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  • Writer's pictureChardá Bell, IBCLC, CBE, CD

How to express milk by hand!

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

How to hand express?

  1. Fingers in C-shape hold or U-shape

  2. 1-2 inches back from areola

  3. Push back then forward and rotate the position of your fingers

Watch in amazement as the milk start coming in drops then streams! - watch my Tik Tok to practice your form.

This video of amazing local to SD Black mama founder of #normalizebreastfeeding photographer, Lactation Educator/Counselor, Vanessa Simmons can be seen here putting hand expression to use:

I’m always still so impressed with how much milk folks can get out with this method. If you are a birth worker, this is a skill you should learn well to support clients after birth.


To increase supply through easy access to increased stimulation. Early hand expression increases milk production later.

It is an effective and efficient way of extracting and harvesting colostrum in the early days. Remember, only small amounts are needed to feed in the first 0-5 days of life. We are talking small, 1 or 2 teaspoons max.

It can be used with alternative feeding methods like syringe, spoon, finger, cup feeding.

To initiate supply and to help with engorgement relief that is normal in the days when your milk “comes in” increasing in volume typically by 3-5 days postpartum. That’s when the abundance of milk you’ve been waiting on usually shows itself but it also comes with boobs that feel like they are rocks oftentimes! Hand Expression will be your best tool in this case.

Where? Anywhere, it’s so convenient. Car, train, bus, plane, ok maybe you’d go into a private space to do this but don‘t be ashamed to do what you need to do when your chest needs relief or your baby needs to be fed.


At birth, first week, between feeds, for relief, work, school, out and forgot your pump, it really happens! Anytime day or night, if you wake up between 12am - 5am from rock solid boobs, hand express for some relief and then your put baby on to eat and relieve the rest. This is also the time of day when you have the most milk, so take advantage!

What do I use? You just need your hands, have a clean container (safety) and preferably with a lid if out. You can do it directly into the baby’s bottle or other glass or BPA free plastic container for collecting. Breastmilk can sit out at room temperature for up to 6 hours.

Ok, now that you know what to do…go try it, share with a client or friend! Need additional support? Try my free support groups.

1st Mondays 5-7pm

3rd Saturdays 12-1pm At the San Diego Breastfeeding Center

8325 University Ave La Mesa 91941 to sign up and click classes - groups

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