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STOP! Do a Flange Check

When a New Mom Uses a Breast Pump

The Ideal Version:

A new mom carefully opens her first breast pump. She is excited to start breastfeeding her newborn baby, but she is also nervous. She has heard stories about how painful and difficult breastfeeding can be, and she wants to make sure she does everything right.

She carefully reads the instructions that come with the breast pump. She learns that it is important to use the correct flange size. The flange is the part of the breast pump that fits over the nipple. If the flange is too small, it can be painful. If the flange is too large, it can damage the nipple.

The new mom measures her nipples and finds that she needs a 17mm flange. She is relieved to find that the breast pump comes with a variety of flange sizes. She chooses the 17mm flange and attaches it to the breast pump.

The Reality:

A new mom gets a breast pump at a baby shower and puts it up with all the other baby gifts. When she brings home her precious little one and has 10 minutes between taking care of them, she open the box and slaps on the flange that came with it, usually 24mm-28mm. She tries her best to pump but is not able to get anything and to make it worse, it starts to become very sore. She turns it off and assumes the pump doesn't work for her.

How a Flange is Suppose To Work

Most breast pumps come with a flange of 24mm-28mm, that is much larger than the normal nipple we see in our office. In fact, most moms at our office measure between 15-19mm. This is why so many moms say, "I don't respond well to a pump. Never have." See image on left demonstrating the huge difference in sizes.

Nipple stimulation is what triggers the hormone Prolactin, which is responsible for milk production. Using a flange that is too large can hinder this signal, and can also damage the delicate tissue around the nipple.

That's why it's so important to get the right flange size. Every mom who sees us is measured for the correct size, and they often see a significant increase in milk production and comfort when they use the right size flange.

If you are a mom or help moms who breastfeed, please be sure to share this information. We need the public and healthcare community to have a much better understanding of just how important flange size is to milk production in order to educate and assist mothers who pump.

Thank you for reading!

Did you know that many insurances cover lactation consults with no copay when they are contracted with TLN. Check to see if your insurance is one of them

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