Do your breasts hurt while you are pumping? Are you not getting as much milk as you think you should? The problem may not be with your pump or your milk supply – it could simply be that you don’t have the right flange size for your breasts.
Flanges, also known as breast shields, are the plastic cone-shaped pieces that fit over your breasts while you’re pumping. All electric breast pumps come with at least two flanges, which are usually a standard size of 24 to 27 millimeters (mm). But not all women’s nipples will fit the standard size.
Using the wrong flange size may not seem that important, but it can cause significant problems. Having a flange size that is too big or too small can cause pain in your breasts as well as cause you to not pump as much milk as you should, which can lead to blocked milk ducts.
Here’s how to know if your flange fits properly:
- You don’t experience any pain in your nipple
- Your breasts feel completely empty after pumping, and there aren’t any spots that still have milk inside
- Your areola doesn’t enter the tunnel part of the flange
- Your nipple moves freely inside the flange
- Your nipple doesn’t turn white
To avoid any of those problems, it’s best to measure your nipples before you buy your pump to make sure you have the right flange size from the beginning. Get out a ruler or measuring tape and measure the diameter of your nipple at its base, which means the distance straight across the nipple at the bottom. Make sure to not include the areola! The areola is the darker colored skin around the nipple. Also, make sure to measure it in millimeters (hint: 1 cm = 10 mm). Once you get the measurement, add about 2 to 5 millimeters to get your correct flange size.
For example, if your nipple width is 17mm or less, you’ll want to get a 21mm size flange. If it is 20mm or less, you should get a 24mm flange. If it is 23mm or less, go with the 27mm flange. If it is 26mm or less, go with the 30mm flange. And if it is 32mm or less, you’ll need the 36mm flange.
Below is a list of all of the breast pump manufacturers that we carry and the standard size flanges they come with:
- Ameda – 25mm and 28.5mm (Ameda Joy), or 24mm and 28.5mm (Ameda Mya)
- Ardo – 26mm (Ardo Calypso) or 26mm and 31mm (Ardo Calypso To Go Pure, which also comes with breast shell inserts for 28mm)
- Baby Buddha – 24mm
- Elvie – 24mm and 28mm
- Lansinoh – 25mm
- Medela – 24mm and 27mm (except for the Medela Freestyle Flex, which comes with 21mm and 24mm)
- Motif – 24mm
- Rumble Tuff – 24mm
- Spectra – 24mm and 28mm
- Unimom – 24mm and 28mm
- Zomee – 24mm and 28mm
If the standard breast shield size that comes with your pump doesn’t work for you, you can order smaller- or larger-sized flanges from us or the manufacturer. Here is a list of the different size flanges you can order through us:
- Ameda Mya – 30mm
- Ardo – 28mm, 31mm
- Lansinoh – 30.5mm
- Medela – 21mm, 24mm, 27mm, 30mm, 36mm
- Spectra – 24mm or 32mm
- Zomee – 28mm
Remember, pumping isn’t supposed to hurt! Getting the correct size flange will make a world of difference in your pumping experience.