As you get started using your Spectra pump it’s really important to try and be sure that you’re using the right breastshield size. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to know for sure what your size will be before you start pumping. Your Spectra pumps comes with size 24mm breastshields in the box, but you may find that you are better off with a different size. Getting your fit right is largely a matter of trial and error, but hopefully this guide will get you further along the way.
How to measure your breastshield size
There are a few different techniques to get an idea of what your shield size will be. You will get a more accurate measurement if you measure after pumping, as your nipples will swell during pumping and if you measure nipples when they are ‘at rest’ then the measurement may be too small. If you are measuring nipples ‘at rest’ instead of after pumping then add 2-3mm to the measurement.
You can use a piece of string to measure around the base of your nipple and then divide by 3.14 (takes you back to circle geometry at school, right?). Or you can try measuring across the base of the nipple with a ruler. You want to get end up with the diameter or width of the base of your nipple. Be careful not to include any areola in the measurement. This can be tricky so doing it in front of a mirror or using a smart phone in selfie mode may be helpful.
Your bra / cup size doesn’t matter here
We know you’ve focussed all your life on your cup size, but in this instance it really doesn’t matter. Whatever cup size you are has little impact on your breastshield size. You can be a small breasted woman with large nipples needing a larger breastshield size or a large breasted woman with small nipples needing a smaller breastshield size. Try not to worry about what your cup size is. We also don’t want to worry about your areola – areola should not enter the breastshield, so you need have a breastshield that is the right size for your nipple that is not so large that it allows areola to be drawn in. Only the nipple size matter when it comes to sizing your breastshield.
If you’ve already started using your breast pump and you’re feeling like you might not be using the right size, here are some pointers:
Signs your shield is too large
- Your nipple is hitting the end of the shield
- You are feeling a pulling pain
- Your milk output is low
- Areola is being drawn into the breastshield
- Your nipple has a ‘bunched’ look because some of your areola is being drawn in and bunching up into the nipple.
Signs your shield is too small
- Your nipple does not fit into the shield
- You are feeling rubbing / friction
- Your milk output is low.
Some extra tips to remember
- Feeling rubbing is not always the sign of a bad shield size. Using a balm, coconut oil or olive oil can really help reduce any rubbing or friction pain.
- Sometimes painful pumping or the wrong shield size can make nipple quite swollen. This is temporary and may ease with a better shield fit. Don’t mistake the swelling from a bad shield fit for your actual nipple size (ask us for help if you’re not sure).
- Not getting any milk when pumping is very often a sign of bad shield fit or positioning (or not using a pump you respond to) not milk supply. Concluding you don’t have milk because you can’t express any is a common mistake!
- Shield positioning is also super important – it’s vital you have the right size, but you also need to make sure your shield is ‘latched’ well, that your nipple is centred down the shield flange and that you have a good seal of breast tissue to the breastshield.
What to do if you’re still not sure
If you are having any doubts at all, then please just get in touch. A big part of our day goes in helping mums with shield fit, and we like to think we know something about it by now! You don’t need to get this right all on your own, so get in touch and we’ll help out.Chat now