Pumping 101: The importance of proper flange size

Pumping 101: The importance of proper flange size

June 23, 2021 2 Comments

The size of the flange you're using can have a significant impact on the success of your pumping session. Not only does ensuring you're using the proper flange size help maximize output but it helps prevent pain, blocked ducts and nipple damage. Typically, your pump will come with 1-2 flange options, which have their size faintly marked along the side.

While 24 mm may be a common flange size, like bras, they are not a one size fits all! You'll want to make sure the following criteria applies for the PROPER FIT:

  • Your nipple moves freely within the breast flange tunnel 
  • There is space surrounding your nipple 
  • Not much of your areola is drawn into the tunnel 

Signs the flange is TOO  SMALL:

  • Some or all of your nipple rubs against the inside of the flange tunnel   
  • Pain
  • Redness on or at the base of your nipple during and/or after pumping 
  • Your nipple or areola turn white during and/or after pumping 

Signs the flange is TOO LARGE:

  • More of your areola is drawn into the breast flange tunnel and may rub against the inside of the tunnel 
  • Pain
  • Your breasts still feel full after pumping 

If you've identifed an improper fit here's a quick way to measure yourself for proper size at home! You'll need a dime, penny, nickel, quarter and dollar coin (if you have one). 

  1. Wash the coins
  2. Measure soon after nursing or pumping
  3. Find the coin closest in size to your nipple diameter (not nipple and areola) 

Dime- 17.9 mm
Penny- 19 mm
Nickel- 21.2 mm
Quarter- 24.3 mm
Dollar coin- 26.5 mm
For measurements above 26.5 mm simply use a tape measure. 

If your nipple is the size of a penny or nickel then the standard flange size may work best for you. If it is larger than a nickel you will want to purchase a larger flange. If you find your nipple size to be smaller than a penny then a smaller flange or purchasing inserts such as this is an option. It's also important to measure both nipples incase there is a difference in size. 

When in doubt, ordering two size options may be a good choice. Many companies sell additional flange options on their website. The size of your nipple may also change throughout your breastfeeding journey so checking your flange size regularly is recommended.

Some final tips to avoid nipple damage while pumping are to:

  • Avoid pressing breast shield too firmly against your breast. This can result in blocking milk ducts.
  • Slowly increase the suction/expression mode until you achieve a level that is slightly uncomfortable, and then turn down one level.
  • Ensure your nipple is centered inside of the breast flange tunnel


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