Not getting the knack of hand expression - Mothering Forums
Breastfeeding Challenges > Not getting the knack of hand expression
kgreenemama's Avatar kgreenemama 07:10 PM 10-07-2011

I'm recently back to work, I pump twice a day and am just barely pumping enough to meet the daily needs of my 6mo DD. (Pumping was the same with my first - just not a strong response to the pump.) But my question is about hand expression. I came across an article that said some women do better with that technique than a pump. However, I produce very little when I hand express. I've watched the videos, read the instructions, tried, and tried, and tried. I once saw my sister whip out a boob and in just a few squeezes, squirt out a quarter cup of milk to mix with cereal for her LO. I was amazed. I get like this little single stream and that's it. Now that DD is sampling cereal and veg, I'd like to add fresh milk, but I'm not getting the hand-thing. Any tips? I can always use thawed milk, but it would be more convenient to just hand express a few tablespoons. I just can't even get that amount out. THANKS!

LilMomma83's Avatar LilMomma83 09:14 AM 10-08-2011

How long are you working? You may need to pump a lot more often than that...


Hand expression-- I don't go by the "rule book" at all, I just played around with it one night (spent the night at SIL's and FORGOT my breastpump or any milk and was working the next day!) and eventually I figured out what worked for me...

nyakanyasko's Avatar nyakanyasko 10:12 AM 10-08-2011

Lots of women have trouble expressing with pumps. I have attached some links from Dr. Jan Morton's stuff...I saw her speak at the ILCA conference this summer and her work sounded great. Some other things I've heard can help are recording a video of your baby nursing and watching it while you pump, or some people have more luck with a video or recording of their baby crying. Massaging and/or using a warm compress on your breasts before pumping helps some moms...


And I agree with the previous poster that most moms working an 8 hour day would pump 3-4 times, so it depends how long you are away from your baby. Is he close enough that you could go nurse at lunch time or something?? That cuts out the need for one of the pumping sessions and babies are way more efficient anyway.


Hope that helps!!

gemasita's Avatar gemasita 07:53 PM 10-08-2011

I've used the links that the previous poster posted and thought they were really helpful.  I did have to sort of play around with it to find a technique that worked best for me.  So I would just say....practice.  It's SO individual.  I actually have to say to myself outloud, "Press, compress, rest" as I am hand expressing!  Ha ha!  I pump and then hand express and I don't get much, but I do feel like I get what the pump just can't get out.

kgreenemama's Avatar kgreenemama 08:15 PM 10-09-2011

Thanks for the great tips. I'll keep trying. As for pumping more often, I wish I could... I'm a teacher, so the only possible times I can get away to pump are my 30 minute lunch and my prep period. I'm in front of a classroom the rest of the day. I'm okay with twice/day. I just wish I were one of those women who could pump out 10 ounces in one sitting. All my extra pumpings before school began, and all the Fenugreek in the world isn't going to change that, I'm afraid. A good friend of mine insists that I never over produce nor underproduce because I'm perfectly balanced. I just roll my eyes at that one. Perfectly balanced is far from how I feel these days! :)

HawaiianBlesing's Avatar HawaiianBlesing 07:28 PM 10-17-2011

I don't pump but soley hand express.  It works so well for me that I'm afraid to buy a pump.  I'm only working 2 days a week so I make due with the manual expression.  Sometimes it doesn't come out right away and I need to keep working at it but I do recommend that you try and find the "spots" that work best for you.  I can isolate individual ducts that have more in them and express it out.  My entire freezer stash is from hand expression.


Good luck


mom2tig99Nroo03's Avatar mom2tig99Nroo03 12:58 AM 10-20-2011

i'm on kiddo 3 and still haven't mastered hand expression. i could express on a friend who was having issues (that sounded weird) but i guess i am but oddly, lol.


mambera's Avatar mambera 03:30 PM 10-26-2011

I don't get a lot from hand expression either but I do it a lot because there's no way my active toddler would self-entertain for twenty minutes while I sat hooked up to the double electric.  The hand expression is much quieter and requires no setup or takedown.


Anyway, I'm not sure there's any technique that is going to take you from single-jet to quarter-cup-of-milk, but in case you haven't tried this, for me it is much more productive to alternate very frequently between breasts.  Each breast will give me a few squirts before it poops out and needs a few seconds to let milk come down from the upper ducts.  If I let it rest a bit while i do the other breast, there will be more milk there when I return to the first one.

ETA: Also switching hands on the same breast gets different ducts for me (i.e. alternate between L and R hands on the L breast, then switch to the R breast, alternate between hands on that breast, and switch back again when flow slows).