If pumping is painful for you, the shape of your breast shields might be part of the problem. One possible solution is Pumpin’ Pals, which have a unique design that a lot of women find to be more comfortable.
After I had my third baby, I had the chance to try Pumpin Pals for the first time. I had heard a lot about how comfortable they are, so I was excited to use them for myself. (Transparency note: I wasn’t asked to do a review and bought these myself.)
What are Pumpin Pals Super Shields?
Pumpin Pals are breast shields with a slightly different design, which you can see below (the Pumpin Pal is on the right and the Medela flange is on the left).
Most flanges have a funnel, where most of your breast goes, and then a tunnel for your nipple. Instead of a hard, circular transition between the two parts, Pumpin Pals tapers between the funnel and the area for your nipple, which reduces discomfort and fits the breast more naturally. According to Pumpin Pal, this also allows milk to flow more freely.
What pumps do Pumpin Pals flanges work with?
Pumpin Pals work with almost all of the major breast pumps, including Medela, Spectra (24mm flanges, more info here), Lansioh, Avent Isis, and Ameda pumps. They do not fit the First Years miPump or the Avent Comfort Pump.
With some pumps, you can remove the flange from the connector and replace it with the Pumpin Pal. With other pumps that don’t have removable flanges, you can just place the Pumpin Pal flange inside the normal flange, as shown below.
Pumpin Pals Review
I did a few pumping sessions with one breast in a Pumpin Pal flange and the other in a Medela flange, just to see how they compared. Overall, I found the Pumpin Pal breast shield to be more comfortable in a few ways:
- The nipple is gradually eased in to the Pumpin Pal thanks to the wider, rounder design, whereas it’s a bit more “stuffed” into the Medela flange. (I thought about posting a picture of my nipples to show you what I’m talking about, but then I thought better of it. You’re welcome.)
- Pumpin Pals have an angled design, making it possible for you to lean back in a chair while you pump. (I tried leaning back with the Medela flanges too, and while it could theoretically work it’s a lot more likely you’ll spill than with Pumpin Pals.) All you need to do is lean forward again before disconnecting yourself.
- Because the flanges encompass more of your breast, it’s much easier to hold onto them (if you’re not using a hands-free bra). Also, when you hold onto them, the rounder bottom means that the edges don’t dig into your hands.
One thing that was a little weird for me is that you can’t really massage while pumping with these flanges, because they cover so much more of your breast. The website says that that is a feature, not a bug – you shouldn’t need to massage because the flange is doing that work for you.
Also, the first time I used these flanges, I was really confused about whether the long end should go on top or on the bottom. The answer is either way is fine! There are “no rules” about what direction they face, and you can use whatever is more comfortable for you.
Overall, I really liked these and would recommend them.
Who are these flanges good for?
If the normal flanges that came with your pump are working well for you, then you’re probably fine to keep using them. However, if you’re having pain when you pump and it doesn’t seem like changing flange size works, they are definitely worth a try.
Additionally, if you’re feeling burned out with pumping and think it would help to sit more comfortably, being able to lean back when you pump is a really nice feature. Plus, being relaxed helps you express more milk.
Finally, some women take a long time to empty. Pumpin Pals are supposed to help women empty faster – so much so that they state that you should call their customer service if it takes you longer than 25 minutes.
What size should I buy?
Sizing can be a little confusing. Pumpin Pals sets come in three sizes – small, medium, and large – and when you order a set, you get three pairs of flanges.
- A small set contains extra small, small, and medium flanges, and they correspond to size 15-23mm “normal” flanges.
- A medium set has small, medium, and large breast shields, which are roughly equivalent to sizes 19-30mm.
- A large set contains medium, large, and extra large pairs, which correspond to sizes 27-40mm.
Obviously, the sizes have quite a bit of overlap, so you just want to pick a size most in the range what you’re using now. (What I would do if I was buying? If I was using a 21 or under, get a small; 24-27, a medium; a 30 or over, a large. However, that’s just me.)
If you’ve used Pumpin’ Pals, let us know what you think in the comments!
(Note: this review was originally written in December 2015 and was updated in March 2018.)References
- Pumpin Pal. https://pumpinpal.com/
- Philips USA. “The science of comfort; why feeling relaxed helps you express more milk.” https://www.usa.philips.com/c-m-mo/breast-pumps-care/the-science-of-comfort