Experts and owners say the Medela Harmony's two-step expression system mimics the actions of a nursing baby, which helps trigger the milk letdown reflex and produces good volume in a relatively short period. Users call the pump very simple to use in all phases of operation.
Great volume and efficiency. The Medela Harmony manual breast pump is universally acclaimed as the one to have if all you need is to occasionally ease engorgement or supplement breast-feeding. Its two-phase manual expression technology more closely mimics the action of a nursing baby, and owners say it's great at enhancing milk letdown and effective pumping. Those who have used several different manual breast pumps say this one provides a higher volume of milk pumped in a shorter period than comparable models.
The only complaints about the Harmony come from frequent pumpers who say it doesn't pump quickly enough, but this model isn't targeted to such users; they would be better served by an electric pump. Having said that, a number of owners say they prefer the Harmony to their electric pumps because it's more comfortable and quiet, and nearly as efficient.
Moms say the Medela Harmony is comfortable to use and doesn't cause soreness or discomfort, but they add that it's important to use the correct size flanges. Women with smaller or larger breasts or nipples may need larger or smaller flanges than the 24 mm size that comes standard with the breast pump.
A few users protest about a loss of suction due to the o-ring on the handle falling off or cracking; replacing it requires purchasing the entire handle assembly, which costs nearly as much as a new pump. A couple of moms say the handle assembly broke after a few weeks. If the pump is still under warranty or even close, owners say Medela is good about sending replacement parts.
A winner. Experts say the Medela Harmony is easy to clean and has fewer parts to wash than comparable manual breast pumps. It's partially dishwasher safe, and the instructions explain which parts can go in the top rack of the dishwasher and which need to be washed by hand.
At just 1 pound, the Harmony is lightweight and highly portable, and moms say its one-handed action won't tire out your hands when pumping. Its pivoting handle makes it easier to find a comfortable angle, and the pump is very easy to assemble and dissemble, they add. Moms also like that Medela Harmony parts and accessories are often available at their local supermarket or drug store rather than just online. The basic set includes a 5-ounce bottle with lid and stand. Unlike electric pumps, there's no included carrying case or cooling system, but storage/feeding bottles and a labeling system are available as optional accessories.
Moms who are often on the road give the Medela Harmony rave reviews. Even those who pump frequently and use electric pumps say they prefer the Harmony because it's easy to toss into luggage or an overnight bag. A number of them like being able to use it when they're a passenger on car trips so they don't have to stop and nurse.
Top-of-the-line service. The Medela Harmony comes with a 30-day limited warranty. Medela has a sterling reputation for customer service, and a number of reviews praise the company's response long after the 30-day warranty period passed. Medela provides a high level of support for breastfeeding moms, with helpful representatives talking a number of users through pumping issues. Online support from a certified lactation consultant is also available.
1. Baby Bargains
Review Credibility: Excellent "Baby Bargains" provides comprehensive reviews of baby gear and common baby brands, including a number of popular breast pumps like the Medela Harmony. The authors list pros and cons that consider cost, ease of use and performance, and give each breast pump a letter grade. There's also a roundup of recommended models.
Review: Chapter 6: Feeding Baby, Denise and Alan Fields, Ninth edition
Review Credibility: Very Good The Medela Harmony gets an overall rating of 4 stars out of 5 from more than 390 reviews. Owners say it's easy to use, assemble, take apart and clean, and call it great for travel. The most satisfied customers are those who use this as a backup or supplement to an electric pump, or who don't need to pump very often. Those who try to use the Harmony as their primary pump -- which it isn't meant for -- say it's too slow and not as good as an electric pump. A number of users complain of the o-ring cracking, wearing out or popping out, but Medela gets good reviews for customer service when contacted about these issues.
Review: Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2013
3. Babies 'R' Us
Review Credibility: Very Good More than 430 owners give the Medela Harmony 4 stars out of 5 here, calling it comfortable, easy to clean, lightweight and portable. They say it's not a good choice for pumping a large quantity of breast milk quickly, but it's ideal for easing engorgement and for light use.
Review: Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump, Contributors to BabiesRUs.com, As of April 2013
Review Credibility: Good This baby products blogger and mom writes occasional reviews and roundups. This post based on personal experience -- a combination of product review and breast pump overview -- is thorough and informative, and includes pros and cons. However, she evaluates only a few products. She gives the Medela Harmony 5 stars out of 5, calling it a portable, affordable option.
Review: Breast Pump Review, "Lindsey", July 31, 2012