Flange Size Matters! How to increase your pumping output and reduce nipple pain?

Every mom has her own story

Every time I talk about Fange Sizing it brings me back to that moment in the hospital after I have delivered my first baby.  A sweet Lactation Consultant took a look at my breasts and said with certainty:

you will need larger flanges than the ones that came with your pump! Make sure to get a pair of 30mm

Since I didn’t know any better and it made sense at the time as I had larger breasts, I rushed my husband to the store (just kidding, thanks Amazon) and purchased the said 30mm flange. With gestational diabetes, my milk took longer to increase in volume and I had to start pumping sooner than anticipated.

Ouch! The pain while pumping was unbearable, and I was having a hard time emptying my breasts. Even after pumping for close to an hour, they still felt like there was milk left in them and my milk supply has been going down every day despite frequent pumping. Sounds familiar? If the answer is YES then this article is for you!

After learning more about flange sizing, I finally discovered that in fact, I’m 15mm – exactly HALF of what I was sized by the hospital IBCLC. Correct flange size reducded my pumping discomfort, reduced time I spent pumping and helped increase my milk supply.


The 3 golden rules of flange sizing

There are 3 golden rules when it comes to finding a correct flange size:

  1.  Pumping needs to feel comfortable
  2.  Pumping needs to empty you efficiently within a 20-25 minute time frame,
  3. No amount of areola should be vacuumed inside the narrow tunnel


Areola being vacuumed into the narrow tunnel of the flange can cause serious ductal damage overtime. It’s okay for your nipple to be rubbing on the sides of the flange, especially if you have elastic breast tissue. Unless it causes discomfort, it’s not a concern. Do not focus on measuring the nipple – while it can give you an idea what your size might be, it’s not an exact science. The more elastic the breast tissue is, the smaller size of flange you might need.

How do I know if I am using the wrong size flange?

If pumping is uncomfortable or it takes a long time to empty your breasts – your flange is most likely too large. There are several brands that make Flanges smaller than 21mm: Nenesupply and Maymom. Both can be found on Amazon. Sinc you can easily return a flange set from any of the brands mentioned, you can purchase multiple sizes and check which one meets the 3 golden rules above! Remember to use proper lubrication every time you pump. Coconut oil is safe for your baby and helps heal sore nipples. Avoid using Lanolin – it’s thick and doesn’t lubricate well.

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About Me

Hi, I'm Karolina. I am a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) providing kind, real life, guilt-free greastfeeding suppoert for those in the Inland Empire Area and beyond. Read More

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