How to Use Spectra Pump Settings with Cheat Sheets and Instructions

It’s likely that you’re here because you’re ready for some instruction on how to use the settings on that cute little Spectra Breast Pump you’ve been playing touch and go with.

And you need detailed answers to questions like, what is that button for with the bacon icon?

In all seriousness though, we will go over all of the important Spectra S1 and S2 settings and get you ready to use your Spectra like you’ve known her forever!

Let’s get started, mama!

[mv_playlist doNotAutoplayNorOptimizePlacement=”false” doNotOptimizePlacement=”false” id=”955″ jsonLd=”false” ratio=”16:9″ thumbnail=”–PYwhjG93–/c_limit,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_1080,q_auto,w_1920/v1552008452/xe3a1p4n97zivuhiqqzi.jpg” title=”Pumping Videos” volume=”70″]

Difference Between Spectra S1 and S2

The nice thing about the two most common Spectra Breast Pump models S1 and S2,  is that the buttons and settings are the same.

The only differences between Spectra S1 and S2 is that the S1 (the blue version) comes with a rechargeable battery, giving it the ability to be cordless and perfectly portable.

Whereas, the Spectra S2 (the pink version) does not have a built-in battery. 

Spectra S1 and S2 Cheat Sheet

Spectra S1 and S2 Cheat Sheet

Yield: Spectra Cheat Sheet
Active Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 1 minute
Difficulty: None
Estimated Cost: None

Spectra S1 and S2 cheat sheet for using Spectra Breast Pump settings.


  • Spectra S1 or S2 Breast Pump


  1. (Power Button) Turns on breast pump.
  2. (Cycle Speed Buttons +/-) These control how quickly the pump suctions.
  3. (Vacuum Strength Buttons +/-) These control how strong the suction level of the pump is.
  4. (Let-Down Mode Button) This button alternated between massage and expression mode. Massage mode enables quick shallow pulls to stimulate a let-down and expression mode enables slower, but deeper pulls to help pull out the most milk during a let-down.


Please save this Spectra Breast Pump Cheat Sheet to your pumping and breastfeeding Pinterest board. Or, print it out and keep it at your pumping station.

Pin this for laterspectra pump settings cheat sheet.

This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosures here.

Spectra Pump Settings  

Now that you’ve been introduced to each button and their function, let’s get you acquainted with Spectra’s settings and what each one is used for. 

What Does Cycle Mean on a Spectra Pump?

The cycle speed on a breast pump is determined by cycles per minute (CPM) and this measures how many times the pump pulls or sucks and releases per minute.

Think of the cycle speed on a breast pump in comparison to how a baby nurses.

When a baby is hungry and feeding at the breast, they will try to initiate a milk letdown by suckling faster. This represents more cycles per minute. 

Spectra has 6 cycle levels that can be increased or decreased using the plus and minus buttons. 

What Does Vacuum Mean on a Spectra Pump?

Vacuum mode is the suction strength setting. This is comparable to the strength at which a baby would suckle at the breast.

Depending on how high the vacuum level is set on your pump, you could potentially experience some discomfort if you are new to pumping.

Be sure to start out low and work your way up, if needed.

This goes without saying, but if you are experiencing pain while pumping, stop right away and evaluate what could be causing it.

However, as your body adjusts to the sensation of mechanical breast pumping, you should be able to comfortably pump on even a high vacuum setting. 

What is Let-down Mode on a Spectra?

You made it to the “bacon icon” button tutorial! This button with the 3 waves above your power button controls both expression mode and massage mode.

Let’s learn more.

  • Expression Mode: This mode has 5 cycle speeds 38, 42, 46, 50, and 54 and 12 vacuum strength levels L1-L12. After a letdown is initiated and the milk is flowing, you should be in expression mode. Adjust your pump cycle speed to a level that your body responds to best.
  • Massage Mode: In massage mode, your cycle speed is locked at 70 cycles per minute. The bacon symbol is displayed on the upper left corner of your pump’s screen. The cycle level, and your vacuum strength can range from L1-L5. If you need to initiate a letdown at the start or any time during your pumping session, you need to be in massage mode.

How Long do you Pump in Let-down Mode?

Spectra starts out in expression mode when you turn your pump on.

In order to activate massage mode, you must hit the button with the 3 waves. You will know that you are in massage (let-down) mode when the cycle speed shows 70 CPM on the screen.

There is no set time on how long you have to pump in let-down mode. 

Instead, focus on pumping in massage mode for as long as it takes to initiate a let-down. This could be a minute for some women or up to 6 minutes for others.

Once you see milk begin to flow, switch to expression mode by pressing the 3 wave button again. 

Repeat this process all over again if you feel like there is still more milk that needs emptying from your breasts.

What are the Best Spectra Settings

Let’s also look at some Spectra Pump settings you can try out for yourself based on the goal of the particular pumping session.

Please remember though, that these pump settings are simply examples. You should never keep pumping if you feel any pain or discomfort. 

Spectra Settings for Most Milk 

Would you like to know how to increase milk supply with your Spectra? Here is a popular Spectra setting many moms use to pump more milk.

  • Start in massage mode on cycle 70 / vacuum 1 and slowly increase the vacuum until you have a let-down.
  • Switch to expression mode once milk starts flowing – 54 cycle / vacuum 3 or 4.
  • While milk is flowing freely, try turning up the suction and lowering the cycle speed.
  • When you see milk stop flowing, return to massage mode and try to initiate another letdown to repeat the process.

Spectra setting to get the most milk instructions.

Power Pumping with Your Spectra 

Power pumping is another great way to use your Spectra to increase milk supply if you are experiencing lower than normal production.

Follow these steps to get you started:

  • Pump 20 minutes.
  • Rest 10 minutes.
  • Pump 10 minutes.
  • Rest 10 minutes.
  • Pump 10 minutes.

The total amount of time power pumping should last approximately an hour and you can power pump once per day for 3 days.

Take note: It is thought that power pumping in the morning tends to be the most effective time due to higher levels of prolactin.

Spectra Settings Newborn 

When you first begin pumping for your newborn, your breasts are most likely unfamiliar with the feeling of a mechanical pump. With that in mind, your breast tissue and nipples will probably be more sensitive to begin with.

The most important thing to remember when choosing settings on your Spectra to pump for your newborn – is to start out slow and gentle and work your way up.

Your breasts will eventually (and in a short amount of time) learn to respond well to the pump.

Here is an example of Spectra Settings with Newborn:

  • Start in massage mode – cycle 70 / vacuum 1 and increase the vacuum every couple of minutes until milk flows (stopping if there is any discomfort).
  • Once milk begins to flow, push 3-wave button to switch to expression mode.
  • Start on expression mode with a lower speed between 38 and 54. Increase vacuum level to a comfortable level up to 12. Try cycle level 38 and vacuum level 5 to start. 

Pump for no more than 20 minutes at first and assess how your breast tissue feels and looks afterwards to ensure no damage is taking place.

A common pumping mistake new moms tend to make is that they pump for far too long at first. They may not be getting the output they think they should. This could be for a few reasons.

For one, your milk has not fully come in yet. Two, your breasts are not used to expressing milk through means of a pump. Or, your flange sizes are off and you aren’t getting proper suction.

Correct flange fit diagram for exclusive breast pumping

Spectra Settings for Engorgement

Being engorged can be a very uncomfortable and painful feeling, wanting to pump to take the edge off of this feeling is understandable.

You may also notice that your baby is having a hard time latching when your breasts are engorged. Or, they pull off the breast right away due to an overly powerful letdown.

Pumping for just a few minutes before you nurse may help solve some of these problems.

However, it is advised not to rely on pumping too much in the beginning while your milk supply is regulating.

This is because you are teaching your body how much milk to produce and you may end up with an unwanted over-supply that could cause it’s owns complications later on.

Even so, if you are desperate to relieve some pressure, try pumping on massage mode at cycle level 70 / vacuum level 1 and increase the vacuum from there.

The one thing you want to avoid while your breasts are engorged and skin is tight, is too high of a suction level that will tug aggressively at that taunt skin.


There’s a lot to pumping!

When it comes to techniques, troubleshooting and getting it right – you may need to recruit the help of a pro!

I recommend that you sing up for Milkology’s The Ultimate Exclusive Pumping Class so you can have the information you need at your fingertips at all times!

Pssst… If you end up registering for Milkolog’s pumping class today, I’ll also gift you a seat in my pumping and milk supply course for free! Just contact me through email to let me know you took advantage of this promo!

three black arrows pointing down.Download a FREE pumping pack with schedules and pump log!

How to Read Spectra Hours Pumped

One last instruction on how to use your Spectra Breast Pump, is to learn the button sequence that will show you how many hours you have pumped on your Spectra all together.

This of course is purely just to satisfy your own curiosity and to tap yourself on the back for all of your hard work!

Here’s how to find that number:

Pump icon for how to pump on a spectra

How to Find Total Pumping Hours on A Spectra Breast Pump

Yield: Pumping Pride
Active Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Difficulty: None
Estimated Cost: None

Here is a handy Spectra pumping hack! Figure out how many hours you have pumped on a Spectra all together.


  • Spectra Breast Pumps


  1. Power Button
  2. Letdown Button
  3. Cycle +
  4. Vacuum -
  5. Cycle -
  6. Vacuum +
  7. Letdown Button


Save this for later to your breastfeeding and pumping Pinterst board to always refer back to it when needed.

Last Comments

I hope these instructions and cheat sheets leave you feeling much more well-versed on how to use your Spectra S1 and S2 Breast Pump settings.

Please grab as many of the cheat sheets you would like. I made them available for you to print out and save to your Pinterest account for easy accessibility.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Consider signing up for The Crib, my freebies vault for moms loaded with amazing finds!