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5 Ways to Tell if Your Breast Pump Flanges Fit

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Updated May 21, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Mother sitting on sun lounger breastfeeding her baby boy (6-9 months)
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All breast pumps come with a set of breast pump flanges. The breast pump flange is typically a 24-27 mm size breast pump flange, which are average sizes. But not all women fit into these size. You can get smaller breast pump flanges or larger flanges. The sizes range from 21-36 mm in the plastic varieties and there is a 40 mm glass flange available.

To tell if you have the correct breast pump flanges:

  1. Your nipple should move freely in the tunnel of the breast pump.
  2. Your areola should have little or no tissue inside the tunnel of the breast pump.
  3. You should not be able to feel areas of the breast that still have milk inside. (Uneven removal of milk.)
  4. You should not experience pain in your nipple.
  5. You should not see a white circle at the base of the nipple, nor should your nipple blanche.
If you don't have the right size, you will want to see if your breast pump came with other flanges or if you will need to order flanges. If you go up in size, you may be restricted from using some of the softer plastic flanges, like those found on the Avent Breast Pumps (compare prices) and others.

Not having the right size breast pump flange can result in problems. One problem is that you will not be getting the most amount of breast milk possible. The other potential problem is actually causing nipple damage like rub marks and cuts on the nipple.

Sources:

Brown, SL. Breast Pump Adverse Events: Reports to the Food and Drug Administration. J Hum Lact May 2005 vol. 21 no. 2 169-174.

Mohrbacher, N, Stock, J. The Breastfeeding Answer Book. 2003.

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