Pumpin Pal vs Lacteck flanges
Last update 03/09/2022
Like all things with expressing (or life in general) there is no guarantee that any product will work well for you. ‘Rules’ given in this article are in general and for the majority – there can always be exceptions. Definitions and basic info A breast pump ‘flange’ is generally considered the part that touches the breast. It can also be called a ‘breast shield’. Then there is the ‘elbow’ – the part that is literally shaped like an elbow and usually connects to a backflow protector or the tubing directly. The valve then hangs into the bottle from the underneath. It can also be called a ‘connector’.
Some breast pump companies make their flanges as a one-piece, others a 2-piece – the flange detaches from the elbow. When it is a one-piece system the whole thing is usually just called 'the flange', when it's a 2-piece it's sometimes the 'breast-shield' and 'connector'.
LacTeck® and Pumpin Pal™ are companies who make just the flange/breast shield part.
Started in 1999, these are angled flanges designed to allow relaxed expressing and comfort. Traditionally when you express with ‘regular’ flanges you need to lean forward to allow the milk to flow down the funnel and towards the bend*. So these flanges are angled to allow you to lean back.
*Having to lean forward while expressing to stop milk running down your breast can be a sign that you are using the wrong size - click here for a sizing guide - although generally, you need to sit quite upright regardless.
They also have ridges on them to potentially increase output, by stimulating the breast tissue around the nipple. They come in 5 sizes – X-Small, Small, Medium, Large and X-Large. Regular flanges can be found in sizes ranging from 10mm – 36mm, generally in at least 2mm increments. Each size of Pumpin Pal™ flanges fit a range of sizes – XS = 15 – 18mm, S = 19 – 23mm, M = 24 – 29mm, etc. The numbers relate to the 'regular' flange size. The XS and S sizes are made of soft silicone, the M and up are made from the same material as regular flanges. The XS and S also come with a hard ‘collar’, which allows them to fit snuggling into a connector. I have been a member of an exclusive expressing and low supply support group (2 separate groups) for 8+ years – there have been numerous reports on both sides of those who love them and those who don’t respond to them. Some who use them well say that you need to turn up your suction slightly, others have said they can use a lower setting as they work so well for them. As a stockist, I have also had mixed results. Why do I sell them then? To give customers choice and because the original aim of the products side of my business was to bring potentially helpful products to Australia.
Pumpin Pal™ flange - note that it angles down from the breast so that you can sit in a comfortable position
LacTeck® This is a relatively new company, founded by 2 MIT graduate mothers, who exclusively expressed for their babies. They currently make 4 or 5 products, of which I stock the Sleepy Mommy Adapters, Pump2Baby bottles, and BabyMotion flanges. Their BabyMotion flanges are a variation on the current flange - they are made from soft silicone, rather than hard plastic. They are shaped in the same way as regular flanges. They also include a small section that moves during expressing. The company says this is to better mimic the tongue action a baby makes during direct feeding. At the moment the flanges are currently available in 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, and 27mm.
The company points out that because they are made from soft silicone some of the vacuum may be absorbed and therefore it will probably be necessary to turn the vacuum up slightly. So if you are already using a high vacuum these may not work well for you (although needing to use a very high vacuum may mean that you are using the wrong size - click here for a sizing guide or here for an article on why choosing the right size is so important).
Lacteck® BabyMotion flanges
Some people have commented that the Lacteck flanges are sized incorrectly - that they are too big. They are actually the correct size (eg a 21mm measures exactly 21mm at the opening of the funnel part), but because they are made of soft silicone they expand slightly or have some 'give' in them, making them appear bigger. Therefore it may be necessary to go a size smaller - eg if you are using 19mm flanges, go for 18mm rather than 21mm. This makes it slightly tricky if you are using 15mm - 12mm will be too small, 15mm might be slightly too big.
I have heard of many people liking these flanges. Although a few have also found they do not respond well.
For both, CORRECT SIZING IS VERY IMPORTANT - yes, it is in capitals, bold, and underlined because it is that important!!
Very often (as in a few times a week) I get emails or messages from people saying they want to get these flanges because they have heard they are made of soft silicone and will they be better than their current flanges, or they have 'elastic nipples' and have heard these will work well for them.
The first question I ask is what size are they currently using. They usually reply with something between 21mm and 27mm (occasionally bigger) - in most cases, these sizes are TOO BIG - it is not the hard plastic that is causing the issue/s, it is the incorrect size. If you are currently using anything bigger than a 19mm flange and are considering getting these flanges because of discomfort or because you believe you have elastic nipples, please go and read my sizing guide. See below for a story that highlights this information.
Both the Pumpin Pal™ and Lacteck® flanges need a connector to attach to. Both types of flanges are compatible with Medela® pumps, provided that you already have a 2-piece system (ie the flange can be removed from the elbow). For 1 piece flange systems, you will need to get a MyFit connector (available as an add-on for each product). For those that have the backflow protector built into the flange (eg Ameda® or Ardo®), you will need to buy backflow protectors as well.
XS Pumpin Pal flange shown in a MyFit wide connector (they also come in narrow, which mimic the Medela connector)
Both are made from BPA-free materials.
Here is a story that really highlights my point on elastic nipples:
A customer contacted me saying that she has elastic nipples and if there is such a thing as a flange 'extender' as her nipple was touching the back of the flange. After a few emails back and forth I learned that she had exclusively expressed for her first child for 13mths with a 27mm flange, with no issues. She was currently EE'ing for her second and was using a 27mm flange, but she found that her nipple was being pulled right into the flange. She heard that the Pumpin Pal flanges were good for this, so she bought a Medium. But she was still having issues.
I asked her to send me videos of her using both types of flanges and from those, I estimated that she needed a 17mm flange. She was adamant that the 27mm was correct and just needed an extender. I said an extender didn't exist and that I really believed that smaller flanges would help.
She bought the Small Pumpin Pal flange (XS would have been better, as S starts at 19mm) but wrote back saying she was still having issues. I again re-iterated that 17mm regular flanges would probably be better.
So she got the 17's (somewhat reluctantly as she was still somewhat convinced that 27's were correct, due to her having no issues before). A few days later she messaged me in great excitement - her nipple was no longer touching the end of the flange and she had doubled her morning output! She was amazed that I was right about her needing 17's.
Please feel free to email me with any questions - firstname.lastname@example.org. To buy either in Australia go to www.cherishedparenting.com.au/online-store