Expressing breast milk by hand is an essential skill that every breastfeeding mom should be aware of. It’s inexpensive, easier, and a lot more comfortable. Although breast pumps make your life easier, a hand expression comes in handy. Pumping breast milk by hand is the easiest way to express colostrum, especially in the first few days after the baby is born. Even with pumps being touted as a modern-day miracle, some mums find hand expression more comfortable, efficient, and easier than pumping.
Follow these tips to help you pump breast milk by hand:
Ensure Your Hands Are Clean
You should wash your hands before attempting to hand express breast milk. Importantly, do not wash hands with cold water as coldness might prolong the process more than required. And if you happen to do so, allow the hands to warm up before hand-pumping. You can ask for help from the nurse.
Breast Massage is Essential
This is the best and easiest part to get you started. Wake up your breasts with a gentle massage to get the milk pooling flowing. Massage the breast from the armpits and work gently towards the nipple. Additionally, sweep your fingers around the breast, squeeze, and knead.
After massaging the breast, place the fingers in a C shape with your middle or forefinger on the bottom and the thumb on top. Carefully place the fingers close to the nipple with pad sides down. However, the placement of fingers differs from one mother to another. To make the session easier, try on where your breast tissue is sensitive, as this will trigger let-down reflex.
Collect the Expressed Breast Milk
If your breasts are engorged and you only want to make them comfortable, then you can express the milk over a sink or into a towel. But if your purpose is to freeze the milk for future use, then you need to store milk safely in a clean, clear container. You can use a funnel to project milk into the chosen vessel. Alternatively, you can be smart and utilize the milk bags. Use a vessel with a wider mouth like a mug and transfer the milk into your chosen storage container.
Repeat the Process
When it comes to hand pumping, you have to ensure you have carried out the exercise on both breasts. After you’re done with one breast, repeat the same process on the other breast.
- Ensure You’re Comfortable – You need to be in a comfortable area, away from distraction. Invest in a good chair that will support your back and hands to make the sessions easier.
- You Need to be Patient – Expressing milk by hand takes a few trials to master. At first, you might not express much milk. This can be frustrating especially if you’re doing exclusive pumping. Fortunately, with time, you will adjust and get comfortable when doing it.
Hand pumping should not take a toll on you since it’s easier than using a breast pump, what we need to use specially when we are in a hurry. But take caution not to squeeze your breasts hard as it can cause pain.