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A Word About Breast Pump Shields

Written by Certified Lactation Consultant
RN, IBCLC

When companies talk about different size breast pump shields or breast pump flanges they are actually talking about the nipple tunnel inside the shield or flange. When the flange is correctly placed against your breast, suction pulls the nipple into the tunnel, and releases it as the pump cycles.  As pumps became more readily available to the public in the late 70s, lactation consultants reported cases of sore nipples related to pumping.

The major companies breast pump companies like Ameda and Medela have subsequently developed several sizes of flange tunnels to work with their breast pumps that accommodate varying nipple sizes. The end result is women can get a custom, personalized, fit for their breast pump.

flange size

The relative size of the outer breast pump shield does not change from company to company. However, the inner nipple tunnel does vary in size. The standard flange tunnel diameter is approximately 25 mm, which is about the diameter of a US nickel. This standard flange size works for most women. However, not all nipples are the same.

Also, the shape of a woman’s nipple may not remain the same when she’s breastfeeding. Your nipples may be smaller or larger than the 25mm standard. The tunnel in the flange should allow the nipple to move without rubbing against the tunnel wall. If the tunnel is too large or too small, you may not be able to express your milk effectively.

Pumping should not be painful, and should never damage your nipples or areolar tissue.  If you are having problems with pain when pumping, ask your lactation consultant if you need to purchase a smaller or larger size flange.

The good news is if one size doesn’t fit, there a several breast shield and flange sizes available.

Some of the personal pump kits have more than one size flange included with the kit.

Here’s a list of what’s available:

Ameda

Size (mm)

 

Medela

Size (mm)

XX-Large

36.0

 

Glass XXX-Large

40

X-Large

32.5

 

PersonalFit Connector

36

Large

30.5

 

PersonalFit Connector

30

Medium

28.5

 

PersonalFit Connector

27

Small Insert

22.5

 

SoftFit Breast Shield

24

Standard

25.0

 

PersonalFit Connector

24

Flexidshield X-Small Insert

21.0

 

Breast Shield Reducer

 

   

 

PersonalFit Connector

 

Flexishield - fits inside Ameda’s Standard flange

 

Soft Fit flange for - Medela’s PersonalFit Connector System - replaces hard flange