Our in-house Lactation Consultant, Sioned is discussing Medela Breast Shields today, why it is important to get the right size and the problems it can cause if not fitted correctly.
When a mum purchases or is provided with a breast pump she dips into the unfamiliar world of the unknown. For many this is the first time they have handled or discussed expressing and expectations are unclear; what is right or wrong, what should I expect in terms of milk volume, should it hurt and is it normal to be sore?
All mothers are unique and not one size fits all when it comes to breast shields. Lactating mothers come in different breast and nipple shapes, have variable breast tissue and skin elasticity. All of these factors have a key role when choosing a breast shield to ensure that expressing is comfortable, reliable and efficient. It is a fine line to get that size right and although it may feel ok, occasionally all that is needed is a little fine tuning to make a huge difference!
Why is getting the correct size so important?
Danielle Prime, a leading lactation researcher states – A baby’s mouth doesn’t have the same shape and dynamics as a breastshield. With an infant the interface is between mouth and breast, whilst with a pump the shield acts as an interface between pump and breast”. – Prime 2011.
So what does this mean?
Following the understanding of a lactating breast anatomy we know how close to the surface of the skin the glandular tissue is, how the ducts easily compress with incorrect sizing or positioning. Having a shield that is too big or too small can impact on how breast milk is removed.
As your baby grows – his mouth also grows. The nipple tends to stay the same shape. However, when a mum is pumping occasionally the nipple starts to mould to the shape of the funnel or there can be some puffiness when first nursing or expressing.
For many mums the first indication that something is not right is
- poor milk flow,
- the breast is still full and on hand expression milk is still available for removal.
- Soreness around the nipple and areola
- Painful pumping
It is a fine line to get that size right and often mums may think they have got it right but occasionally all that is required is fine tuning to make a huge difference.
So how do I go about checking the right breast shield for me?
The infographic included here takes a mum in a step by step approach to help when it comes to choosing the correct size breast shield. It is important to remember that some women need to get two or more different shield sizes – one for each breast or for different stages in their breastfeeding and expressing journey. If you’re having difficulty you can also seek advice from your health professional.
Medela provide the Medium 24mm breast shield as standard – for most mums this is fine but occasionally it does need to be reviewed. We have a range of 5 sizes to tailor fit a breast shield for you. You can view more information here or watch our helpful video here.