Why you need to know how to hand express when breastfeeding

Why you need to know how to hand express when breastfeeding

Just because there are many fabulous pumps on the market, both manual and automatic, there are still plenty of reasons that every nursing mother should learn to manually express their own breastmilk by hand.

Video for adding breastmilk to coffee

-Just in case you run out of coffee creamer and are also out of milk.  I find 4 squirts for a Tall works great.

-When the carnival game water pistol is broken you can show them a thing or two- just whip it out and fill that balloon for a hard earned prize!

-Forget “pissing” contests between men!  Have a breasmilk distance shooting contest with your lady friends and earn the ultimate bragging rights.

-Drop the pacifier?  Squirt a little milk on the nipple and wipe it off with your shirt.

-Spot a small scale fire?  Be a hero and douse it with your lady milk!

-Lubricate that squeaky sliding glass door hat has been annoying you for ages.


If you happen to think those suggestions sound a bit odd I also thought of more practical applications for hand expressing your milk.

-When you are without a pump and your breasts are engorged.  Hand express over a sink/in a shower/over a toilet to relieve the pressure.  You might also prevent clogged ducts or mastitis which can arise after engorgement.

-After nursing or pumping, if your nipples are sore, hand express a small amount to cover your nipples with the milk.  This will help prevent then from cracking and becoming more painful.

-When your baby has a blocked tear duct or pink eye you can hand express small amount of milk into a small cup and use a sterile eye dropper to suck in the milk.  Then add a drop or two into the affected eye(s) to lubricate and help begin healing.  If you are adventurous you can express from the source into the baby’s eyes.  I have tried and failed.

-If your baby has a diaper rash breastmilk can help.  You can hand express onto the bum (as hilarious as this scene is to picture) or express into a cup then apply.

-If you are a mother to a newborn you can hand express your colostrum and cup feed your baby if they are having a difficult time latching onto your breast.  Many parents (myself included) wished to avoid using a bottle in those critical first hours and opted to cup feed instead until our latch was perfected.


Hand expressing is also how I learned to understand my own anatomy and how it all works “down there.”  It seems pretty straight forward to just “squeeze” however there is more to it.  Just as your baby isn’t simply sucking to retrieve milk, you shouldn’t just squeeze the tip of your nipple.  I’ve embedded an animated video showing the incorrect and correct way to hand express your milk.  I highly recommend that all nursing mothers learn to efficiently hand express milk.  You never know when you will run out of creamer or be away from your baby longer than expected without a pump.

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  • Great post!!  I was so thankful for hand expressing when I had mastitis.  The subsequent times I found lumps on my breast; I would hand express to prevent mastitis from occurring. 

  • onetomorrowatatime

    I discovered how important hand-expression was one time when I was out of town for work and a part on my pump broke!  I was extremely and painfully engorged.  I ended up standing over a toilet, hand-expressing, in the bathroom of a bar we were in with clients!  I am sure they were all wondering why I was taking so long in the bathroom!  

  • The beginning of this post cracked me up! 

  • Debsch

    Arg! I want to read this but the social sharing thingie is in the way. On my small screen it covers up half the left hand side. Is there a way to close it or remove it?

  • Irina

    I thought I was the only crazy mamma that expressed milk into the coffee! I admit having done most of the things you mention. I’d like to add that I breastfed my first son for close to 30 months and only once had a clogged duct, which lasted less than 12 hours, hand expressing helped tremendously because I could get rid of all the extra milk and force Little Guy to suck into the duct, but I think that since I always got rid of the extra stuff by hand, I’ve never had mastitis either. However, it seems that I’m alone in that boat. My friends, even the strongest bf advocates, get grossed out at hand expressing and opt for the pump, I honestly hate dishwashing and the pump is a pain in that regard. Will never forget hand expressing in the middle of I-80 and giving the bottle to Little Guy to keep him quiet…