Anyone who has had me as a postpartum doula knows that I am a fan of hand expression. In fact, I take any opportunity to climb aboard my soapbox and declare that every potential lactator should be educated on the many wonders of hand expression. They should be confident in their abilities to express milk when no other device is available, and they should know all of this BEFORE they begin lactating. This last part can be a bit tricky because hand expression involved breast stimulation, which, is sometimes advised against for those at risk for preterm delivery. My reasons for this are so numerous that I decided it was high time I wrote a post about it. Here they go, in no particular order.
1. Survival: In the case of a Zombie Apocalypse and electricity isn’t an option and you are separated from your baby and your hand pump what are your options? Hand Expression.
2. The Touchy-Feely: Everyone who self-identifies as a woman and a milk-provider should have a thorough understanding of their body and all of the amazing powers she possesses!
3. The Technical: Breast pumps are generally not as effective at extracting those first few drops of colostrum post-delivery.
4. The Life-Saver/Blouse-Protector: Engorgement and let-down can occur at the most inconvenient of times. If you know how to hand express, you can relieve yourself of the discomfort, and protect your milk supply during times where you are unable to pump or feed.
5. The Pump-Hater: Believe it or not everyone does not love to pump. I know, hard to imagine right? Especially for those long-term exclusive pumpers, Hand Expression can take the place of some pump sessions after your supply is long established and does not require you to hook up to that medieval torture device that eats away at your soul one suction at a time. Doing so might make pumping more tolerable to someone who is at their wits end and ready to throw in the towel.
6. The Team-Effort: Your partner feels left out because you are the provider of food? Put them to work! Who says you need to do all the squeezing!
7. The Multi-Tasker: Did you know that combining hand expression with pumping will yield significantly more milk than pumping alone?
Convinced of the importance of hand expression? Wonderful! I knew you would be. Let me share with you some of my most trusted resources, so that you too can be the master of your milk domain!
- The end-all-be-all resource for hand expression is Jane Morton, MD’s video.
- The La Leche League has posted great instructions on hand expression and a helpful quick reference guide as well– check them out here and here.
- For more information on hand expression, and so many other breastfeeding topics, bookmark Kellymom as your go-to resource!