How to Determine Your Breast Pump Flange Size, for Both Sides
The human body is incredibly asymmetrical. Your eyes can be different shapes. Your ears can be in different places on the side of your head. It’s not uncommon for moms to discuss how their milk output varies on each side (#slackerboob trends on social media, but this is totally normal and even expected). Your breasts can even be two different sizes, so that might mean you actually need two different breast pump flanges depending on your unique body. Think of your breasts as sisters rather than twins.
With that in mind, it may call for a slight adjustment. But it’s what we do as moms. It’s hard enough to grow a human, let alone make it symmetrical. Our plans change about as often as our kids’ diapers -- and in true mom fashion we make it work. Think about all the gadgets and accessories you have in preparation for unforeseen happenings: why would breast pumps be any different.
You can use this fit guide to determine your sizing for almost any breast pump brand's flanges. Brands like Lansinoh, Elvie, Baby Buddha, Medela, Willow, are all compatible with BeauGen's innovative cushions.
How do you know if you need two different breast pump flanges?
The easiest way to know if your breasts are asymmetrical is to measure each of them. It can be very difficult to tell just by looking at them. We recommend, whether you use our breast pump cushions or the naked flange, measuring both sides.
Trial and error with different flanges might help you notice a difference, but this can also be very nuanced, especially if you are new to pumping, or if you haven’t tried different sizes before.
How to Measure Your Breasts for Flange Size
This is a bit tricky. When we think about the size of our breasts, we generally think in terms of clothing and underwear. You are X size so you need Y bra size. Simple right? Since the flanges fit up against your breast tissue, the same concept should apply to your breast pump, right?
You might think so but that's not the case. The measurement on the flange is actually the size or diameter of the tunnel rather than the size or shape of the flange.
That blew our minds when we first started pumping, too. And once you know this, certain things start to make sense: Like how it's hard to tell what size flange you just picked up because we’re looking at the biggest part of the flange.
Okay, now that we know what the numbers on the flange mean, how do we measure ourselves for the correct flange size? The part of your breast that you need to measure is called the “base” of your nipple. It’s where your nipple and areola meet, also the widest point of your nipple. You don’t want too much of your areola to be pulled into the tunnel of the flange, so this measurement makes sense.
Now that we know what to measure, grab a ruler. Measure the diameter of the base of your nipple in millimeters. This will give you the appropriate flange size. Repeat this measurement on both of your breasts.
Does this Measurement Really Matter?
Now that you know what size flange you should be using, does it really matter? Well, it actually can make a big difference. You might not notice it right away, but overtime the right size flange can reduce pain, optimize your output, and make pumping more enjoyable.
Using the wrong size of breast pump flange is a common source of pain. Use a flange that’s too small and the hard plastic can really rub your sensitive skin raw. Use a flange that’s too big and it can draw in too much of your tissue and cause pain. This friction can also cause tissue damage. If you pump frequently or are exclusively pumping, you might not get the break you need for this skin to heal.
The wrong size flange can also prevent you from getting the perfect fit, a good letdown, and the right level of suction. Many assume that the suction of the breast pump is what mimics a baby suckling and helps to encourage a letdown. However, it is the suction combined with the fit of the flange. If you are uncomfortable or in pain, it’s hard for your body to relax and physically achieve a letdown.
What if you measure your breast and you find out that you are between flange sizes?
Our innovative, pain-relieving cushions can help you with fit and feel. The cushions reduce the overall flange size by about 2mm as they insert into the tunnel of the flange. Using a flange that is a few millimeters too large, in combination with a BeauGen Cushion, can help achieve the right fit for you.
What if you still have questions?
One blog post isn’t going to answer all of your questions. In fact, you might have measured and discovered even more questions than you had before. The next step is to see a lactation specialist, such as International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC).
BeauGen has trained professionals on our Mommy Care Team to help troubleshoot your flange fit and answer your breast pump questions. Email Pumped@beaugen.com with your Breast Pump Cushion and flange questions today.