Hand (Manually) Expressing Breast Milk

Hand position for manually expressing breast milk
Manually expressing breast milk

Collecting breast milk by hand (manual expression) is one way that allows you to feed your baby breast milk in a bottle. You may need to do this if you are going back to work, you will be away from your baby during a feeding time, or your baby cannot breastfeed.

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Hand (manual) expression

Hand (manual) massage and expression of breast milk is the removal of milk from the breast using massage. Manual expression is simple and requires little equipment. But it does not empty the breasts as completely as breastfeeding or pumping.

To express milk manually:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Massage your breast with both hands, sliding your hands from the outer areas of your breast toward the nipple.
  • Grasp the dark circle (areola) with your thumb above and one or two fingers below. Push in toward your chest wall. Then gently compress while rolling your fingers toward your nipple (but not on your nipple).
  • Rotate your fingers slightly around the areola and repeat the massage to drain the entire breast. Collect your breast milk in a clean container. Refrigerate or freeze the milk if you are not going to use it immediately.

Current as ofSeptember 5, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Thomas M. Bailey, MD, CCFP - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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