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What's your breast pump flange size: finding your best fit

Updated: Jun 4

lactation consultant holding a breast pump in view of mom and baby
lactation consultant holding a breast pump

When I was a pumping mom, I was definitely a "just enougher." I struggled to keep up with my big, hungry baby, putting in lots of effort to pump just enough for what he needed. At the time, I thought I was doing everything right to optimize my milk production. How I wish I knew then what I know now.

Back then, I had no idea that different flange sizes existed. I simply bought a decent pump and started pumping with the random flanges it came with. It never occurred to me that I could try a different-sized flange. Today, as a breastfeeding specialist and postpartum doula, I know and have seen the difference a properly flitting flange can make for a mom's comfort and milk production.

In fact, proper sizing for flange fit is absolutely crucial for comfort and efficiency during pumping sessions. Today, my clients report that they are more comfortable and express more milk with a better fit!

Are you a pumping parent? Do you know your flange size? Many parents don't! Thankfully, you know now what I didn't when I was in your shoes.

If you pump at all, I want you to have the best-fitting flange possible to optimize your comfort and milk production. Here are my seven tips for finding your best flange fit!

Seven Tips for Finding Your Breast Pump Flange Size

1. Look at your nipples: Look at how your nipples fit into the flanges. Ideally, each nipple should move freely within the tunnels without rubbing against the sides, and your areolas should not be pulled into the tunnels at all. Pro tip: Some moms don't mind their nipples rubbing against the sides and actually produce more milk this way! To avoid friction, try using a food-safe oil like olive or coconut on the nipples.

2. Measure nipple diameter: Use a ruler to measure the diameter of each of your nipples at their widest points. This measurement can then help you select your best-fitting flange size. Pro tip: Measure both of your nipples. They can have different measurements and require different flange sizes.

3. Try different sizes: Most pumping kits come with one or two flange sizes, often much larger than the average nipple. I recommend experimenting with various sizes to see which one feels the most comfortable and helps you produce the most milk. Pro tip: If your breast pump manufacturer doesn't offer the size you need, purchase from a competitor who makes compatible flanges for your pump. My clients often order from Maymom.

4. Pumping Feedback: Pay attention to how the breasts and nipples feel during and after pumping. This is valuable feedback on whether the flange size is appropriate for you. Discomfort, pain, and poor milk flow often indicate that a different size is needed.

5. Monitor Breast Changes: Breast size and shape can change throughout the breastfeeding journey, so it's essential to reassess flange size periodically, especially if pumping becomes uncomfortable or less effective over time. Pro tip: It is common to experience nipple size changes from pregnancy to at least 6 weeks postpartum.

6. Consult a Lactation Consultant: Lactation consultants are trained professionals who can help you determine the correct flange size. They use techniques like measuring the nipple and observing how it behaves during pumping. They will also consider your experience carefully while helping you find your best fit.

7. Choose what works for you: Regardless of recommendations, you are the one pumping, and despite what we see on the outside, none of us can see what is going on inside your breast. Breast density and anatomy vary from person to person, so what works for one may not work for another. Pro tip: You are the ultimate judge of what is comfortable and works best for your breasts.

By combining these methods, I hope you can find the flange size that best suits your needs, leading to a more comfortable and productive pumping experience.

If you need help choosing the correct flange size, I can help! Please send me a message or book a consultation!

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