Family & Parenting

Motherhood: Breast pump & flanges

*This post may gets too “personal” and interest to no one except first time mum like me. Continue at your own risk*

Few months ago I got my first breast pump set – Spectra 9+ from, and it comes with a complimentary Breast pump flanges sizing consultation from Madrey. Initially I was thinking – who wants to go a ‘bird no lay egg’ place (Boon Lay Way is considered so for a ex-Easterner and now a North-Eastern) just to do a flange size consultation? Shouldn’t the default flange comes with the breast pump be a ‘common szie’ which shouldn’t be too “off” for most woman?

After giving birth, I faced a lot of stress of the supply of breast milk. The baby keep on crying and I was blamed by my confinement nanny and mother in law for not drinking enough soup. I wanted to pump every 3 hourly but just got too tired and always overslept. And the more tired I get, the less yield I can achieve, so I had a very stressful month. In order to “make up” for my missed pump during the night, I tried to pump “harder” (literally “harder” by increasing the pumping mode level) during the day – when the confinement nanny keep nagging over my low supply.

Not doing enough homework, I am still quite lost at how to use my breast pump, all I know is the my nipple feel more painful during expression mode than massage mode, thus it’s always in massage mode. (Later then I know massage mode is actually use to stimulate letdowns and circulation around the breast, once our milk is flowing, we need to swap to expression mode, which is slower and stronger to express the milk better). I felt that the massage mode is not strong enough thus set the level to a higher level of 4 or 5, and before I know it, I ended up with 2 skin peeling nipples which feel so pain whether I was pumping or feeding the baby. The baby is almost on full formula (except occasionally 1 or 2 feeds) then for a few days until I recovered 🙁

After experimenting various set up using the breast pump – I still experience a lot of discomfort during pumping. I finally (almost) give up and begin to suspect the culprit might be the flange and starts to do a bit of research on it.

Although different model of breast pump can come with different flange size, the most common size given with the pumps in the market are 24 or 25mm. For some reason, Spectra S9+ comes with a 28mm wide flange – which I highly suspect is too big due to the following reasons:

  • I find there’s excessive areola being pulled into the tunnel
  • I always ended a pumping session with a lot of redness at the base of the nipple
  • I always need to bear with the pain after every pumping session

After asking for a few months (since late November), I finally have my breast flanges sizing consultation date fixed, I kiasu-ly brought my breast pump, backflow protector, tubes, valves, flanges, milk bottles, and freemie set along, but not kiasu enough to bring a cooling bag.

As expected, when I get to see Drey Drey – the breastfeeding consultant, she told me I had been using a much OVERSIZE flange all the while and I was like “The mystery finally unfold itself!”. In order to confirm her advice, I was given a smaller size flange to pump on the spot, and indeed I experience much lesser pain than my normal pumping session and I finally understand the “Pumping shouldn’t be a (physical) painful chores” saying. I was advice to get a 19mm flange size from maymom for my 9+, which according to Drey Drey is the smallest size available in market, and a 21mm insert for my freemie. I also adjusted my breast pump massage mode and expression mode to 5 instead of the original 3 (the recommended level should be 6, but I experience some discomfort so I just settle for whatever works).

It’s been a few days and I am trying to squeeze as much pumping session as possible in my busy working schedule and feeding session, I feel so much better and my yield seems to improve (very) slightly. I glad I decide to take up the consultation and found out what’s wrong, it makes breastfeeding seems less painful and I am more confident of meeting the 6 months target.

If you ever feel a lot of uncomfortable during pumping, one possible is reason could be the flange size. If you have friends using other flange size, you can try to ask them if they are willing to let you try fitting it, if not, you can consider going for flange size consultation session like the one I have been through.

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