the tube in the air to remove the water. I also add a few drops of rubbing alcohol to dry out the tube and then lasso again to make sure it is dry afterwards. It is important to keep the tubes dry so that no mold grows.
Once the milk is pumped you can easily adapt the container to a bottle by simply screwing on a nipple (the nipples that are compatible with Similac formula fit the container) and you can immediately give the milk to your baby after you complete pumping. I have stored the milk in bags and either putting them in the fridge for 48 hour storage or the freezer which is good for 6 months.
As far as the cleaning goes - it is very easy, only tedious because there are so many pieces to de-assemble. I have rinsed them and then running them through my bottle sterilizer and that system has worked perfectly.
The only other negative point is that the breast pump is a little heavy and bulky if you want to use it at work or for traveling to and from places. It comes in a large plastic container with a shoulder strap which is easy to carry but it is just bulky.
Overall, this pump is a great product - extremely easy to use, easy on the breasts and the maintenance is manageable for even the most exhausted of new moms!