The Lactation Nerd Blog
Evidence Based Info
for All Lactating People.
for All Lactating People.
Here's the sad truth:
Our breast pumps are just NOT as effective as our babies when it comes to draining the breast. When you're going back to work, you really need to make sure you're able to maximize your output for your baby. And that is where hand expression comes in.
Which means sometimes we need a little hands on help. Hand expression is one of those tools you'll want to know how to do, and how to do well, to save you on a rainy day, or get that last precious ounce of milk after a pump session.
Hand expression is simple, but for some can be tricky before you get the hang of it. But don't worry... I'm going to guide you through it.
Hey there! My name is Kelly Maher Carvell, CLC, CLE.
I offer effective telehealth lactation support and education to modern families.
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Watch our video, and learn all about how to hand express your breastmilk!
Start off by warming up your breasts. This may take a minute or two. Unless your breasts are very full, I would expect you'd need 30 seconds to two minutes to stimulation to initiate a let down. Gently massage your breasts, and use heat if possible, to get them warmed up.
Make sure you're positioning your fingers on the edge of your areola, and not too close to the base of your nipple. This is about two inches or so from the base of your nipple. This is where you'll want to squeeze, deeper back in your breasts.
Once youre fingers are positioned, push them straight back toward your chest wall, and then gently squeeze, release, and repeat. Practice makes perfect. I recommend practicing hand expression in the shower, until you feel like you've gotten the hang of it. My tip: once you have your fingers in the right place, pretend they are glued to your skin. Don't move your fingers. Rubbing your skin and moving your fingers will only irritate your breasts, and pinch off your milk ducts. Keep them where they are until you're ready to rotate them around your areola.
Once you're ready to hand express and collect your milk, you can collect it directly in the breast shield, or flange, of your breast pump if you're using this after pumping, or into any clean container you may have around. I would often use a cereal bowl because I had more room to aim.
Kelly Maher Carvell, CLC, CLE
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