Hand Expressing

Hand expressing is a very useful skill to learn. Please ask your midwife to show you before you leave hospital.

When would I need it?

In the early days it is a useful way to give your baby colostrum if he/ she is sleepy or reluctant to feed.

It can be useful to help baby attach to the breast; especially if your breasts are full.

It may help to relieve or prevent engorgement and can be used to clear a blocked milk duct.

Some mums find it more effective than a pump.

No equipment needed so it is available anytime anywhere.

How to hand express


Allow yourself plenty of time, make sure that you are relaxed, warm and comfortable.

Warm bathe your breasts and massage them lightly.

You can roll your nipple to make it more erect.

Cup your breast with one hand, and with the other hand make a ‘c’ shape with your finger and thumb.

Feel back from the nipple for a change in texture, usually just beyond the areola.

At this point gently squeeze and let go and repeat.

You will need to build up a rhythm when milk ceases to flow from this point gently rotate around to another area and repeat again. Inside your breast is like an orange so by moving to another ‘segment’ you can continue to express more milk.

Collect the breast milk in a sterile container and store until required.

There is a knack to hand expressing and practice makes perfect!

Storing expressed breast milk


Please remember if you are expressing your breast milk for premature or vulnerable babies please check the storage guidelines recommended by your Neonatal Unit.


Pumping is a good way of knowing how much milk the mother has

Exploding the Myth:

Not true!

How much milk can be pumped depends on many factors, including the mother's stress level. The baby who breastfeeds well can get much more milk than his mother can pump. Pumping only tells you how much you can pump.

If you need a breast pump for a specific reason, ask your Health Visitor, you may be able to borrow one for a limited time from your local Children’s Centre

Breastfeeding Support