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 people find to be more comfortable.
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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 I 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 these 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?
With pumps that have the breast shield and connector as two separate pieces (like Medela breast pumps), using them is pretty straightforward – you can just replace the existing flange with the Pumpin’ Pals flange:
To use Pumpin’ Pals with a Spectra or another type of pump with a combined flange and connector, you need a special adaptor that you can get here.
Here’s how it looks:
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 do breast compressions while pumping with these flanges, because they cover so much more of your breast.
The website says that that is intentional, and you shouldn’t need to massage because the flange is doing that work 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 your flange size helps (especially if your nipples seem to be stretching far into the connector – this is called elastic nipples), 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 may help 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.
How do these flanges work – which end goes on top?
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.
What size should I buy?
Sizing can be a little confusing. Pumpin’ Pals sets come in two sizes – small and large – and when you order a set, you get three pairs of flanges.
- A small set contains extra small, small, and medium flanges. The extra small and small sizes are silicone, and the medium size is plastic.
- A large set contains medium, large, and extra large pairs. The large set is all plastic flanges.
Pumpin’ Pal has a quiz that you can take to determine was size you should use! You can take it here.
If you’ve used Pumpin’ Pals, let us know what you think in the comments!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