I had another virtual meeting with my Cleo lactation consultant. I told her that the milk transfer was still poor, and so my next steps in my mind would be to explore exclusive pumping. I told her that I realized that I needed larger flanges, so I was considering ordering the next size up for my spectra flanges.
She gave me a funny look and asked, what makes you think that you need a larger flange? The reason she asked me is was that in the majority of cases, not that I knew at the time, most women need a smaller flange size not a larger one. So I told her that as I was pumping, I noticed that my nipples were expanding and started rubbing up against the sides. In the beginning when I started pumping and had no idea what I was doing, I just assumed that the smaller flange size that came with my pump, the 24MM size, would fit me, but that was not the case. Because immediately after pumping only about a few minutes, my nipples would rub up against the sides, and it would be really uncomfortable. So because of that, I figured that the 28MM size that came with my pump would be better for me. And it was better for me at the beginning of the pump session, but towards the middle and end, the same thing would happen: my nipples would rub up against the sides, and it would be awkward and uncomfortable yet again.
I took videos of before, during, and after pumping to show her how my nipples changed. I had no idea that this meant I had elastic nipples and would need silicone flanges specialized for this condition. But Andrea was so nice and thorough, and she explained all of this to me. Andrea has been the lactation consultant that I wish that I had in person. She is one part lactation consultant and one part therapist. She has called, emailed, and texted me even outside of the seven-day window when I am technically supposed to have access to her after our sessions according to Cleo policy, and she is always checking in to ensure that my mental health is intact throughout this process. I just wish that I could have met with her in person instead of just having virtual contact with her.
So obviously being new to breast-feeding and pumping, I had no freaking idea that elastic nipples were even a thing. Thank goodness I had Andrea to explain this to me. And so, with her help, I ordered some new special flanges from Pumpin Pals to try out to see if this would not only increase my comfort but also increase my output.
Because with breast flange sizing, it is similar to the Goldilocks situation: if your flanges are too small, it will hurt and be uncomfortable, and any pain will decrease your output. If your flanges are too large, your areola can get pulled into the tunnel, and that will also cause pain and decrease your output. Therefore, you must have a flange that fits just, just right. And hopefully, this is what these flanges will do for me.