Spectra S1: The Pump That Saved My Sanity

I’ve never heard of the Spectra brand until an old high school friend mentioned it. The brand is popular in Asia and Australia, and recently expanded to the North American market with Spectra Baby USA.

I was renting the Medela Symphony pump for $75/month, when I looked into the Spectra pumps. I was content with renting a pump, but when I discovered the hospital-grade S1 pump priced reasonably ($319USD), it made more sense for me to buy. There are a few features that are better on the Medela Symphony, but overall, the Spectra S1 pros outweigh the cons, and I am so happy with my decision.

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Comes with a rechargeable battery
  • Has a timer
  • Has a nightlight
  • Can adjust speed and vacuum strength separately

Cons:

  • Louder than the Symphony
  • Collection kit seems to be of lower quality and is clunkier than the Medela one (looks cheap and and doesn’t stand on its own well)
  • Flange valves are difficult to remove
  • Collection bottles are wide-neck (I have a lot of standard neck bottles) and nipples aren’t slow flow
  • Doesn’t automatically switch from Stimulation to Expression mode

So how has the S1 saved my sanity? Instead of spending almost 2 hours of my day “chained” to one spot, I’m able to carry the pump to walk around (with my makeshift hands-free pumping bra aka bandeau with cutouts) and do other things. Plus, the built-in timer means there’s no need to watch the clock anymore. And the best part…my output increased! I’m not sure if it’s because I’m less stressed or if this pump is actually more efficient; regardless, I no longer dread my pumping sessions.

Edit: After a few weeks, I modified my setup so I was able to use the Spectra pump with Medela parts. The Medela collection bottles were just better for me. To do this, I cut the end (part that connects to the pump) of the Medela tubes and attached that directly to the Spectra pump. Note: This does change the system from being a closed one to open (like Medela), since there won’t be a barrier between the milk collection kit and the pump, so you would need to make sure that no moisture gets into the tubing.

“Fitbit” for Your Lady Part

Especially throughout and post pregnancy, you’ll likely be encouraged to work out your pelvic floor muscles by doing kegels. I admit that I only did them when I randomly remembered to do them, but they are pretty easy to do very discreetly. I’m sure a lot of women forget about these muscles, so you’re welcome for the reminder; you’re probably doing kegels right now :)

But how do you know if you’re doing them right? Thanks to smartphones and wearable technology, these can be tracked! Crazy, right? kGoal is an “exercise tool” that you insert and communicates (wirelessly, thankfully) to your smartphone to give you real-time feedback.

kgoal Image by Minna Life blog

What will they come up with next??

Baby Photography Tips in Layman’s Terms

I’ve had my Canon T2i DSLR camera for a few years now, and I’ve never got around to learning how to use it properly. Every time I start learning about it, I get overwhelmed with all the variables and I would just go out and experiment. It required too much of a commitment to understand and remember the science behind taking a good photo. Without really knowing how to set up the camera, no wonder why it would take me dozens of shots to get a decent one; and I still relied on my Photoshop skills to make it a “good” photo.

I met Carrie, the owner of Four Bees Photography, who discussed with a group of us how to take photos of our little ones. She briefly touched on what each of the settings do, but with my wandering mind, only a few tips stuck with me. Here are a few that I understood because they were in layman’s terms (look at the photo to see what numbers I’m referring to):

  • Shutter speed (1/200 in photo) – Adjust this according to your lens. Add at least “100” to your lens focal length. I have a 50mm lens, so my shutter speed should be no less than 1/150 (or 1/160 as per the camera setting). For example, I would start at 1/160 and go up from there (1/200, 1/250, etc.) depending on my subject.
  • Aperture (F1.8 in photo) – The lower the number, the blurrier a background will be in a photo. This is what you want if you just want to focus on the subject and “blur out” the background mess. I think the lowest it would go on the Canon kit lens is F5.6.
  • ISO (800 in photo) – The higher the number, the more light you’ll let in the photo. Being indoors, I would start at 800 and play around from there.

There you have it. For a beginner like me, these are three settings to play around with in manual mode. You want to get to or as close to “0” on the scale to get the proper lighting. (Hint: On a Canon, press the * button to see the scale results of your current settings.) Have fun and take lots of photos!

Oh, and the most important tip I picked up that day: Let others take photos of you and your little one together, regardless of how your hair looks or how you feel about yourself. In 10 or 20 years, you’ll be glad you have that photo of you and your baby — and who knows, you might even think you never looked better!

Someone’s Three Months Old Today!

I’ve heard many times to “enjoy these days, because the baby grows so fast.” And I can see that it’s so true. Jarvis is no longer a newborn. He’s now a little person I can interact with. The past three months have been so enjoyable.

Here are a few updates:

  • Weight: ~14lbs 3oz
  • Length: 63cm (25in)
  • Daytime sleep: Three 1-2 hour naps a day
  • Nighttime sleep: 2-3 hours at a time
  • Feeds: Breastfed and bottle-fed (expressed breast milk and formula — still about about 24-25oz/day)
  • Personality: He loves to smile and laugh. He gets cranky when he’s hungry, tired or needs to burp. He also “converses” a lot. We have a lot conversations that involve him responding to me with coos and grunts. It’s quite entertaining.
  • Milestones: Giggles, holds head up, rolled over from tummy to back (it only happened once so he might have just been lucky that time), drooling (teething??)
  • Likes: Daddy’s rapping (watch here), mommy’s singing (The Wheels on the Bus), TV, the car seat mirror, the baby carrier, the crib mobile
  • Dislikes: Tummy time and the swing (he much prefers to be propped up on the couch than to sit in the swing)

Here are my updates:

  • Recovery: Sometimes I still feel a heavy pelvic pressure like my uterus is falling! I think it’s just weak pelvic floor muscles. Other than that, my recovery has been good and uneventful.
  • Exercise: Lots of walks and the Babywearing Workout
  • Diet: I purchased a bunch of Supperworks meals almost 2 months ago, and that provided some healthy and easy meals for a few weeks. Since then, however, my somewhat healthy diet has deteriorated. Now, it’s just all about quick, easy and tasty food, which means takeout, pasta, milk and cookies, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, etc.
  • Sleep: For the most part, I get two-hour blocks of sleep between 12AM-8AM.
  • Mood: Happy. I do have my moments when I feel exhausted and overwhelmed, but this past month has been really fun. Every time baby giggles or smiles (which is pretty often), my heart melts. Many times, I’m doing a middle-of-the-night diaper change; I’m tired and just want to get it over with and get back to bed. I put the baby down on the change table and he looks up at me with his big gummy smile. I love it. My heart skips a beat every time.

Happy 3 months, Jarvis!

Babywearing

I’ve been “wearing the baby” for over a month now, and it has definitely made my days easier.

I use it at least 2-3 hours a day, depending on what I need to do and the baby’s mood. And most of the time, baby is so comfortable in it, he falls asleep pretty easily.

I have the Beco Gemini soft carrier, and with the baby content and my hands free, I’ve been able to do things like:

  • Wash the dishes
  • Put on makeup
  • Grocery shop without a carseat/stroller
  • Browse the internet
  • Clean/prep bottles
  • Exercise

I even figured out how to nurse in the carrier! It’s brilliant and so convenient.

Babywearing is not only great for mommy (or daddy), but studies have shown that babies are happier and healthier (get in tune with their carrier’s breathing, heartbeat and movements) and cry less. It’s also perfect for bonding. Here’s my husband enjoying the carrier during one of our walks: