Hand Expression

Learning to hand express breast milk is a “handy” skill (pun intended!) that so many mommas never learn. It requires some practice to master, but once you do, it is a convenient method for expressing milk anytime, anywhere- no special equipment required.

Hand expression is free, all you need is a cup or bowl to express into, and your hands! It is also a cleaner method of expression than pumping, since the milk comes into contact with far fewer surfaces on its way to baby. Fewer contact points means less chance for contamination- win, win!

Check out this great video from Global Health Media for a comprehensive tutorial on how to hand express.


Have you hand expressed? Tell us below! ❤


Pumping Tips

Many breastfeeding moms want to or need to pump in order to provide breast milk when away from their babies. Never fear, Milky Mommas Blog is here! Check out our top tips for comfortable and productive pumping.
Key Points:
  • Pump output does NOT indicate milk supply. Don’t compare your output to anyone else’s!
  • The frequent removal of milk is vital to maintain or increase production. Breast milk production is based on supply and demand.
  • Hand expression after pumping can increase output by an ounce or more!
  • It is typically best to avoid pumping before 6-8 weeks, unless medically-indicated.
  • Teaching caregivers how to paced bottle feed ensures baby is taking in appropriate amounts, and allows mom’s pump output to keep up more easily.
Use a Quality Breast Pump!
What type of pump are you using? Is it in working order? Most pumps are designed for a single user, single year, and single baby. Avoid sharing an open-system pump, as doing so puts you and your baby at risk for blood borne pathogen transmission. Pumping moms need a sturdy, double-electric pump that is designed for frequent use.

Aim to express milk (nursing or pumping) at least every three hours.
The key to maintaining or increasing milk production is the frequent removal of milk.
Learn how to use your pump to adjust suction and speed and how the let down button works. Use it frequently. Going longer and possibly allowing your breasts to become engorged may make it harder to express milk and maintain supply.
Pump for at least 15 minutes, or 5-10 minutes after the last drop. Then hand express! Then pump again!
These articles give tons of good information about timing of pumping, how much milk you might need to send and milk storage for future use:
Use Properly-Sized Equipment
Make sure your equipment is properly sized and comfortable and is in good working condition. Are your flanges correctly sized? Your nipple should move smoothly through the tunnel, not be jerked or squeezed in the tunnel. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.407831619385777&type=1
If a flange is too small, this can compress milk ducts and make it hard to express anything at all. Signs that you have a poorly fitted flange include (but are not limited to): purple/white nipples after pumping, a “ring” around the inside of the tunnel that does not blot off or discomfort during pumping.
Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations about care of parts. Some manufacturers recommend boiling parts occasionally, others require the flexible membranes (duck bills, caps, etc.) to be changed every so often. Pay attention to the wear and tear on your pump parts and replace as needed.
Pumping Should Not Hurt!
Is the suction too high? Remember, you are trying to trigger a let-down reflex, not pull milk from the breast. Turning the pump suction too high in an attempt to get more milk can actually work against you, squeezing the milk ducts shut. Think of trying to suck a thick milkshake through a straw by applying more suction- the straw just folds flat.
Plan Ahead for Pump Part Storage
Keep extra pump parts available at work in case you forget a piece. Many moms have 2-3 sets. Use a lunch box to store parts and bottles. Find a cute purse/bag that all of your gear fits into. Pump setup and breakdown is part of the equation. You will get more efficient at it. Wipe out the milk in the tunnel with a paper towel and just store the entire flange assembly in the fridge without washing. Other mothers use the quick clean wipes sold by pump manufacturers to wipe and go. Store milk at room temperature or in a refrigerator until use or freezer storage.
Tip: Get the free pump kit from the hospital when you deliver. Many of the parts can be used on any pump!
Use your hands!
Pumps are as low as 40% efficient, meaning you may be leaving 60% of the milk in your breasts after pumping! Hands–on pumping or breast massage while pumping may yield higher output. Hand expressing for a few moments after you are finished pumping can help empty your breasts more completely.
Here are some great videos on Hands-On Pumping & Hand Expression!
Hands-on Pumping: http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/MaxProduction.html
Encourage baby to snuggle and nurse while you are together
Many mothers choose to send only the milk they pumped the day before at work and allow baby to “make up the difference” while they are together.  Some babies reverse cycle (http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/reverse-cycling/) and begin feeding more at night to get some extra snuggles and extra milk.
Eat Nutritious Foods and Drinks and take care of yourself:
A diet as close to nature as possible is recommended. No supplements or shakes or shortcuts can replace proper nutrition for a nursing mother. See our post on Diet and Nursing for more info!
Train Your Mind and Love Your Pump
Many mothers find it helpful to train themselves to “look forward to” pumping.  Be it a promise to play a game on their phone, a piece of chocolate before or after pumping, etc.
It takes time for your body to learn to let down for a pump.  Babies have cute, snuggly little fat rolls, smell like angels and grunt like tiny, perfect sumo wrestlers.  Pumps just don’t have that appeal and it takes time to learn to make milk for the pump. Be glad that you are continuing to provide your precious milk for your baby.
Make a “Safe” Place for Pumping
Are you in a “safe” place that is conducive to relaxation?
Think about the environment in which you pump. A closed, locked door may help.  Some mothers find it helpful to use earplugs to drown out any outside noise or the sound of the pump, others enjoy watching videos of their babies or listening to recordings of their babies snuggly snuffling sounds or cooing. Deep breathing, calming thoughts, even thinking of rushing rivers may help.  This is individual for each mother and you will find your groove with it.
Pumping for a NICU/Preemie Baby
Pump every 2 hours during the day and 3 hours at night.
Visit with the hospital lactation consultant frequently.

Returning to Work?

Begin pumping 1-2 weeks before your return. Add in one pump a day. You only need enough milk for the first day. You will pump milk for Day 2 on Day 1.
Contact your HR rep and boss before your return to inform them of the accommodations that need to be made. Present them with your plan and required pumping schedule. There are state and federal laws to protect you and your right to breastfeed.  Please let us know if you need further help with your specific situation.
Flexible or Part-Time Work
Discuss your options with your boss. Returning to work doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Ask for a transitional week or use your remaining leave hours to work a reduced schedule at your convenience as you transition from the major life event. This is allowed per FMLA laws.
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