The Art of Hand (or Manual) Expression

With all of the various breast pumps available, it's easy to forget that hand or manual expression is the least expensive and most portable method to use. Let-down occurs best when a mom becomes emotionally and physically comfortable in expressing or pumping. With practice, mom's can be very successful.

After washing hands, begin the basic technique of placing the fingers on the underside of the breast and the thumb above the breast – forming a "C" position. Be sure placement of thumb and fingers are just behind the areola.

  1. Push back towards the chest wall.
  2. Squeeze the fingers & thumb together.
  3. Then roll towards the nipple.

Practice these three quick steps, forming a rhythmic motion which stimulates the nursing action (do not slide the fingers along the skin). Rotating the hand while maintaining the basic "C" position allows all milk ducts to be reached.

Do this for 3 to 5 minutes on one breast, then switch to the other breast. Switching back and forth at least twice helps increase the flow of milk (it's best to alternate hands while expressing to reach more of the milk ducts.) A faster rhythmic rate also increases amount expressed. Most women express their milk into a clean container or bowl.