The Spectra S1 breast pump is a mid-priced pump with clever functionality built-in that makes it a reliable partner for your breastfeeding journey.
In this article, we will explain the terminology required for you to fully understand how your S1 breast pump works. We will then provide a detailed review of its features and functionality so that you can match this up with your needs.
We will also briefly discuss some alternatives in case you find that you and the S1 are not a match.
If you do not want to read the full Spectra S1 review we have summarized your buying decision into a few easy to digest points.
Buy the S1 breast pump if:
- You need to be able to pump anywhere, any time.
- You are looking for a mid-priced breast pump.
- You have strong enough arms to carry the main unit (the built-in rechargeable battery makes it slightly heavier than the S2 alternative).
Do not buy the S1 breast pump if:
- You always have access to an outlet (buy a cheaper pump with no battery).
- You are on a tight budget – there are cheaper options out there.
- You want a small breast pump unit.
Introduction to the Spectra S1
The Spectra S1 breast pump is a closed system, hospital-grade pump, with a built-in battery so you can pump anywhere you need to.
If you didn’t understand all of that terminology then read on. We will cover some of the basics and S1 facts before we jump into our comprehensive review.
What is a Closed System Breast Pump
A closed system pump is made with special backflow protection to prevent breast milk from entering the tubing and motor.
This protects the motor from damage and also prevents the build-up of moisture that can lead to bacteria growth – which can then end up in your pumped milk.
A closed system pump like the S1 will ensure your milk stays clean while reducing the hassle of cleaning those hard to reach places.
It is a massive time saver compared to open system pumps that require a lot more cleaning.
What Are Hospital Grade Pumps
This is an internal Spectra definition that is not supported by an external body like the FDA. However, the standards that are set are still meaningful and demonstrate a minimum standard of performance:
- Capable of initiating and supporting milk supply.
- Able to be used by multiple users safely and hygienically.
- Durable enough to be used by a mum expressing often (i.e. 8 x a day) and has a long motor life.
As you can see, this pump can stand up to heavy-duty use. This is important if you have multiple children and plan to pump for years. You will be pumping 6-8 times per day, and possibly more if you try power pumping to boost your breast milk production.
Always remember that if more than one person will be using the same pump it would be best to change up the parts used (see the spare parts section at the end of this article).
It is also worth noting that the S1 has a higher suction limit than most other pumps on the market. You have adjustable suction levels of course and are likely to find it more than adequate for your ideal pumping session.
- Spectra S1 – up to 320mmHg
- Medela PISA – up to 235mmHg
Your standard package includes the following items. There are additional parts you can buy separately but more on that later:
- Pump motor with built-in rechargeable battery
- 2x Breast Flange sets (24mm and 28mm) – to suit multiple breast sizes.
- 2x Backflow Protectors – ensures a hygienic closed system.
- 2x Wide Neck Bottles – for quick & easy refrigeration.
- 2x Sets of Tubing and duckbill valves
- 1x 12-Volt AC Power Adapter – gotta charge that battery somehow!
Note: you will have to buy a separate bag for your pump as one is not included. Check out our list of breast pump bags here for some good options.
How Does the Spectra S1 Work
Here we will cover all of the performance fundamentals for your Spectra S1.
There are 12 different levels of suction power with a maximum strength of 270mmHg.
Your Spectra pump will cycle through multiple pumping modes to simulate the natural progression of a feeding session. These cycle modes are:
- Massage mode – to trigger your body’s let-down reflex and establish milk flow.
- Expression mode – to simulate the long deep suction that mimics that of your baby feeding.
What we loved most about the Spectra S1 was the memory setting that allows you to save your ideal cycle speed settings.
Once you find what works for your body you can just press a button and your pumping session will take care of itself and deliver the same experience time and time again.
This feature is a huge time saver!
Other Built-In Features
- Auto timer – This will help you keep track of your sessions without needing to remember to set one or looking at the clock to track your time. You can still switch off manually when you have enough milk of course.
- LED Display – User-friendly panel that makes controlling your breast pump easy.
- Night light – This subtle blue glow will give you just enough light to do your thing without needing to turn on that super bright overhead light.
You will get up to three hours of pumping time with a fully charged battery. This should get you through 6-9 pumping sessions in a day between charges.
If you will be away from an outlet for even longer than that you can also purchase a 9V portable car adapter. Perhaps if you love camping… or something like that.
Spectra S1 Review
Now that we have covered all of the facts you could know about what your S1 offers, we now move on to our review of the product.
This is of course our opinion (which is why we wanted to give you the facts first!) and your needs may differ from ours.
Pump Motor Noise
A lot of breast pumps claim to be super quiet but you cannot avoid that low humming sound.
Jokes aside, the Spectra S1 is genuinely a quiet pump. The low-pitched hum is almost soothing to listen to despite the heavy-duty motor contained within.
While the rechargeable battery does help with portability, the overall size of this pump can make transporting it a bit tricky.
It is a bulky unit and not something you would slip into a handbag. However, if you have your pumping routine at work or around the house you could easily buy a good-sized breast pump bag and keep your kit in there.
If you want something smaller then alternatives like the Spectra S9 may be more suitable for you.
This is a double electric breast pump, which means you can pump both breasts at the same time (double pump). This is great for working moms who have to try and pump in small windows of time.
If you remember the custom settings, and the easy cleaning of a closed system pump you can quickly see that this is a good option for working moms.
You can also use it as a single pump if you need to correct lopsided milk production, or if your baby has fed on one side and you need to express your milk from the other. This is an essential step to maintain supply in both breasts.
Summary of Benefits
- Equipped with an inbuilt rechargeable battery
- Hospital-grade single or double pumping with a quiet motor
- Customizable settings with 2 phase cycling and adjustable suction strength
- Closed system with Spectra backflow protector keeps motor and tubing clean and dry
- Includes a timer to track pumping duration
- Easily replaceable pump parts
- Great for building up and maintaining milk supply
Summary of Limitations
- The duckbill valves and backflow protector will need replacing every few months.
- You get breast flanges in two sizes included but this may not fit everyone (larger and smaller sizes can be bought separately).
- The unit is bulky and heavier than some other Spectra models due to the battery.
- S1 is slightly more expensive than the similar S2 model.
Spectra S1 vs Other Breast Pumps
We have conducted detailed performance comparisons of the Spectra S1 breast pump against other high-performing breast pumps on the market.
The most popular models being:
We have completed a thorough performance comparison of the Spectra S1 vs the Spectra S2.
The main differences are that the S2 is cheaper, lighter, and has no battery. It is not a portable pump, but the performance levels are identical.
Medela Pump in Style
The Medela is a great pump and a completely different design to the S1. It is more of an all-in-one breast pumping kit.
It comes with a pumping unit built into a pumping bag that also contains a cooler pocket to store your pumped milk.
You get a full kit but it is also much more expensive than the Spectra. We prefer the Spectra so you can buy the extras that you want and customize your pumping kit a bit more.
We have also completed a similar performance comparison of the Medela vs the Spectra (the S2 version).
One of the best things about using a Spectra breast pump long-term is the availability of affordable spare parts. You can easily get the following items from the Spectra store page:
- Additional breast shield sizes available (20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 32mm)
- Tubing & duckbill valves
- Backflow protector
- Additional bottles
- Accessory kits with all of the above
Breast pumps are expensive to buy upfront and access to parts will ensure you get great value for money and years of use if you want it.
The bottle component is the easiest to interchange with non-Spectra bottle products. Your Spectra bottles might deteriorate over time and having the flexibility to substitute with other brands is helpful.
Popular brands that are most compatible with Spectra breast pumps are:
- Maymom wide-mouth collection bottles
- Avent natural and classic bottles
- Nene Supply breast milk bottles
- Kiinde breast milk storage pouch (pump directly to the storage pouch)
If you are going to be pumping breast milk long-term then the Spectra S1 breast pump is a reliable piece of equipment that comes with everything you need to get started after your first baby.
All for a reasonable price.
The easily interchangeable parts and compatibility with a range of bottle types ensure that you can get years out of your pump with minimal fuss.
But most of all, you can fully customize your cycle speeds, cycle length, suction level, and timing of the session with the auto shut-off feature. With all of this combined, it is a seamless pumping experience.