I have done the breast pump research for you, so let’s talk about getting you the best pump. And why I feel the Spectra S1 breast pump is the way to go.
Are you an expecting mama planning to breastfeed? Or maybe you have already been breastfeeding, and need to start planning to go back to work. Whatever your situation is, you may be trying to figure out the best breast pump to get. With a market super saturated in breast pumps- it can be difficult to decide what will be the best option for you.
I was in your shoes, mama.
Not incredibly long ago I was pregnant and trying figure out this whole breastfeeding and pumping thing. I began with zero experience and not a clue where to start.
Let me save you some time, and lots of frustration and help guide you through this process.
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What is best for you
First, it is important to decide what you need a breast pump for. Some mamas can stay at home with their little ones, and really don’t need to worry about saving up breast milk in the freezer. But most of us, will be needing to make a plan to breastfeed, pump, and save breast milk for when we go back to work.
My focus is primarily on the needs of the working mom and making the transition back to work as smooth as possible. But that is not to say these tips wouldn’t be just as useful for the moms that stay at home as well.
Things to consider when deciding on a breast pump:
Where will you be pumping?
Will you have access to an outlet? Will you have a lot of space to keep your breast pump? Do you need to have a compact way to carry everything?
How much time will you have to pump at work during the day?
Is efficiancy a high priortity for you? Do you need to ensure the greatest quality in the least amount of time?
We are all in a rush these days, I know. Being a working mom is like having two full time jobs. Adding in pumping to the mix, can be brutal. It is really important to have a high quality, efficient pump when working and pumping.
How much are you willing to spend on a breast pump?
Does your health insurance cover a breast pump?
Renting vs. buying a breast pump
Call your insurance company.
Many insurance companies cover the cost of a breast pump. For me, I just needed my OBGYN to write a prescription stating “one electric double breast pump”. And I took the prescription to my nearest medical supply store.
Call around to different medical supply stores and see what they have in stock, or if they can order you a specific pump. You see, I went to my nearest medical supply store and just took the only pump they carried. And although this was not the pump I had originally wanted, the lady told me “they are all the same”.
Not knowing any better, I took that pump home and struggled with it for the first month or so before realizing all pumps are really not the same.
Learn from my mistake here.
Renting vs. Buying
Another option when getting a breast pump is to rent one through your insurance. I honestly do not have experience with renting a pump so I cannot speak to the actual process.
The type of pump you use in the hospital are typically very expensive pumps. I’m talking over $1000. If this is the type of pump you are wanting, then renting may be a good choice for you. However, I honestly do not see why you would need to rent this expensive of a pump.
Why I chose to buy
I chose to buy a pump because I wanted my own to keep and not have to worry about logistics of getting it on time or returning it. When I found the Spectra S1 breast pump- I realized you can get hospital-grade quality at an affordable price. I bought my Spectra through Amazon, and at the time it was only $200 for the entire bundle (pump, tubing, bottles, 2 sets of flanges, power cord).
All of these questions are important things you should consider when deciding on a breast pump. The one that I found to meet all of my needs and exceed my expectations in quality is the Spectra S1 breast pump.
Spectra S1 Breast Pump: Full Guide and Review
Single or double pump capability
Back flow protectors
Built in night light
Ultra quiet motor
12 Adjustable suctions levels
Massage mode- mimics suckle of infant
Auto timer with display
Do I want a single or double pump?
If you have never done this whole breastfeeding and pumping thing before you may not really understand the difference between a single or double pump, or the benefits of either. Basically, it comes down to your preference. And the only way you will figure that out is when you start doing it.
The great thing about having the Spectra S1 breast pump is that it gives you the option to use either a single pump or a double pump.
Let’s say you just finished breastfeeding and your baby only fed from one side. You may just want to use a single pump to pump from the opposite breast. But if you are pumping when you are at work, you will want to get it done faster. This is when the double pump comes into play.
So, you can see the benefit of having the ability to have both!
What is a backflow protector?
The Spectra S1 is a closed-system. Even if you walk away from this article not convinced the Spectra is the best option for you- take this piece of advice with you when choosing a breast pump: you want a closed-system breast pump.
When you use a breast pump, it is a suction mechanism that withdraws the milk from the breast. With suction there is air. Where there is air, there can be an entry way for bacteria.
The difference with a closed-system is that there is a barrier from the milk you pump into the bottle and the tubing attached to your breast pump. When the pump does not have a closed-system that means milk can get into the tubing and create a build up of bacteria.
Tubing is not easy to clean. If you get milk into your tubing, you are better off to dispose of it than risk contaminating your future milk with bacteria.
The Spectra S1 back flow protector completely prevents milk from getting into the tubing.
This is one of the most important features of this breast pump!
If you are planning to need to pump at work, or really anywhere other than one stationary location in your home- then I would highly recommend the Spectra S1 breast pump for it’s rechargeable battery feature.
Having a pump that could go where I go without restraint of needing an outlet was a high priority for me when choosing a breast pump.
The battery life of the Spectra S1 is dependent upon how much you use the pump.
But to give you an idea when I was pumping in between feedings and 3 days a week at work- the battery would last me about 5 days on average before needing to be recharged. And even when I did need to recharge it, it only takes a couple of hours. (I never actually ran the battery completely out to the point where the pump would not turn on, so really the battery life could be a little longer than that too!)
The battery is built-in and the pump comes with it’s own power cord. It makes it super convenient and a must-have for pumping moms on the go.
Built in night light
Maintaining a strong milk supply will require you to pump during the night/early morning once your baby starts to sleep for longer stretches. Having the built in night light feature with the Spectra S1 breast pump is super convenient for these times.
You don’t have to worry about waking up your husband or baby by using any extra lights. Just keep your Spectra at your bedside and you will be good to go.
There are two brightness settings as well. I found the first setting (the dimmer one) to be all I needed for seeing what I was doing in the middle of the night.
Ultra Quiet Motor
Before I began pumping, I did not realize the importance of having a quiet pump. Until the first pump I got (a free one through my insurance, and I won’t even mention it) was super noisy. I don’t know how Spectra can maintain such a powerful pump with such a quiet motor, but they do.
This is again perfect for middle of the night pump sessions, or also if you are just relaxing watching TV. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a quiet pump.
Weight and Portability
The weight of this pump comparatively to similar quality pumps is average. The Medela pumps seem to weigh a little bit more, but the difference is only a matter of ounces.
In terms of portability, you can get this pump as a package with a bag that it fits into, but if you compare it to the portability of a Medela Pump in Style it is definitely a little less compact. This was not a factor that I was concerned with however, but depending on your needs it may be more important to you.
I used an extra diaper bag I had gotten as a gift to hold my Spectra and all the parts I needed. It was a perfect way to transport the pump, parts, and a cooler pack for the breast milk.
It has a sturdy handle to carry it by on top. And there is a built in spot to place your Spectra bottle on the back of the pump.
All in all, I think it has a sleek design and most bags you have can accommodate it for transport.
12 Adjustable Levels of Suction
You will need to find what setting works best for you. And stronger does not always mean better.
The Spectra S1 breast pump has 12 levels of suction, which make it easy for everyone to find a level suitable to them. Some women may be more sensitive and need only a small amount of suction, while others may find better yield using a higher level.
Personally, I kept the level of suction between four and six. Typically increasing the suction level later on in the pumping session as my sensitivity decreased.
I like how Spectra calls this “massage mode”. This is synonymous to what you may have come across being called, “let-down mode” in other pumps.
The Spectra S1 breast pump has a one-toggle button that allows you to switch into massage (let-down) mode or to expression mode. Massage mode is meant to mimic the rapid suction of your infant when they begin a nursing session to stimulate let-down of your milk. It is meant to be quicker with less suction.
Having the button for massage mode is super convenient. Take it from me, because the first pump I had did not have this capability, and it was such a pain to try to go from a let down mode to expression.
Auto Timer with Display
Another great feature of the Spectra S1 breast pump is the digital display and auto timer. The pump is programmed to shut off automatically after 30 minutes of pumping. It is not recommended to pump longer than that at any given time, that is why they programmed it this way.
Having the timer also allows you to know exactly how long you have been pumping for. Sure, you can always use your phone or other means to keep track, but this just gives you one less thing to worry about! I found this feature to be extremely useful when I returned to work and had to be on the clock (literally).
How to Use the Spectra S1 Breast Pump
When you first turn your pump on it will default to expression mode. This is the slower mode used after you have achieved let-down. So you will want to press the massage mode button after you first turn the pump on.
Massage mode only has one speed and you will see the word cycle. Cycle essentially means speed. It is how many suckles per minute the pump will do.
For massage mode the cycle is set to 70, and this cannot be changed. This is to mimic the rapid suckling of your baby when they would first begin nursing. The purpose is to stimulate let-down of breast milk.
You can adjust the vacuum strength in this mode to 5-levels. Keep in mind this is totally different than expression mode, where you get 12-levels of suction.
Also remember, more is not always better. Meaning, you don’t necessarily want or need the highest suction level. Find what works best for you starting on the lowest setting first and gradually working up to what gives you the best results.
Once you have achieved let-down, you will want to press the massage mode toggle button to switch back into expression mode. This mode is just as the name implies: used to express the milk from your breasts. It is a slower cycle, or speed.
You can choose from 5 cycles:
The cycles indicated are the number of suctions per minute the pump will produce.
What is the best cycle to use?
That depends. There is no one size fits all. Every mama is different, and every pumping session may be different too. You have to find what works best for you.
To give you an example, I just about always kept my pump on cycle 42. But I have talked to a lot of mamas who only like to use 38. Sometimes if I was pressed for time I would increase the cycle to 46 or 50, but it did not yield the best results when I did this.
Just play around with it, and you will learn which setting you like the best.
This is where you have 12 different options: levels 1-12 of suction strength. Keep in mind, that more suction is not always better. You may be tempted to crank it all the way to level 12 thinking you will be able to suck out all the milk, but think again. Our fragile milk makers do not work that way… unfortunately.
I would suggest you start out on a lower setting and slowly increase the suction strength if needed. Pumping should not be uncomfortable. So if it hurts, decrease the suction.
You may find that you start a pumping session on say level 3. But by the end of your pumping session your nipples are much less sensitive, and you may get more milk out by increasing the level throughout the duration of your session. Often times I would start on level 4 and end a pumping session on 6. I have noticed that if you are using the double pump function, the level of suction required tends to be a little higher.
Check out this video tutorial on YouTube:
So what am I trying to say here?
It’s easy for me to stand here and tell you all the great things I like about the Spectra S1 breast pump. But I know what you may be thinking because I once was right where you are, mama. Searching the internet. Reading a ton of reviews. Trying to figure out what would be the best breast pump to buy.
But why should you believe my opinion?
Well, I’m not here trying to sell you on the Spectra. My goal here is to show you what I believe to be the best breast pump for the money. I want to give you as much information as possible when it comes to choosing the right breast pump.
Before I knew any better, I believed the lady at the medical supply store who told me a pump is a pump. And I am here to tell you that having a good breast pump can make it or break it, in terms of your pumping goals.
I was literally moments away from giving up on breastfeeding and pumping before I got my Spectra, and that is not an exaggeration at all. When I got my Spectra S1 breast pump in the mail from Amazon, I got to work and turned everything around.
I went from pumping less than half an ounce at a time to building a breast milk freezer stash of over 700 ounces! My lack of freezer space was the only thing that kept me from saving more. I’m here to show you that whatever you have for breastfeeding goals- you can accomplish it!
So I hope this guide was insightful for you. And, like I said in the beginning, even if you don’t feel like the Spectra S1 breast pump is right for you after all,
Do remember the key points when buying your breast pump:
Where will you be pumping?
Check with your insurance, but don’t settle on a cheap pump believing they are all the same.
Have more questions? I am happy to help! Ask in the comments below, and I get back to you as soon as possible!