SM AD Network

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Advanced Solutions for Nipple Sizes & Non-Matching Flanges

In study and research all over the world, we have encountered plenty of women that do not conform to the standard breastshield / flange sizes on most pumps, even the pumps that offer interchangeable and custom shields seem to be lacking.

Before we get into some of the solutions available for your incorrectly fitting flanges, let’s really look into the nipple and the tunnel. This basically applies to those with smaller nipples, so if your issue needs bigger flanges then scroll down.

Confirming Your Size

Breast Pump Flange Too Large
Breast Pump Flange Too Large
Plenty of women have flat or inverted nipples. We really won’t be covering inverted nipples in this article, just touching on it briefly. A nipple that isn’t “perky” or is “puffy” or dormant will probably be smaller than an erect nipple. Let’s start by massaging the areola and the nipple and then really start trying to wake it up. Gentle tugs and flicks with a finger can aid in this process. When your nipple is extremely erect it might feel a bit painful and that means it is probably at its largest natural size. Insert your nipple into your breastshield / flange and really study it.Make sure your nipple is centered in the tunnel. (Unlike this picture)

Let’s ask a couple of questions:

  • Is there less of a gap now? If the gap has reduced between the side wall of the tunnel and the side of your nipple, then you might have a decent fit.
  • How much of the areola is left at the base of the tunnel? If it’s only a very small amount (just a few millimeters), Then you might already have an okay fit.

Gap Between Nipple & Runnel
Maximum Gap
If the gap is small, maybe compared to ‘2 toothpicks side by side’, then your best solutions is to use what you have and if you have not already went to a smaller available size (24mm to 21mm for example) then you should make that change. If the gap is MORE than what is in this picture you do need a better solution.

This is THE max gap that you should tolerate. A bit of areola is alright and we feel this isn't significant enough to worry about to much. You should still get a decent milk flow and if this is your nipple with a 21mm shield you don't have a lot of choices.

Nipples & Induced Lactation

When a woman is pregnant and actually carrying a baby, her breasts undergo changes needed for the baby automatically. The breasts swell and get larger as the mammary tissue forms and prepares to hold and produce milk. Other changes that occur is the darkening of areolas and nipples. This doesn’t happen in all women but is very common. Another change that happens automatically is nipple changes. The nipples enlarge. If you are inducing lactation, you may not be experiencing significant amount of breast changes. You may want to read up on some of our induced lactation guides.

Basically and briefly, if you really haven’t experienced breast tenderness a little growth in the size of your breasts, then you may not be taking enough Progesterone. Your nipple size dilemma could simply be that you haven’t experienced enough pregnancy hormonal changes to “Trick” the breasts into their development pregnant state.

Nipple Enlargement

Mustang Nipple Enlargement Kit
Mustang Nipple Enlargement Kit
It could actually be easier for you to enlarge your nipples with products for nipple play or a dedicated nipple enlarging device called the “Mustang Nipple Enlargement Kit”. With this solution you’ll have 2 pairs of tubes / cylinders that you wear repeatedly for a few minutes every day. This kit comes with a 15mm cylinder pair and a 22mm cylinder pair. Starting with the 15mm and working up to the 22mm pair over a dedicated amount of time of use would allow you to ideally use the standard 24mm breastshield / flange, or a 23.5 flange offered by Ameda Breast Pumps and other pump and flange companies. However, some shrinkage could occur depending on how long you can and are able to use these (you may be in a rush) and therefore you might be able to also use the 21mm. I am very confident in this solution because over time the changes to your nipples should “stick” or be somewhat permanent (at least while inducing, breast feeding baby, or breast pumping) and best of all it should work well because you will still be applying suction to your nipples when you pump or nurse. Basically this solution works on the same principle that the Brava Breast Enhancer does for enlarging your breasts. Patience, dedication, and persistence and you should have bigger nipples that stay large so that they are more comfortable in your breastshields / flanges with dedicated continual daily use.

There are other devices out there similar and most of these suction devices should work as long as it has a device for pumping air out (vacuuming) and drawing in the nipple. The suction cups you use with your fingers may not be adequate suction for your nipples.

This process isn’t something you could accomplish in just a couple of days so if you are inducing for a child on the way you probably won’t have enough time. Ideally you’d want to do this a couple of months or so before inducing lactation or becoming pregnant. This solution may not be good for those who are already lactating as the cylinders would simply be filled with milk and the vacuum would be lost or weakened.

Mustang Nipple Enlargement Kit

Pumpin’ Pal Soft Shields

Pumpin Pal Angled Breastshields
Pumpin Pal Angled Breastshields
Pumpin’ Pal carries a small selection of handy things to make pumping more comfortable. For this article we will be discussing the “Super Shields Angled breast pumping flanges” that they carry. They are a soft cup type of flange that rests down inside an existing breastshield / flange. These are tapered which might make the inserts fit with little to no air loss. It also may aid in accommodating smaller nipples. After speaking with Jon, the creator of Pumpin’ Pals, he estimates that the tapered diameter of the smallest shield they have (medium) is about 23mm. Both Jon and the website claim that because these shields are tapered that they might help women with pumping problems. While there is smaller available flange sizes from Medela (21mm) this device may make pumping more pleasurable since they are soft and could potentially feel more like a baby’s mouth (more realism). They are also angled so that you can sit back and pump without having to lean forward.

Jon Creator of Pumpin; Pals
"When my daughter Annie was born, my wife Janene was excited to give our daughter the fantastic gift of mother's milk. As we began our experience with breastfeeding, we had issues with Annie latching on right away. Undeterred, Janene made the choice to pump exclusively with a commitment of at least six months, and hopefully much longer."

Contact Pumpin’ Pals

Simply, this site has plenty of parts for Medela pumps including a more rare 21mm insert for the standard 24mm “all-in-one” shield/connector combo that doesn’t separate like the “PersonalFit” breast shields.

40mm Breastshield for XXXL Nipples
40mm Breastshield

This site also carries an XXXL 40mm shield for those that need the very very large sizes. XXXL 40mm Shield

Medela SoftFit

From what we have learned, Medela isn’t supporting the SoftFit Shields. However you may be able to get them on Simply search for "Medela SoftFit".


Ameda Breast Care Custom Fir Flanges

Ameda Offers Flange sizes that are quite different to Medela and this might be the perfect solution for those that doubt the fit of the Medela sizes but don’t need anything larger than 36mm or smaller than 21mm.

Hand Expression

Hand Expressing Breast Milk
Hand Expressing Breast Milk
When all else fails it might be better to just hand express your breast milk into a cup, bottle, or other container. Hand expressing your breast milk takes practice but  can yield more milk than pumping. Some women swear by it and never even use a breast pump. With a little practice and maybe something for lubricant that is safe for a baby, you could be on your way to getting out your milk without damaging your nipples on incorrect flanges. It is our opinion that this would be a better method than an incorrectly fitting flange. This method has always been believed that it mimics a baby more precisely than a pump because of the rolling action, the warmness of your hand, skin to skin contact, and how you stimulate your areola than a breast pump.

For more Information on Hand Expressing, please view the Hand Expressing category.

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