The hormone which help your belly grow and stretch throughout your pregnancy also cause the nipples to become elastic. There is nothing unusual about this, it is actually helpful when baby feeds and allows the nipple to fill their mouth and aid the latch.
Some moms do have more nipple elasticity than others, and while it is normal, this can be painful and hinder pumping if the right equipment is not being used. If you suspect nipple elasticity may be affecting your pumping we have a few suggestions which may help, but we also recommend getting in touch with a lactation consultant, as they can better assist in finding the solution which is right for you.
How can I tell if I'm experiencing nipple elasticity?
Every mom has nipple elasticity, some just experience more than others. Nipple elasticity is only an issue if you are not emptying properly, developing clogged ducts, or if pumping is causing pain. Some signs that you may have more nipple elasticity than average would be:
- The nipple stretches and hits the end of the flange while pumping. Nipples do often stretch to fill about half the flange normally, but if it is elongating and filling the whole flange tunnel this may be an issue.
- The original nipple size doubles after pumping. Measure your nipple diameter before and after pumping to check this.
- No matter what flange size you chose, the areola is being drawn into the flange tunnel. You may have already measured your nipples, chosen the right flange size, or even sized down from this, but the areola always ends up in the tunnel.
Turn the suction strength down
There is no need to turn the suction way up! Suction strength is not the secret to milk production, and will not get your emptied faster. Turning the pumps suction up past where is comfortable for you is actually counter productive, and will only stretch out the nipple further.
Lubricate before pumping
A few drops of olive or coconut oil can be used to lubricate the flange tunnel and make pumping more comfortable.
Try a different flange size
As most guides suggest measuring flange size after pumping, nipple elasticity can be an obstacle in getting the right size. Some moms nipples will stretch to fill the entire flange tunnel, no matter the flange size. We suggest working directly with a Board Certified International Lactations Consultant, who can help you decide what size flange is right for you. Some moms may need to change sizes multiple times in their pumping journey.
Know that the nipple touching the sides of the tunnel is not an issue unless this is causing pain and discomfort- rubbing can be normal and does not always indicate that a mom needs to size up.
Some may notice rubbing against the sides of the tunnel and decide to size up- in reality, sizing up in these instances will simply pull more and more of the areola into the tunnel, which can cause damage and bruising to the areola area. If you have tried sizing up due to the nipple touching the inside of the flange tunnel, you may want to try sizing down next.
If you have been using the wrong flange size for a while, you may have some swelling and edema in the area, you may need to size down multiple times as this is being addressed and the tissue heals.
Try a different style flange
For moms with more elasticity than average, our flanges may be uncomfortable, the tissue inside the tunnel may stretch out, pulling in areola and restricting milk flow. If this sounds like you, we have several brands of flanges we could suggest to help with your pumping! You may also try a silicone insert for the flange for the same benefits.
- Pumpin Pals makes flanges in both hard plastics and silicone to assist with nipple elasticity. Their flange design features a tapered tunnel, so that there is not hard cut off where the flange tunnel begins. Size extra small fits flange sizes 15-19mm. Small fits sizes 20-23mm. Medium fits sizes 24-28mm. Large fits sizes 26-30mm. Extra Large fits sizes 32-40mm.
- Lacteck Flanges have no hard tunnel, instead, they are a heavy silicone design which collapses with the suction around the breast tissue. Their website recommends choosing one size below your measured size for elastic nipples. They currently have sizes 18mm, 21mm, 24mm and 27mm, but will be adding a 15mm size option soon!
- Pumpables Liquid Flange Kit uses liquid silicone for more comfortable pumping. the entire, closed-system, pumping assembly, you will just attach the tubing included to the front of the breast pump to use them. This option comes in sizes 17mm, 21mm, 25mm and 29mm.
Pump Compatibility Chart
|Pumpin Pal Flanges||Lacteck Baby Motion Flanges||Pumpables Liquid Flange Kit|
|Luna||Compatible with the Pump Adapters||Compatible with MyFit Base Connector||Compatible, no adapter needed|
|Duo||XS flanges are compatible with the Duo. For all other flange sizes, use a Luna resupply kit instead alongside the Pump Adapters||Compatible, no adapter needed||Compatible, no adapter needed|
Use your original Twist tubing, but trim the white tip off of just one side of the tubing so it stretches around the Luna diaphragm.
Use a Duo resupply kit instead.
Use your original Twist tubing, but trim the white tip off of just one side of the tubing so it stretches around the Duo diaphragm.
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