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There are many instances early in a baby’s life where mom may want or need to hand express.
Hand expression might be helpful if:
- You are expressing milk for your baby in the first few days after birth. Often your hands work better than the pump to express colostrum (newborn milk) which is thicker and stickier than mature milk.
- You are engorged and need to soften your breast for baby to get a good latch. If your nipple has flattened out due to swelling, try reverse pressure softening.
- You are trying to boost your milk supply. Hand expressing after you breastfeed or pump can increase your milk output.
- You forgot your pump, your pump breaks, or the power goes out.
Watch this animation to learn how to hand express, step by step. As with any new skill, it may take a little practice. You may notice that certain changes in hand position or pressure are better than others at removing milk. With time, you will find the way that works for you.
Moms can remove their breastmilk by hand without the need of special equipment. It’s easy and some moms find they can express even more milk by hand than with a pump. Learn how to hand express.
After you have nursed, you can try hand expressing to help stimulate your colostrum (“first milk”) and relieve any tightness you may feel in your breasts in those early days and as you continue breastfeeding.
Get a clean container for your breastmilk.
Wash your hands and gently massage your breast in a circular pattern, moving around the breast until you massage all areas.
Hold the clean container near your breast. With your other hand, place your fingers and thumb about two inches behind the nipple.
- Gently press your fingers and thumb back toward your ribs.
- Press your fingers and thumb together.
- Relax your hand.
Rotate the placement of your fingers and thumb around your nipple to empty all areas of the breast. When milk flow slows down, switch to your other breast.
It may take a few minutes or tries before you see milk. Keep practicing and you will have an extra tool to provide nourishing breastmilk to your baby.