Hand expression is an alternative form to emptying your breasts when you are unable to breastfeed your baby, or to help relieve engorgement. It is fast, simple and convenient for any mom. Some moms are able to express more milk using hand expression than using a breast pump. Practice several times and use whatever works best for you and you are most comfortable with. Hand expression does not rub on the breast tissue, leave bruises, or other burns. It can be quite easy and comfortable.
Hand expression has many advantages:
- You always have your hands with you! There is no need for special equipment. And you will never experience forgetting the pump!
- You have no need for electricity!
- You can hand express your milk anywhere.
- Some mechanical pumps may cause more discomfort but you can try different ways to hand expression to match your comfort level.
Practice the following steps for effective hand expression:
- To help with the milk-ejection reflex, or let-down, it is best to either think about your baby, massage your breasts or whatever works for you to aid in this process. If you massage your breasts, massage in gentle circles, starting from the top of your breast, working your way down.
- Place your fingers on one breast about 1 ½” behind the areola. Push back against your chest wall and roll your fingers forward, as if someone were taking your fingerprints.
- Repeat this step in hand expressing breast milk until the milk flow has slowed. You will probably need to use both hands on each breast, before switching to the other side.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the other breast.
- When the milk flow has slowed on the second side, begin again on the first breast.
- Repeat this process 2-3 times until you no longer are able to express milk. You may massage your breasts again and find there is a little more milk you are able to express out.
**Note: this is strictly a guide. You made find that moving your fingers further back on the breast works better for you. You may also find that moving your fingers around the breast also works to extract more milk. It takes practice of finding which position works best for you and your body.