Did you know that the flanges that come with your pump are sometimes not the best option? They can be too big, and cause swelling that may constrict milk flow. Some people also prefer silicone flanges over hard plastic! Some people also prefer silicone inserts inside of hard plastic flanges. It's really a matter of "testing everything out to see what feels/performs the best" for you.
Why is flange size and type important? In short, if they're more comfortable and well-fitting, they can help you to pump more effectively and efficiently, and in the long run could even help increase your milk supply due to that increased efficiency. When pump flanges are too small, too large or uncomfortable, pain can inhibit letdowns and even cause swelling in the tissue (like when too much areola is sucked into the flange) and prevent adequate milk flow through the ducts.
It's always best to have the most comfortable pump setup so that it's that much more tolerable!
A note: I am a Certified Breastfeeding Specialist. However, the advice and tips on my pages is not personalized individual medical advice and you should always discuss concerns with your healthcare provider or seek the help of a lactation professional. I do not currently offer consults or counseling, just general information and advice.
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I've compiled a list here of all of the different flange types on the market, and you can look through and see what you may or may not want to try. First and foremost, you'll want to measure your nipples to know your size! Here's a free printable nipple ruler you can use for that:
If you do not have a printer, I can mail you two of them for a small fee to cover materials.
Those vary in price from $6 on Amazon, to $10 from bemybreastfriend and legendairymilk, $13 from lactation hub.
Flange Types: You can click a name to skip to that section.
Under these 3 different categories, there are quite a few brands and styles of each one. I've listed the most commonly used/mentioned below, and if there are any discount codes available for them that I know of.
Hard Plastic Flange
Your breast pump very likely comes with these, but you can buy them in smaller sizes on Amazon.
If you use a pump like Medela, you may need one like this. These come in a number of sizes (smaller than big brands offer.)
Note: you can use these in your Medela Harmony manual pump as well! That pump works very well with an upgraded flange and replacing the flabby Medela membrane with a Duckbill from Spectra or an off brand like Maymom.
If you use a pump like Spectra, you may need one like this. These come in a number of sizes (smaller than big brands offer.)
Silicone inserts to put INSIDE of hard plastic flanges
You can find these all over the place, some feel nicer than others, some work better than others, it's truly a game of "let's find out". These are also very commonly used in wearable pumps and cups to reduce the flange size.
A note: if you have elastic tissue (meaning your nipples extend almost all the way to the end of the flange tunnel) you may have an issue with inserts, as the tissue can expand past the end of them and bulb out into the larger flange underneath. I would recommend trying a solid sized flange, silicone may work the best and feel the best. But again, it'll require some testing to see what really works the best.
You can also get them from other places such as lactation hub (who is in the process of releasing "in-between" sizes)
Beaugen cushions are also very well known, and I believe the code PUMPMOMMAPUMP will take off around $3.30
Another type of silicone "flange insert" is the Pumpables Liquid Shield Kit. This is a thin silicone flange housed inside of a plastic outer flange piece- they last around 2-3 weeks with exclusive pumping and are $12 a pair, so I personally do not buy them anymore. They are however extremely comfortable, and very popular. These are available in sizes 15mm, 17mm, 19mm, 21mm, 25mm, and 29mm. The "kit" itself is purchased separately, $30 PER SIDE (you need to buy two, which costs $60) and then you put the inserts inside of the kits. You also have to replace the diaphragms periodically. The code TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD takes off 10% at checkout, which is about $1.20 per pair.
Pictured below is one insert, which goes into the shield kit. This is not compatible with standard flanges.
Legendairy Milk also produces a similar piece, but sizes are only 21mm, 25mm, and 29mm.
The code TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD should take off 15% at checkout there. If not, try KARRIE15.
These almost always require an adapter piece, especially for pumps like Spectra. The adapter pieces look like this, and can be found on Amazon by the brand Maymom. They come in wide or narrow neck, depending on your bottle size.
There are a few popular brands on the market, and some more that have popped up recently and continue to pop up as brands realize people really enjoy silicone!
Pumpin Pals are angled, which is also nice, and their S (pink) and XS (blue) sizes (but NOT medium -green- and higher) are made of silicone. You can buy either a 3 pack set (and return the ones that do not fit) or buy single pairs if you know what will fit. They are also working on producing an XXS size, I'm told. No word on timeline though. For a size reference, I measured around 15mm and used the XS pair just fine.
The discount code TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD will take 10% off at checkout.
This is the small set with Spectra parts:
Lacteck 4th Gen Babymotion flanges are also very popular, they have a funky little softer spot on the bottom side of the flange that's meant to mimic a baby's tongue motion. I like these ones quite a bit and use them on my Medela manual pump instead of a plastic flange. These are available in sizes 12mm - 27mm, and run a HAIR large but not enough to size down usually.
The code PUMPWITHPURPOSE takes off about $2.60 at checkout. I couldn't find another valid code for these but that one should work!
These will require the adapter pieces shown above, unless you're using something like Medela collars which flanges go right into. Idaho Jones recently released their own silicone flanges, which are available in sizes 21mm, 24mm, 27mm, and 30mm. They mentioned smaller sizes coming in the future, and as I write this on July 13th they are currently out of stock in sizes 21 and 24.
The code TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD should take 10% off at checkout.
As with the other flanges, these will require the adapter pieces for pumps like Spectra.
Baremotherhood (who is @baremotherhood_ on instagram and an excellent resource to follow) has recently produced and released her silicone flange, the BareShield. These are available in sizes 18mm, 21mm, and 24mm and I believe she mentioned coming out with smaller sizes in the near future. 15mm should be available soon this fall (September maybe?).
The code TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD should take off 10% at checkout.
I hope this helped give a little clarity on the different types of breast pump flanges available on the market, and helps you to find something a little more comfortable than the stock flanges that come in the box! There are lots of different kinds to try, and one may work far better for you than another. Remember: if it hurts, something isn't right!
You can always resell or give away (but usually not return) the ones that don't work out for you. Another tip I have is to lubricate your flanges using something like nipple balm, coconut oil, olive oil, pump spray etc. I'm a big fan of the Coboo Spray which is available on Amazon or the Earth Mama Organics Nipple Butter, available on their site or Amazon. If you buy on their site, the code TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD2023 should work for I believe 10% off.