A breast pump can be an excellent tool for milk expression when used correctly. Every pump, whether manual or electric, has a flange. The breast pump flange is the piece of the pump that touches the breast and accepts the nipple into it. Flanges come in several sizes to fit many shapes and sizes of nipples. Flange sizes are measured in millimeters (mm) which correspond to the diameter of the nipple at its base.
It is essential for comfort and safety that flanges be sized correctly. Using the wrong size flange can cause pain while pumping, nipple damage, and incomplete milk removal. Recent findings have shown that flanges should be sized to match each nipple and due to elasticity of nipple tissue that nipples may touch the walls of the flange during pumping. Breast pump flanges now come in sizes from 10-40mm. The average nipple size is 15mm. The most well known pump manufacturers carry 21mm as the smallest flange size. Parents may need to source smaller flanges from an alternative manufacturer.
• Breast pump
• Measuring tool
Remember to size to comfort and the best milk flow. The best flange size is the one that is the most comfortable and yields the most milk.