Did you just get an S1 or S2? Or are you looking to purchase and doing some research? Here’s everything you need to know about how to use a Spectra S1/S2 breast pump, including assembling pump parts, what settings to use, and general tips and tricks.
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The Spectra S1 and S2 are both great breast pumps! Here’s everything you need to know about how to use them.
(If you don’t have your Spectra yet, you may be able to get it free through insurance super easily here, or you can buy it from amazon.)
What are each of the breast pump parts, what do they do, and how do you put them together?
The Spectra S1 and S2 pump parts consist of:
- Flanges – This is the part that is placed on your breast. (They are also called breast shields or horns.) Spectra pumps come standard with 24mm and 28mm flanges. If pumping is painful for you, you may need a different size. 20mm and 32mm breast shields are available on the Spectra Baby website, or other sizes are available on amazon from brands like Nenesupply and Maymom.
- Duckbill Valves – Valves create the suction that pulls milk from your breasts by stretching and releasing each time the pump motor pulls at them.
- Backflow Protectors – This silicone diaphragm prevents milk from flowing back into the tubing.
- Tubing – Your breast pump parts are connected to the pump motor via tubing.
- Bottles – As you pump, your breast milk will flow into the attached bottles. The majority of wide mouth baby bottles fit Spectra flanges. Some Spectra users prefer to pump into Avent bottles.
To assemble all your pump parts, first attach the duckbill valves to the underside of the flange, and then screw the bottles onto the flanges.
Then, put together the backflow protectors by inserting the diaphragm into the base, then putting the top into the base and giving it a twist to secure it. Attach the backflow protector into the top of the breast shield using a twisting motion.
Then, attach one end of the tubing to the backflow protector and the other to the pump.
To double pump, use both tubes and ports on the pump. To single pump, place the port cap on the port not being used.
How do you use the Spectra S1 and S2?
On the front of the pump, you’ll see the following buttons and controls, along with a digital screen:
- Power button: Turns the pump on and off
- Cycle Buttons (+/-): These increase/decrease the cycle speed. Cycle speed refers to how many times the pump sucks and releases per minute.
- Vacuum Buttons (+/-): These increase/decrease the vacuum strength. Vacuum level refers to the suction strength, or how strongly the pump will suck.
- Massage/Expression Button: Switches between massage and expression mode. (Some people affectionately refer to massage mode as “bacon mode” due to the three wavy lines resembling bacon.) Massage mode mimics the quick gentle suckling of a baby to initiate a letdown. Expression mode mimics slow, deep suckling once milk flow has begun.
- Night light: Turns light on and off (2 levels)
It is important to note that S1s and S2s start in expression mode.
Many prefer to turn on the pump first (to avoid that initial shocking jolt of a pump going full force), press the wavy line or “bacon” button to start the massage mode, and then attach the flange to their breast.
It is generally recommended to start in Massage Mode on Cycle 70 / Vacuum 1 and slowly increase the vacuum until you have reached a letdown and the milk has started flowing (you may feel a pins and needle sensation or see the milk start to spray).
Once this happens, switch to Expression Mode starting on Cycle 54 / Vacuum 4 or 5 (or whatever level you were using in Massage Mode). Slowly decrease your cycle speed while increasing the vacuum level.
Start off low and slow. Slowly increase the suction level until you are comfortable. Never pump with the suction so high that it causes pain and/or damage.
You may want to switch back and forth between Massage and Expression mode, especially if you find that your milk flow has slowed down.
How do you take care of/maintain the Spectra S1 and S2?
Sterilizing and cleaning
All pump parts (excluding the tubing) should be sterilized before first use.
Spectra recommends that all parts (again, excluding tubing) be washed after each use in hot soapy water. They warn against over sterilization as it can cause warping and damage to equipment.
You can safely wash bottles, flanges, and outer plastic pieces of the backflow protectors on the top shelf of the dishwasher. Never place the tubing in the dishwasher.
Never submerge your pump in water. If it gets dirty, use a damp rag to wipe it clean.
How often to replace your pump parts
Pump parts don’t last forever; over time, the level of suction from your pump may be reduced as they wear out. They can get stretched and torn, and residue can build up on them.
This is especially true for exclusive pumpers because our pumps endure a lot of use. It is recommended to replace your pump parts using the following time frames:
- Flanges: Every 6 months.
- Duckbill Valve: Once a month if you pump 3 or more times per day; every 2-3 months if you pump less than 3 times a day.
- Backflow Protectors: Every 3 months if you pump 3 or more times a day; every 6 months if you pump less than 3 times a day.
- Tubing: If the tubing gets moisture on the inside.
What if your Spectra S1 or S2 stops working?
If your Spectra is not working properly, first try some simple troubleshooting:
- Check that the battery is charged or that the pump is plugged in, and that the power cord is not damaged.
- Next, check to make sure that the diaphragms inside the backflow protectors are dry and properly installed.
- Confirm that the duckbill valves are not torn or worn out.
If this does not help, you should contact Spectra Baby customer service.
Spectra pumps come with a 2-year warranty. Many moms in our Facebook group report that they are friendly, helpful, and quick with responding. It is often recommended to reach out to them via FB messenger.
Making your S1 or S2 mobile
If you’re exclusively pumping, or pumping frequently, being able to pump in public or move around and get things done while you pump is crucial.
Here are some things that can help.
Spectra Cara Cups are collection cups that go in your bra and allow you to pump hands-free without pump parts and bottles hanging off of your chest. Legendairy Milk and Freemie also make collection cups.
Idaho Jones makes a pump belt that you can use to “wear” your Spectra and be more mobile. (It’s basically a fanny pack that’s designed to hold your pump.)
You can check it out here and use the code EPUMP10 for 10% off!
If you have a Spectra S2, as noted above, a battery pack like the TalentCell can help you not be tied to an outlet.
Five extra tips for using the Spectra S1 and S2
Here are a few extra tips for using these breast pumps.
- Spectra tubing is notorious for slipping off the pump port and flange. Many people also do not like the outside texture of the tubing. It tends to collect lint and stick to any fabric it touches. A tip to stop the tubing from slipping is to cut an inch off of the end. Some opt to replace the tubing with Nenesupply or Maymom brand tubing, Medela tubing (you just have to cut off the yellow connectors), and even cheap aquarium tubing.
- Some pumpers prefer to use other pump parts instead of what comes standard with a Spectra S1 or S2 for a variety of reasons. Here is how to hack your Spectra to use Medela pump parts.
- Occasionally Spectra brand milk collection bottles have been known to come off while pumping. Make sure they are screwed on tight before you start so you do not lose any of that precious liquid gold. Additionally, you may want to use an alternative wide mouth baby bottle, like Avent Naturals.
- There is a method to check the total number of hours you’ve pumped on your Spectra (though it’s not officially endorsed by Spectra Baby USA). Here’s how to do it.
- If your duckbill valve is constantly slipping off while pumping, it is a good sign that it needs replacing.
S1 vs S2: What is the difference?
A question that is frequently asked in our FB group is: what is the big difference between the S1 and S2?
As far as pumping functionality, both pumps are the same. The big difference comes down to the S1 having a built in battery that lasts around 3 hours.
This makes the S1 more portable and a little pricier. The battery also makes this pump slightly heavier. However, many people also buy an external battery pack and power up their S2’s while on the go.
(More on the differences between the pumps here.)
That’s everything you need to know about how to use a Spectra S1 and S2! Do you have any questions that I didn’t answer? Leave them in the comments below!