Touching the sides of the tunnel is unavoidable because your nipples will swell to fill the tunnel no matter what size you use. But there certainly should not be any painful rubbing. In our silicone flanges, painful rubbing happens when there is friction from just enough lubrication for movement but not enough to protect the skin. How to keep friction from happening depends on which of the two reasons you need them:
For the smaller angled flange size — If you don't need to control for elasticity, you can eliminate friction by using just a little edible oil like coconut or olive oils (too much and the flange gets too slippery). Dish soaps like Dapple and Babyganics or any with an anti-spotting ingredient will leave a lubricating film on silicone that can also help.
- To control elasticity (stretching too far that closes off the milk ducts) — If you're using the silicone flanges to control elasticity, you need to eliminate lubrication completely so the tacky silicone can hold the nipples in place to keep the milk ducts open. When there's no lubrication, only the very end of the nipple will move during pumping so there's no friction and you're totally comfortable. If you see more than the end of the nipple moving, we'll need to look for sneaky ways you're still getting lubrication that's allowing friction:
See "Lubrication in our Silicone Flanges" for a full list of sneaky lubrication sources and let us know if you need help finding it.
Reviewed by Diana West, IBCLC
September 30, 2021