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How to Express Breast Milk by Hand

How to Express Breast Milk by Hand  #breastfeeding #nursingEver wondered how to express breast milk by hand? Does it seem difficult? Are you frustrated by what seems like a fruitless endeavor? Let’s take a look at how to express breast milk by hand – with a few adjustments you may soon find you prefer hand expression over an electric pump!

Over the fall break we decided to visit my family 8 hours away. We stopped every hour on the way up for the baby’s sake. He just hated being back there for so long and he needed things like milk, diaper changes, and happy baby crawling time. My daughter helped keep him occupied, but he just doesn’t understand why he can’t see mama for the duration of long car trips. Since we hang out all day, I totally understand.

The drive back was a little more rough. After having a blast and dealing with so much excitement, both kids were being miserable in the back seat. Since my fiance was also getting cranky, I was trying my best to not bother with so many stops. I sat in the passenger’s seat and hand pumped into a sippy cup. It didn’t come too fast, but it held my son over for longer periods of time.

Manual expression of breast milk isn’t always convenient, but the tips below will help you learn how to express breast milk when you need to.

Use a wide mouth container.

Because milk flows from many different areas of the nipple, sometimes it can be hard to predict where it might go while hand expressing. Most women prefer a bowl because it’s easier to catch milk, no matter which way it squirts!

Get comfortable.

Manual expression can be tedious and awkward for the beginner. Making yourself comfortable and being able to focus on what you’re feeling with your hand can often be the key to a successful session. Just like you would with a pump, sit down, relax, and keep a glass of water handy for small breaks.

Use proper technique.

  1. Place your hand in a C shape with your thumb on top of your areola and your index finger right below (if your breast were a clock, think 12 and 6 o’clock).
  2. Feel for a change in tissue below your skin. Once you find the start of the “chunky” tissue, begin pushing your breast against your chest while simultaneously squeezing. Make sure not to rub your nipple too much or you could cause chaffing.
  3. You may have to adjust your finger placement to find the sweet spot, but once you do milk should come readily.

Massage, massage, massage.

Massaging your breast helps milk to flow. You should massage your breasts before you begin and take breaks to massage all throughout your manual expression session.

Learning to hand express is a valuable tool to add to your nursing arsenal. Hand expression is a great way to relieve engorgement and help in instances of a plugged duct or mastitis. It can be used when a pump isn’t available to get milk for your baby, or if nursing and/or  pumping is too painful.

Did you know how to express breast milk with your little one?

Shary Lopez is a late-twenties, nerdy gal living in Tampa Bay. Her family consists of a bearded husband and two children: one eight-year-old daughter and one very adventurous toddler boy. As a childbirth junkie and breastfeeding advocate, Shary tries to lean her family towards natural living while still grasping onto convenience and frugality. You can find more of her writings on Shary's personal blog, Atta Mama. Shary is also on social networking sites such as FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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