Hand expression is the use of your hand to gently squeeze out the milk from your breast. It’s the ideal way to collect your breast milk and to relieve breast engorgement (uncomfortable, overfull breasts). It may take some time and practice before you’re comfortable enough to consistently express your milk. Be patient.
How to hand express your breast milk:
- Wash your hands.
- Use a sterilised wide rimmed container to express your milk into. Place your sterilised container within reach.
- Choose a quiet and relaxed place where you won’t be interrupted. Looking at and/or smelling your baby can help stimulate your milk letdown.
- Begin by massaging or stroking your breast towards your nipple for about a minute.
- Place your little finger under your breast close to your rib cage, and spread your other fingers to support your breast.
- Support the base or middle of your breast using the “C” or “U” hold.
- Bring your fingers forward toward the areola.
- Gently squeeze your thumb and first finger together and then release, keeping your fingers in the same position.
- Repeat the gentle squeeze and releasing again and again, building up a rhythm that you’re comfortable with.
- Continue to do this until you start seeing drops of breast milk appearing at your nipple. Be patient as this may take a minute or two to appear.
- Once you see a few drops adjust your position so you can use your sterilised container to collect your breast milk.
- Keep squeezing and releasing your breast. This could lead to a few more drops or a steady free flow of your milk.
- Try rotating your hand like a clock if the flow of milk stops and try a different section of your breast. Work around all areas of your breast before changing breasts.