You may decide to hand express milk instead of using a breast pump. You can also use hand expression and breast massage if your breasts are engorged (swollen, tender breasts) or to soften the areola to so your baby can latch on to your breast for nursing.
How to Do Hand Expression
Hand expression may take about 20 to 30 minutes. If you use this technique, express from one breast for three to five minutes until your milk flow slows down. Express from the other breast and repeat this process on both breasts.
- Place your thumb and index finger on your areola – with your thumb above and your index and remaining fingers below the nipple – about 1 to 1 1⁄2 inches behind the nipple.
- Press your thumb and index finger in toward your chest wall.
- Roll your thumb and fingers forward by moving them together in a press/release rhythm behind your nipple. This stimulates your milk flow.
- Once your milk flow slows, rotate your hand and press from the sides of your areola.
- Continue this same motion, moving around your entire areola.
- Repeat this process on each breast a few times.
Hand expression should not be painful. If it is, be careful not to squeeze too hard. Make sure you collect the milk in a clean container. Cover containers for storage in the refrigerator or freezer and label the container with the date on it.