How to hand express breastmilk

What comes  to mind when you think of hand expressing?  Most moms think that it is long and difficult to get their milk out this way.  Well let me tell you that with the right technique some women can express more effectively by hand than with a double electric pump!

Hand expression of breastmilk is a great tool at many stages of breastfeeding.  In the beginning it can help mothers establish a good supply for their newborn babies, even in the case when the baby needs to be separated from the mother (premature or sick babies).  It is also the best way to get colostrum out if the baby is not nursing due to medical reasons.

In the case of oversupply it can help the mother alleviate the pain of engorgement quickly without the need to hook up to an electric pump or clean a hand pump.

Hand expression can also help with overactive letdown as it can be used to relieve some of the pressure prior to presenting the breast to your baby.

The steps for hand expression:

  1. Place your thumb above the areola and the rest of your finger on the opposite side, forming a C hold.
  2. Squeeze gently and push back towards your chest wall.
  3. Squeeze by closing your hand and slightly pushing outward.

Since this is one of those things where a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m including a link to a great video on hand expression from Stanford Hospital.  The step by step explanation starts around the 1:35 mark.

If you have questions or need breastfeeding help please look for your local support group, La Leche League meeting or Nursing Mothers Counsel chapter.  You can also email me at

If you need breastfeeding help, please contact your local support group, La Leche League or Nursing Mothers Counsel. You can also email me at

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