In some cases, hand expressing breast milk may be necessary for comfort levels.
- Ensure that you have a sterilized feeding bottle or container to “catch” the milk as it flows.
- Wash your hands with warm soapy water.
- It may help to gently massage your breast tissue before expressing as it may help your “let down”. This is the part of the process where milk flows. Some women notice that their let down is a lot slower (or almost impossible) when they hand expressing or using a pump whereas they have no issues when their baby feeds directly from the breast. It is as though their breasts know that this is not a baby trying to remove the milk.
- Cup your breast with one hand while the other makes a “C” shape around the areola area with your thumb and forefinger.
- Squeeze gently around the areola area (the dark ring around your nipple) and do not squeeze the actual nipple itself.
- Find a rhythm as you release the pressure and repeat these steps as the milk begins to flow. You may notice small drops initially before the “let down” and flow occurs.
- If you notice the flow has reduced you can reposition your thumb and forefinger to a different part of the breast.
- Repeat the above steps on the other breast until only small drops of milk begin to flow (or it ceases completely).
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.