How To Hand Express

The breast pump is a modern invention less than one hundred years old. For thousands of years before its invention women used hand expression to remove extra milk or increase their supply. Here’s how they did it:

  1. Find a bottle or container. The wider the mouth the easier it will be to get your milk into it.
  2. Starting at your chest wall, as far back from the nipple as you can get, grasp your breast with four fingers on the top and thumb on the bottom (or vise versa if it’s more comfortable.
  3. Grip to apply pressure. It should be firm but not painful.
  4. Move your hand toward your nipple while maintaining pressure. Your hand should be traveling about one inch every 10 seconds. When milk begins to flow, pause your hand progress and continue to apply pressure.
  5. Once milk stops flowing continue to move your hand toward your nipple, pausing whenever milk flows.
  6. Once you reach your nipple, start over but rotate your grip an inch clockwise to reach new milk ducts.
  7. After you’ve gone all the way around your breast. Express the other side in the same way.

Plan on hand expressing for the same amount of time as you would normally pump (usually 10 to 20 minutes). Keep in mind, hand expression is a skill and just like all skills, practice makes perfect. If you feel awkward at the start, just keep with it, keep practicing and soon you’ll get the hang of it.

Another method of Hand Expression that is very successful for many mothers is the Marmet Technique. Print a handy guide here.

Finally, here is a video on how to hand express:

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