How to use a Spectra Pump

If you've made it to this post you are probably scratching your head at the instructions that came with your pump, so welcome! I help a lot of lactating people figure out their pumps. In fact, the majority of people will use a pump at some point so I have made sure to include pumping in my Lactation Workshop. I don't want anyone to feel uncertain about their abilities or the equipment they have received in the mail. There are no secrets I need to keep about lactation; however, before we begin, please know that pumping is not indicative o

f what your baby is getting when they are feeding at your body BUT it should still feel productive. In this post, we are going to talk about how to use your pump and why your pump output may be disappointing.


Let's talk about the buttons...so many buttons!


Power all pumps work better when powered on, so be sure to hit this button first, but sleep deprivation gets the best of us sometimes so when you remember and you are ready to get things going turn the pump on.


3 wavy lines is the button you push to get into the letdown simulation. This setting is simulates how your baby would suck to start getting milk flowing. When you turn on your pump, press this button after turning your pump on. You will be in this setting until your milk starts flowing (about 2-3 minutes).


Cycle (+) and (-) the cycle buttons are similar to the suck pattern of your baby at you body. When your pump is in the letdown setting (3 wavy lines button) the cycle will be fast to stimulate your body to get the milk start flowing. When you push the wavy line button again you are in the "suck" mode where the pulls are a bit longer and slower.


Vacuum (+) and (-) this is the suction. When your baby is at your body their mouth creates a vacuum seal to remove milk from your body. The vacuum setting on your pump is the strength. To determine what works for you go up until you are uncomfortable and then come back down to comfort. This may vary throughout the pump session.


Light Bulb Spectra definitely thought about setting the mood when they added this button. If you press this button it turns on a light. It makes it easier to navigate using your pump in the middle of the night or those early morning hours.


I'm pressing all of the buttons...and nothing is coming out!

The first thing to check is that everything is connected and you aren't missing any pieces. If you leave a duckbill off or if the tubing isn't connected all of the way it can affect your pumps ability to remove milk.


Listen up! There are 2 camps in the lactation world. One that votes yes on sizing your flanges up 2-5mm and the other one, the one I am a proud member of, the right one (wink). I'm in the camp that sizes your nipple and let's say your nipple diameter is 17mm we would then try a 17mm flange on your pump to see how it looks and how it feels and then try a size up or down as well to determine what works best for you.


I know what you are thinking, "...but Tabitha, my pump came with 24mm and 28mm flanges." I know, companies are behind the curve here, but don't fret my dear pumper. You can download a pump measurement tool here, and then you can head to Amazon and add your new flanges to your cart.


How do I pump with my Spectra?

  1. Turn your pump on

  2. Press the button with the 3 wavy lines

  3. Adjust the vaccuum and cycle settings to comfort. You can do this by going up until it is uncomfortable and then working your way back down to comfort on both the cycle and vacuum settings.

  4. After about 2-3 minutes, or the milk has started flowing, press the button with the 3 wavy lines again

  5. You are now in the suck cycle, adjust the vacuum and cycle settings again to comfort.

  6. When your milk stops flowing, or there is a steady pause between droplets of milk, press the button with the 3 wavy lines again

  7. Once the milk has resumed flow again, approximately 2-3 minutes, press the button with the 3 wavy lines on it to get back to the suck cycle.

  8. Once milk flow slows again, you are done.



Learning how to use your pump properly can make your pumping journey that much easier. It can turn a pain point into something that feels productive. Share your pumping confidence photos on Instagram and tag @brightearthdoulas or in the comments below. We love to cheer you all on!

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