Best forMoms who need a non-standard breast shield size, or want a manual pump that’s compatible with other Medela products
Top BenefitsTwo-phase expression, comfortable pumping experience, easy to assemble and clean
ConsiderationsHandle can detach during transport, membrane is very delicate
Bottom lineThe Medela Harmony is a high-performing manual pump for moms in need of a strong portable pump
Easy to use, compact and sleek, the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump is a great option for work or travel. This lightweight and compact manual pump packs up in a snap and is comfortable and quiet enough to use just about anywhere.
The Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump comes almost completely assembled, but you'll need to do an initial sterilizing boil before using it. It's a good idea to mentally note how everything fits together while you're taking the pump apart to make the first assembly easier. The pump is made up of eight pieces—handle, breast shield, valve, collection bottle, membrane, pump body/component connector and diaphragm/stem with O-ring. In our lab tests, we found that the parts all fit together securely and without a struggle. All of our parent testers agreed the pump was easy to put together and take apart, and that the instructions for assembly and use were clear and easy to follow. This simple assembly allowed our mom testers to get pumping quickly and without much fuss.
All of the moms who tested the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump found it comfortable enough to use daily. While one of our testers said her hand got tired after a full pumping session, none had any difficulty finding a comfortable pumping position. The 24-mm breast shield that comes with the pump was a good size for all of our parent testers, and they all said it fit comfortably against their breast. If you feel like the 24-mm shield isn’t fitting you correctly, Medela sells breast shields in five different sizes, ranging from 21 mm to 36 mm, so you should be able to find one that suits you.
The Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump is one of the few manual breast pumps we tested with two-phase expression technology, which mimics the stimulation and expression phases of breastfeeding. The Harmony's two-phase expression is super easy to use: simply push down on the arrow at the top of the handle to begin in stimulation mode, and when let-down begins, switch to expression mode by pumping the bottom of the handle. The majority of our testers found this system easy and effective while pumping. But it's worth noting that the rotating handle can cause some confusion when switching between phases—one of our testers thought they needed to turn the handle rather than simply switch to pumping from the bottom.
All of our mom testers agreed that it was easy to get a good seal between the breast shield and their breast. Though about half experienced some leaking around the breast shield (a common issue with breast pumps), they described it as a dribble every so often. One mom found that when she tilted the pump away from her breast, the breastmilk would flow into the pump body, which could increase your risk of a leak, so keep that in mind when you're settling into a comfortable pumping position. Minimal leakage aside, our testers reported that the Harmony provides good suction for efficient pumping, and all but one said their breasts felt fully drained after a pumping session. None of our testers experienced any nipple pain, cracking or bleeding while using the Harmony.
Most of our testers also said the pump was fairly easy to use in a dimly lit room—especially important if you want to quietly pump at night every so often without waking light sleepers.
Manual pumps don’t have a noisy motor like electric pumps, but some can be squeaky. In our lab tests, we measured the noise made by each pump with a sound meter and found the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump to be one of the quietest. A room fan set on low would be enough to drown out the whisper of this pump. Our mom testers' firsthand experience mirrored the lab results: they told us the pump produced a low-level noise or no noise at all, and said they could pump in the same room as a sleeping baby or partner without waking them.
The Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump is made up of eight pieces and is very easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher. (Note: As with any pump, check the instructions to find out which parts are dishwasher-safe.) One of our mom testers felt the Harmony is particularly easy to clean because there are no hard-to-reach areas among all the pieces. It's worth noting that the membrane of this pump is quite thin and delicate, so you'll want to take extra care when cleaning. But don't sweat it too much—if the membrane gets lost or damaged, the pump comes with two extras, and replacements are readily available.
Lightweight and compact, the Medela Harmony Manual Pump is super portable: it’s small enough to be carried discreetly in a large purse or tote bag, and all of our testers said it's a good option for pumping when you're away from home. One of our mom testers said she loved how comfortable the handle felt in her hand and that she was able to rotate it to find a comfortable position for her wrist and hand. The neck of the pump is also designed to hang on the base of your thumb, so you don't have to grip it while pumping, which makes it comfortable to hold for longer periods of time.
All of our mom testers found it easy to detach the bottle from the pump without spilling any breastmilk. The two collection bottles that come with the Medela Harmony Manual Pump are compatible with Medela’s full range of nipples and lids, which makes storage, bottle prep and feeding a bit easier (no searching through a jumble of bottles to find the one you need). And not needing to transfer breastmilk from one bottle to another can help prevent milk loss. Plus, the bottles are also compatible with Medela's electric pumps (including the Freestyle), making it easy to switch between using an electric and manual pump to suit your needs.
Manual breast pumps are ideal for moms on the go—whether you're travelling or simply need to pump away from home occasionally, the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump gets the job done. All of the moms who tested this pump rated its quality from good to very good and the majority said the pump is easy to use. Overall, most of our moms were satisfied with the Medela Harmony and would recommend it to other moms or moms-to-be. While it has a higher price point than some of the other manual pumps on the market, it features two-phase expression, and the wide range of breast shield sizes available means you should be able to find a good fit—which helps minimize milk loss and makes for a more comfortable, efficient pumping experience. For all of these reasons, there's no question it deserves the Today's Parent Approved seal.
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