Expressing milk by hand (manual expression) is one way to collect breast milk. But it takes a long time to empty a breast all the way. And it is rarely practical if you plan to return to work.
Expressing a small amount of milk from both breasts can help relieve a breast that is engorged and make it easier to breastfeed.
To express milk manually:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water before you touch your breast.
- Gently massage your breast with both hands, sliding your hands from the outer areas of your breast toward the nipple.
- With your hand below your breast, position your thumb on one side of the dark circle (areola) and your fingers on the other side. Keep your thumb and fingers about a centimetre away from the areola.
- Push your thumb and fingers in toward your chest wall. Then gently squeeze the breast tissue. Don't slide your fingers over your skin.
- Repeatedly push in and squeeze until your milk begins to flow. Collect the milk in a clean container.
- Move your fingers slightly around the areola and repeat the massage to drain the entire breast.
- When the flow of milk slows, move to the other breast and repeat the steps above. Switch between breasts until you have emptied both breasts.