It can be tough to choose a breast pump when you’ve never used one before, so it really helps to get input directly from other moms — and that’s why we’re bringing you this Spectra review, courtesy of CorporetteMoms reader Emily. We’re so glad she volunteered to share her experience with other readers!
Features of the Spectra S1 Breast Pump include:
- Hospital performance
- Adjustable suction and cycling in letdown and expression mode
- Includes rechargeable battery, timer, and nightlight
- Only weighs 4 lbs.
The Spectra S1 pump is available at Amazon ($189.99). This post contains affiliate links and CorporetteMoms may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!
When we shared Reader R’s review of the Medela Sonata recently, Emily decided to contribute her own pump review and emailed us to say:
I wanted to offer to write a review of the Spectra S1 breast pump I just ordered, because so many readers seemed to enjoy the recent review of the Medela Symphony. (I know I did.) I just ordered the pump, paid out of my own pocket, because I wasn’t happy with my current pump. … I turn to crowd sourcing (including CorporetteMoms) when I need a new product, and wanted to pay it back.
Thank you so much, Emily, for sharing your Spectra S1 breast pump review!
Emily’s Spectra Review
Short and sweet: This pump promises a Hilton on the moon and delivers. Portable, very quiet, comfortable, and reasonably priced. I doubled the amount of milk I pumped in one week of use. If you want to know more, here’s the full story:
I returned to work when my daughter was 12 weeks old. (She’s now 15 weeks.) She needs 16 ounces a day, plus a little extra to send to daycare. So, call it 18 ounces a day. I planned to pump 4 times a day to replace the 4 feedings I would miss.
I chose the trusty Medela Pump In Style Advanced (PISA) through my insurance plan, because it was what I used with daughter #1 — I already had all the spare parts and accessories, and it worked marginally well enough. I returned to work on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and worked Monday, Tuesday, and a half day Wednesday. Didn’t pump enough to meet her needs, but figured it was early days.
Then the first full week of work — uh-oh. By the end of the day, I had pumped enough for 1.5 bottles. Awesome. Day 2 was a little better: 2 bottles. Day 3: 2 bottles. And this was my pumping routine: Drink a cup of Mothers’ Milk tea, apply warm TheraPearls to encourage letdown, look at pictures of my daughter, listen to the playlist I played in the hospital with her, massage while pumping, hand-express after pumping. What else could I do?! By day 4, I added “use a hand pump” at the end of feeding, because I was getting more from the hand pump than the PISA. I spoke with a lactation consultant, who advised trying bigger flanges and continued massaging and expression. (I also submitted a question through the Medela website, and got a quick but generic response from a nurse/lactation consultant.) None of these suggestions helped.
Desperate, I searched Amazon and found the Spectra S1 pump. With a little prayer, I paid $164.99 with Prime 2-day shipping. It has 882 reviews, 75% of which are 5-star — they had me at “I pumped 8 ounces today!” I obsessively checked the shipping status. I really hung my hopes on this pump; otherwise, I was going to decimate my frozen milk supply and probably supplement with formula soon.
As of today, I’ve been using the S1 for a week and a half and I LOVE IT. It’s comfortable, quiet, weirdly aesthetically pleasing, and best of all, I’m pumping enough milk to meet demand. My favorite part is the ability to choose both the cycle and suction. (Cycle seems to be the number of times it suckles per minute, versus suction strength. If I have to complain about the pump, it’s the lack of instructions on what “cycle” means and how changing the cycle will affect your expression.) The S1 has a rechargeable battery, so it’s portable; the battery on its initial charge lasted 24 pumping sessions of 20–25 minutes each. (No more battery pack that dies after you use it once! No more car adapter!)
There was a learning curve with the pump; I had to read the backflow assembly instructions a few times. It also took a few sessions of changing the cycle and suction strength to find what worked best for me. The pump remembers your settings for next time, or you can change settings while pumping.
The downsides to the pump? The flanges are wide mouth, so you’ll need to pick up adapters if you use narrow neck bottles. Spare parts/accessories are a bit more expensive than their Medela counterparts (both Spectra brand or generic, like Nenesupply and Maymom) and you can’t just run to Target and pick up a spare set if you accidentally leave them at home/work. Finally (and this is a small consideration), because of its round, ‘60’s mod shape, it’s awkward in my pumping tote bag (a medium canvas tote from Lands’ End, because I’m super stylish like that.)
Bottom line: If you’re in the market for a pump, try the Spectra. It’s reasonably priced if you’re paying out of pocket, and looks like it’s available through health insurance plans. (As I said, I paid out of pocket, but on the Spectra website, they promise they’ll work with your insurance plan if it’s not offered.)
Which pump do (or did) you use, or which ones are you considering? What will your insurance cover, and how much is that a factor in your decision? If you’ve tried the Spectra (S1, S2, etc.), what was your experience with it, and would you recommend it to other moms? (And again, huge thanks to reader Emily for this excellent review!)
Psst: For more information on pumping breast milk, check out our post, Tips for Pumping at the Office: A Working Mom’s Primer, where we’ve gathered all of our best advice and resources on pumping at work, including Pumping at Work 101, How to Pump When You’re Traveling for Work, Breastfeeding and Type A Women, Where to Pump When You Need to Pump in Public Places, The Best Clothes for Pumping: A Poll, and How to Pump in a Different Office (on Corporette) — and more (including some of the best advice from readers). We’ve also got advice about nursing clothes for working moms.