Expressing breast milk by hand is an essential skill that every breastfeeding mom should know. 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 expressing milk becomes easy, some mums find hand expression more comfortable, efficient, and easier than pumping.
Why is hand expression helpful?
Some may wonder why anyone has to pump breast milk by hand when comfy breast pumps are available. Let us acknowledge that hand expression is a valuable technique every mom should know. This skill will help you release the milk when neither your baby nor the breast pumps are with you. Sometimes you need to express milk, but you don’t have electricity or the batteries to use pumps. Anything can happen.
While you are discharging breast milk by hand, check out the following instruction to ensure you are not going wrong.
Ensure Your Hands Are Clean
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 somehow your hands become frozen due to weather, take some time to warm them up before hand-pumping. You can ask for help from the nurse.
Breast Massage is Essential
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 massage.
First, massage the breast gently. Place the fingers in a C shape with your middle or forefinger behind the base of the nipple. 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 where your breast tissue is sensitive, which will trigger a let-down reflex.
Collect the Expressed Breast Milk
Often breasts become hard and engorged before breastfeeding. Therefore, you need to express a small amount of milk to make the baby’s feeding process comfortable. You can discharge the milk over a sink or into a towel. But if your purpose is to freeze the milk for future use, 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 jar 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.
Some additional Tips
• 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 these sessions easier.
• Be Patient – Expressing milk by hand takes a few trials to master. At first, you might not express much milk. It 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, which we need to use, especially when we are in a hurry. This process is natural, costs nothing. But take caution not to squeeze your breasts hard as it can cause breast mastitis.