Product Review: Spectra S9, The Lightest Portable Breast Pump
Did you know that the Spectra S9 Plus weighs only 0.5 lbs? It’s among the lightest breast pumps currently available yet still offers a double electric breast pump capability that can reach up to 260 mmHg.
This lightweight, portable pump is ideal for moms who travel frequently or even those who work from home but don’t like a bulky pump.
What are the key features of Spectra S9 Plus, and how does it fare with the other breast pumps made by Spectra Baby USA and key competitors? You’ll know the answer by the end of this article.
The Spectra S9 Plus is priced at $180 on the official websites of Spectra Baby USA and Target. But it currently costs just $150 on Walmart and Amazon.
These are the key features of the Spectra 9 Plus:
- It’s the smallest and most compact breast pump by Spectra and among the lightest of all breast pumps.
- It measures 5 x 3 x 1.8 inches and weighs 0.5 lbs (just around the size of a smartphone, but thicker). In comparison, the portable Spectra S1 Plus measures around 7.5 x 7.5 by 8.5 inches and weighs 2.42 lbs.
- Strong yet gentle suction strength up to 260 mmHg
- It’s not a hospital-grade pump and isn’t as strong as the other Spectra pumps that go up to 270 mmHg.
- You can activate letdown mode, which mimics the suction of a hungry baby to promote milk flow with just a touch of a button.
Single or Double Electric Breast Pump
- Despite its compact size, the Spectra 9 Plus can be used both as a single and double electric breast pump.
- You can also quickly switch between modes using the T-connector, so you don’t have to change the tubing. Just unplug the other tubing to use as a single pump.
- This portable breast pump has 10 adjustable suction levels in expression mode and five adjustable massage mode levels.
- Like all Spectra pumps, the S9 is a closed-system breast pump (this makes the pump a hygienic option because the backflow protectors keep the breast milk from entering the tubes and the pump motor).
- Despite the small size, the Spectra S9 still has an LCD display that shows the vacuum level, mode, timer, and battery life.
- The Spectra 9 Plus comes with built-in rechargeable batteries.
- A fully charged battery can be used for around one hour (or up to around one and a half hours) of pumping time.
Battery Life & Charging Time
- Initial charging is for at least 4 hours, with the pump turned off. Make sure to do this before using the pump for the first time.
- Subsequent charging should be done only when the pump is off and until the battery is full. Remove the AC adapter from the outlet once fully charged.
Other Key Features
- Two built-in modes
- Auto shut-off
- Easy to clean
- All the plastic products are BPA/DEHP-free. BPA (bisphenol A) and DEHP (Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate) are toxic industrial chemicals used in making commercial plastic products.
What Comes in the Box
- Two 24mm Spectra breast flanges
- Two Spectra tubing
- Two Spectra duckbill valves
- Two Spectra backflow protectors (with silicone membrane, uppercase, and lowercase for each backflow protector)
- Two Spectra wide neck storage bottles (with lid, nipple, cap, and disc for each bottle)
- One Spectra 9-Volt AC power adapter (with detachable power cord prongs)
- Like the rest of the Spectra pumps, the S9 Plus has a warranty of 2 years on the pump and 90 days on the pump accessories.
Pros & Cons
Having a built-in rechargeable battery and weighing just 0.5 lbs enhances the portability of Spectra S9.
Because it’s lightweight and portable, you can also use the Spectra S9 as a hands-free breast pump along with a hands-free breast pump bra (sold separately at around $20 to $30).
Some bras that are compatible with the Spectra S9:
- Simple Wishes L+ Hands-Free Breast Pumping Bra; $29.99
- Mom Cozy Adjustable Breast-Pumps Hands-Free Pumping Bra (Holding and Nursing Bra); $22.99
- DLITE by Simple Wishes (by Moms for Moms) Hands-Free Breast Pumping Bra; $27.99
- Essential Pump & Nurse All in One Nursing and Hands-Free Pumping Bra; $24
- Lupantte Hands-Free Pumping Bra, Comfortable Breast Pump Bra with Pads, Adjustable Nursing Bra for Pumping; $19.99
- Pump Strap Hands-Free Strapless Pumping Bra for Breastfeeding Women; $32.99
It features both let down mode and expression mode.
The breast pump has an auto shut-off after 30 minutes. This comes in handy, particularly if you’re pumping hands-free.
Single and Double Pumping Capabilities
You can swiftly switch between single and double pumping with the Spectra S9 Plus.
Ease of Use
The Spectra 9 memorizes your last pump setting, so you don’t have to keep changing the settings every time you use the pump.
Not Hospital Grade
The Spectra S9 Plus isn’t a heavy-duty breast pump, unlike the other pumps from Spectra.
No Speed Adjustment
While you can adjust the vacuum level and the mode (let down or expression), you can’t adjust the speed independently.
Can Be Noisy
The Spectra 9 Plus can get noisier over time, despite Spectra Baby USA touting that it operates at 45 dB (decibels) “just like the hush of a library.”
Suction Isn’t Super Strong
Although it still has strong suction (up to 260 mmHg), the Spectra 9 isn’t as strong as the other Spectra breast pumps (up to 270 mmHg).
Of all the Spectra breast pumps, this is also the only one with limited breast shield size provided with the box. It only comes with two 24mm Spectra breast flanges while the rest offer both that size and two 28mm Spectra breast flanges.
What Customers Say
“I bought this as a backup to my Spectra S2 and to have something portable for when I’m on the go. It’s a pretty good little pump! I’m an exclusive pumper, so I need my pumps to work well in order to empty me efficiently and maintain my supply. I love my S2 so much, so I went with this one. So far, it’s great! The settings are a simpler setup from the S1/2, but after fiddling with it a couple of times, I think I’ve found what works for me on this one. On my S2, I use cycle 54/vacuum 5. on the 9, I’ve found that level 5 is pretty comparable to that.” – Reviewer on Amazon
“This is a great, compact alternative to the bulkier S1/S2. As others have mentioned, it is certainly louder and with fewer settings than the S1/S2, but good to have on hand. The charge lasts as described, and I have not noticed a dip in output, though letdown does take ~60 seconds longer. I wouldn’t replace this for an everyday, heavy use pump, but I really enjoy having it on hand and would buy again.” – Reviewer on Target
“Excellent pump! I use it in the car with the Freemie cups while I am driving to and from school! It works great and is small enough to have on my door pocket right next to me. Records the time I have been pumping and remembers my settings from one pump session to the next. Could not be more pleased!” – Reviewer on Lucina Care
“My husband bought me this pump trying to be sweet so I could move around and be hands-free and unattached. I was stuck between this and the S1 bc I was afraid the suction on this wouldn’t be enough. He surprised me with this one. His thoughts were this would be smaller and more convenient. This pump was loud and sounded like it was on the struggle bus. The settings are not like the S2 in what they do or produce. I usually make a ton of milk, and this pump only got out drops, when I took it off, I hand expressed ounces.” – Reviewer on Amazon
“The first Spectra 9+ broke within 3 days. The pump initially worked perfectly but quickly started surging and then failed completely, not pulling at all. Spectra warranty support told us that this type of failure was “impossible” and refused to refund the purchase. The second pump, purchased within days of the first’s failure, was dead-on-arrival. Again, we were told there were no refunds. $360 of failed pumps within the first two weeks of our baby’s life. It would be amazing if they worked, but these two didn’t. Good luck.” – Reviewer on Target
“Waste of money, I am so very disappointed. It doesn’t empty me and doesn’t feel like the Spectra S2 that I have. I am an exclusive pumper and really did not want to waste any money! I wanted to get a product that worked well or get the Spectra 9Plus exchanged for the Spectra S1 and pay the difference. I have called a couple of times, e-mailed them, and NO ONE returned my calls or e-mails!!! If you are debating between this or the Spectra S1, get the Spectra S1. The Spectra 9Plus is such a waste of money! This is something I will NOT use because the suction is not good at all!!! $180 sitting and collecting dust!!! – Reviewer on Amazon
Spectra 9 Plus vs. Spectra S2
Spectra 9 Plus costs $180, while Spectra S2 Plus breast pump costs $159.
The Spectra S2 Plus isn’t a portable pump. You must always plug this pump into an outlet during each use.
The Spectra 9 Plus can only reach 260 mmHg, while the Spectra S2 can reach 270 mmHg.
Only 10 vacuum levels for the Spectra 9 Plus but the Spectra S2 has 12.
No strength settings for the Spectra 9 Plus.
The Spectra 9 Plus wins for portability and small size, but the Spectra S2 wins for a lower price, better power, and more customizable settings.
Spectra 9 Plus vs. Spectra S1
The Spectra 9 Plus costs $180, while the Spectra S1 costs $200.
Both pumps are portable, but the 9 Plus is lighter by nearly 2 lbs.
The Spectra 9 Plus can only reach 260 mmHg, but the Spectra S2 can do up to 270 mmHg.
The Spectra 9 Plus only has 10 vacuum levels, but the Spectra S2 has 12.
There are no cycle speed settings for the Spectra 9 Plus.
Both pumps are portable. But the Spectra 9 Plus wins for its smaller size and lower price, while the Spectra S1 wins for better power and more customizable settings.
Spectra 9 Plus vs. Medela Freestyle
Spectra 9 Plus costs $180, while the Medela Freestyle costs $324.99.
Both are portable breast pumps with single or double pumping capabilities. The Spectra 9 Plus is lighter (0.5 lbs), while the Medela Freestyle weighs slightly more (0.82 lbs).
The Spectra 9 Plus can only reach 260 mmHg, but the Medela Freestyle can do up to 270 mmHg.
The Spectra 9 Plus has 10 vacuum levels, while the Medela Freestyle only has nine.
The Spectra 9 Plus only comes with one size of breast flanges, while the Medela Freestyle comes with two sizes of breast shields.
The Spectra 9 Plus lasts just around 1.5 hours, while the Medela Freestyle can reach up to three hours.
- The Spectra 9 Plus has a 2-year warranty on the pump motor, while the Medela Freestyle only has a 1-year warranty.
- The Spectra 9 Plus doesn’t have a bag, while the Medela Freestyle comes with a tote bag and mini cooler pack with your purchase.
Both pumps are portable. But the Spectra 9 Plus wins for its smaller size, lower price, and longer warranty, while the Medela Freestyle wins for better power and having more accessories that come with the box.
Spectra 9 Plus vs. Medela Pump in Style
- The Spectra 9 Plus costs $180.
- The cheaper Medela Pump in Style MaxFlow costs $249.99, but the other variant (the Medela Pump in Style Advanced) costs $299.99 to $359.99.
Both pumps are portable and have rechargeable batteries, but the Medela Pump in Style weighs 7 lbs, while Spectra Plus is just 0.5 lbs.
Although the weakest of all Spectra breast pumps with a pump strength of just 260 mmHg, Spectra S9 is stronger than the Medela Pump in Style that can only go up to 240 mmHg.
- The Spectra S9 Plus has a 2-year warranty, while the Medela Pump in Style only has a 1-year warranty
- The Spectra S9 Plus features a more hygienic closed system, but the Medela Pump in Style has an open system (milk goes through the tubing, but it still has backflow protection for the motor).
- The Spectra 9 Plus doesn’t come with a bag, while the Medela Pump in Style offers a tote bag and mini cooler pack in the box.
Both pumps are portable. But while the Medela Pump in Style has more accessories, the Spectra S9 Plus wins for its much lower price, much lighter weight, stronger pump, more hygienic closed system, and longer warranty period.
Types of Breast Pumps
These are the basic distinctions among different types of breast pumps:
Manual breast pumps
Ideal for EBF (exclusive breastfeeding) moms, manual breast pumps are useful in establishing milk supply or dealing with engorgement. But these aren’t ideal if you’re an exclusive pumper (you prefer feeding your baby breast milk in bottles) because pumping by hand can be tiresome.
Electric breast pumps
These are the most popular breast pumps because of their convenience, power, and ease of use. Often, you can choose the cycle settings and opt to do single or double pumping.
Portable breast pumps
Pumping sessions can be done hands-free for portable breast pumps, but you have to wear a special pumping bra.
How to Choose a Breast Pump
Things to consider in choosing a breast pump:
Will you pump exclusively?
If you’re an EBF mom, you might prefer a manual breast pump for occasional use, while exclusive pumpers prefer hospital-grade double breast pumps.
Do you need a fast breast pump?
If you’re a busy mom or want something done quickly, then you’d want to choose a pump with faster, stronger settings.
Do you need an easy-to-use pump?
Some breast pumps can be complicated due to many advanced features or too many parts for better pumping. But you might want an easy-to-use pump that remembers your cycle settings.
Do you need a portable pump?
A portable pump is handy if you need to pump on the go, but you might want to pick a reliable electric pump that’s usually cheaper than a portable pump if you just need to use one at home.
Does the breast shield fit?
The breast shield must fit you. This ensures even expression/pumping of your breast milk. However, the size of the breast shield can affect how much milk you’re able to pump.
Spectra only offers three sizes of breast shields: 18 mm, 24 mm, and 32 mm. The Spectra S9 only has 24mm in the box, but you can use the other sizes if you have extras from your other Spectra breast pumps.
You can also use other breast shields from Ameda, Medela, or Avent. But you need to use special connectors or flange adapters (Maymom backflow adapters cost around $10), or bottle converters (also costs around $10 to $20).
Where will you pump the milk?
If you usually pump at home, this won’t matter a lot, but if you’re a mom who needs to work away from the house or has to be out for long hours for some reason, it’s a good idea to get a portable pump.
Also, you’d want a quiet breast pump for a discreet pumping session at your workplace or anywhere outside the house.
Summary & Recommendation
Why you should buy the Spectra S9 Plus:
- It’s the lightest portable breast pump you can buy.
- It’s a small breast pump that fits in your pocket.
- You can use it as a hands-free pump.
- You can quickly switch between single and double pump modes.
- It’s not the most powerful but can still go up to 260 mmHg.
- It has some customizable options, including up to 10 vacuum levels.
- It has a letdown mode and massage mode.
- It has a timer and memorizes your cycle setting.
Why you shouldn’t buy the Spectra S9 Plus:
- It’s not a heavy-duty hospital-grade breast pump and could easily wear out with frequent use.
- The battery can only last for around 1.5 hours.
- You can’t change the speed settings.
- It comes with fewer settings and accessories than other Spectra breast pumps.
If you’re looking for the lightest, smallest portable breast pump with many capabilities offered in the other Spectra models, then buy the Spectra S9. But if you want a powerful, heavy-duty breast pump or one that has longer battery power, then you should try other options.