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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ameda Elite Review and Blog Contest!

Congratulations to our winners!
Katherine Sicat
Cheng Duran
Laura Merwin

Thank you everyone for joining the giveaway!
I will email the winners for details on how to claim their certificates.

My first experience with the Ameda Elite was because of Naima's jaundice/hospital stay. In Naima's hospital, moms could use the hospital-grade Ameda Elite pump to express milk for their sick babies. The Ameda Elite is attached to a stand that is wheeled over to the mom and is parked inside the baby's room for the duration of the hospital stay. The hospital also gave me two sets of flanges to use during the stay (and bring home).
Let me go over the features of the Ameda Elite pump and why I love this pump.

Long-Term Use
I bought my Elite off Ebay for about $275 back in October 2008. I had been back to work for about 3 months and got tired of lugging my portable Lansinoh (*see note below) to and from the office. According to Ameda's website, the Elite has "perfect engineering for long-term use, including establishing and maintaining milk product". The Elite is generally for hospital use but moms with preemies or multiples also usually purchase the Elite for home use.
In my case, my Elite was used from December 2008 - December 2009 - daily pumping (except weekends) for about 4 times, gradually winding down to once a day. My Elite is now with my sister who started using it in January 2010 and still uses it until now. I have to emphasize that since I purchased the from Ebay, it is a used item (previously owned by a hospital) so I'm not sure how long ago the Elite was purchased. However, according to my sister, it still works great until now. Compared to my Lansinoh portable pump, I will definitely say that the Elite is more durable and better for exclusively pumping moms wishing to establish and maintain milk supply.

*Note: If you are wondering why I bought Lansinoh pump when I used Ameda Elite in the hospital, it was because Lansinoh Double Electric Pump and Ameda Purely Yours (the portable pump of Ameda) used to be both manufactured by Hollisters. Lansinoh costs $125 (even $105) at Amazon while PY costs $150. Babymama carries both Lansinoh and Ameda PY pumps.

Custom Control
The Elite has two dials - one for vacuum and cycle. Vacuum refers to the strength of the sucking while cycle refers to the speed. There is no automatic setting as you start the pump by turning on the dials. According to Ameda, the purpose of the separate dials is to let "mothers 'follow their flow' to find their own most effective pump settings every time, and like a breastfeeding baby, achieve a "multi-phase" experience. Indeed, some days, I find myself putting the cycle on high while the vacuum stays low while some days, both are on high speed. Customized controls allow the moms to have complete control of her pumping experience simply through a slight turn of the dial. The Elite also allows you to single or double pump - which is quite helpful, especially if my daughter just nursed on 1 boob.

Powerful but Silent
I have pumped with a sleeping baby, sleeping siblings and husband, sleeping brother in law - all in the room - with the pump not raising any peep! Very quiet - a huge difference from my Lansinoh pump. The airconditioner and electric fan are noisier! You can hear the piston moving back and forth but that's about it - no motor sound at all. And despite being whisper quiet, it is one powerful pump with vacuum strength from 30-250mmHg and cycle speed of 30-60 cpm! When using my Lansinoh, I usually set the cycle/vacuum dials to full speed. But with the Elite, cycle is around 3/4 while the vacuum is midway. At my peak, I used to get a total of 4-6oz from both breasts with regular pumping intervals. I also love that the suction is not painful since I am able to adjust the strength to a tolerable level.

Power and Weight
Since my Elite was bought in the US, it needs to plugged on 110volts - so make sure that you tape the plug to a transformer - lest it be mistakenly plugged into our standard 220volts outlet. It also comes with a car adapter - which you plug into the lighter receptacle if you need to pump in your car. One disadvantage I can think of is the size and weight of this pump. The pump weighs about 6 pounds and with the carrying case, it is the size of a document box - about 5x9x12 - definitely not something you want to be lugging to and from work every day! If that is an issue, then you would be better off purchasing Ameda's Purely Yours pump - which is more portable.

Maintenance and Other Features
The Elite itself is very easy to clean. I just wipe it down with baby wipes at regular intervals. Meanwhile, since my pump was purchased 2nd hand, I had to purchase the flanges and milk collection kit. However, the purchase of a brand new Elite includes 1 set of HygieniKit Milk collection system. This is also another great thing about the Elite - moms can safely share 1 Elite pump, as long as each mom has her own HygieniKit.
In laymen's terms - the HygieniKit consists of 2 25mm breast flanges, 2 silicone diaphgrams, 2 120ml bottles, 4 white valves, 2 adapter caps, 2 silicone tubings, 2 lock-tight bottle caps plus instructions! Whew! That looks like a long list of equipment for this pump - but it is there for a reason! Ameda touts its HygieniKits as being "the world's first milk collection system with a Proven Airlock Protection barrier" - which means that the diaphragm keeps the air from your pump from coming in contact with the milk! Indeed - I've never had to clean the tubing of my Ameda (and Lansinoh pumps) as neither milk nor moisture has ever gotten into the tubing.
Also, don't be overwhelmed by the number of parts to clean! Check out my tips on how I cleaned pump parts while expressing milk at work.
What moms need to be concerned of when using the HygieniKit though would be those white valves. Just a little tear on those valves results in a drastic change in suction and resulting milk output! This is why there are 4 valves included in the kit, although you only use 2 at a time. I highly suggest that moms keep extra valves on hand. Some valves last me 3 months only while the longest I have used valves without changing would be 8 months.
The Elite also comes with 2 bottle holders which are perfectly sized for the Ameda collection bottles but are too big for my Snappies. When using the Ameda bottles, you won't have to worry that your bottles will topple over, resulting in spilled breast milk (wah)!

I am excited to announce that the Ameda Elite is now locally available at an introductory price of P50,000 through Babymama! As the authorized dealer, the Ameda Purely Yours pumps come with a 1 year warranty while the Ameda Elite has 3 years warranty. Plus, Babymama carries not only the Ameda pumps but accessories as well!! To celebrate the launch of Ameda in the Philippines, Babymama is sponsoring this blog contest with three winners! Each winner will get a Php1,000 gift certificate which they can use for their Ameda purchase over at Babymama.

How to join this contest?
To enter, fill out the form below. You can also get extra entries (total of 4 entries) by:

  1. Becoming a fan of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom and Babymama on Facebook.
  2. Tweeting this giveaway (copy and tweet this: @crazydigger Win a Babymama P1000 Gift Certificate
  3. Blogging about the giveaway (please leave a link to your blog entry)
You only need to fill up the form once, as long as you filled up the relevant boxes. For example, if you like the pages, become a fan and blog, you need to fill up all the boxes in the form for your entries to count. I know that this is a bit tedious but it helps me validate the entries correctly.
This contest is open to readers within the Philippines and the certificates will be shipped to you using local courier. Contest will end on 4 December 2010 at 11:59PM. Names of winners will be posted in this entry and will be contacted by email. Please respond within 48 hours – otherwise, I will choose another winner. Three winners will be chosen using Naima tambiolo.
Now, go enter the contest!!

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