When and How to Hand Express Breast Milk

When and How to Hand Express Breast MilkIn these modern times it may seem odd to hand express breast milk but it’s a skill that could come in “handy.” There are times when hand expressing may be crucial to prevent engorgement and potential infection, avoid embarrassment, or help your baby have a good feeding. Therefore it’s a good idea to know how to do it. We’ve got all the details for you here.

When to Hand Express Breast Milk

New moms who never need to pump or pump regularly may ask, why would I need to hand express breast milk? Well, here are some reasons that you may not have contemplated:

  • You don’t usually pump and therefore don’t have a breast pump but you find yourself extremely full and your baby is not awake or interested in nursing. Solution: hand express
  • You’re stuck somewhere without your breast pump and your breasts feel like they may explode. Solution: hand express
  • You breast pump is broken and you’re in desperate need of relieving your breasts. Solution: hand express
  • Your breasts are too full for your baby to even begin to latch. Solution: hand express
  • You need to stimulate a let-down to entice your baby to latch and feed. Solution: hand express
  • You are at work or in public and need to release some milk before you leak everywhere but you don’t have time to hook up your pump. Solution: hand express
  • Your breasts are too sensitive for the hard plastic phalanges from a breast pump. Solution: hand express
  • Your breasts are better stimulated by skin than plastic. Solution: hand express

How to Hand Express Breast Milk

Most experts recommend the Marmet Technique of Manuel Expression to hand express breast milk. Here’s how it’s done:

First place your thumb 1 inch above the top of your nipple and your pointer and middle fingers 1 inch below the bottom of your nipple. Your hand should loosely resemble a “C” but do not cup the side of your breast. Push all three fingers back towards your chest. Moms with larger breasts may need to lift and then push back. Roll the fingers forward to compress and empty the milk sinuses. You may need to adjust your finger position slightly to find the reservoirs. You’ll start seeing milk expression when you are in the right spot. Continue rolling until you no longer see milk. Then slide your fingers one position to the right and repeat the rolling motion until you’ve completely circled your breast. Repeat on the other breast or hand express from both breasts at the same time.

Sources: Ask Dr. Sears, KellyMom, and La Leche League