Spectra Pump Settings

By Lynn •  Updated: 01/15/24 •  10 min read
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If you’ve recently purchased a new Spectra pump, you may be wondering how best to use the pump so that it fits your specific needs. Whether you have a low milk supply, have clogged ducts, are looking to induce labor, or are looking to express colostrum for your newborn, adjusting the Spectra pump settings may enable you to reach your breastfeeding goals. Join us as we explore how Spectra pumps work and how to best utilize them. 

How to Use Spectra Pump

Spectra Pump Settings For Beginners

No matter what Spectra pump you’ve purchased, you can expect most of the settings to be the same. This is because Spectra Pump 1 and 2 were created identical, except for the colors. Also, one has a rechargeable battery and one does not.

The following are general descriptions of each Spectra pump setting for the S1 and S2 you must know about: 

  • Power: You’ll see the power button in the midst of the other settings buttons. It has a circle with a line coming from the center of it. Push this to power on the device.
  • Massage/Expression Mode: The Massage Mode simulates a baby sucking quickly to express milk at the beginning of a nursing section. This button is marked with three wavy lines. It is ideal that you use Massage Mode at the beginning of your pumping session, though you may use it at intervals during the session as well. Expression Mode will mimic long and deep sucking that occurs after the letdown. 
  • Vacuum Mode: Vacuum Mode is labeled on the front of the settings dashboard and is accompanied by a plus and minus sign. These buttons allow you to adjust the strength of the suck. Push the plus sign to get higher strength and the minus sign to get lower strength. Never adjust the Spectra pump to a strength that feels painful.
  • Cycle Mode: The Cycle Mode is labeled on the front of the settings dashboard and is accompanied by a plus and minus sign in much the same way as Vacuum Mode. These buttons allow you to adjust how quickly your pump will suck. 
  • Nightlight: Use the button marked with a sun to turn on a handy night light during night feeds or whenever you need it to make breastfeeding safe and easy in the dark. 

What Setting Should My Spectra Pump Be On?

How to Use Spectra Pump Settings

You can use your Spectra pump settings to express breastmilk or to solve common woes linked to breastfeeding such as low milk supply, clogged ducts, and more. In order to know what setting your breast pump should be on, you’ll need to experiment. Not every woman’s body is the same, and as such, you may find that your settings will be different depending on what your breasts respond to. See the segments to come for more details. 

Spectra Pump Settings For Most Milk

In most cases, you’ll want to start your Spectra setting on Massage Mode, Cycle 70, with a lower vacuum of 3-4. 

As time goes on, you’ll want to toggle off of “let down” or massage mode, increase the vacuum, and lower the cycle number so that it isn’t sucking as quickly as in the beginning. This will simulate a deeper and slower suck, very similar to what your baby does on his or her own. 

Note: Contrary to belief, allowing your breast pump to stay high vacuum and quickly sucking the entire time will not make your milk come out quicker or better. And if you are experiencing pain at any point, it is time to lower your settings. As you play around with the pump, you’ll discover what works best for you. But never allow the suction or the speed of the suck to induce pain

Best Spectra Pump Settings

The best Spectra pump settings will really depend on you and how your body responds to the expression of milk. In fact, the Spectra Synergy is designed so that you can adjust the settings for each breast, as each breast may respond differently to the quickness and strength of suction. 

With that said, you may wish to start with Massage Mode, Cycle 70 and Vacuum 3 for a couple of minutes, then switch to expression mode while toggling back and forth in the following pattern:

  • Cycle 54 and Vacuum 5 (5 minutes)
  • Cycle 70 and Vacuum 4 (3 minutes)
  • Cycle 46 and Vacuum 6 (5 minutes)
  • Cycle 70 and Vacuum 4 (3 minutes)
  • Cycle 42 and Vacuum 6 (5 minutes)
  • Cycle 38 and Vacuum 7 (5 minutes)
Spectra - S1 Plus Electric Breast Milk Pump for Baby Feeding
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What Are the Different Cycles on Spectra Pump?

Spectra S1 Cycle Settings

Spectra S1 and Spectra S2 both have the same cycle settings. The cycles on the Spectra pump represent the simulation of the number of times a baby would suckle at the breast per minute. Thus, Cycle 70 represents 70 suckles in one minute. Other cycles settings include Cycle 54, 50, 46, 42, and 38. 

Cycle settings can be extremely helpful in simulating a realistic breastfeeding session to get the most milk possible. For example, a baby would, realistically, suck very quickly when first latching on to the breast in order to stimulate a letdown. It is for this reason that we suggest starting on cycle 70 when beginning your pumping session to imitate the quick sucking that happens at the moment of latching on. 

How Do You Optimize a Spectra Pump?

To get the most milk flowing while using your Spectra, use the previously mentioned cycle and vacuum patterns but be sure to adjust them to your needs. Never pump to the point where it hurts, and be sure to adjust your cycle and vacuum levels to what feels comfortable for you. 

Never pump on the highest cycle and vacuum, especially not for the entire session, as this may cause damage to your breasts and will not simulate the realistic sucking that occurs when a baby is latched. Thus, you will not produce the optimal amount of milk. It is best to start on Massage Mode, Cycle 70, then toggle back and forth while in expression mode using the guide above from there. 

How Do You Increase the Suction on a Spectra Pump?

In order to increase the suction on your Spectra S1 or Spectra S2 pump, simply press the plus button on the side labeled Vacuum. This will increase the level of suction. 

Suction can go as high as Level 12. 

Remember to only go as high in suction as you feel comfortable. If you feel pain, you ought to lower the level of suction. Irreversible damage is often done to breasts when breast pumps are used at high speeds and rates of suction for long periods of time. 

Spectra Pump Settings to Increase Supply

In order to use the Spectra pump in an attempt to increase milk supply, it is important that you continue to pump after your milk has run dry. This will signal your body that it is going to produce more milk. This is because your breast milk works on the basis of supply and demand; the more milk is needed the more milk is produced. Thus, by continuing to pump after your milk has run dry, or by pumping for about 10-15 minutes after your baby has breastfed, you will let your body know that it needs to produce more milk. 

During this pumping session, try alternating between Massage Mode, Cycle 70, and Expression Mode Cycle 46, Vacuum 8.

Spectra - S2 Plus Electric Breast Milk Pump for Baby Feeding
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Spectra Settings For Newborn

When your baby is a newborn you will begin to produce colostrum. Colostrum is more difficult to get out. It is richer in fat and there isn’t a lot of it. After massaging your breasts with your hands and hand expressing a bit of your milk, you can then use your Spectra on the following settings:

  • Cycle 70 Vacuum 4 (2 minutes)
  • Cycle 42 Vacuum 5-6 (5 minutes)
  • Cycle 38 Vacuum 7-8 (5 minutes)

Note: The above Spectra settings are approximate. Adjust to your needs and comfort level. Remember that colostrum pumping sessions don’t need to be very long. They typically range between 10-15 minutes. 

Spectra Pump Settings For Clogged Duct

In the case of a clogged duct, it is best to toggle between Cycle 70 and a lower and stronger suck to help unclog the duct. When doing this, be sure to continue the pumping session until the clogged duct is released. This may mean you have to pump frequently, maybe even every hour, until you experience relief. 

Note that this is different from issues surrounding engorgement. If you are engorged you’ll only want to pump to the point when you get relief, about 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, you’ll signal your body to produce more milk and you’ll end up exasperating the issue, rather than helping it. 

Spectra Synergy Gold Dual Adjustable Electric Breast Pump
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Spectra Pump Settings to Induce Labor

Using a Spectra pump before your baby is born could cause you to go into early labor. Do so only under the advice and supervision of your healthcare provider. 

Spectra Synergy Gold Dual Adjustable Electric Breast Pump

Spectra Pump Is Easy to Navigate

Once all is said and done, you’ll likely find your Spectra pump to be as easy to navigate as it is helpful. There are a variety of ways to use a Spectra pump to help you increase your milk supply and to pump as much milk as possible. 

More about breastfeeding on the blog:


Lynn is a freelance writer, a wife, and a mother of two beautiful kids. Lynn started Infant Empire with the aim of making parenting easier for fellow mums and dads. She believes the parenting tips provided here will be of great help to all parents.

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