Home > Parenting > Ameda Purely Yours Vs Medela Pump In Style – Tear Down and Comparison

Ameda Purely Yours Vs Medela Pump In Style – Tear Down and Comparison

February 10, 2012

What?  Breast pumps AGAIN?

Well if you’re a tech geek and you need to buy a $200-$300 electronic device to attach to your wife’s anatomy you’re probably googling for the pros and cons of various pumps and wishing for a tear down or two.

I wrote a very long blog post about reusing 2nd hand breast pumps and there was a nice tear down of the Medela Pump In Style in a similar article by a poster named Robb.  I finally took apart the Ameda to see what was inside.

We bought our Purely Yours for our first child back in 2004 which is a long while ago.  But based on the minimal internal changes between Robb’s older Pump In Style and our newer one as well as the fact that pictures of the Purely Yours on Amazon looks exactly like ours I’m guessing that breast pumps are not a rapidly evolving technology segment in comparison to say…smartphones.

If this were a product marketed toward men you’d probably see a new model every year with high end models CNC’d out of aircraft grade aluminum or made from carbon fiber complete with a touchscreen providing critical statistics like total volume pumped and fastest pump time. Fortunately, not so much and as near as I can tell these things don’t change all that often.

The Ameda Purely Yours is much lighter than the Medela and is not built into a bag.  That’s a nice thing since you can buy just the pump and save yourself some money if you don’t want their smallish bag, bottles and ice pack.  It’s also a lot more compact that way and fits better on a end table or desk than the Medela in its huge bag or backpack.

The primary reason it’s lighter is because it’s made out of plastic and not metal like the Medela.  And that’s a serious downside as ours broke halfway through pumping for our second child.  It stopped sucking well and you could hear some broken plastic part rattling around inside.

Folks buy the Ameda because it’s a closed pump system that can be safely reused…all the parts that touch the breast milk can be sterilized or replaced.  Pumps are expensive and if you can sell or gift it to someone that’s really nice.  That’s mostly why we picked the Ameda over the Medela the first time around (we got our gently used Medela as a gift from a friend and that saved us quite a bit).

But if the pump isn’t made to last then the closed nature of the pump system isn’t that much of an advantage, either for yourself or for a friend/relative.

Pictures

So lets take a look what’s inside the Ameda.  Once you pry off the plastic cover, and in my case breaking off several plastic tabs in the process, you see what is essentially a glorified syringe driven back and forth by a little electric motor.  For a $150-$250.  Niiiice.

Inside the Ameda Purely Yours

It’s actually a nice little design if attachment points had been built more robustly.  Ours failed where the clear cylinder attached to the main pump body with the shaft and gearing.  Once you break that seal it can’t pump effectively.

Failure Point

There’s just these four little (brittle) plastic tabs that hold the thing together.  Two of the four failed and one of these had fallen off completely which was what we heard rattling around inside the case.  The piston still moves back and forth but with the cylinder detached it’s pushed outward on the outstroke and there’s no air seal and doesn’t generate suction on the instroke.


It’s all driven by this little motor driving a little rubber belt.

In comparison the Medela has a metal case and the motor and piston components are far more ruggedly built:

Medela Motor and Case (Taken By Robb)

Medela Piston (Taken by Robb)

As you can see the casing, motor and gearing are all much more substantial than the one in the Purely Yours and made of metal.  Even the plastic parts are far more substantial and tougher with the weakest link being the membrane itself.  Mechanically nothing else is likely to break.

Conclusion

The Ameda Purely Yours Carry All ($185) is nearly $100 cheaper than the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Backpack ($279) on Amazon at time of posting but the Ameda in the backpack form ($233) isn’t much less.  If you’re shopping for a breast pump and expect to only have one child I’d recommend getting the cheapest Ameda sans tote for $160.  The pump might last through a second child but didn’t for us.

If the Ameda had been built with a metal clip/fastener holding the two important plastic pieces together rather than these fragile little clips that eventually failed from the constant physical stress we’d still be happily using the Purely Yours and these two blog posts wouldn’t exist.

Feeling a little cynical it strikes me that the Ameda’s strategy is to sell a “reusable” closed pump but build it in such a way that it will likely break after one or two users/children.  Medela went the other route in designing their pump to make sterilizing it for reuse by another Mom a huge annoyance but made it robust enough for the Brady family (you know, the show with six kids from the 70s…oh never mind…).

If you expect to use it for more than one child or want to pass it along to a relative then I’d go with the Medela.  Then let them buy the Ameda Purely Yours Replacement Parts Kit that also doubles as a one hand manual pump for $45.  This provides a fully closed system that’s completely air separated from the Medela pump and likely as safe to reuse as the Purely Yours.  The tubing fits our Medela pump and it works as well with our old Ameda kit as the Purely Yours pump did when new.

If you do get the Medela, remember to clean the membrane every so often unless you’re using an Ameda kit with it.  As an open system milk can get on the membrane and you end up with the mold growth some users have reported.  That’s pretty nasty and given the membrane is located behind the front panel it’s easy to forget.

Next Project: rebuilding the Ameda Purely Yours with carbon fiber replacement parts, an upgraded motor with Neodymium magnets, micro-chain drive belt assembly and LED light kit…

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Categories: Parenting
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