Breastfeeding in the military means having to pump often due to separation during the workday or for deployment. Pumpin’ Pal, a company founded by Jonathan Gillian (father, husband and inventor) in 1999, wants to make pumping a little easier with their angled flanges and hands-free kit.
After watching his wife struggling to exclusively pump for their daughter he realized that there had to be a better way to pump than by holding bottles and using one-size-fits-all flanges that require mom to sit straight-up or lean over. After making a a prototype for his wife and then a few more for co-workers, Jon realized he was onto something and Pumpin’ Pal was born.
According to Mr. Gillan, Pumpin’ Pal shields are the first and only shields (flanges) that are both angled and tapered to fit all breast sizes. Due to their unique construction they claim to eliminate constriction of the milk ducts which promotes better milk flow and reduces irritation to the nipple area and may help to prevent plugged ducts and mastitis. Pumping’ Pal shields allow the user to sit back in a more natural position while pumping and can also be used with hands-free bras and straps. The shields come in two different sets of three sizes for the perfect fit and are made with BPA-free Medical Grade Polypropylene (Med/Large/XLarge) or BPA-free Silicone (XSmall, Small, Med). They are dishwasher safe and able to be sterilized. Pumping’ Pal shields are proudly made in the USA. At this time Pumpin’ Pal shields work with Ameda, Medela, Bailey, Lansinoh, Rumble Tuff, Avent Isis. They do NOT fit the First Years miPump, Spectra, or Avent Comfort Pumps.
***Breastfeeding in Combat Boots received a complimentary set of shields for review***
The Pumpin’ Pal (PP) shields come 3 to a set in a nice purple mesh bag, which is handy for letting them air dry after use. Having three sizes at a time to choose from is a nice bonus, since breast size changes over time and these shields fit differently, you can play around with the sizes without having to order and wait for another set to arrive. Depending on your pump the shields either replace the ones that came with it altogether OR they fit inside the existing flanges. I own a number of pumps – Medela Pump n’ Style, Ameda Purely Yours, Ardo Calypso, Hygeia Enjoye and a Spectra S1 – and the PP shields worked well with ALL of them no matter how the flange is attached. Ameda and Ardo require that the PP shield be inserted inside the flange. Replacing the Hygeia flanges with Medela Personal Fit Connectors allows the PP shield to replace the flange, as it works the same way with the Medela connectors on the Pump n’ Style. Unfortunately the PP shields do NOT work with the Spectra pumps at all. It *is* a pain to fit them inside the flanges on the Purely Yours, Calypso and Enjoye and I was always concerned that they would ‘pop’ out. They didn’t, but it’s an extra step and something else to worry about while pumping.
I noticed right away that the angle of the shield was very different from with the flanges that come with the various pumps. This was my first clue that these shields might just be a game changer. Placing them on my breasts I started my pump and noticed that I could sit back while pumping! How nice to relax and not worry about milk seeping and spilling out the bottom of the flange or making its way in the tubing (looking at you Medela Pump ‘n Style). In addition the tapering of the Pumpin’ Pal shields meant that there was no chaffing or rubbing of my nipple and areola where the ‘angle’ of the flange meets the tunnel. Due to the ribbing and tapering of the shield I found them to be very comfortable, but they also pulled in more breast tissue than the pump manufacturer ones do. That meant that I needed to move down a size and turn my pump setting up a notch or two. I noticed a small dip in my output at first, seems my brain was used to ‘pain’ from the other ones and had to get used to letting-down with these new ones, but then my output increased again. I tried to do my usual hands-on pumping (HOP) and did notice that my massaging made my breast tissue pull away more from the flanges and ‘lose’ suction. I’m a firm believer in hands-on pumping from personal and professional experience and not being able to practice HOP while pumping could be a potential problem if you rely on that technique. I have NOT tried the PP shields with a hands-free bra or strap, but I understand that they work well with various hands-free devices.
Due to the marketing of Pumping’ Pals (word-of-mouth) and lack of selling them in the big box stores, not to many people know about them which is unfortunate (they are available on Amazon and at the Pumpin’ Pal website). It bears mentioning that TRICARE does NOT cover them which is doubly unfortunate and frankly makes no sense (given that they could be classified as part of a breast pump or as an adaptor). I think the PP shields could make a huge difference for military moms that have to pump on a regular basis and for any pumping mom who finds herself in-between sizes on the regular manufacturer flanges. Finally, I hope that in the future the Pumpin’ Pal shields will accommodate MORE brands of pumps since there are many more on the market now and moms are moving away from the mainstream pump companies. Overall however I am very pleased and would give the Pumpin’ Pal shields a solid 8/10!
For more information and to order visit: www.pumpingpal.com
“If we can make breast pumping a more effective, relaxing and tolerable activity, we know that more women will pump longer, and pumping longer means giving mom’s milk to baby longer. Pumpin’ Pal™ is committed to supporting breastfeeding and pumping moms by creating innovative, inexpensive and effective products that help moms through challenging and sometimes trying times. “You can be certain that our focus and commitment will continue for many years. We admire you for your efforts as a caring parent, and like my wife, Janene, and millions of other moms, the commitment you have made to provide breast milk for your baby.”
Pumpin’ Pal and Breastfeeding in Combat Boots have teamed up together to provide military breastfeeding mothers with the support they need to be successful at breastfeeding while serving in the military. Enter the giveaway by April 29 and 1 lucky winner will receive a Pumpin’ Pal Comfort Kit and a BFinCB water bottle (pink or clear) total value of $60. Winner will be announced Apr30. Use code BOOTS for 15% off your order at the Pumpin’ Pal website during the month of April. You can find Pumpin’ Pal on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
In addition, we are pleased to announce that Pumpin’ Pal is sponsoring BFinCB for the months of April and June, to further Advocate, Inform, and Support all military mothers who are Giving the Breast for Baby and Country.
Are you interested in Pumpin’ Pals? Is this something you would use on a regular basis? Do you think these would be useful for pumping? Leave a comment below.