Hand Expression of Breast Milk: Exactly How To Perform This Technique

Hand expression of breast milk is a great way to get milk out of your breast without using a breast pump. It can be especially helpful with breast stimulation after birth, engorgement relief, increasing milk supply, and getting your baby interested in latching.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through the simple process of hand expression.

In the video below, Sarah Trinajstich provides a visual demonstration of how to perform hand expression of breast milk.

Continue reading for more information.

Here are 5 Simple Steps to Hand Expression:

Step 1

Massage your breast in a circular motion, working your way all the way around your breast. If needed, hold your breast with your opposite hand for easy access to your areola and nipple. Your areola is the colored area around your nipple.

Step 2

Using the hand on the same side as the breast you’re expressing, place your thumb and index finger on the outside edge of your areola. Your fingers should be directly across from each other as if they were at “12 and 6” on a clock.

Step 3

Press firmly into your breast with your thumb and index fingers. Push inward toward your chest.

Step 4

As you press into your breast, without lifting your fingers off your breast, spread your fingers slightly.

Step 5

Squeeze your fingers back toward your nipple without sliding them down onto your nipple. This should be a circular, massaging motion back toward your chest and out toward your nipple.

RELATED: 6 Steps For Getting a Comfortable & Effective Breastfeeding Latch

Things to keep in mind during the hand expression of breast milk:

  • Your fingers should remain on the outer edge of the areola. If they end up squeezing your nipple, they have slid too far down. 
  • It may take several repetitions before the milk comes out so be patient! 
  • You can rotate the position of your fingers around your areola to stimulate different milk ducts.
  • Don’t pinch down forcefully on your nipple or areola. This will cause pain and could stop milk flow.
  • Remember it is a circular, massaging motion in toward your chest, then in toward your nipple.
  • If you only express a few drops, you can catch your milk in a spoon or medicine cup. However, if you plan to express a greater amount, you may need a bigger container.

RELATED: 4 Signs Your Baby Is Hungry (and Needs To Be Fed)!

Meet with a certified lactation consultant for additional help with hand expression!

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Hi, my name is Sarah Trinajstich. I'm a registered dietitian and an international board-certified lactation consultant. I received my bachelor's degree and completed my dietetic internship at California State University Long Beach. I then completed my lactation consultant education at the University San Diego Extension. I believe in the power of good nutrition from the moment of conception and the importance of breastfeeding, not only for babies nutrition but for the bonding and physical benefits to baby and mom. There is no greater satisfaction for me than to help a mother and her baby breastfeed successfully. Breastfeeding is more than what the body does without thinking. It involves skills that mom and baby learn together. I look forward to help ease the learning curve!