Once your little darling enters your world, you become engrossed in him. Your life revolves around feeding him and taking care of him and his smallest needs for the first few months. One of the most important challenges that you face is breast feeding your little baby. It is imperative that you continue breast feeding your baby exclusively for the first six months. Even though breast feeding the natural way is always the best method, expressing by hand is also quite useful during an emergency situations. Many women hand express milk in order to ease engorgement, avoid let down and save breastmilk to be used later. Read below to know all about expressing milk by hand.
What Is Expressing Milk By Hand?
Expressing breast milk by hand is a skill that you need to master and this can be done with practice. You need to be proficient in this skill so that you are able to express maximum quantity of milk with least effort and minimum wastage of time. Milk is normally produced in milk creating cells that are known as Alveoli. When you stimulate the Alveoli, milk gets expelled to the milk ducts by reflex known as milk ejection reflex. A lot of women find expressing milk by hand more comfortable than using a breast pump. Expressing milk by hand can be done anywhere, and requires no special tools or devices.
Benefits Of Expressing Milk By Hand
There are numerous benefits of expressing milk by hand as compared to using a breast pump. Some of the benefits are:
- This is an inexpensive method
- Can be done anytime, anywhere
- Some women find it easy to do this rather than using a breast pump
- It is much more convenient rather than walking around with a breast pump each time you step out
- Requires no special tools
- You do not have to go through the ordeal of sterilizing the breast pump each time after use
- You don’t have to bear the uncomfortable suckling sensation that a breast pump invokes
- Compared to a breast pump, this technique expresses more milk as direct contact with skin speeds up the ejection reflex of milk
How To Express Milk By Hand?
Although manual expression is not as easy as it sounds, once you master the skill of expressing milk by hand, it is one of the best and cheapest method of expressing milk. Instead of just squeezing the nipple, the trick lies in pressurizing the milk ducts located behind the nipple that ensures that milk is ejected without any hassles.
Steps Involved In Expressing Milk By Hand
Let us walk you through all the steps involved in expressing milk by hand:
- Locating the cells that produce milk and massaging them is found to stimulate production. The pressure and motion of the massage will trigger the milk cells to produce more milk
- Even stroking your breast right from the wall of the chest towards the nipple helps to relax and triggers the flow of milk easily
- Lean forward and jiggle your breasts as this gravity is also quite effective in milk expulsion
All the above mentioned steps are sure to help the reflex of milk ejection and will surely make the process of expression of milk by hand much simpler and faster.
Marmet Method Of Expressing Milk
This is one of the most popular techniques used universally to ensure that milk is expressed by hand effectively It was Chele Marmet, a mother, who came up with this wonderful technique as she needed to express her milk over a long period of time for medical reasons. Moms who have tried and tested various methods and met with failure swear by this method of expressing milk. It is no doubt one of the most commonly resorted techniques of milk expression by hand that has excellent success rates all over the world. Just try and get the hang of this wonderful method that is a combination of stimulating via stroking, massaging and shaking and then expressing milk by positioning, pushing and rolling your nipples.
- Place your thumb above the nipple and first two fingers below the nipple by forming the letter”C”. Remember the finger pads should be 6 and 12 o’clock in line with the nipple. Avoid cupping the breasts
- Push straight into the chest wall. The fingers should not be spread apart. If you have larger breasts, then first lift and then push it into the chest wall
- At the same time, gently roll the thumb and fingers forward. This rolling motion helps to compress and empty milk reservoirs without injuring the breast tissues which are very sensitive
- Repeat rhythmically in the position, push, roll rhythm to express milk
Make sure you:
- Express one breast for around 5 to seven minutes
- Keep massaging both breasts together at the same time for one minute
- Then express both breasts one by one for less than five minutes
- After that massage both the breast together for a minute
- Then get back to expressing one breast after the other for a couple of minutes
Normally the entire Marmet technique takes around half an hour altogether and once you get familiarized with the technique; it becomes much faster and easier too.
Some Simple Tips For Expression By Hand
- Always wash your hands before you start expressing milk by hand
- Using a damp and warm cloth or even a warm compress over the breasts helps your body to relax and also warms up your breasts. Do this for around 2 minutes before you start expressing milk by hand
- Ensure you sit straight up and even lean a bit forward while expressing milk rather than lying down or standing up. This wil help you stay comfortable during the process
- Make sure you express the milk into a sterilized bottle or cup. You can also make use of special bottle that is specifically designed for collecting the expressed milk. It has a funnel with a wide mouth that helps in collecting the expressed milk in the bottle
How Should I Store Breastmilk?
To store the expressed breastmilk you can either use plastic feeding bottles which have secure tops in order to ensure proper sealing. Other ways of storing breastmilk are using plastic bags that are specially made for storing breast milk or you can even use baby bottle liners. Always remember to write the date on the bag or bottle before you put it in the fridge or freezer. This will help you in using the oldest ones first.
Freshly expressed milk can be stored for:
- In the main shelves of a fridge for up to five days, at a temperature of 4 degrees C or less
- In the freezer compartment of the fridge for up to two weeks
- In the main freezer for up to six months, at a temperature of minus 18 degrees C or less
Remember that freezing breastmilk destroys some of its antibodies that help fight infections in your baby. So it is better no to freeze your expressed milk for a longer time and use it within the time limits. Frozen breastmilk is still much healthier than the formula milk for your baby.
Frozen milk can be thawed in any of the following ways:
- Place the bag or bottle containing the frozen breastmilk in a bowl of warm water
- Run the bag under cool and then warm water from the kitchen tap
- Or you can keep the bag or bottle in the fridge for defrosting
Don’t be in a hurry to thaw the breastmilk. Using a microwave or hob to thaw it will ony detroy all the nutrients in your breastmilk. As soon as the milk is thawed, use it right away and through away if anything is left. The baby would have got mixed with your baby’s saliva and may not be hygienic for next use.
These simple tips are sure to help you cope up with expression of milk manually and help you store your milk for the little one in case of an emergency.
Hope this article provided you the much needed information about expressing by hand. If you have anything to add, please share it in the comments section below.