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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fitting Your Nipples To The Correct Breastshield / Flange Size

What qualifies for a proper fit?

With the following list, a lactating woman can easily assess whether she is using the correct breastshield / flange size:

If you already have an electric breast pump you can try the following. Center your nipple in the tunnel of the breastshield / flange. Now begin pumping and check the following points:

  •     Is your nipple moving freely in the tunnel?
  •     Is none or only very little tissue of the areola being pulled into the tunnel of the breastshield?
  •     Do you recognize gentle, rhythmic movements in the breast at each pump cycle?
  •     Do you feel the breast emptying all over?
  •     Is your nipple free of pain?

If the answer to any of the above questions is "No", please select a bigger (or smaller) breastshield / flange.

Correctly fitted breastshields are important

Correctly Fitting BreastShield
Correctly Fit BreastShield
A breastshield / flange in the wrong size can result in reduced milk flow because blocked milk ducts or an inhibited milk ejection can cause a reduction of the milk output. Friction around nipple and/or areola can cause discomfort and trauma and may result in the lactating woman being unable to pump regularly. The milk production is once again endangered. A nipple trauma can lead to tissue breakdown that increases the risk of an infection and mastitis.

The picture here, is the ideal absolute perfect fit.





Improperly fitting breastshields

The amount of distance between the tunnel wall and your nipple should only be a couple of millimeters so that none of the areola skin actually goes into the shield.  However there should be a very small space there that you can't see in the above depiction of correct. You don't want your nipple to actually rub against the tunnel.

Incorrectly fit Breastshield
Incorrectly Fitting BreastShields / Flanges
In the above picture, from left to right, The breast shield dows not make a good seal and the nipple is too small for the fitted size. Next, too much of the areola tissue can be drawn into the shield. Nipple size is too small for the fitted shield. Last, The nipple is too big for the fitted size shield. The nipple is being squeezed and compacted into the tunnel.

Basic Sizing

Many woman are usually using a shield size to BIG rather than too small. Although we highly recommend the Medela breast pump and its accessories like the "PersonalFit" breastshields / flanges, you should be aware of the sizes in which you can choose. This is usually universal if a pump has removable or custom fitting flanges / shields, they will, more than likely, be in these sizes:

Typical Breastshield / Flange sizes for breast pumps in the USA
Typical Breastshield / Flange sizes for breast pumps in the USA

Approximate nipple sizes

If your nipples are smaller tahn 21mm or too large for the 36mm size sheilds / flanges, you'll need to look at the guide Advanced Solutions for Nipple Sizes & Non-Matching Flanges.

Approximate Nipple Sizing Chart
Approximate Nipple Sizing Chart

Sources

Medela
Sakura Mahal

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