Correct Flange Size Pumping
Breast pumping is a valuable tool for mothers who want to provide their babies with breast milk, even when they are away or unable to breastfeed directly. However, one crucial aspect of successful pumping is ensuring that you are using the correct flange size. The flange, also known as the breastshield, is the funnel-shaped part of the breast pump that fits over the breast and nipple. Using the wrong flange size can lead to discomfort, inefficient milk expression, and even damage to the breast tissue. In this article, we will guide you through the process of finding your correct flange size.
Why Sizing Matters
Proper flange sizing is essential because it allows for efficient milk expression and ensures your comfort during pumping. The goal is to have no pain, strong milk sprays, and fully empty breasts. It's crucial to find the right balance that allows your nipple to move freely within the tunnel of the flange while minimizing the amount of areola present in the breastshield.
Measuring for Correct Sizing
To find your correct flange size, follow these steps:
1. Before pumping, measure your nipple diameter using the Idaho Jones Guide for Flange Sizing.
2. Consider a flange within 1-3mm of your nipple diameter. For example, if your nipple measures 16mm, consider a flange in the 17-19mm range.
3. Start with the smallest available flange size in your range, and then assess how it feels and performs during pumping. Pay attention to your comfort level, milk flow, and how empty your breasts feel after pumping. If necessary, make adjustments by trying different sizes within the range until you find the best fit for you.
Signs of Incorrect Sizing
To determine whether you are using the correct flange size, pay attention to the following signs:
1. Nipple Rubbing: If you notice your nipple rubbing against the sides of the flange tunnel, it may indicate that the flange is too small for your nipple size. In this case, consider trying a larger flange to accommodate your nipple comfortably. NB: If your nipple swells to rub against the sides of the flange regardless of the size of the flange you try, you might have elastic nipples.
2. Milk Coming Back: When pumping, if you find that milk is flowing back towards you instead of going into the collection bottle, it could be a sign that your flange is too large. This indicates a poor fit, and you might need a smaller flange size to create a proper seal and ensure efficient milk expression.
3. Red or White Rings/Patches: After pumping, observe your breasts for any redness or white rings or patches. These can be signs of improper flange sizing and may suggest that the flange is putting excessive pressure on the breast tissue. Adjusting to a better-fitting flange should alleviate these issues.
4. Discomfort: Pumping should not be painful or uncomfortable. If you experience any discomfort, such as soreness, pinching, or aching during or after pumping, it's a signal that your flange size may be incorrect. Try a different size to achieve a more comfortable pumping experience.
5. Empty Feeling: After you finish pumping, your breasts should feel empty, and you should confirm this by gently hand expressing any remaining milk. If your breasts still feel full or engorged, it could be an indication that the flange size is not suitable for your milk expression needs.
Finding the correct flange size for breast pumping is crucial for a comfortable and efficient pumping experience. By measuring your nipple diameter, considering the recommended range, and paying attention to signs of incorrect sizing, you can ensure that you are using a flange size that suits your individual needs. Remember that every person's body is unique, so don't hesitate to experiment with different sizes until you find the one that works best for you. Or seek help from a qualified lactation consultant with flange sizing experience.