Let’s start with a quick quiz:
- Is pumping a burden or nuisance for you?
- Are you struggling with milk production, mastitis or clogged ducts?
- Do you need a pumping option that is FREE of cost?
- Are you pregnant and wanting to prepare for lactation?
If you answered yes to any (or all) of the above questions then hand expressing is for you!
How Hand Expressing Changed My Life
Hi! I’m Melissa, a pelvic floor physical therapist. I work with pregnant and postpartum women every day, and as a mother I am here to share my insights into trying hand expression. My hope is that these tips will help and perhaps inspire anyone else who may benefit from hand expression.
I started my pumping journey with a popular electric pump purchased through my insurance. While there was nothing wrong with the pump, I never found a flange size that felt comfortable. It seemed to take a really long time for my milk to come out with the pump. As a new mom navigating early postpartum life these frustrations began to wear me down.
I had heard about an alternative to pumping called hand expression through some of my pelvic health and women’s health professional peers and decided to look into it!
Hand Expressing Breastmilk Explained
Hand Expression, as the name suggests, is an equipment-free method of pumping your breast milk. Instead of using an external pump, you can use your own fingers! Hand expression is basically a built-in option. That being said, it may take some experimentation and some dedication but here are some resources to help you get started:
I also worked with my postpartum doula to learn this skill, and I’m so glad that I did. There are few things in life that have been this important and useful for me and my child.
Health Benefits of Hand Expression
Most Efficient Method
Hand expression can remove more milk and increase caloric content during each expression session. You may be wondering how this is possible. Well, here’s what the science and history behind hand expression tells us. Hand expression (or manual expression) of breast milk can be more effective at removing colostrum during the first few days after birth, and ensures that all of the colostrum is captured. For maximum colostrum capturing try expression into a spoon tp save every drop.
Increased Milk Production
Hand expression can lead to increased supply when used consistently alone or in conjunction with pumping.
Reduced risk of mastitis and plugged ducts
During hand expression, the fingertips can be placed in different positions on the breast to massage areas where potential clogs or tightness are felt, and thereby act as treatment and prevention of issues with the breast tissue.
Practical Benefits of Hand Expression
Equipment Free and Cost Free
Hand expression is reliable in the absence of an electricity source or charged battery. It’s free. The only equipment needed is a collecting vessel, which is easy to carry in a coat pocket or purse.
Convenience and Silence
With only your hands needed, you don’t have to worry about the sounds of a breast pump! You also don’t have to worry about packing your breast pump, pumping, bra, and other accessories… all you have to do is use your hands!
Empowerment through Hand Expression
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of hand expression is how it affects our perception of our breasts and what we can do with our bodies. It was incredibly empowering for me to know that I could extract milk whenever and wherever I needed to. I never worried about engorgement if I was out running errands in between feeding times – I could carry a 5 oz bottle in my coat pocket and step into a public restroom for several minutes as needed, or even hunker down with my hand inside my jacket in public if I really needed to. I never worried about my milk supply, because I could easily manipulate it if feeding times were changing, if my baby was having feeding troubles, or if we were letting daddy do bottle feeding. And I did not have to rely on equipment or technology.
Whatever works best for you and your baby is the right answer, but we all deserve to know our options, especially the ones we already own!
Are you currently pregnant or planning to conceive? If so, make sure to download my FREE resource — How to Prepare Your Pelvic Floor & Core for Childbirth + 8 Must-Dos for C-Section and Vaginal Deliveries.
Some links may be affiliate links. The products we recommend are products we use or recommend to clients.