Usually, when “ripped” is used as an adjective to describe how a person looks, it’s meant to be a compliment. So if you tell someone that they look “ripped,” you’re most likely telling them that they have very tight abs or chest muscles, or very sculpted and defined arms. Well, I discovered for myself yesterday what it meant to have “ripped” nipples, and I mean that in the literal sense, as in.. yes, I actually (accidentally) ripped the skin off the sides of both of my nipples. Unfortunately, this had nothing to do with muscles or looking sculpted. It had to do with pumping with improperly fitted flanges and my own cheapness/laziness.
My Legendairy Milk cups came with 24mm and 28mm flanges, as did my primary Spectra pump. I have no idea why these are considered standard flanges sizes considering that over 80% of women have nipples smaller than 24mm, but hey, it is what it is, and likely a way for these companies to make more money by up-charging you anywhere from $10-20 for a smaller flange size. I had pumped while on the go just twice before with the 24mm flanges and these cups plus my Baby Buddha portable pump, and the output was never as good due to the flange size, but I accepted it just for the convenience. Legendairy Milk did not create 17mm flanges for someone like me, as their smallest one was 19mm, so I thought I was out of luck until I discovered the Maymom brand, which has flange tunnel inserts to hack and place into these flanges. I felt cheap, though, and wasn’t really sure how much mobile pumping I would be doing, so I neglected to buy these $15 inserts when I discovered them about two weeks ago.
Well, I pumped while in the car ride to Philly, and the entire time, I had no idea that I was damaging my nipples. I think I have just gotten so desensitized to all things nipple related that I didn’t even feel the skinning of my nipples as it was occurring. Plus, with all the bumps in the road, that is likely how the cups got off centered with my nipples, which then caused the damage. I had read so many stories in the pumping mamas Facebook group about women who had gotten bruised, split, cracked, bloody, and ripped nipples from using the incorrect flange size, but luckily for me, this had never happened. How does this happen, you might ask? So with flange sizing, it’s like Goldilocks: you can’t have your flanges be too small or too big; they need to fit just right for the perfect combination of both maximized comfort AND maximized output. If the flange is too small, you will bruise and split your nipples that are getting constricted. If they are too big, you risk your nipple getting pulled too deeply into the tunnel, thus creating friction on one side of your nipple, which then results in what happened to me — skinning, peeling of your nipple skin.
I didn’t even realize this had happened until I removed the cups when we got to the hotel room. I took them off and immediately noticed that the top of my left nipple was a deep purple color. And then upon examining both sides of my nipples, I realized that the skin was peeling off to reveal a raw, exposed under layer. The pain finally started settling in, and everything and anything that rubbed against my nipples hurt. I applied shea butter to help soothe and repair it, but this rawness will likely last for a while until my skin repaired and healed. Luckily for me, my nipples aren’t bleeding. After physically taking care of this, I logged into my Amazon account and purchased the stupid $15 flange inserts for the cups. This pain and injury was not worth saving $15 for.
This is the shit mothers go through just to feed their babies. Pumping mamas truly have it the hardest. You will never quite understand how annoying and taxing it is to be a pumping mom unless you actually do it yourself.