I've been using, washing, and experimenting with these on and off all week. They have not replaced my normal Medela parts but they do have their moments of usefulness. Cradling my baby is MUCH easier with the Freemies, in fact, it's nearly impossible with Medela bottles hanging down. I also don't mind pumping around other people as much since my shirt covers everything. On the flip side, you need a stretchy bra that you don't care about eventually stretching out. Non-stretchy bras probably won't accommodate a Freemie cup. If you don't want to stretch out a bra or buy a stretchy one I think the Simple Wishes Special Edition Hands Free Bra (the cheaper version with the tie-back) is a great choice as you can adjust the band by tying it looser or tighter, thus accommodating more or less space as needed. Note- I have a review of the Simple Wishes Bra vs the Medela Bustier, with tons of side by side pics, coming in the next day or so.
So, later impressions.
1) The branding on the cups isn't meant to stand up to washing, it seems. I use them 1-2x day and only steam sanitized before first use. I wash in Medela Breastmilk Dissolving Soap. I'm disappointed to see this happening, though it doesn't effect function obviously.
2) Pumpin Pals in the Freemie Cups. This is probably the question I have been asked the most. It makes me think I should do a side by side review of the Pumpin Pals vs the Medela Flanges because now I'll probably get more questions! For the sake of brevity I'll just say for now that Pumpin Pals fit and are angled differently, yet fit in your Medela connectors, for comfort, some say increased supply, and mimic baby's mouth action better. They have die-hard fans who won't (or can't, due to pain) use anything else.
So I stuck a Pumpin Pal in a Freemie Cup. First impression here- it sticks out a LOT. I think the ONLY way to accommodate this setup would be the Simple Wishes tie-back bra so you could leave enough room in the band to hold everything against you.
Second impression...wow! I turned my Medela Symphony on Let Down 5 as I normally do and didn't feel much. Bumped it up to Let Down 8 and it felt just like Let Down 5 normally! I got good suction and no leaks as the long part of the flange was deep enough inside the Freemie for the milk to collect as normal. Color me SHOCKED, I advised people not to get their hopes up, but I do think it's a possibly (but awkward) set up.
3) Milk collection. Freemie states "Freemie Collection Cups feature two 8-oz concealable collection cups (16-oz capacity total) for hands-free double pumping." (it's right under Add to Cart- http://www.freemie.com/freemie-collection-cups/medela/medela-25mm). I'm going to have to disagree with that one, Freemie.
This was harder to experiment but basically I measured out water and added it to the cups and then put them back on and tried to pump to evaluate suction as the valve gets covered. I'm happy to say that they did not leak where the two halves of the cup connect which is a worry I have (they connect like tupperware).
Now, look at your boobs and think about how the Freemie would be positioned. Mostly upright, correct? I held these against my boobs and then kept them steady as I moved them out and photographed the water level.
This is 4 ounces. At this point, suction stopped, and no more water would go down the valve, even with the pump on. This absolutely seems like the "overfill" line to me. I went back and checked to see if Freemie said "8oz total" and I misread. Nope. There is water in the tube where you nipple goes in this photo. It literally would not go down into the cup.
I could not fill them with 8 oz unless I lay them down flat, filled, snapped on the top, and lifted them upright, at which most of the extra ounces leaked out the collection hole. Seriously. How does Freemie say that these hold 8 ounces each?
I am considering one more experiment in the morning when I regularly pump 9 oz from one boob alone but I don't want to waste any breast milk, so we'll see if I am brave enough to try.