Alright. Time to talk about something that’s actually useful and not just my rambling thoughts.
Friday I posted about how I have finally built my supply back up. One of the most effective ways I accomplished that was with the right fitting flanges. When I bought my pump, it came with size 24mm flanges, and I just assumed that was a pretty average size for most women.
Around the same time that I was desperately trying to build up my supply, I started to get really sore when I pumped. Granted, this was partially because I was using my pump settings backwards for three months (oh that’s what the wavy lines button is supposed to do! 😏). Still, when I started playing around with the suction settings, I was still in pain and just emptying slower.
Finally I saw this picture:
Suddenly everything clicked! My flanges were WAY too big for me! I had a good centimeter of space around my nipples, instead of the recommended 2-3 millimeters. The smart thing to do would’ve been to actually measure the diameter of my nipples, but instead I just order a size smaller – 21mm. That helped a little, but I ended up having to order another size smaller – 19mm.
The difference between using the 19mm and 24mm was night and day. The pain was drastically reduced. I still take a long time to empty, but instead of drips it comes out in streams, and I’m able to get more out in each pumping session.
It’s common knowledge that your boobs get bigger with pregnancy and especially when your milk comes in, but I had no idea your nipples could change in size too. I wasn’t keeping track, but there’s a good probability that my nipples shrunk a bit since I gave birth. I’m able to use the same size on both sides, although one nipple is a little smaller than the other, but some women do need a different size flange for each breast.
So if you notice there’s a big gap between your nipples and the tube of the flanges, or they are rubbing too much against the tube, don’t think you have to put up with the discomfort just because that’s the flange that came with your pump. Try getting a size that actually fits, and see for yourself what a difference it can make!
You can use this measuring chart below, or if you’re still having trouble finding a good fit, ask a lactation consultant for help. You can also try reaching out to a pumping support group. It may seem awkward to ask a bunch of strangers about your nipples, but if you’re in pain, it could be the difference between giving up pumping in a week or two, or meeting your pumping goals.