Hand Expressing Milk

Hand expressing milk efficiently

Want to know how to manually express breast milk?

Hand expression is when a woman manually milks the breast by hand. Some mothers find hand expressing more natural and actually more efficient than pumping. Others find it a little bit more difficult expressing milk by hand…always remember practice makes perfect.

Reasons why mom might need to hand express

- If baby is ill and mom cannot breastfeed him the first few days

- To express breast milk a little if your breasts are too full

- To temp baby onto the breast

- It can sometimes be more comfortable for mom

- For moms who can't afford a pump

- Being away from baby for a few hours

- To relieve engorged breasts, blocked milk ducts or other breastfeeding problems

- If mom’s nipples are sore and she wants to take a few hours brake from breastfeeding for them to heal.

- To stimulate milk production


Here is a breast milk video on hand expressing milk…

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 the chest, if you have large breasts you should first lift them and then press in. Roll your thumb and finger forward 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 this can cause damage.

Improving milk ejection reflex for hand expressing milk

- Massage your breasts , move your fingers in circular motions around the breast until you reach the areola.

- Shaking your breasts while leaning forward can also get the milk ejection reflex going

- Having a warm bath can also help release milk easier, you can use a warm wet facecloth for the same purpose too.

- Read more on breast massage here

For best hand expression moms will need to improve ejection reflex as explained above then use the expression technique and then repeat the process again. This whole process should take about 30 minutes to complete. To keep a good supply on exclusive expressing, it is recommended to express at least eight times daily.

When manually expressing breast milk

- Always use a sterilized container for the expressed milk

- Wash your hands before expressing

- Express while you are relaxed and have plenty of time

- Proper milk storage guidelines

- Never press your breast tissue or nipple too hard as this will the tissue.

- Looking at baby or a picture of baby will help with milk letdown

- Massaging your breasts before-hand will stimulate a let down reflex

- When you express breast milk by hand. The more comfortable you are the easier the milk will flow.


Hand expressing breast milk more frequently rather than longer periods at a time will be easier in the beginning. Try also not to feel frustrated and just keep trying, practice makes perfect!


For more breast feeding help…

Other pages on “breastfeeding problems” in connection with hand expression of breast milk

- Pumping exclusively

- Breast milk storage guidelines

- Alternative feeding methods

- Working and breastfeeding

- Expressing breast milk

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