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Spectra Pump Settings: Pro Tips For The Most Milk

Spectra Pump Settings: Pro Tips For The Most Milk
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Are you confused about the best Spectra pump settings? If you just got your Spectra S1, Spectra S2 or Spectra Synergy the pump can be a little intimidating. You can use this cheat sheet for the Spectra settings to get the most milk while pumping.

Here are four different options for the settings to use for your first pumping session with your Spectra. Start out with the first option. 

After your first pumping session, try one of the other 3 options below to see which Spectra settings will work the best for you. As a bonus, I’ve put together a free Spectra cheat sheet to help you with your pump. You can get it e-mailed to you here.

Spectra Pump Settings For The Most Milk

Start with these Spectra settings and adjust them to your comfort level.

Don’t forget that pumping should not be painful. Reduce the vacuum level if you are feeling pain.

Option 1 – Settings to Start

Start With Letdown Mode on Cycle 70 and Vacuum Level 3 for the first 2 to 3 minutes. 

For the next 5 minutes, use Cycle 54 and Vacuum Level 5

For the next 2 to 3 minutes, move back to Cycle 70 and Vacuum Level 3 or 4.

For the next 5 minutes, use Cycle 46 and Vacuum Level 6

Then spend 2 or 3 minutes on Cycle 70 and Vacuum Level 4 or 5

For the next 5 minutes, use Cycle 42 and Vacuum Level 6 or 7

For the last 5 minutes, use Cycle 38 and Vacuum Level 7 or 8

This is just one option for pump settings with the Spectra. Below are 3 more options for pump settings to use with this pump. 

You can use these other options for your Spectra pump settings if:

  • You are trying to increase milk supply,
  • You have engorgement, or 
  • If you are using your pump for colostrum.

Pro Tip:  You will want to start with a high cycle and lower vacuum to get the milk flowing. Then, after milk starts to flow, you will switch to a lower cycle and higher vacuum to get the hindmilk. 

When milk stops or slows down and you no longer see streams of milk coming out, then repeat the process.

Toggle back to the let down button a second time. After milk comes out again, then switch back to the lower cycle and higher vacuum.

Settings For Spectra S2, Spectra S1 and Spectra Synergy

These settings will work for all of the Spectra pumps. The Spectra S2 settings are not different from the Spectra S1 settings. This is because the Spectra S1 and S2 are almost the same pump. 

The biggest difference between the S1 and the S2 is the S1 has a rechargeable battery and the S2 does not. 

This means that the Spectra S2 needs to be plugged into the wall to work. I have a S2 and I felt like I got my life back after I bought this rechargeable battery to make the pump portable (link to Amazon). 

The difference between the S1, S2 and the Spectra Synergy is that there are two motors on the Synergy and your vacuum level can be different on each side. 

If you are looking for the pump settings for the Spectra Synergy, start with the settings above. The cycle will stay the same while pumping. You can then adjust the vacuum level on each side. 

For example, one way you may adjust it is that one side may need a higher level of suction (Level 8) and you may get more milk on the other side with a lower level of suction (Level 5).

Pro Tip: A hands-free pumping bra will save your sanity when pumping with the Spectra and allow you to multitask. The problem is not every pumping bra works well with the Spectra flanges because they are all one piece. I tried several bras and this pumping bra is my favorite one that works with the Spectra.

Baby drinking milk from bottle

How To Use Spectra Pump Settings (Cycle and Vacuum)

To use the Spectra pump, there are two buttons for the settings. One button is the cycle button and the other is the vacuum level button. 

The cycle button is how fast the pump will suck. You want to start pumping with the let down mode which is Cycle 70. To get to let down mode, push the button with the three wavy lines.

Cycle 70 will help your milk to start flowing. It mimics the quick motion of a baby when they are trying to start the milk to flow.

A higher number on the Cycle setting will mean the pump sucks more times per minute and it is faster. A lower number on the cycle setting will mean the pump sucks more slowly.

In order to switch out of the let down mode, you will push the button with the 3 wavy lines again. The Cycle will then switch to a number between 38 and 54 which is the expression mode.

The other button is the Vacuum, or Level button. This button controls the strength of the suck from the pump. The best level to use is the highest level that is not painful.

If you feel pain, then adjust the level to a lower number. You may find as you get further postpartum, you can tolerate a higher level of suction than you did when you first started pumping.

spectra pump settings including buttons for cycle, vacuum, power, letdown mode, and nightlight

Option 2: Spectra Settings To Increase Supply

Use these Spectra settings to increase milk supply. You will want to pump for an extra 5 minutes after milk stops flowing. 

These extra few minutes of pumping will help signal to your body that it needs to produce more milk.

This usually means a pumping session that is about 30 minutes long if you are pumping instead of a breastfeeding session.

If you are pumping after breastfeeding, then a 10 to 15 minute pumping session should be sufficient. 

In order to increase your milk supply, it can also help to toggle back and forth with the settings.

You will want to alternate between the let down mode (cycle 70) and a slower, stronger suction pattern like cycle 46 and level 8.

Here are the Spectra settings to use to increase milk supply. Remember to adjust the level to your comfort level and that it should not be painful.

2 minutes703 to 4
8 minutes504 to 7
2 minutes704 to 5
3 minutes*466 to 8
5 minutes426 to 8
2 minutes704 to 5
3 to 8 minutes**386 to 10

*Stop at this point if you are doing a 15 minute pumping session after nursing. Continue with the remaining time if you are pumping instead of directly nursing.

**The last session can be anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes depending on if you are aiming for a pumping session that lasts for 25 minutes or 30 minutes total.

Pro Tip: One of my favorite tips for increasing milk supply is to drink a daily protein shake with special ingredients to help moms with their milk supply. You can find my favorite milk-boosting protein shake here (definitely try the fudge brownie flavor!)

Bonus Tip: One of the best ways to increase your milk supply is to try power pumping. Here are all of the details on how power pumping can increase milk supply.

Option 3: Spectra Pump Settings For Engorgement

If you are using your Spectra pump for engorgement, here are the settings to use. You may find that a lower cycle and higher vacuum will help to relieve the engorgement.

It is also important to know if you are engorged because your milk supply is just coming in, or if you are engorged due to a clogged milk duct.

When I pumped due to engorgement from a clogged milk duct, I found that I needed to pump frequently until the clog was pulled out to get relief. Sometimes I even needed to pump every hour.

These heated massagers were also super helpful to relieve engorgement and clogged milk ducts. As a bonus, they helped me to pump milk faster. You can click here to read more about them and use my exclusive coupon code LISA10 to get 10% off.

If I was pumping because of engorgement when my milk was coming in, I needed to be more careful to not cause an over supply.

In this case, I would pump just enough to relieve the discomfort. In this case, I only pumped for 5 to 10 minutes to get some relief.

Here are the Spectra Pump Settings For Engorgement:

2 minutes703 to 4
3 to 8 minutes*424 to 7
2 minutes704 to 5
8 minutes386 to 8

*Stop at this point if your goal is a 5 to 10 minute pumping session. Continue with the remaining time if you are pumping for engorgement due to a clogged milk duct.

Option 4: Spectra Pump Settings For Colostrum (or a Newborn) 

When pumping for colostrum, most likely you are pumping immediately after giving birth to help your milk come in faster for your newborn.

You only need to pump for 10 or 15 minutes if you are trying to express colostrum. The colostrum is very thick and it is tough to get out with an electric pump. 

It is common to get nothing or to only get drops of colostrum when you are trying to pump and remove it immediately after birth.

Start out by massaging for 5 minutes, then try to hand express. This will give you the best chance to pump the most colostrum for your newborn. 

After you have massaged and hand expressed, you can start to use your Spectra pump with the settings below.

Here are the Spectra Pump Settings For Colostrum:

2 minutes703 to 4
3 to 8 minutes424 to 7
5 minutes386 to 8

If you are pumping to harvest colostrum prior to birth, know that pumping can bring on labor. Be sure to check with your doctor and get approval to pump if you have not yet given birth.

Why These Spectra Settings Work

The Spectra pump is amazing because you have lots of options to adjust the Spectra pump settings to your comfort level. 

Don’t forget to grab your cheat sheet for the Spectra Pump settings here.

Be sure to SAVE this post to your Baby board on Pinterest so you can find it later. Follow me at PumpingMamas on Pinterest for more tips!

Must-Have Pumping Gear

Hear are a few of my favorite pumping items that made my life so much easier.

spectra pump and milk bottles sitting on table

Next, Check Out:

  1. The Ultimate Guide To A Spectra Pump
  2. The Best Pumping Bra For Spectra
  3. How To Make Your Spectra S2 Pump Portable
  4. Is The Willow Worth It? Pros And Cons of the $500 Pump

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