Most flanges are too large
Did you know that most breast pumps come with flanges that are too large for most users? Many mothers are uncomfortable when pumping and have difficulties emptying their breast. Until recent years, lactation leaders believed that the easiest solution when pumping was uncomfortable for mothers, was to increase the size of their flange. They thought the nipple should not touch the tunnel to prevent it from being injured.
Now, for many parent’s it is not easy to tell where the nipple and the areola begins especially during the pumping session. Soon they would realize that no matter what size they use the “nipple” was rubbing on the sides, when actually it wasn’t a nipple at all, it was their areolas. We then realized that mothers experienced a lot of nipple swelling that led to pain, inflammation, nipple blanching, and less effective milk flow. Finding the right flange for your breast pump is crucial when you have to rely on pumping for any reason. Fortunately we do have a large selection of different flanges available on the market. You can order them from the Maymon store on Amazon. They will fit many pumps once you use the right connector.
What about Willow and Elvie?
Sadly, not all pumps are compatible with maymom flanges. The popular hands free Elvie or Willow pumps for example only come with flanges size 21 and larger. This is a big disadvantage for these pump users who often need much smaller flanges to be comfortable and remove milk effectively. Gladly, some mothers have been successful with decreasing their flange size by using maymom inserts like these to adjust to their desired size. Notice that for some pumps like Elvie, the inserts will need to be trimmed down in size so they are not blocking air holes. I love how creative mothers are when there is a need to make pumping “suck less”. You can find many Youtube videos on trick’s and tips to get pumping more comfortable like this one here.
Elastic breast tissue
What if you tried several flanges and no matter what size you chose, your nipple swells and fills the tunnel and feels uncomfortable? It’s likely you have very elastic breast tissue and you may have better luck pumping with flexible flanges like LacTeck BabyMotion, Liquid Shield flanges or Pumping Pals flanges. These are completely different. They are flexible and will actually collapse down around your nipple, which helps compress and massage the nipple while pumping. Another option that is often mentioned are Beaugen cushions that can be used to add padding to your flange and decrease their size and the friction.
When you’re trying to determine the right flange/insert combination for yourself you might want to try measuring your nipple with the free printable tool such as this one. This is a good starting point but what’s more important than your nipple size is your comfort and the flow that you’re experiencing with different options. You might want to try decreasing your suction setting and changing the suction speed. Your local IBCLC might offer flange fittings to help you find the best option for your situation.