Most nipples will swell to fill the flange tunnel. It's unavoidable. Using a larger flange size usually results in even more swelling. But swelling puts pressure on the milk ducts making it hard for the milk to drain well. That's why we find that most people get the best milk drainage by using the smallest size flange they can fit into comfortably.

Touching the sides of the tunnel is more noticeable in our silicone flanges than our hard plastic sizes, but the same dynamic is happening.  It's normal and unavoidable.  

Rubbing is when the nipples move against the sides of the tunnel. If the movement catches on the tunnel sides causing friction, sore spots and even blisters can develop. 

To keep this from happening in our hard plastic flanges, we recommend using an edible oil like coconut or olive oil to reduce friction. 

The way to reduce friction in our silicone flanges depends on whether or not you have elastic nipple tissue. Do your nipples tend to stretch to the end of the tunnel in standard flanges? If not, feel free to use lubricating oil to prevent friction. 

If your nipples are elastic our silicone flanges have a special feature that holds the nipple tissue in place to keep them from stretching, which also holds the milk ducts open so the milk drains more easily and quickly with total comfort. Only the very tip of the nipple should move in the flange. They can only do this without any lubrication, though, so it's important to remove it from every source.  

See "Lubrication in our SILICONE flanges" for a full list of sneaky lubrication sources.

Reviewed by Diana West, IBCLC

June 10, 2021