Find out all you need to know about using a Spectra Pump!
If you are planning on breastfeeding and thinking that you would like to express you are likely to be looking for the best breastfeeding pump.
It can be overwhelming when you begin to look at the different features of breast pumps especially as you will find that the pump one woman prefers is not beneficial to another.
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Spectra have a range of breast pumps including the Spectra 1, Spectra 2, Spectra 3, Spectra 9, and the Spectra Gold. Each breast pump has a lot of common features and some have unique aspects that make them stand out from one another.
Understanding what pump is best for you will often mean reading reviews, speaking to breastfeeding consultants, and creating a list of pros and cons.
By spending time looking at each breast pump you can become familiar with different breast pump parts and decide which features are important for you.
Spectra Breast Pump Parts
Although there are some slight variations, the main parts of a Spectra electric breast pump are:
- Breast pump
- Flanges (sometimes called shields)
- Milk collection bottles (or bags)
- Backflow protectors (on some models of a breast pump)
Each part of a breast pump has a unique function—some that will remain in place the whole time and others that will need replacing on a regular basis.
One of the main reasons that you should read up on each part of a Spectra breast pump is that you will need to keep on top of the cleaning so it does not breed germs and is safe and hygienic for your baby.
Spectra have both single breast pumps and double breast pumps (Spectra Gold) which make up the central component of the machine.
The pump works to create the suction motions which extracts the milk from the breast.
The vacuum in the pump works gently to massage the breast and then sicks the milk from the breast into the collecting bottle.
Bottles for collecting milk
Spectra pumps come with a collection bottle that attaches to the flange that sits around the nipple. You can also buy bottles that are compatible with the Spectra for when you need to replace the original bottles or you want to buy more.
Every breast pump will have various opening sizes so it is vital that you check the manufacture guidelines and buy bottles that fit with your breast pump.
You can also buy adapters that will allow you to express milk into the right container.
It is generally better to pump into the same bottle that your baby will feed on so that you do not lose any of the precious milk when transferring between bottles.
This will also save time if you are expressing in a rush. If this is not possible you can also pump directly into milk bags which can then be stored appropriately.
Spectra bottles may look different than a lot of bottles that you will be used to and there has been feedback that the measurements don’t quite match up with Medela and Avent bottles and is roughly 10ml out.
If you are looking for bottles that are compatible with Spectra pumps you should buy the following brands:
- Medela (adaptor required)
- Avent (can be screwed to the flange)
- Kind (adaptor required)
- Dr. Brown Narrow Neck (adaptor required)
- MAM (can be screwed to the flange)
Breast Pump Flanges and Shields
The flange is a cone-shaped shield found on the breast pump that fits on your breast. Once placed onto your breast your nipple will be pulled into the funnel of the flange as the vacuum motion begins.
It is important that the flange fits comfortably and snuggly so as not to cause pain or blocked milk ducts. The standard shield is 24 mm on the Spectra and there is also a 20 mm, 28 mm, and 32 mm—often stores will offer a package that has two sizes (the 24 mm and 28 mm are most common).
If you feel that the Spectra shield is not suitable in any size a Nenesuppy breast shield or a Maymom shield would work as both have more options to try. You will need to buy an adaptor for the flange is needing a specific size to connect to the pump and collecting bottle.
Membranes and Valves Duckbill Valves
The plastic valves on your breast pump connect to the flanges and allow milk to pass through them through the holes in them.
Each valve will contain flexible membranes that open and close the valve depending on the suction coming from the pump.
There are two types of valve with the Spectra—duckbilled and a standard blue valve with a white membrane that is familiar on brands like Medela.
The duckbill valve (named as it looks like a duck beak) is made from silicone rather than plastic and is slightly different than the standard valve.
As the beak opens and closed when the vacuum starts, the milk drips into the flange and out into the receptacle that collects the milk. The latest models of Spectra pumps have the standard blue valve.
When your breast pumps start to slow down or stop working the valves and the membranes will be the first things to check as they can become slack and will need replacing.
They are reasonably cheap to replace and parts can be found easily in stores that sell pumps or direct from the Spectra site.
The plastic tubing on Spectra breast pumps is the main connector between the flange and the pump. The milk flows out from the flange into the collection bottle or bag and is the main part of the pump that you need to worry about when it comes to keeping clean.
The tubes will become very wet from the milk so are prone to mold if you do not clean and dry properly. If you fail to clean the tubes will become blacked and you can visibly see crusty and yellowing milk.
You can keep the tubes dry on your breast pump by keeping the pump running even after you have finished pumping which will help dry the tubing.
When the tubing starts to turn brown it may not necessarily mean that it is harmful to your baby but you may want to be extra careful and invest in replacement tubes.
The Spectra Gold has a connector that connects the flange at one end and the collection bottles at the other. The addition of a connector makes the pump easier to clean as they can easily come apart and milk cannot stay in the hard-to-reach parts.
Another reason to buy a pump with a connector is that you can try a different type or size of the flange if one does not feel comfortable or stops working for you.
It is common to adjust the size of the flange as you reduce the amount of feeding when your baby starts to wean and your breasts reduce in size.
Connectors on the Spectra on the breast pump are known as the backflow protector which prevents mold from growing on the pump.
Cleaning Breast Pump Parts
As mentioned, it is important to keep your breast pump clean free from mold so that your baby stays well.
The below parts of the pump needs to be sterilized on a regular basis:
Tubing on breast pumps can become easily discolored if they are boiled rather than sterilized and some brands recommend a certain way of cleaning them so do check the instructions.
If your tubing does become discolored or you are worried about it not being clean you can buy replacement tubing which is not too expensive.
Aside from the tubes, other parts listed above can be boiled as well as using a store-bought sterilizing solution.
You can also replace the below parts on Spectra models which can be cheaper than buying a new pump for s second baby or if you are breastfeeding and expressing for a long period of time.
- Valves (when they wear down and become slack so should be changed every 3-4 weeks)
- Membranes (should be replaced at least every 4 weeks)
In addition to the above parts, Spectra pumps have a couple of accessories that you may find useful.
The first accessory is the power bank which allows you to move around rather than being stuck in the same position as you express.
The second accessory that you may want to invest in is the car adaptor. The car adaptor allows you to pump in the car, whether as a passenger or when you take a break from driving on a long journey.