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How to Find the Right Breast Pump Flange Size

Reviewed by Terressa Patterson, RN, BSN, IBCLC

Choosing the Right Dr. Brown’s™ SoftShape™ Shield Size

Finding the right flange size for your pump can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. But it’s important to get it right; not only does your flange make pumping more comfortable (it should never hurt), it also makes it more efficient. Simply put, better fit = more milk.

Remember: You are not alone in this process. Working with a lactation consultant will cut down on the confusion – and so will this handy guide from Dr. Brown’s. From step-by-step instructions for measuring your nipple size, to tips to ensuring you always have the right fit, you’ll have the knowledge you need every step of your pumping journey.

Measuring Your Nipple

If you have access to a printer, use this printable guide at 100% scale to help you measure your nipple size. 

Measuring your nipple size is a great first step to determining your breast flange size, though caution in approach is important. That’s because nipple size can change depending on when you measure and may vary throughout your breastfeeding journey. For example, your nipple will change pretty drastically once baby is born, so make sure to measure AFTER birth.

Before you go to measure, you will want to stimulate your nipple so that it is full size. You can do this by gently rolling it between your thumb and finger or by putting something cold on it.

When you measure, focus on the diameter of your nipple at the base and avoid including your areola.

Remember, once you measure, you want to add millimeters to that measurement.

  • BEFORE PUMPING MEASUREMENT: Add 3-4 mm to your measurement to get flange size.
  • AFTER PUMPING MEASUREMENT: Add 1-2 mm to your measurement to get flange size.


Choosing Your Shield Size

The Dr. Brown’s SoftShape Shield is made of soft, 100% silicone. There are two big benefits to this:

  1. The soft material is gentle on sore breasts. Cold, unyielding plastic flanges can be uncomfortable for breasts that are engorged or when mom is dealing with other common breastfeeding issues.
  2. Silicone is flexible, which allows a more comfortable experience for different breast shapes, whether that’s round, narrow, wide or relaxed.

If you don’t see your flange size here, please reach out to our breastfeeding customer service for help at (833) 224-7675 from 8 AM – 4:30 PM CST, Monday through Friday.


Shield Sizing, Step 3

Testing the Fit

Once you get your flanges, you’ll want to test to ensure you’ve chosen the right size by making sure the fit is right. As mentioned, your nipple size can also change throughout breastfeeding, so here are a few more tips to determine if a new flange is needed:

  • Your breasts are moving too much or too little while pumping. Movement should be gentle, much like the movement of your nipple within the tunnel.
  • Your nipples are rubbing too often on the sides of the tunnel. A little rubbing here and there may happen but if it’s causing discomfort, you may need to change your flange size.
  • Your nipples are discolored during and/or after pumping. Redness on the nipple or base, or a whiteness seen on the nipple or areola, may indicate too small a flange.
  • Your breasts still feel full after pumping. Once your milk supply has started to increase or after around 5-7 days, breasts should feel softer and lighter after pumping. If they’re still heavy and harder, that means all the milk hasn’t drained.

One more thing to note: Nipple elasticity is a common issue moms discover once they start pumping. It’s where the skin on your nipples and areola stretch during breastfeeding or pumping. If your nipple is stretching beyond the halfway point of the flange tunnel and you’re feeling pain or pump less milk, then you may have elastic nipples and will want to consider increasing or decreasing your flange size.

Feeding Together™

After you get your measurements and test your fit, you’ll be pumping like a pro in no time. With knowledge, guidance, and support, no mom has to feel like she’s on this journey alone. If you have any questions about your pump or shield sizing, reach out to our breastfeeding customer service for help at (833) 224-7675 from 8 AM – 4:30 PM CST, Monday through Friday.

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