Hand Expression

By Krista Gray, IBCLC. Last updated August 2, 2017.

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When using hand expression, try to express while near your baby so you can look at, smell, touch him.  If this is not possible, look at a picture, think about your baby, play a relaxing song, express in the same location…whatever you can do to relax and think about your baby.  These things will help stimulate your milk ejection reflex, which is necessary to express milk!

Steps for hand expression of breastmilk:

  1. Begin by washing your hands and having a clean, dry receptacle to collect your milk.
  2. Gently massage your nipple/areola by running your fingers over it.
  3. Cup your hand and hold your thumb on one side and your index finger on the other, just behind the areola (or about 2.5 cm behind the nipple).  Thus, if your thumb is at 9 o’clock your index finger will be at 3 o’clock.
  4. Gently push your breast back into your chest, then gently squeeze your thumb and index finger toward one another – without actually moving them together.  Do this until you stimulate the milk ejection reflex.  Collect all milk/colostrum, then swap sides and repeat.
  5. Continue to swap back and forth between breasts until you are satisfied you have adequately drained the milk/colostrum.

Remember, an empty breast makes more milk so the more you express the more milk your body will make!

Here is a video of hand expression.