Hand express breast milk with these 5 simple steps

Learn how to stimulate and extract breast milk with ease through hand expression


Extracting breast milk with hand expression is one of those age old practices passed down from generations of nursing women, to the other. It is one of the most natural preferred methods for many women to extract milk and unclog milk ducts, over the use of a mechanical breast pump.

Hand expression also provides you with the opportunity to release milk at any moment, whether you need to save milk for later or to prevent a let down. Regardless of where you are, be it at work, just finished feeding, or if your baby is prone to choking while breastfeeding... due to an oversupply of milk. Knowing how to hand express is a skill every nursing mom should develop.

Now you should know that you have the option to use a manual pump or an electric pump, but if you’re interested in learning how to manually do it by hand, then let’s get right to it.

Hand expression is one of the best methods to help get your milk production at its highest, through nipple and breast stimulation. This stimuli causes your milk to release a lot easier with the skin to skin contact of your hand on your breast, rather than a device.

Disclaimer: I’m mom with a bit of experience sharing with fellow moms, I’m by no means a professional. If you’re having major issues extracting milk you may want to seek professional advice.

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Step 1.

To begin the process of hand expressing, you want to remove your breast and proceed to massaging it with a clean hand. Place your hand at the top of your breast and move your hand downwards, in ‘downward motions’. You also want to use the tips of your fingers to massage your breast  in a circular motion and do not forget to massage underneath your breast as well. In other words you are massaging the entire breast, the top, bottom and sides to get your breast ready and stimulated.

Step 2.

A lot of women have their own techniques and methods of how to hand express, however one thing to be reminded of is that you do not need to tug and pull on your breast roughly, like milking a cow.


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When preparing to extract your milk into a bottle or breast milk bag you want to hold your breast from the back and not necessarily in a ‘C’ position around the nipple. Then push your breast back and then forward gently but firmly.

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Step 3.

To get the stimulation started and release the milk, you want to hold your nipple gently with your thumb at the top and index finger at the bottom. You want to then gently twist and pull with a gentle yet firm movement, rolling your fingers back and forth. This will help get the stimulation started and get the milk moving from under the areola.

Once there’s a glimpse of milk flowing, this is an indicator that you are doing it correctly.

Step 4.

Your next step is to take your container or whatever you choose to catch your milk in and place the opening at your nipple. 

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Once you’re ready, take your hand and hold your breast with the thumb resting on top of your breast and the following four fingers below your breast. In a gentle yet firm movement, you want to move from the top of the breast down toward the nipple while pushing your breast forward and then back. As a reminder this should not be a painful process.

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Step 5.

Repeat the same process on the next breast. 

There you go moms, a few quick and simple steps to extract breast milk and increase your supply through hand expression.

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