Are you thinking about buying a Spectra pump? Had a Medela and want to know how it compares? Just looking for your first pump? I wrote this review of the Spectra S2 pump so I could answer all the questions I think are important, but if you have more just let me know. I also posted a video review here: Spectra S2 Pump video review but I’m going to break it down for you below.
First, a little background. I’m using this as my primary pump with my third child. I work full-time so I use this 5 days a week. I’ve been back to work for two and a half months. At the time of writing, my baby is almost 6 months old. I have no supply issues and have never had any issues with pumping. Except that I don’t really love to do it so I pretty much only do it at work. With my first two children I used Medela Pump in Style (PISA) pumps.
Best thing about the Spectra?
Spoiler alert, the best thing about it is that it’s gentle. Their tagline is awesome, “Our pumps don’t suck, they suckle.” Of course it’s not the same as actually feeding your baby (assuming everything is going well and you’re not in pain), but it’s so much gentler than the Medela pumps I’ve used in the past.
Can I pump enough with the Spectra?
This is probably your biggest concern if you’ve used a Medela. Can I pump as much with the Spectra as I did with the Medela? You guys, how can I answer that? Seriously, I don’t know anything about anyone else’s supply or what is going on with you and your baby. For me the answer is yes. I know there are a lot of variables and everyone is different, so I can’t say for certain the answer will be the same for you. In general, I think the answer is yes.
Spectra says their pump is hospital grade, which I’m sure means something, I just don’t know exactly what. I can tell you that the vacuum goes to 12 on expression mode, and I currently use it on a 6 though I could probably go lower. I think it’s got plenty of power. I usually used my Medela on slightly less than 1/2 power.
If you switch to the Spectra from another pump, it may take some time for your body to adjust. Spectra says on their website that you may see decreased supply for 1-2 weeks, which is normal while your body adjusts. Did I experience this? I’m not sure. I did experience what I thought was some decrease when I switched to the Spectra from the Medela.
I don’t know if it was adjusting to the pump or if it was just that the baby was waking up more during the night those first couple weeks after I switched to the Spectra. Either way, I felt like I didn’t pump quite as much those first couple weeks, but we’re talking an ounce less per day (the whole workday), and it wasn’t enough to cause any issues. I will say that I am now pumping the same amount with my Spectra as I was with the Medela. I’m just talking about this with this baby because I started out using the Medela and switched, I don’t know what I pumped with my other babies.
My favorite things about the Spectra:
- It’s gentle. Did I mention this already? Let me say it again, it’s gentle.
- It’s really quiet.
- It has a timer so you know how long you’ve been pumping. I know, I know, how genius is that?
- Overall design. I just love the design of all of it, from the pump itself to the tubes, flanges and bottle caps.
- The pump remembers your settings, both in let-down mode and expression mode.
- The flange is one piece and the valve is one piece, so you only have two (okay 4) pump pieces to wash. (Sorry, the valve is not actually in this picture.)
- It’s a closed system – this means no condensation gets in the tubes and when you’re done pumping you just turn it off.
- It has a night-light in the handle. The light shines down so it doesn’t wake anyone else up, and it has two brightness settings.
A note about price. I got it for free through insurance. I was under the impression you could save a lot of money by buying a Spectra vs. another pump. This doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. When I looked on Amazon recently, it looked like there was only about a $25 price difference.
Some things to consider:
- Do you need your pump to be portable? Ie do you have to be able to use it without plugging it in? If so, the S2 is not for you. The S2 can only be used with a wall outlet but the S1 has a rechargeable battery.
- Do you want your pump to come in it’s own bag? This pump does not come in/with a bag. I have a cooler bag that I use with it.
- Do you plan to use Spectra bottles to feed your baby? Your baby doesn’t care. I mean, your baby may make their own decision about which or if he/she will take bottles. That’s not where I was going with this though. You may want to think about it because of the availability (or lack thereof) of nipples may be an issue for you. Spectra does not sell nipples*, though they are available on Amazon. However, I couldn’t find any with different flow. If you’re looking for a medium or fast flow nipple, it might be a challenge. But, you can use any bottle to feed your baby and it shouldn’t make too much difference to your pumping.
- Do you use wide mouth bottles? If so, you will need to buy the converter. Just another expense to think about.
- Will you be annoyed about the pump always starting in expression mode? I don’t have a problem with it. It just takes two button pushes to turn it on and put it into the right mode.
*I contacted Spectra and asked about the nipple situation. They told me their nipples are slow flow and the reason they don’t sell them is because, according to the World Health Organization, marketing and selling nipples discourages breastfeeding. I have a lot of respect for Spectra USA for complying with this code to the detriment of their own product accessory sales.
Also, I googled this a little bit and this is what I found. The WHO published the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. The code prohibits any marketing of breastmilk substitutes, which include bottles and bottle nipples. Basically the WHO has determined that marketing efforts for breastmilk substitutes are causing breastfeeding rates to go down, which is having a direct negative impact on babies’ health (especially in certain areas/countries where babies are getting diseases they wouldn’t get had they been breastfed).
I think this is a really great pump. The first time I used it, I couldn’t believe it how gentle it was.
Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional, I have no special knowledge about pumping to maintain or increase your supply or how much one “should” be pumping. I’m just a mom that pumps when she works. I have no affiliation with Spectra or Medela, but wanted to bring you my opinion of this pump and give you information I think will be helpful to you in considering which breastpump to acquire.
If you want to see the pump and get a look at how it all works, here’s the video review again:
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