Using Hand Expression to Pump More Breast Milk
Searching how to increase your pumped milk is a hot topic for many new moms. And while there are many tips and tricks to increasing your pumped milk supply, there’s one trick that is completely free.
I’ve been meaning to write this post since I started blogging.
I feel like it’s that important.
I need to share!
And I promise, this secret is 100% free – nothing to buy even if you wanted to.
If you’re looking for more info on pumping, I’m talking everything you need to know for pumping success, check out my Pumping 101 eBook!
The Secret To Increase Pumped Milk Supply
Let’s face it, as pumping mommas we’ll do ANYTHING for a chance to increase our pumped milk.
Part of the struggle is because your little baby is always more efficient that a pump. For example, if I feed O and he ate 5 ounces while breastfeeding, I may have only gotten 3 ounces if I had pumped instead.
How unfair is that?
One day after pumping at work, I kept thinking about how I could be more effective pumping.
I felt like there had to be more milk left. So you know what I did?
I hand expressed.
Sorry if some of you just grimaced, but hear me out. This might just be the breastfeeding and pumping game changer you’ve been waiting for.
Results from Manually Expressing Breast Milk
So, what happened when I decided to give manual expression a try?
It totally worked.
The first time I expressed breast milk, I got an extra half an ounce.
The next time I manually expressed breast milk, I got almost an ounce!
Now, at every pumping session, I get 1-2 extra ounces.
Ladies – this is HUGE!
That’s 1-2 extra ounces every time!
When I was breast pumping four times a day, that meant 8 extra ounces for my little one. That’s more than an extra bottle a day!
I kept wondering why I wasn’t expressing breast milk from the beginning and kicking myself for not thinking to try it sooner!
So now it’s your turn to give it a shot – and see if you have the same awesome results.
How I Incorporate Manually Expressing Breast Milk & Pumping
Since discovering the amazing technique of manually expressing breast milk – my pumping routine is a little different.
I typically spend half of my pumping break actually pumping, and the other half manually expressing breast milk until I don’t get any more milk.
If you’re looking for ways to get more milk, this method is absolutely worth a try.
You’re going to increase your pumped milk supply almost instantly and should see your supply grow if you continue to empty your breasts this way. Isn’t supply and demand amazing?!
Manually expressing breast milk, or hand expression, is the 2nd most effective way to empty your breasts, 2nd only to your baby.
As a benefit to you, the more empty your breasts are, the faster you are going to make more milk! This is based on the breastfeeding basics of supply and demand.
Related: Power Pumping – another great method to try if you’re looking to increase your milk supply!
How To Hand Express Breast Milk
For many women, manually expressing, also called hand expression of breast milk, can seem awkward and weird.
Hey mommas, I used to think the same thing, I get it! But when it works, it works!
Some women also aren’t sure how to manually express breast milk.
You’ll gently squeeze and move your hands around your breast compressing different areas to allow your milk to flow.
Using the C-hold is the most popular method. You’ll more your hands back towards your body and then out again towards your nipple.
The continual rolling and massaging motion will help move the breast milk out of your milk ducts and into your bottle or collection container.
A visual is sometimes helpful if you’re not sure! Here’s a link on how to hand express from Medela.
A few bonus tips to help during manual hand expression of breast milk (each of these should help your milk let down occur faster):
- Relax and try not to stress
- Think about your baby
- Look at pictures or watch videos of your baby
When Would You Hand Express Breast Milk?
Aside from the times you hope to pump more breast milk or increase your breast milk supply, there are a few other times you might choose to hand express breast milk.
You’re Engorged and Don’t Have Your Baby or A Pump
If you’re feeling engorged and uncomfortable, it might be time to hand express breast milk. If your baby is nearby and ready to eat, this is the perfect solution!
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and you may be missing your pump as well. Hey – stranger things have happened.
If you find yourself in this situation, it can be a great time to use hand expression to release some of the breast milk built up.
Just remember that if you relieve breast milk this way too often, you may increase your breast milk supply due to supply and demand.
Your Pump is Broken or Unavailable
Let’s say your power goes out and your pump doesn’t have a battery pack. And you exclusively pump or your baby isn’t with you.
What are you going to do?!
While I’m sure this doesn’t happen often, manually hand expressing your breast milk may be your only option.
I still like to use my pump parts such as the bottle and flange during hand expression. The flange helps to catch any rouge streams of breast milk that might happen.
This is also another great reason to check out why you need a manual pump (in addition to your electric one!).
You Breasts are Rock Hard and You Want to Relieve Some Pressure Before Feeding Your Baby
Sometimes you might just produce a TON of breast milk.
This can be due to skipping an overnight feed (yay baby slept through the night!) or due to just a late feed or increase in supply.
When you do have lots of breast milk built up, your breasts are likely going to feel rock hard and may or may not be uncomfortable.
If this is the case, you may want to hand express – into a towel or bottle – a little breast milk before feeding your baby.
While you certainly don’t have to do this, your let down could be quite strong and may cause your baby to have some trouble latching or swallowing the first few sips of milk.
You Have A Brand New Baby and Are Trying to Collect Colostrum For Him or Her
I remember this well – and I remember being so unsure about what I was doing!
When your baby is first born he or she may have some trouble latching.
While you should absolutely continue to work on latching (ask your nurse or lactation consultant for help!) – you may need to express some colostrum to give to your baby in the meantime.
Your nurse in the hospital might give you a spoon to help collect the colostrum.
Don’t worry – even those little drops you’re able to get through hand expression are amazing for your baby – and just what he needs!
Have More Questions?
Don’t worry if expressing breast milk requires some trial and error. Take time to figure out what’s comfortable for you and what works for your body. If you’re still not sure, talk with your doctor or lactation consultant!
For more tips on how to increase your milk supply – read my post here and be sure to fill out the form below to sign up for your FREE Milk Inventory Log.
If you’re looking for more answers to your pumping questions, don’t miss my Pumping 101 eBook – filled with everything you need to know about pumping!
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