Hand expression facts
Hand expression is as old as breastfeeding itself. It can be used as an alternative to or in combination with modern breast pumps to express breast milk.
- Hand expression is the most effective method of breast milk expression, other than breastfeeding a baby. Check out How hand-expressing your milk can help with milk production if you want to increase your milk supply.
- With some practice, our hands can express on average 50% more milk in less time than a modern breast pump (Morton et al. 2009). See also the video below:
- Hand expressed milk has a higher fat content than pumped milk (Mangel et al. 2015). That's good for baby's growth and prevents clogged ducts. See the video excerpt below:
- Using your own hands feels pleasant and satisfying, especially when done ergonomically and gently, without straining and wasting milk.
- kindestCup provides the perfect shield and reservoir to catch hand expressed milk, even if it sprays and drips in every direction.
- The ergonomic design of kindestCup can be used in comfortable upright or laid back positions and works right- and left handed.
- Lactation professionals recommend hand expression to deal with challenges such as engorgement or blocked ducts/ mastitis.
- Hand expression is beneficial for managing both, low milk supply and oversupply.
- Research shows that women who know hand expression are less likely to give up breastfeeding in the first weeks or months.
kindestCup is the only breastmilk collection device that is optimized to harvest the power of hand expression.
Learning hand expression
Are you worried about being able to hand express? Have you tried hand expression but it didn't really work? Hand expression is a learned skill. Here are some pro tips that will set you up for success:
- Pick a good time: practice hand expression when you're not in a rush. Try it before a feed, when your body is ready to let go of the milk. Not right after a feed when your breasts are low in milk.
- Pick a good spot: practice somewhere where you can relax and be comfortable. That facilitates oxytocin release.
- If it hurts, don't do it: your touch and pressure should be gentle and pleasant. That allows your hand to trigger a milk ejection reflex (aka letdown) via oxytocin, which make expressing milk a breeze.
- Explore your whole breast: try different areas, angles and directions to squeeze your mammary glands and work the milk towards the nipple. Investigate the landscape of your breasts and find the 'sweet spots' by checking for drops or sprays of milk on your nipple. Avoid pulling on your nipple.
- It's also helps to see someone else hand express. Unfortunately, the internet is full of 'questionable' videos on hand expression... Check out this HOW TO video on hand expression from a trusted source (Global Health Media).
- Don't get frustrated, get help. Trial and error is normal. If you feel like you're not making progress, seek out a local breastfeeding support group or lactation consultant for some one-on-one guidance. Hand expression is ancient female wisdom that would have been passed down to us by our mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins etc. Many families have lost this knowledge but there are still many wise women who can teach us. Talk to a local lactation consultant! You can take even take online workshops with Francie and her awesome crew at Go Milk Yourself. Remember: be gentle with yourself.