Your body is built to adapt.
By the end of nine months of pregnancy, you’ve experienced first-hand the body’s amazing ability to transform. You can carry a baby to term because your body is capable of changing rapidly, and elasticity plays a significant role in that adaptability. The more elastic your skin, the faster it will recover from pregnancy.
Likewise, nipples that are elastic are not only normal but advantageous in most cases. In fact, flat and inverted nipples, which we’ve talked about before, are both problems created by too little nipple elasticity. Moms with less resilient nipples and areolas are at a higher risk of experiencing low milk supply, nipple soreness, and latching problems. However, in some cases, very elastic nipples can pose challenges if you’re pumping.
How do I know if elastic nipples are causing a breastmilk pumping problem?
It bears repeating that your nipple and areola should be elastic. Optimal elasticity makes it easy for your baby to latch on during breastfeeding, and it’s perfectly normal for a nipple to extend during pumping. Most pump manufacturers will advise that the nipple should extend about halfway down the flange. It shouldn’t touch the sides of the flange, and very little areola should be pulled into to the flange.
Elastic nipples become a problem if they extend to the end of the flange, rub against the sides of the flange, or hit the backflow protector. With very elastic nipples, too much areola may be pulled into the pump flange. Not only will this make pumping more painful, but it can also compress milk ducts and even lead to lower breastmilk production.
Pumping hacks for moms with more elastic nipples
If your nipples are very elastic, it’s probably a sign of your good genes. But if it’s causing pain or messing with your breastmilk supply, that’s no consolation. Fortunately, there are ways to work around elastic nipples.
Find your own maximum comfortable vacuum.
Suction does play a role in milk production and quality, but each mom’s maximum comfortable vacuum is different. If your nipples are very elastic, you may not need to build up to the highest vacuum level. Instead, try a low, consistent suction strength to prevent further stretching and eliminate pain.
Find your perfect flange size.
Your breast pump’s flange fits directly over your nipple, areola, and breast. When it fits, the seal creates the vacuum that allows the pump to extract breastmilk. If the flange is too small, your nipple will touch the sides, increasing the chances of clogged milk ducts. If the flange is too large, it may increase nipple elasticity. Measuring your nipple will get you in the right flange size range but pay special attention to how the flange feels and how much of your nipple is pulled into the flange during pumping sessions.
Need some pumping advice?
Your skin isn’t the only thing being stretched beyond its normal limits during and after pregnancy. Your brain is also being pushed, prodded, and strained. If you’re too tired to figure out this whole pumping thing on your own, you don’t have to. At Milk N Mamas Baby, we’ve been supporting new moms on their breastfeeding journey for years, and we’re here for you, too. Give us a call today for information on picking the best pump for your needs and solving the most common obstacles to regular pumping.