Pumping is often an integral part of the mother-baby relationship. Whether a mom is exclusively breast pumping or needs some independence from baby for work (or any other outing), it will be significantly more efficient when the pump is set up correctly. A big part of this setup includes flange size. Having a poorly sized flange can lead to breast damage, pain, and poor output, which can lead to premature weaning of baby from breast milk.
Here are some quick tips to follow when measuring your flange size:
Getting an accurate measurement.
Finding the proper size for a breast flange is based on the diameter of the nipple, not the areola (the softer pigmented skin around the nipple). When the tunnel of the flange is placed on your breast, it should only have a few millimeters (3-5) of wiggle room around the nipple. The entire nipple should fit comfortably without much, if any, of the areola entering the tunnel. All these details should be assessed before actually pumping since it can cause mild swelling of the nipple and skew measurements. Spectra Baby USA has a great PDF that you can use to measure nipple diameter here.
How it should look when pumping.
When the nipple is suctioned into the tunnel, these sensitive tissues should be able to move freely with no rubbing against the sides. If the shield is rubbing, it may simply require an adjustment of the shield itself (making sure it’s well centered) or decreasing the suction level. Otherwise, it could mean that the shield is too small and causing excessive friction. On the other hand, if the shield is too large it can cause the tissue of the areola to be pulled into the shield, also causing irritation and hypersensitivity. It will be obvious after the use of a breast pump if the areola has been pulled in excessively, as it will deform the tissue to the shape of the tunnel and most likely cause redness. For a good visual of how the shield should look on your breast, check here.
The standard size that comes with most pumps is 24 mm. Companies have found that this size fits the average woman. The added benefit of purchasing a Spectra pump is that two sizes are included: 24 and 28 mm. However, if these don’t fit there other options available. Spectra flanges come in 20, 24, 28, and 32 mm. Other brands vary but the general range is 20-34 mm. These flanges are relatively inexpensive and completely worth the purchase to make sure you have the highest level of comfort and ma inimal level of tissue damage to the breast with pumping. Using the flanges included with your pump can help gauge the most appropriate size (whether you need to size up or down) prior to any further purchases.
Pumping should always be comfortable, with shield size being key to this. Don’t forget other factors like suction level and the quality of the pump. In between sessions, be sure to give your breasts some love as well to prevent issues like dryness and cracking. If you are still having issues, contact Spectra Baby USA for further guidance and they can help make you experience more enjoyable and efficient.