Hand Expressing Milk Easily

Push your fingers into your chest; if you have large breasts, you should lift them and then press inward. Roll your thumb and finger forward towards the nipple to drain the milk reservoirs.

hand expressing, expressing breast milk by hand
Photo by Timothy Meinberg / Unsplash

Want to know how to express breast milk manually?

Hand expression refers to when a woman manually expresses breast milk. Some mothers find hand expression more natural and more efficient than pumping. Others find it a little bit more challenging. When expressing milk by hand, remember practice makes perfect.

Reasons Why Mom Might Need to Hand Express

  • If your breasts are too full, expressing will soften the breasts and make it easier for your baby to latch on.
  • To tempt your baby onto the breast, some milk can be hand expressed and placed on your nipple or your baby's lips.
  • Hand expression is more comfortable for some mothers compared to pumping.
  • Some mothers cannot afford a breast pump.
  • It allows a mother to be away from the baby for a few hours.
  • To relieve engorged breasts, blocked milk ducts, or other breastfeeding problems.
  • If the mother's nipples are sore and she wants to take a few hours break from breastfeeding.
  • To stimulate milk production.

Positioning when Expressing Breast Milk by Hand

Put your thumb above your nipple and two fingers below the nipple; your hand should form a C.

How to Express Breast Milk with the Marmet Technique

Push your fingers into your chest; if you have large breasts, you should lift them and then press inward. Roll your thumb and finger towards the nipple to drain the milk reservoirs. Repeat this process a few times. Use both hands on each breast so that alternative reservoirs are emptied.

Do not squeeze your breast, and do not pull your nipple too hard; this can cause damage. It should not hurt.

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Improving Milk Ejection Reflex when Hand Expressing Milk

  • Massage your breasts, and move your fingers in circular motions around the breast until you reach the areola.
  • Shaking your breasts while leaning forward can also stimulate the milk ejection reflex.
  • A warm bath will help release the milk easier; you can use a warm wet facecloth for the same purpose.

Read more about breast massage here.

For the best hand expression results, mothers will need to improve their ejection reflex as explained above, then use the expression technique and repeat the process. This whole process should take about 30 minutes to complete. Expressing at least eight times daily is recommended to keep a good supply if expressing exclusively.

Important Things to Keep In Mind

  • Always use a sterilized container for the expressed milk.
  • Wash your hands before expressing.
  • Express while you are relaxed and have plenty of time.
  • Follow safe milk storage guidelines.
  • Never press your breast tissue or nipple too hard, as this will damage the breast tissue.
  • Looking at your baby or a picture of them will help with milk letdown.
  • Massaging your breasts beforehand will stimulate a letdown reflex.
  • Hand expressing breast milk more frequently, rather than more extended periods at a time, will be easier initially.
  • Use a Haakaa Pump on the breast you are not expressing to collect all the letdown, which would otherwise be lost into a breast pad.

Can Hand Expressing Damage Breast Tissue?

Hand-expressing milk is a safe and effective method of expressing milk, and it is unlikely to cause damage to breast tissue. Hand expression allows mothers to control the amount of pressure applied to the breast, which can help to prevent any damage to the breast tissue. However, as with any form of manual pumping, there is a risk of injury if too much force is used.

If you already have some breast tissue damage or soreness, hand expression may cause discomfort. You should contact a lactation consultant to rule out any underlying issues, such as a blocked duct or infection. Alternatively, opt for a Milkology breastfeeding course and equip yourself with the comprehensive knowledge necessary for a successful breastfeeding experience.