Breast Pump Comparison: Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA

Introduction: Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump In Style Advanced

Many moms want to know: which breast pump wins in a contest between Spectra S2 vs the Medela Pump In Style Advanced? The PISA has been the most widely used breast pump for a long time. But the S2 is becoming more popular. As a working mom, I use a breast pump often- usually 4-5 times a day during the work week! I nurse my baby in the evenings and on weekends.  I use both the Spectra S2 and the Medela Pump In Style Advanced (PISA) daily. And I can tell you about where each breast pump truly stands out!

When talking about portability, the Medela Pump In Style Advanced beats the Spectra S2, hands down. But the S2 works quite well and has more settings and features, allowing you to customize the pump settings to work best for your body. What I’ve learned is that every woman’s body is different, and so are their preferences and needs. 

So I’ll lay out the differences between the Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump In Style Advanced. We will also talk a little about breast pumps in general, how to assemble your Spectra S2 or PISA, useful PISA and Spectra S2 tips, and other supplies you may need while using your breast pump. 

pin- breast pump reviews Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA

Summary: Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump In Style Advanced

If you want the short version, the Medela PISA is much more portable and easy to travel with, as it is smaller and built into a travel bag. The Spectra S2 is much more versatile, with more advanced controls to help you optimize your pump’s power and speed to what works best for you. The S2 is extremely quiet and also has handy nightlight. 

I’ve summarized the differences between the Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump In Style Advanced in this handy dandy chart. 

Table comparing Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump In Style Advanced
Table comparing features of Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump In Style Advanced

Who should consider buying an electric breast pump? 

If you plan to breastfeed and will frequently be away from your baby for extended periods of time, I highly recommend an electric breast pump. If you just plan to be away for the occasional night out, a manual hand pump, like this, will probably be enough. 

In short, if you won’t be able to nurse your baby at least every 3 hours, get a breast pump. Working moms whose children are in daycare are often away from their babies for at least 8 hours and will need a pump to provide milk for their baby and keep up their milk supply. 

Paying for a breast pump: Insurance coverage

Under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), American health insurance companies must provide breast pumps for new moms at no charge. Check with your insurance provider to see what options are available. While I was pregnant, I was able to order my breast pump online. My insurer checked with my OB-GYN, who confirmed I was pregnant, and it arrived in the mail a week later. Super simple! 

However, you may be in a different situation. Perhaps you don’t have insurance. Or your insurance only covers a new breast pump every 3 years, and you want a new one (the ACA doesn’t say how often insurance needs to provide a new pump! ). Or maybe your current pump just isn’t cutting it. You may be able to use money from your HSA (health savings account) or FSA (flexible spending account) on a pump- again, check with your insurer. You can now even buy HSA and FSA items on Amazon! 

Portability: Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA

The Medela Pump In Style Advanced comes in three versions – a tote, a messenger bag, and a backpack. The messenger bag has more accessories and you can remove the pump super easily. 

The  PISA is available as a tote, messenger bag or backpack. 

The PISA messenger bag

PISA backpack

The Medela PISA is much more portable than the Spectra S2. Clocking in at 2.98 lbs, the PISA plus the bag weighs a bit less than the S2, which is 3.3 lbs. 

But the dimensions are very different. The S2 has a round shape with a handle and is about 8x8x6.5 inches. While the bag for the PISA is, 14x7x12, the pump portion is only about a quarter of that, maybe 5x4x6 or so. 

Spectra S2 – compare the shape of the Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA!

Other versions of the S2 also come with a tote and bottle cooler

To put it another way, when I pack my S2 in a travel bag to take to work, it takes up a ton of room due to its shape. Meanwhile, there’s still lots of room in my PISA bag. However, one of the upsides of the large S2 bag is that I can fit my laptop in it. When I take my PISA and computer home from work, I have to carry two bags- one for the pump and one for the laptop. I do have the backpack style PISA, in retrospect, I should have gotten the tote.

Some versions of the Spectra S2 do not come with their own travel bag. The one I ordered through my insurance did not!  I use this bag for my S2, and it’s great because I can fit lots of other stuff in the bag, like snacks or a water bottle. And I can take the pump out to use it as a diaper bag. This bag does not have an insulated bottle pocket, however.

Travel Accessories: Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA

Some moms don’t have the convenience of being able to plug their breast pumps into a normal wall outlet all the time. The Medela PISA comes with a battery pack that takes 8 AA batteries (not included) so you can pump without a power outlet. Some versions also come with a 12 volt vehicle adapter that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter. Some versions of the Spectra S2 come with a battery pack and a car adapter, but some do not. 

I’ve used the PISA’s car adapter and the battery pack while traveling. Both work great! 

If you need a car adapter for your S2, consider this one. As for a portable battery, this one has great ratings. It is a little expensive, but if your insurance doesn’t cover the Spectra S1 (the S1 is rechargeable!), then it may be worth spending a little more on making your pump do what you want.

How loud is the Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA?

The Spectra S2 is much quieter than the PISA. Spectra’s website explains that their founder insisted on the quietest motor available while it was being designed. Putting either pump on a soft surface, like a couch, ottoman, carpet, or even a blanket or towel helps muffle the sound to make them quieter.

Pump Settings and Modes: Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA

Both pumps have their pros and cons when it comes to setting up the vacuum and pump speed. First, I’ll explain why these are important. 

The purpose of a breast pump is so mom can remove milk when her baby isn’t around. So a pump tries to mimic a baby nursing. At first, a baby sucks quickly until the milk starts flowing, or lets down. Then, the milk comes out steadily for awhile and the baby sucks more slowly. Eventually, the milk will slow down, and the baby sucks quickly again to stimulate another letdown. 

Every woman is different. Some women have a quick letdown every few minutes. Other women’s bodies take longer to get the milk flowing. 

So what does this have to do with breast pumps? Well, most models have some sort of letdown mode and normal mode. They also have a control for vacuum pressure. By adjusting these settings, moms can set the pump up in a way that works best for their bodies. 

To put things simply, the PISA is easier to use, but the S2 gives mom more control. Let’s get into the specifics, starting with the PISA.

Medela PISA Settings

Pump Settings and Modes: Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump in Style Advanced
The PISA has one knob that adjusts the pump speed and vacuum power at the same time. No numbers, just notches along the dial. The yellow button just underneath it changes the pump from letdown mode to expression mode.

In the image above, you can see the PISA has two controls. The dial turns the pump on and adjusts it to whatever strength you’d like. The button with the arrow and the drops next to it allows you to turn letdown mode on or off as needed.

When you turn on the PISA, which is done by adjusting the dial, it automatically starts in letdown mode, runs for about 2 minutes in letdown mode, then switches to regular mode. 

The PISA does have a letdown mode button, so mom can turn it on or off as needed. The dial has dots, so you can adjust the pump to stronger or weaker settings, whatever you prefer.  

Spectra S2 Settings 

Pump Settings and Modes: Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA
The S2 has much more versatile settings. Set the vacuum speed and power separately, in both letdown mode and expression mode. The cycle buttons changes how quickly the pump goes. The vacuum buttons changes the strength of the pump.

In comparison, the Spectra starts in regular mode, requiring mom to press the letdown mode button (the wavy lines just above the power button) at the start and then press it again to turn off letdown mode. As a new mom with little sleep, that was way too complicated for my tired brain. In fact, many moms who are new to the Spectra don’t realize this and actually use the settings backwards and assume it starts in letdown mode and accidentally turn letdown mode on when they should be in regular mode! 

I can personally attest to the fact that I’ve accidentally left the Spectra in letdown mode for several minutes and forgotten to switch to regular! 

But where does the Spectra S2 really stand out vs the Medela PISA? With its customizable controls. When you turn on the PISA, you can adjust the vacuum pressure with a knob, and that’s it. With the Spectra, you can adjust the vacuum pressure and the vacuum speed. Why is this important? Well, to mimic the baby, during letdown mode, you want the vacuum sucking quickly. And in normal mode you want it sucking slowly. The PISA does suck faster and slower, but you get what you get. The S2 lets you change these settings to whatever you want. 

The Spectra S2 settings are saved from session to session, so you don’t have to remember what worked well last time. You change the Spectra S2 settings using buttons. The PISA just has a dial you rotate to select what you want, so there’s more guesswork involved if you want to get it the same as your previous session. And there are no numbers around the dial, so you have to guess which mark you had it on. I’ve accidentally turned the pressure too high or too low on my PISA before! 

The numbers: Spectra S2 Settings

As for the specifics of the Spectra S2 settings, Spectra’s website explains:

  • Massage mode (or letdown mode) can be set to 70 cycles per minute, with a vacuum strength from 1-5
  • Expression mode can be set to 38-54 cycles per minute, with a vacuum strength from 1-12

If you are considering pumping at night in the dark, you will likely prefer the S2’s controls. It even has a night light! 

Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA: Backflow Protection

backflow protectors of spectra s2 vs Medela PISA
Left: Spectra S2 backflow protector. Right: PISA membranes between the pump and tubing- notice the moisture.

On the left is the S2 backflow protector. And on the right is the PISA membrane. You can see how the white silicone piece of the S2 fully prevents moisture from getting into the tubing. The PISA’s can collect moisture into the tubing.

One of the big differences between the S2 and the PISA is their methods of overflow protection. The S2 is a closed system. It has special backflow valves to protect against moisture or milk flowing into the tubing or breast pump, which prevents mold, bacteria, and viruses that could grow in the tubing. 

The PISA, on the other hand, is a closed system at the motor. This means that milk or moisture could get into the tubing and possibly encourage the growth of mold or bacteria. I’ve seen moisture get into my PISA’s tubing. Medela recommends running the pump for a few minutes after you’ve removed the bottles, with just the tubing on, to flush out moisture. That trick has worked pretty well for me so far, but is kind of noisy while the pump runs. And I can usually still see a little moisture in the tubing even after flushing out the moisture. The manufacturers of all pumps recommend that pumping moms replace valves and tubing every few months, and it becomes even more important if you use a PISA. Luckily, replacement parts are pretty cheap on Amazon. 

Medela PISA tubing with moisture
Note the moisture in the PISA tubing after pumping. Medela suggests removing it by running the pump for 2 minutes after you finish pumping.

Moisture in the PISA tubing even after running the pump for 2 minutes while not hooked up to a bottle

Single or Double Pumping

In looking at the Spectra S2 vs the Medela PISA, the PISA is the best choice if you frequently switch between pumping one side or both sides. Before I’d ever used a pump, I figured I’d always use the double pumping option, but in reality, I often pump one side while I nurse my baby on the other side in the morning, and then pump both sides while I’m at work. Women with clogged ducts may only want to pump one side. Or maybe your baby fell asleep after nursing on one side and you want to pump the other side. There are many reasons you may want to switch from single pumping to double pumping

In theory, this should be easy. You just have to plug one of the outlets from the vacuum pump… But let’s see in practice- how to pump one side with the Spectra S2 versus how to pump one side with the Medela Pump In Style Advanced 

How to Pump One Side with the Spectra S2

How to pump one side with the Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA: PISA is much simpler
S2 vacuum ports. Note how difficult it is to get your fingers into the tiny hole to open or cover the vacuum port!

Let me tell you, the S2 is a real chore to switch back and forth from single to double pumping. The S2 has a rubbery plastic cap that you can put over a vacuum outlet if you don’t need it, so you can pump one side. But the cap is really small, and the area is recessed. So it can be really tough to get your fingers in there to remove the cap or replace it. 

How to Pump One Side with Medela Pump in Style Advanced 

How to pump one side with the Medela PISA
Switching between single and double pumping with the PISA is simple – move the yellow cover over a vacuum port or over the post in the center.

Switch the PISA between single and double pumping by moving the yellow vacuum port cover over one of the ports (for single pumping), or onto the supporting post (for double pumping).

What about the PISA? If you want to pump one side with Medela Pump In Style Advanced, it has a super simple system with larger covers that are easy to access. It’s a breeze to switch between single and double pumping. Simply cover up one of the openings and turn the pump on! Want to pump both sides? Just take the cover off again! 

Double Pumping Tips

If you are frequently double pumping, I recommend using a hands-free pumping bra. I use the Simple Wishes bra. It frees up my hands while pumping, so I can work, massage to release more milk, or relax and read! It comes in two sizes which are labeled in a confusing way. Both sizes have an adjustable back so you can make the bra any size you want. The “x-small/large” size fits most women. However, the “large/plus” size has an insert that goes between your breasts to make the bra fit better over the front of your breasts, in case you have a wide chest. It is compatible with both the S2 and the PISA.

Some women cut holes in a regular bra to make a nursing bra. Personally, I really like my regular bras and wouldn’t want to cut holes in them. And I don’t think they would hold the bottles as well for me as a dedicated pumping bra does.

pumpin pumpkin mom

Bottles & Pump Parts

When comparing bottle and pump parts for the Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA: both have bottles with sort of hard to read markers. The PISA bottles are compatible with some other types of bottles, like Dr Brown’s. The S2 comes with 2 sizes of flanges so you are more likely to get one that fits you.

Bottles

The PISA comes with four small 5 oz bottles with lids. PISA bottles have narrow necks. The PISA bottles are actually compatible with Dr Brown’s bottles and nipples, which some parents like to use when feeding their babies. 

The S2 comes with two to four small 5 oz bottles with lids. Spectra bottles are wide-necked.

Breast Flanges and Connectors

The breast flange or shield is the “horn” that fits onto your breast.  The PISA includes two 24mm breast flanges and 2 connectors to attach them to your bottles. The S2 includes two 24 mm and two 28 mm breast flanges

I highly recommend determining what size flanges you’ll need after giving birth. Your breast size and nipple size can change. It may even change again over the ten weeks or so that it takes your milk supply to become consistent. 

The nurses or lactation consultants at the hospital can help you determine while you are still at the hospital after your baby is born. Or, there are handy guides here from Medela, and here from Spectra showing how to measure them yourself. Having the optimal size for your body optimizes your milk production. Therefore, having the right size flange can drastically change how much milk you pump! I also recommend getting an extra set of the size that you like so that you have more flexibility and aren’t always washing.

Basically, take your nipple size in mm and add 3-4mm to determine your flange size.

Common sizes:

up to 16mm = 20mm flange

17-20mm = 24mm flange

21-24mm = 28mm flange

25-28mm = 32mm flange

Once you’ve determined the correct flange size, you can purchase the different options on Amazon.

Medela PISA flanges

  • Medela offers 21mm, and 24, 27, 30, and 36 mm flanges. The PISA typically comes with 24mm flanges. 
  • Third-party seller Maymom offers PISA flanges in 17mm, 19, 21, 24, 27, 30, 34, and 36mm flanges. Some of these kits include valves, and a few also include tubing.
  • Third-party seller Nenesupply offers PISA flanges in 19, 21, 24, 27, and 30mm. Note that you also have the option of getting the white silicone duckbill valves that the Spectra uses, instead of the yellow hard plastic ones that are supplied by Medela. They will fit on your PISA.

Do be aware, these third party kits include the flange attached to the bottle connector. It is not a separate piece like the original PISA flanges. Personally, I like them better since there are fewer parts to lose!

Spectra S2 Flanges

Did you know there are also softer silicone flanges? If the hard plastic flanges are too rough on your skin, try this for Medela PISA, and these for Spectra S2. The Spectra cushion comes in a single pack and is inserted inside the S2 flange. The Medela cushion is a separate piece that you use in place of the PISA flange.

Valves: Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA

Both S2 and PISA come with 2 valves. This is what creates the suction between the breast and the bottle. The Spectra valves are little rubbery one piece things that look like duck bills. When comparing Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA valves, they both work, but the PISA valves are a little less user-friendly. The Medela valves have two pieces- a yellow hard plastic piece that fits onto the breast flange connector, and a tiny white flexible plastic piece that connects to the yellow part. Medela’s are definitely more difficult to wash – but – you can use Spectra valves on the PISA if you are willing to spend a few dollars on extra valves for the convenience. 

Bonus Features: Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA

The Spectra S2 and Medela Pump in Style Advanced have different features that different moms will prefer.  We’ve already talked about size and portability, which are the PISA’s main benefits. And the variety of settings, which are the S2’s best features.

The S2 also has a night light and a timer. The night light is great for moms pumping at home in the middle of the night who don’t want to wake everyone up. 

The S2’s  timer can be helpful for working moms who only have a set amount of time to pump. If I use the PISA at work, I need to keep an eye on the clock or set a timer to make sure I get back to work on time!

The PISA comes with a bottle cooler and cooling element (aka an ice pack), and a battery pack that uses 8 AA batteries, which are not included 

Accessories

Spare parts and extra bottles are available on Amazon! Personally, I bought an extra set right away in case something broke, or if I didn’t have a chance to wash my one and only set, I had clean parts ready to go. Spectra and Medela also recommend replacing the tubing, valves, and membranes every 3-6 months in order to keep your pump working at its best 

Medela PISA spare parts

Spectra S2 spare parts

For the S2, I actually prefer the bottles made by Nene Supply. You can clearly read the labels and even after using them for about 6 months now, the labels haven’t worn off. The Spectra bottles, on the other hand, are much harder to read.

comparing Spectra bottle and Nenesupply bottle
Spectra bottle on the left. NeneSupply bottle on the right. Note the easy-to-read markings on the Nene bottle, and the difficult-to-read markings on the Spectra bottle

The flanges and valves from Nene Supply are a little different than the Spectra versions but they work just fine. The threaded part of the flanges from Nene are a little bit shorter than Spectra’s. 

comparing Spectra S2 flange and duckbill vs Nenesupply flange and duckbill
Left: Spectra S2 flange and duckbill valve. Right: Nenesupply flange and duckbill valve. The two flanges are just about identical

And the Nene valves are different. Instead of a big piece that fits over the bottom of the flange, they have a small indentation that has to fit over the bottom of the flange.However, I find they work just fine even though they are a little different! They are all completely interchangeable. 

comparing Spectra S2 flange and duckbill vs Nenesupply flange and duckbill
Right: Spectra flange and valve. Right: Nenesupply flange and valve. Although the Spectra flange is taller, it fits just fine on Nene bottles, and vice versa. The valves are slightly different but are also interchangeable.

Spectra S2 and Medela PISA Pump Cleaning Options

While pumping at work or while traveling, moms have a couple options for cleaning or reusing pump parts. Experts recommend pumping at least every three hours while away from the baby. I have a 30 minute drive to work, 8 hours of work, a 1 hour lunch break, then a 30 minute drive home, for a total of 10 hours away from my baby.  So this means I pump 3 times at work. So how do traveling or working moms make sure they have enough pieces and parts to pump at work? There are several options. 

  • Wash them in the sink with soap and water after each use. This is the best thing to do, but not everyone has access to a sink at work, or may not have time to wash the parts at work. 
  • Have several sets of parts, one set for each pumping session. It does mean washing 3 or more sets of breast shields and flanges once you get home. 
  • Store the breast shields and flanges in a sealable bag in a fridge or cooler between pumping sessions. All moms may not have access to a fridge at work. 
  • Use breast pump wipes to disinfect the parts that are exposed to milk. I’ve used these several times while traveling and they are very convenient! 

Milk Storage 

If you are pumping milk, you will need a place to store it. Again, you have lots of options! Also consider checking your daycare provider’s preference, they may want the milk delivered in a specific way.

  • Pump and store in whatever bottles fit onto your pump. This is what I do, just put a lid on the bottles after pumping and I’m good to go!
  • Pump directly into the bottles your baby will drink from. However, the bottle your baby prefers may not be one that fits onto your breast pump. 
  • Pump directly into storage bags. I tend to do this while traveling as the bags take up much less room than bottles. Some moms also like pumping into bags since they won’t have to wash as many bottles. This accessory lets you pump directly with your S2 into bags. And this highly-rated kit that lets you pump directly with your PISA into bags.

  • I use two of these plastic boxes to organize the milk in my freezer, and one in my cupboard to store extra bottles and pump parts. They are the perfect size to stand the bags up on their sides! I also have several in my nursery to organize my baby’s pacifiers, socks, and other small stuff!
breast milk storage in freezer totes
I store my breast milk stash in the freezer in these handy totes. The breast milk bags fit perfectly in the totes!

Breast Pump Assembly: Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA

Assembling the Spectra S2 or the Medela PISA is a pisa cake (sorry… pun intended)! The S2 has a few more steps since you also have to assemble the backflow protectors, but it is all very simple: wash, sterilize, and dry the parts, then put them together. The washing will probably take longer than assembly! 

Medela PISA Assembly

First of all, the Medela PISA comes with several parts and you will need to wash most of them.

The Medela PISA breast pump comes with a tote bag, portable battery pack, electrical plug, small cooler bag, small ice pack, four 5 oz (150 ml) bottles, one set of two 24mm flanges, two connector tubes, and two valves with membranes. You will need to wash the bottles, flanges (the “shields” that go onto your breasts), and valves (the little, hard plastic yellow pieces and white flaps).

Medela recommends

Before using for the first time, clean and sanitize kit parts: breast shields, breast shield connectors, white membranes, yellow valves, breast milk bottles and lids.

Sanitize breast pump kit parts once daily. To sanitize:

1.     Fill a pot with enough water to cover all parts.

2.     Bring water to a boil.

3.     Place parts in boiling water for 10 minutes.

4.     Allow water to cool and gently remove parts from water with tongs.

5.     Place parts on a clean surface and/or towel.

Allow parts to air dry

Store parts when not in use.

Do NOT store wet or damp parts.

Or you may sanitize your kit parts by following the instructions on Medela’s Quick Clean Micro-Steam bag.

Here’s a link to the steam bag: You just put all the parts in the bag with some water and pop it in the microwave.

No matter how you wash your parts, you will need to dry them. I use this cute drying rack that looks like fake grass.

Look at just how much stuff I can cram onto one of these drying racks!

Once everything is clean and dry, we can assemble the PISA! Medela also offers the instructions online here.

How to Assemble the Medela PISA

First, insert the breast shield (the funnel part)  into the breast shield connector (the thing with the threads that will screw onto the bottle). 

Medela PISA assembly
First, snap the flexible white piece onto the yellow part of the valve. The side with the bumps goes outward.

Then snap the white membranes onto the yellow valves. The membranes should lay flat on the valves. 

Medela Pump In Style Advanced assembly
Then put the valve onto the bottom of the bottle connector. It doesn’t matter which way it faces.

Then, connect the valves to the bottom of the breast shield connector. Next, screw the breast shield connectors onto the bottles. 

Put the tubing into the top part of the flange.

Now, take the end of the tubing with the yellow adaptor into the breast shield connector. Some models have you insert the adaptor into the top and others insert into the side. 

Insert the tubing into the vacuum pump outlets, and plug the plug into the front of the pump. Then plug the other end of the pump into the wall.

Plug the other end of the tubing into the breast pump. If you are single pumping, only plug in one tube and cover the other opening with the cap. If you are double pumping, plug in both tubes and put the cap onto the holder. Finally, plug the power adaptor into the front of the pump and into a power outlet. You are now ready to pump!

How to Assemble the Spectra S2

Like the PISA, Spectra S2 assembly is very simple. Let’s walk through Spectra S2 assembly together! 

The S2 breast pump comes with a bag, power adapter, four 5 ounce bottles, 2 backflow protectors (two sets of: two clear hard plastic pieces and one white silicone membrane), two duckbill valves (triangular white silicone parts that create the vacuum seal), 2 tubes, two 24mm flanges (the “shields” that go onto your breasts), two 28mm flanges, and a cooler. 

First off, you will need to wash the bottles, all the pieces of the backflow protectors, the valves, and the flanges. You may want to wash both sets of flanges to determine which one fits you better. Do not wash the tubing.  Spectra recommends:

For the accessories (which are clear or pink) — breast shield/flange, upper and lower case of backflow protector, bottle, bottle ring, bottle cover, and disk: (your model may or may not have all of these accessories) 

1. Use a pot large enough to fit all your parts—if the pot is too small, parts discoloration and/or distortion may occur.

2. Fill with water so that when your parts are added the water is at least 4” above the parts.

3. Place lid on the top and bring to boil.

4. Once the water reaches boiling point, turn off the heat and place accessories in boiling water—the water will continue to boil.

5. Remove accessories after 3-5 minutes.

6. Silicone Accessories–duckbill valves, backflow protector membranes, and bottle nipples:

7. Run them through the boiling water for less than 2 minutes.

If you prefer, you can sterilize your parts in the microwave or dishwasher. 

Microwaving your parts can result in distortion and/or discoloration of the parts. Discoloration is cosmetic and does not affect the chemical composition of the parts.

If using a dishwasher, place items on wash cycle on the top rack and air dry. Do not use heat dry.

Microwave bags can be used if the proper amount of water is added. Follow the instructions of the bag manufacturer.

Next, no matter how you wash your parts, you will need to dry them. I like to set my pump parts and bottles up to dry on this cute drying rack that looks like fake grass.

Now that everything is clean, we can get on to the Spectra S2 Assembly, starting with the backflow protectors. 

Spectra S2 Backflow Protector Assembly

Spectra S2 backflow protector assembly looks tricky but is actually super simple. 

Spectra S2 backflow protector assembly step 0
Left: small backflow protector piece. Middle: white silicone backflow protector membrane. Right: large backflow protector piece (note the small tab at the bottom)

First, you can see the backflow protector has three pieces- two are the clear, hard plastic cases and one is a white silicone membrane. The two clear pieces are slightly different. One has a tab on the outside to help you disassemble the backflow protector, and is a little wider in diameter. The other doesn’t have the tab, and is smaller.

Spectra S2 backflow protector assembly step 1
First put the small part of the backflow adapter on the membrane.

Start with the smaller diameter clear piece and the white silicone membrane.

Spectra S2 backflow protector assembly step 2
Make sure the white silicone is pulled tight around the outside of the small plastic backflow adapter piece.

Fit the membrane around the outer edge of the clear plastic. You may need to push or tug it into place so it is fully sealed. Got that? That was the hardest part!

Spectra S2 backflow protector assembly step 3
Then put the large piece of the backflow adaptor on the other side

Now put the other clear plastic piece onto the back side. It should snap right on.

Spectra S2 backflow protector assembly step 4
Insert the small end into the tubing

Just stick the smaller end of the backflow protector onto the tubing. Only one end will fit into the tubing. The other end will go into the back of the flange later. You’re done – though you may want to assemble the other backflow protector now too if you are planning to pump both sides at once.

How to Assemble the Spectra S2: Putting it all Together

how to assemble the Spectra S2
Fit the tubing onto the vacuum pump ports

Now that you’ve assembled the backflow protectors, you’re nearly done! Insert the other end of the tubing over the vacuum pump outlet. If you plan to pump both sides, remove the cover from the other pump outlet and hook up the other tube too. Now your Spectra S2 assembly is complete! 

If you’re ready to pump now, you can assemble your bottles as well. Simply put the white duck bill valve onto the bottom of the flange. Then screw the flange onto your bottle. Finally, insert the other end of the backflow protector into the back of the flange. Finally, you’re ready to pump! 

Medela PISA and Spectra S2 Tips

I’ve come up with a variety of Spectra S2 tips and Medela PISA tricks, as well as ideas that will work with either pump. Try them out to find out what works best for you! Maybe you will find some of these boost your milk production or make your pumping sessions go by more quickly!

Pumping Tips

  • Change the settings to see what works best for you. Both Medela and Spectra recommend slowly increasing the settings until you feel slightly uncomfortable, then adjust them back down a notch so you are comfortable. Pumping should not be painful. 
  • Some women have good results ramping up the vacuum suction or slowing the speed every 3-10 minutes during pumping sessions 
  • Pump after milk stops coming out to ensure your breasts are fully empty. This helps boost supply. This may mean pumping for 15-30 minutes, depending on your body.
  • Pump at the same time every day- routine  encourages your body to have an easier letdown. Letdown is a reflex, so you can train your body!
Cool trick, Karen! My breasts can tell time!

Pump Accessory Tips

  • Did you know you can get softer silicone flanges? If the hard plastic flanges are too rough on your skin, try this for Medela PISA, and these for Spectra S2.The Spectra cushion comes in a single pack and is inserted inside the S2 flange. The Medela cushion is a separate piece that you use in place of the PISA flange.
  • Replace your membranes, valves, and tubing approximately every 3 months. These parts can wear out over time and cause the pump to work less effectively, meaning you get less milk. Replacement parts are readily available on Amazon!
  • Speaking of which, I recommend keeping a backup set of parts on hand, just in case something breaks.
  • Use lanolin or other breast creams on your nipples and on the edges of the flanges. These ointments soothe soreness and make the plastic pump parts less rough on your skin. They are also safe in case some gets into the milk or your baby eats some. Personally, I prefer lanolin, but some moms think it is too thick and greasy and prefer other types of creams, like the olive oil based Mother Love cream
  • Put your pump on a soft surface to make it quieter, like a couch, carpeted floor, ottoman, or even just put a towel or blanket underneath. 
  • The Spectra S2 has a little “cup holder” on the back. You can use it to wrangle the backflow adapters, or fit a bottle into it.
Spectra S2 tips: the back acts as a bottle holder or a backflow protector holder
The back “pocket on the S2 can hold a bottle or the backflow protectors.

Tips for making your pumping sessions comfortable

  • Look at pictures or videos of your baby while you pump. This will help you express more. Some moms also bring a piece of their baby’s clothing with their smell on it.
  • Find something enjoyable to do while you pump. The more relaxed and comfortable you are, the more milk you will get! Some moms have a game they play or a book they read, but only while pumping. I like putting my pump on a laptop desk  or portable table while I’m at work or at home. I can keep my pump up off the floor, so I can easily adjust the settings. And I still have room for my laptop or a notebook so I can work or play while pumping. 
  • Related: Read my post on 15 Things to do While Breastfeeding or Pumping!

Tips for ensuring good milk supply

  • Don’t look at how much milk you’ve pumped while you pump. Cover up your bottles with socks or drape a scarf or something over them
  • Personally, I have a manual pump as a backup as well. Just in case the power goes out, or I’m traveling with no place to plug my pump in. I love this Lansinoh manual pump. It’s quiet, comfortable, and even has a letdown and expression mode.
  • I like to use disposable nursing pads to protect against any leaks. I’d hate to have milk leaking through my shirt at work if I’m a little late for a pumping session! Some women prefer reusable, washable nursing pads, like these ones by Bamboobies.
  • I use the rule of four for remembering how long breast milk can be stored: 4 hours at room temperature, 4 days in the fridge, and 4 months in the freezer. The CDC’s guidelines are more specific, but these are a good rule of thumb!

Add a breast pump and/ or accessories to your baby registry! 

Click here to add the Spectra S2 or Medela PISA to your Amazon baby shower registry! Even if you aren’t having a shower, Amazon will give you a discount on unpurchased baby-related items on your registry around 6 weeks before your due date! 

If you haven’t set up a registry yet, click here to get started! It’s super simple. Enter basic information about your baby, then just browse to the items you want on Amazon and click the button to add them to your registry. 

Here are the items we talked about in this article that you may want to consider adding to your registry or purchasing if you are getting an S2 or PISA:

Spectra S2

Medela PISA

Breast Pump Accessories to go with either the Spectra S2 or Medela PISA

Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA: Which is best for your situation?

In general, I recommend the Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA for moms who will primarily be pumping at home, moms who plan to exclusively pump, and moms who want a quiet pump.

In general, I recommend the Medela PISA over the Spectra S2 for moms who plan to travel with their pump frequently. If you will mainly be traveling to work, I could see either pump working for you.

Conclusions: Spectra S2 vs Medela Pump In Style Advanced

Comparing the Spectra S2 vs Medela PISA, the S2 wins out for giving mom the ability to customize her pump’s settings, and it’s amazingly quiet motor. The Spectra S2 is great for moms who plan to pump primarily at home. The PISA wins in the portability arena. Due to its compact size and how it is integrated into the carrying bag, it is great for moms who travel, whether it is to and from work, or moms who will need to pump in the car, on the plane, or other traveling situations away from home. Moms can also purchase a variety of different accessories for either pump to better suit their needs.

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