If you are a breastfeeding mother, you should know how to hand express breast milk. There may be times when you can’t breast feed your baby but he also won’t take formula. In times like these, pumping and storing breast milk seems to be a better option. However, manual pumps take far too long to pump and are a bit exhausting whereas electric, automatic pumps are too heavy on the pocket.
Whatever be the case, you should know when and how you can express your milk manually using absolutely no tool but your hands and a container or bottle to store the expressed milk.
To further convince you, research has shown that hand expressing breast milk removes more milk than electric or manual pumps.
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So for all you mothers out there who want to know how you can possibly pump milk with your hands, keep reading.
Tip – Even if you are hand expressing or using pumps, research suggests that if you are in stress, the milk you express will be very less to what you can normally produce. So be stress free whenever you pump – manually or otherwise!
1. The very first step into hand expression is making sure that your hands are clean and dry. Not only that, the bottle or the container you use to express breast milk should also be clean and dry, preferably sterilized.
2. Look for a place where you can be seated comfortably without any interruptions or distractions. Once there, start massaging your breast in a downward motion, with your fingers of right hand stroking the left breast toward the nipple.
3. After massaging for about a minute or two, support your breast firmly with your hand with your thumb on top.
4. Ensure that your fingers are nowhere near the nipple because it is not where the milk is. The milk is deep within the breast.
5. Keep your thumb (on top of the breast) and your fingers (below) on the edges of the areola (the dark part surrounding your nipple).
Photo Credit – http://breastfeedingtoday-llli.org
6. Now squeeze your thumb and fingers together but gently. Don’t be too fast with it as you have to have a consistent flow initially first. Now squeeze and release. Keep repeating it until you empty the milk from your breasts.
7. It takes several minutes to have a flow of the milk. However, if you’re a new mother, please be advised that you will only have a few drops of milk coming out even after much effort.
8. If the milk has stopped flowing from one direction, try moving your fingers a bit and see if you get milk from any other part. Breast milk tissues are spread inside the breast and we have to find the position which works best for us.
9. If you’re confident that you have emptied the breast, move on to expressing from the other one.
10. It takes a lot of patience to hand express breast milk and only once you have mastered it that you find it too easy to do. Practice will make it easier for you to hand express breast milk.
ALSO READ – How To Store Breastmilk
As for me, I did use Philips Avent Hand pump to express my milk initially but I used to feel too exhausted. When I first started hand expressing, I thought it wasn’t for me because it would take too much time with too little milk. But with time, I started expressing more and more milk.
Have you ever hand expressed your breast milk? Do you prefer it over using manual or electric pumps? Share your experience with us in the comments.