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Are you looking for more information on how to use Spectra S1 breast pump?
Or perhaps, you already have Spectra, but still unable to use it comfortably.
Don’t worry, you are not alone.
I’ve seen some moms use Spectra using the wrong setting, oops…, and that’s partially why they are unable to get milk as they are supposed to get.
So, shall we learn how to use Spectra breast pump now?
In this article, I’ll discuss in great details how you should pump with your Spectra to maximize your pumping output.
Read on.This article is part of Spectra breast pump series. Click here to check other Spectra posts:
- Spectra S1 Breast Pump Review | The Detailed Pros and Cons
- How to Use Spectra S1 breast pump | The Beginner’s Guide
- Spectra S1 vs Spectra S2 | What’s The Difference?
- Spectra Breast Pump Parts & Accessories | Which one is Compatible?
- Which Breast Pump Bags Can Fit Spectra S1? Check out the top 5
- Spectra M1 Breast Pump Review (most affordable Spectra model)
- Spectra 9+ Breast Pump Review (most portable and sleek Spectra model)
- Spectra S2 vs Spectra 9+ | Which One Should You Choose?
- Spectra S1 vs Super Genie Breast Pump | Two Popular Hospital Grade Pumps In Comparison
- Spectra S1 vs Motif Luna | Which One Is Better?
HOW TO PUMP | PAY ATTENTION TO THIS
The 3 tips below are not exclusive for Spectra S1 / S2 breast pump. Whatever breast pump brand you use, please check on these things.
1. Make sure you are using correct breast shield size
In case you are wondering what is this, it’s the inner size of the ‘cone’ that you put on your breast). Not only the good-fit allows you to pump comfortably (no pain while pumping), but it also enables you to express the most of your milk.
Original Spectra breast pump comes with 24-mm breast shield. Other than that, Spectra also has 20, 24, 28, and 32 mm breast shield size available (with separate purchase).
If you need bigger or smaller size, I recommend you to take a look at Maymom breast shield set (they sell compatible accessories that can be used with Spectra).
>> Check out my breast shield sizing guide here if you still need help <<
2. Check if your duck-bill valve is in good quality. Or if you are using the newer blue valve – white membrane set, make sure there’s no tear and the membrane covers the valve securely (no misalignment).
3. Make sure the connection to the tubing, back-flow protector, and breast shield is secure and tight. Loose connection can affect the suction quality.
To learn more about how to pump breast milk effectively, don’t forget to check my PUMPING 101 series. There are more than 10 articles discussing about pumping in details.
HOW TO USE SPECTRA S1 BREAST PUMP
I created a video version of this guide, to give you a better clarity how this breast pump works (especially regarding switching between let-down / expression mode). Feel free to read the text below for some extra tips.
Now let’s move on to how to operate Spectra S1 breast pump.
Here is a simple guide on what those buttons on the pump for.
(1) How to assemble Spectra S1 breast pump parts
Spectra S1 breast pump parts consists of the following:
- breast shield
- valve (you can use duck-bill valve or combination of white valve and membrane)
- collection bottle
- back flow protector (this is the important part that will keep your Spectra S1 as closed system and thus prevent moisture to enter the pump motor)
- pump motor
How to assemble:
- Attach the valve onto the breast shield
- Screw the breast shield onto the collection bottle
- Attach the back flow protector to the back part of the breast shield
- Connect one end of the tubing to the back flow protector and the other end to the breast pump motor
(2) Turning on the breast pump
Press the power button to turn on / off your breast pump.
Now you need to know that Spectra always turns on in expression mode, unlike Medela which automatically turns on with let-down mode.
That means, as soon as you turn on the pump, you need to press another button, let-down button.
PS: A lot of moms have mistaken that the moment Spectra turns on, it’s already in let-down mode. Some of them were frustrated how come they can only adjust the vacuum strength up to 5 in expression mode. Turns out, they got it all wrong. One lady in Reddit was not even aware about this for months. So take note, ladies ;).
(3) Switching to let-down mode / massage mode
The let-down button (sometimes also referred as massage button) is indicated as the three-wave button right above the power button. This button allows you to toggle between let-down mode and expression mode.
How do you know you are in which state, let-down or expression mode?
(a)Take a look at the LED display.
When you are in let-down mode, there will be a three-wave (some people refer it as ‘bacon’) icon displayed in the top-left corner of the screen.
In expression mode, this icon will not be displayed (see the picture below).
(b) In let-down mode, you cannot change the cycle speed, it is fixed at 70 cycles per minute. Additionally, you can only adjust the suction strength between 1 to 5. On the other hand, during expression mode, you can adjust the cycle speed and suction strength independently.
Yes, unlike other typical breast pump model, Spectra S1 and Spectra S2 allows you to adjust the vacuum / suction strength and suction speed setting independently.
In other breast pump brand, the higher the vacuum level, the speed will automatically be slower (lower cycle speed).
But in Spectra S1/S2, you can adjust it based on your personal preference.
This is such a great feature, because not all women benefit from slow speed / high vacuum setting. Some reference even mentions that higher pump speed make help you pump more milk at a more efficient pace.
(4) Here are the suction strength and cycle speed options available in Spectra S1
- Cycle speed: 70
- Suction strength: 1-5
- Cycle speed: 38. 42, 46, 50, 54 (this number simply means how many times suction is applied to your breast within one minute. E.g. 38 means in one minute the breast pump will apply suction to your breast 38 times.
- Suction strength: 1-12
(5) Adjusting the let-down mode
What’s the purpose of let-down mode? It’s to encourage let-down reflex. If you don’t know what let-down is, read this article.
So, if your milk does not spray right away once you turn on the breast pump, it’s totally normal. Relax. That’s why we use let-down mode to stimulate milk release from the breast.
Once you turn on the breast pump and switch to let-down mode, you can adjust the massage setting.
There’s 5 levels you can choose from, cycle speed is kept at 70 cycles / minutes. If you are beginner pumper, start with level 2 or 3. If you need stronger suction, increase to 4 or 5 (use the +/- button on the right). Remember, you should not feel any pain. If there’s any pain, that means your suction strength is too high.
Stay in let-down mode until you see milk spraying from your breast. If you are having trouble getting let-down, try some tips to stimulate let-down faster in this article. I personally combine a few tips to get my let-down faster.
PS: I found another hospital-grade breast pump that’s very effective in stimulating my let-down faster. You can check my review here.
(6) Adjusting the expression mode
You can switch to expression mode once you see your milk starts flowing.
If you are not sure what setting to use, start with 54 cycles, suction level 5.
You can increase / decrease suction if you feel you need to. Again, remember that you don’t need to use the highest suction to get max milk. Use the level that’s most comfortable for you. There’s no right and wrong here. It’s all about personal preference.
Watch how your milk sprays to determine if you need a faster or slower cycle speed. Normally, the higher your suction level, you’ll use a slower cycle speed.
However, if your milk stops spraying before the suction stops, you may benefit from increasing the cycle speed. On the other hand, if your milk still sprays a lot at the end of one suction cycle, consider lowering the cycle speed.
You can stay at the same level through out expression mode, and once your milk run dry (not dripping anymore), switch to massage-mode again to get another let-down. Repeat.
RELATED: 10 Proven Tips To Pump Breast Milk Faster
(7) Some variations how to use the breast pump throughout your pumping session:
(a) If expression mode feels too strong/painful for you (no matter which suction level you are at), you can always stay in let-down mode.
(b) Some moms gradually increase the suction and lower the speed throughout the expression period. Say, you start with 54/5, then goes all the way up to 38/11. That’s entirely up to you, you can experiment on these things. The most important thing is: pumping should not be painful and your breast gets emptied properly.
Legendairy Milk shared the following setting in their IG account (if you are a beginner pumper, you may try if these settings suit you:
- 70 cycle – low suction until let down starts
- 54 cycle – medium suction for 15-20 mins (return to previous step if milk flow slows down)
- 38 cycle – high suction for 3-4 minutes or until milk stops
(c) To pump faster: massage your breast to encourage milk flow, slightly reposition the breast shield to focus on different areas of areola. Don’t press too hard ya.. always be gentle to your breast while doing this. Invest in a good hands-free pumping bra so that your hands are free to do all these things. Click here for more proven tips to pump breast milk faster.
If your hand is aching doing breast massage, consider purchasing a tool such as Lavie Lactation Massager to encourage better milk flow. You can read my detailed review about Lavie massager here.
(d) Follow up with hand-expression / manual pumping to remove milk that can’t be removed with breast pump. Do this once your milk stops spraying and before you attempt to get another let-down.
From my experience, Spectra is very efficient in removing milk, but if you are like me, not wanting to waste any single drop, practicing hand-expression / manual pumping will still get you some extra milk (5-15 ml), not bad for some extra milk.
(e) If you need to boost milk supply, once you finish with your pumping routine, let your breast pump run for another 2-5 minutes. You won’t see milk spraying, that’s fine, but you are telling your breast that you need more milk and this extra stimulation will tremendously help. Also, you can try doing power pumping to increase your milk supply.
Need more examples for your Spectra S1 setting? Get this cheatsheet.
RELATED: Looking for more resources about pumping at work? I’ve created a PUMPING AT WORK series (total 10 articles!) solely for discussing every bit of pumping tricks and tips for working moms. Click here to check it out!
(8) Do I need a different Spectra pump setting for newborn stage?
Since you are just starting out to pump, you may want to start from lower suction setting to find the most comfortable setting for you. Your nipple may still be sensitive so always remember to increase the level slowly. Remember highest is not the best. If switching to expression mode is too painful, stay in let-down mode. This method works for some mamas with sensitive nipples.
RELATED:7 Ways to Increase Milk Supply While Pumping
(9) Switching to single pumping
Spectra S1 / S2 can be used for both single pumping and double pumping. To switch from double to single pumping, you just need to unplug one of the tubings and cover the plug with the white plastic cap.
(10) Using the night light
Spectra S1 / S2 comes with a night light, which is very handy for moms who regularly pump at night / wee hours.
The night light button is located in the right-most part of the panel (just beside the vacuum level control) and you just need to press the button a few times to choose which brightness level you’d like to use.
I hope this little guide helps you to understand how to use Spectra S1 or S2 breast pump and get the most milk from your breast.
Note that if you are just starting to use Spectra, allow yourself to get accustomed to Spectra setting for a few days – a week. Don’t get easily frustrated when you don’t get the amount of milk that you want. Keep experimenting and keep learning =).
>> Ready to use Spectra S1? Click here to get Spectra S1 from Amazon
PS:If you need more pumping resources, I’ve created Pumping 101 Series for Beginners. Click here to check out all the articles.
Just wanted to thank you for these tips. As a new Mom I just switched to the S1 and found all the settings confusing! Thanks for making it more clear for me!
Agree! First off, this is a well written article. I like it ❤️. S1 helps me alot. I used my Spectra S1 up to 10 times per day for the first 10 weeks after bb was born. I pumped more milk with this pump than any other pump I have used. I am on Domperidone since my baby was 2 months old. So happy ?
It’s great that Spectra S1 is working well for you =)
Thank you SO much for this article!! I thought I was doing ok with my Spectra because I was getting 4-5 oz every time but I had no idea how all the settings worked. I am going to try changing things up next time and see if I can get more milk. 🙂
Hopefully, you will be able to get more milk after experimenting with the setting =)
Wow thanks for this article. You should make the manual for the company. This was so informative.
Glad you found it useful, Sheila. The original manual of Spectra is so brief, so I guess a lot of moms get confused how to properly use the Spectra S1 breast pump
I am still struggling to get a let down with my spectra. I have tried three different size flanges, all the settings, different times of day and I still struggle to trigger a let down. I only get drops when I pump :/
Have you tried some of these tips? I personally combine several tips: hook one flange to one breast, do manual nipple stim at the other side, and watch baby’s video. That helps to get let down faster.
Did you figure out the let down issue?
I just switched to the Spectra and I’m having the exact issue. I used to get 2 let downs and now just drips…
Chelsea Mansfield says
I used a Hygeia pump before ?? and was not impressed. I was told by a friend who works as a breastfeeding advocate for our local WIC office (and also nurses 2 kiddos herself) that the spectra was the best pump she has used. I only JUST used it for the first time today and was a little overwhelmed by all the options! So glad to have come across this informative post! Thank you for laying it out so nicely and for all of the tips! Can’t wait to try it next time to see if it helps. ?
Yayy.. all the best pumping with Spectra.