Spectra breast pump reviews: What’s the best Spectra pump for you?

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
January 6, 2022
spectra breast pump

Spectra is one of the world's most recommended brands of breast pumps, and with good reason. Their products highlight Natural Nursing Technology, a set of features designed to make pumping easier and more comfortable than ever before.

In this guide, we'll answer some common questions about their products, then briefly review five of Spectra's best breast pumps.

Spectra breast pump FAQs

How do I use the Spectra Breast Pump?

Press the 'on' button. To get it to massage, press the three-wave button. This will usually take anywhere from half a minute to several minutes to start working. Once your milk is ready to come out, press the three-wave button to put it back in expression mode (where it started) and adjust the suction strength to your preferred level. Don't be afraid to experiment a little with the settings.

How do I clean the Spectra breast pump, parts and tubing?

You can wipe the exterior of the pump with an antibacterial cloth. You don't need to wash the inside - it's a closed system and doesn't get dirty. You can also hand-wash the parts with warm soapy water.

How should I dry and store a Spectra breast pump and its parts?

The pump should be stored in a clean, sealed container to prevent dust and dirt from gathering on it. We also recommend cleaning it before use to ensure nothing gets into your milk. Parts should be air dried.

Can I boil Spectra breast pump parts?

There is no need to boil any of the parts.

Can I travel on planes with Spectra breast pumps?

Yes. Breast milk is treated like liquid medicine, so you can have more than three ounces of it. That said, you should separate the milk, pump, and bottles so you can declare them, and you may need to open some of the containers. You're not encouraged to bring more breast milk than necessary while flying.

Do I use the same bottles for manual and electric Spectra pumps?

It's best to use the bottles that come with each pump for that pump. This helps prevent confusion. Extra bottles are available if you need them.

What's the difference between Spectra's manual and electric pumps?

The manual pumps are simple devices and intended to help you pump at a moment's notice. The electric pumps - whether battery-powered or plugged into a wall socket - offer far more control over the pumping process. Most people feel that the electric pumps are fundamentally better products, but it never hurts to have a manual pump in case something goes wrong.

Can you change the breast shields?

Yes. You can buy more breast shields and change them out.

How much are Spectra Breast Pumps?

Prices range from very affordable for the manual pump to quite a bit more for the S1Plus, their most expensive model (all prices from their official site). That said, the cost is basically irrelevant for mothers. Most health insurance plans are required to cover the cost of breastfeeding machines, as well as support and counseling for the duration of breastfeeding.

Spectra recommends that you contact them directly if your plan doesn't cover the pumps, as they may be able to provide a fully covered model.

In other words, don't worry about the price - just get the model you think is best for your needs. You may need to be reimbursed by your insurance after buying it - check with them before you buy your pump.

Best Spectra Breast Pumps

Spectra has five product models, and we'll go over each of them below.

Spectra S1 Plus

  • Massage mode
  • Quiet motor
  • Back-flow protector
  • Night light

PROS

  • Best model Spectra offers
  • Emphasizes comfort while pumping
  • Comes with a rechargeable battery

CONS

  • The battery can run out
  • Heavier than most of their models

The Spectra S1 Plus is easily the best product in Spectra's lineup, offering the most features at a reasonable price. There are really only two concerns with this model. First, the battery only has about three hours on a charge (five or six pumping sessions). If you need to pump a lot in one day, that could be a problem. It's also a bit heavier than the other models.

Overall, however, the S1 Plus is one of the best products on the market - even its drawbacks are no more than quibbles at worst. If you're not sure which Spectra breast pump to get, go ahead and get this one.

Spectra S2 Plus

  • Adjustable suction levels
  • Automatic timer with display
  • Back-flow protector

PROS

  • No risk of the battery running out
  • Just as good as the S1 Plus otherwise
  • A little lighter

CONS

  • Requires a wall outlet

The Spectra S2 Plus is essentially the S1 Plus with one big difference: It plugs into the wall instead of using a battery. This is both a positive and a negative. On the bright side, it means there's never a worry about running out of power. On the other hand, that does mean you can only use it around a wall socket, which may be inconvenient at best.

The removal of the battery drops the weight to 2.5 pounds, though the S2 Plus is the same size as its companion. It's also a little cheaper, though as we mentioned above, that's not a problem if you have insurance. This is a good alternative for the S1 Plus, and while we think the portability is ultimately more useful, this is a perfectly viable alternative.

Spectra 9 Plus Portable

  • Lightest product Spectra offers
  • Quiet motor
  • Comfortable massage mode
  • Back-flow protector

PROS

  • Light and discreet
  • Designed for busy mothers
  • Incredible features for its size

CONS

  • Shorter motor warranty

The Spectra 9 Plus Portable is worthy of the name. Weighing just half a pound, this ultra-lightweight pump is easy to take anywhere you need to go. The only real drawback is that the pumping cups and bottles are bulky no matter what you do, so it's never quite as small and sleek as some people would like.

The other concern is that the motor is only under warranty for one year - but that's about how long most mothers breastfeed anyway. It's not likely to be a concern. Like the S1 Plus, this model can hold up to three hours on a single battery charge. Overall, it's not quite as good as the S1 Plus, but it's a viable alternative if you're busy and don't want to carry more than you have to.

Spectra Dew 350

  • Milk supply over a long period
  • For babies with latch difficulties
  • Easy controls

PROS

  • For babies that need extra pumping 
  • Requires minimal care and cleaning

CONS

  • No digital display
  • No massage mode

The Spectra Dew 350 is an outlier in Spectra's line. Unlike the other products, it doesn't have a digital display, a massage mode, or even an internal battery - and yet it's still the heaviest product they sell. The reason for this is that the Spectra Dew 350 is intended to help establish and maintain a milk supply for a longer period than the other pumps. This is especially important for preemies, who need extra nutrition.

As such, we do not recommend this model unless the situation warrants it.

Spectra Handy Manual Breast Pump

  • BPA-free
  • Suction up to 250mmHg
  • Lightweight and ergonomic
  • 1-year warranty

PROS

  • Simple, effective manual pump
  • Silicone massager and duckbill valve
  • Weighs just 0.2 pounds
  • Extremely affordable

CONS

  • No features like the electric pumps
  • Mostly just a backup

The Spectra Handy Manual Breast Pump​ is the only non-electric pump Spectra offers, and it's really not as good as their other products. In its favor, this pump is extremely lightweight and affordable.

However, the lack of a massage mode and a few issues with product quality mean this should be considered no more than a backup product.

Tips for choosing the best Spectra Breast Pump for you

The S1 Plus and the S2 Plus are the best products, with the decision falling to whether you want portability or reliability in your pump. Get one of those if you can. The Spectra 9 Plus Portable is only needed if you want the smallest and most discreet pump you can get, while the Dew 350 is for special, long-term pumping needs. The manual pump is handy as a backup, but shouldn't be treated as a primary pump.

Which Spectra Breast Pump is the best?

Overall, we feel that the S1 Plus is the best product if you are looking for portability.

Having a portable pump makes it easier to find a discreet area. That said, its charge only lasts for a few pumping sessions, so be sure you can plug it in on a regular basis.

If having a portable breast pump isn't a must-have, then the S2 Plus is just as capable as the S1 Plus without the portability since it plugs into a wall.

Public perception on Spectra

Spectra's products are generally well-received.

Positive comments on Spectra products include things like appreciation for how quiet they are and how the automatic timer runs for longer than some other pumps. One reviewer noted this was particularly valuable because they had twins and needed to pump more. The massage feature is quite popular among most reviewers.

Neutral and Negative comments (about 20% of reviewers) cited concerns with top-heavy bottles and having too many pieces. One reviewer also noted that the pump doesn't seem to be compatible with common-sized parts. It's worth noting that Spectra's pumps generally come with their own appropriately-sized bottles.

How it compares

Spectra compares well to other brands like Medela, Freemie, and Ameda. Some people noted that Medela's pumps were often able to get more milk in a single pumping section, which was more than a minor concern for them.

However, pretty much everyone agrees that Spectra's pumps are significantly quieter than Medela's, even allowing you to pick up the phone and talk to others while you're pumping. This is helpful for mothers who need to pump at work.

Other Spectra products to buy

Breast pumps are Spectra's main line of products, but they do offer some accessories that are worth considering.

Spectra Wide Neck Bottles

Spectra's pumps don't quite fit many common bottles - and to solve that, they offer a line of wide neck bottles. These are BPA-Free and suitable for both the fridge and the freezer. However - and this is important - Spectra does not sell nipples for the cups. Each wide neck bottle holds up to 160mL, and we recommend getting at least one set.

Spectra Cooler With Ice Pack And Two Bottles

This helpful, pink-hued cooler is ideal for carrying breast milk around if you don't want to pump outside the home. The cooler comes with two bottles but can store and chill up to six of them (and that's enough for most trips). This is ideal if you're on the move and can't stop to pump, but isn't necessary for all mothers.

Spectra Breastshield Set

Spectra recommends replacing each breast pump's parts every 3-6 months - this is important for both performance and hygiene. The Spectra Breastshield Set is compatible with the S1, S2, 9 Plus, and M1 models, and includes a wide neck flange (variable size), a backflow protector, a duckbill valve, and a two. If you're double pumping, you'll need two sets.

Final review on Spectra Breast Pumps

Overall, most of Spectra's pumps are quiet, effective, and comfortable - exactly what you should be looking for in a set of breast pumps. I recommend the S1 Plus or the S2 Plus above the rest of their product line (based on how portable you want the pump to be) - these have the full set of features that sets Spectra apart from the competition.

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