FAQ Symphony

Preemie+ Initiation Card

Is it a real challenge to get sufficient breastmilk in a NICU?
With the Preemie+ Initiation Card you can ensure that there is always enough breastmilk available in the neonatology unit. With this programme, Medela helps mothers who are dependant on a breastpump, to initiate and maintain breastmilk production.
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Questions on Features

Q: Could the Symphony have a clock or a timer?
A: The time taken to express milk is often directly related to levels of anxiety and milk flow. Expressing milk is a very personal thing and it is important that mothers are able to relax and feel comfortable whilst using a breast pump, rather than focusing on the time taken to do so. For this reason the Symphony does not have a timer.

Q: How do I know the status of the batteries?
A: The Symphony will indicate on the display when the batteries are becoming weak ("battery low"). After the first indication, the mother still has approximately 15 minutes pumping time. This "warning" is accompanied by a further bleep every 20 seconds to catch the mother's attention.

Once the batteries are flat, a "battery flat" indication will appear on the display and the pump automatically switches off with a longer beep.

The batteries are rechargeable and are continuously being charged when on the mains (also during pumping).

Q: Why is there a need for a card system and what is it for?
A: The unique Program Card system of the Symphony affords this breast pump greater adaptability. Through Medela's ongoing research further pumping programs may be available in the future. Mothers will have access to the best research-based pumping program by simply introducing a new Program Card in the same Symphony breast pump.

Q: Is the Program Card protected against malicious modification?
A: Yes, the Symphony Program Cards are protected against modification and copying.

Q: Why do I need to choose the vacuum level again at each use?
A: One of the innovative features of this pump is that it is preset to always start at the minimum vacuum level (50 mmHg). This ensures that the breast pump always starts at a comfortable vacuum level. Mothers using the Symphony may not choose to start expressing milk at the same vacuum level every day, as breast sensitivity can alter on a daily basis. Always starting at minimum vacuum level allows more flexibility, enabling adjustment to be made to breast sensitivity and helping to ensure maximum comfort.

Q: Why can the vacuum regulator button be turned indefinitely?
A: It is related to the concept of the Symphony breast pump, which always starts at the minimum vacuum level (see question above) to provide maximum safety and maximum comfort of use for the mother. A different button system with +/- indication or clear notch would not allow the vacuum level to be altered independently of the button position.

Q: Why does the display show bars and drops? Numbers would be more convenient!
A: A number display may encourage mothers to become more "achievement-oriented", as numbers can sometimes be associated with an idea of value and performance, putting unnecessary stress on the mother. Beside efficiency, another objective of the Symphony is to be a very comfortable and user-friendly breast pump and for that purpose, drops and bars are more appropriate.

Q: Do the membrane cap and the protective membrane need to be replaced with each set or can they remain on the Symphony when it is handed on to the next mother?
A: Both the membrane cap and the protective membrane belong to the mother's personal Pump Set. Should an overflow into the tubing occur, these parts may come into contact with breastmilk. The risk of cross-contamination associated with re-using previously used personal breast pumps or parts by another mother cannot be totally dismissed. There is some evidence that certain serious viruses* may be transmittable through breastmilk. For this reason Medela strongly recommends that the complete Pump Set, i.e. including membrane cap and protective membrane, is changed every time it is used by a different mother. These two parts should always be cleaned/sterilised/ autoclaved together with the other parts of the personal Pump Set.

This is the safest way to eliminate any risk of cross-contamination.

*It is believed by some physicians and researchers that human breastmilk can possibly contain viruses if the mother is infected. Such viruses may include CMV (Cytomegalovirus), HIV-Human Immunodeficiency Virus (AIDS), and HTLV-1 (Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1.)
Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession
(St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby-Year Book, Inc., 1999), pp. 225.

Q: What happens in case of an overflow into the tubing?
A: Should an overflow occur, the milk will be collected by the unique overflow protection system of Symphony; i.e. between the membrane cap and the protective membrane. In addition, the breast pump itself is protected against liquids by a pump membrane. Membrane cap and protective membrane can be easily removed and cleaned. These two parts belong to the mother's personal Pump Set and should be changed together with the other parts of the Pump Sets when the Symphony is handed on to the next mother.

Q: The handle does not seem to be strong enough?
A: The handles on our machines have been rigorously tested by our specialist engineer and there is no reason to fear that the handle on our products is not strong enough.

Q: Can the same accessory parts be used for the Symphony as for the Classic and the Lactina?
A: Yes, the Symphony Pump Sets are also compatible with the other Medela Breast pumps. However, you need to add three Symphony specific parts: protective membrane, membrane cap, silicone tubing.
Please consider that the Pump Sets are consumables which need regular replacing.

Q: Why is the Symphony so heavy? If it were lighter, it would be easier to transport?
A: The Symphony (2.9. kg) is only slightly heavier than the Lactina (2.4 kg) and considerably lighter than the Classic (7.6 kg).

For hospital use the Symphony can be fitted on a mobile stand for increased convenience. For the rental business the Symphony will be equipped with a hard carrying case, also offering the advantage of a shoulder strap.

For active and working mothers who are out and about a lot, we recommend a Freestyle or a Pump In Style breast pump which incorporates a professional grade breast pump in a comfortable shoulder bag.

Questions on Vacuum/Vacuum strength

Q: Why does the Symphony have less vacuum than the Lactina or the Classic?
A: The Symphony does not have less vacuum than the Lactina or the Classic.

From the technical point of view the Symphony has the same maximum vacuum as the other electric breast pumps, 250 mmHg. However the vacuum applied may be perceived as less because of the unique and particularly gentle and comfortable expression phase of the Symphony breast pump.

The adjustable preset combination of vacuum and cycles per minutes as well as the Comfort Flow Zone add to comfort and efficiency of the pumping session and may contribute to this perception.

It is also important to know/understand that a higher level of vacuum does not necessarily mean a higher milk output. Research suggests that there is no such correlation between high vacuum and high milk output and that a pre-set combination of vacuum and cycles per minute is the most efficient way to get maximum milk expression with no need for higher suction strength.

Q: Why is the high vacuum level still weak in comparison to the suction of my baby?
A: Some babies may have strong sucking reflex. The purpose of the Symphony breast pump is not to replace the baby but to provide the most comfortable and efficient way of pumping breastmilk when for whatever reason the baby cannot be at the breast. This maximum efficiency does not necessarily imply the same suction power as the baby.

Q: How do I know which vacuum is best for pumping?
A: There is no need to know which vacuum level is the best, but rather which vacuum is the most comfortable since the vacuum has been combined to the number of cycles for maximum efficiency of the expression phase. In other words, it is important to choose the most individually comfortable vacuum and the program will automatically assign the corresponding number of cycles per minute that will provide the most efficient pumping session.

General Questions

Q: What should I do if my milk is already flowing when I start pumping?
A: Use the individual setting and press the "let-down" button to directly use the expression mode.

Q: Why are there no independent regulation buttons for left and right?
A: This would unnecessarily complicate the system and would go from a light, easy-to-use and friendly breast pump to a much more mechanically complicated one. This would considerably complicate the system, making it less user-friendly (more buttons), heavier and would affect the design as well.

Q: How can I double pump with the Symphony as I have no free hand to press or adjust the button?
A: Double pumping is time saving and very efficient. The following technique can be used to keep one hand free for adjusting the vacuum, holding a book or a drink etc.:

Position one milk bottle on the breast, e.g. the right breast, and hold it with the crook of your right arm. Place the other bottle on the other breast and hold it with the hand of your right arm, while your left arm remains free to adjust the vacuum, press the let-down button or hold a book.

Q: Since the Symphony has such a high efficiency, is there no danger that the mother might prefer to breast pump rather than to breastfeed her baby?
A: That is very unlikely! It has to be considered that the expressed milk will also have to be fed to the baby afterwards. Expressing her milk with a breast pump is therefore not a real time-saver for the mother compared to breastfeeding.

It is certainly not Medela's intention to replace breastfeeding with this efficient Symphony breast pump. On the contrary, Medela strives to offer mothers the most comfortable and most efficient breast pump for when they have to express their milk for whatever reasons.

E.g. a young mother with a prematurely born baby who is tended to at a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), who lives far away from the hospital and may have other children to look after, will appreciate the efficiency of the Symphony in expressing her milk for her baby and giving her more time and flexibility for her family.