Breast Shield Sizing: How to Get the Best Fit

6/26/2018

It’s not just a matter of comfort – using the correct size breast shield while pumping is important for efficiency, too. Your end goal of pumping for your little one is to get as much out of your sessions as possible, and a breast shield that’s too large or too small can greatly impact the amount of milk you’re able to pump. Even if you’re a pro and have been pumping for a while, keep in mind that your breast shield sizing can change during your breastfeeding journey – and your pumping routine might benefit from a reevaluation and resizing. You might even find that each breast needs a different shield size. Remember, pumping shouldn’t hurt! The following information will help you choose the right size breast shield for your needs.

Understanding Medela Breast Shield Sizes

  •  The starting point for choosing the correct breast shield is to determine your optimal size based on your nipple diameter.

  •  Using a ruler or measuring tape, measure the diameter (or distance straight across the middle) of your nipple at the  base, in millimeters. Do not include your areola. (Tip: Not in a “math” mood? 1 cm = 10 mm)

  • Based on your measurement, use the guide below to view Medela breast shield sizes and determine which one is the right fit for you.

If your nipple measures 16 mm in diameter, your recommended breast shield size is 21 mm because the 21 mm shield fits nipples up to 17 mm in diameter. If your nipple diameter measures 24 mm, your recommended size would be 30 mm.

Test Your Breast Shield Sizing

Since your breast shield size is also dependent on breast tissue and skin elasticity, it’s important to confirm you’ve chosen the correct size. Here’s how to check:

  • Using the 24 mm breast shields included with your pump (or the size chosen after measuring your nipples), center your nipple and gently hold the breast shield against your breast. (Note: pressing breast shields too hard against your breasts when pumping can block your milk ducts.)

  •  Adjust your breast pump’s vacuum for Maximum Comfort Vacuum™ to achieve optimum suction level, turning the vacuum up until slightly uncomfortable and then down one notch.

  • When your breast shield fits correctly, your nipple will be centered in the breast shield tunnel and move freely during pumping. Refer to the images below while pumping:

 

Determining if You Need a New Size Breast Shield

You will need to reevaluate your breast shield size if you find that one or more of the following are happening while you’re pumping:

  • Your nipple is rubbing the sides of the breast shield tunnel to the point of causing discomfort.

  • You see excessive areola being pulled into the breast shield tunnel.

  • You have redness on or at the base of the nipple during and/or after pumping.

  • Your nipples or areola are turning white during and/or after pumping.

  • Your breasts still feel full after pumping.

If you have more questions or need further help with breast shield sizing, reach out to a Certified Lactation Consultant. In the long run, it’s worth taking the time to determine the breast shield size that’s right for you. You’ll benefit by maximizing your pumping sessions so you can get back to what matters most – the little one you’re pumping for! 

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