Hand Expression means using your hand to compress your breast so that the breastmilk comes out, and then collecting it in a clean container. It is a skill all mothers should learn. If you are pregnant it is a useful technique to learn before the baby arrives as it gives you confidence and familiarizes you with your breast. Discuss with your health care provider first for more information.

It takes a little time and practice to learn so do not worry if it is tricky in the beginning. Once the skill is learned it is easy, convenient and best of all only your hands are required.

There are a lot of reasons why you may want to express breastmilk
• If your baby is unable to latch
• Helps soften the breast before breastfeeding
• If breastfeeding is painful
• Hand expressing breastmilk on your nipples can help heal sore nipples
• You have to be apart from your baby i.e. work or special care nursery
• Your breasts are uncomfortable and engorged
• You want to produce more breastmilk
• Your partner or someone is going to feed your baby

Find a comfortable and relaxing area to express with minimal distractions.In the beginning your emotional and physical discomfort can hamper your let down reflex and make expressing difficult.
To help get a milk flow, massage the breast gently before. during and after hand expression.

Other useful methods are gently stroking the breast or rolling the nipple helps the hormones of breastfeeding to be released.
Applying a warm compress prior to expressing helps the breastmilk to flow more easily.
Have your baby close by or do some lovely skin to skin contact prior to expressing.
If you are unable to have your baby close by, a photo or video can help you feel closer to your baby. Having a small item of clothing can also help.

• Wash your hands
• Keep a container beneath the nipple to collect your breastmilk; ideally it should be wide necked to collect all the sprays of milk
• Place your thumb on the areola the darkened area of your nipple and your other two fingers on the opposite side, to form a C shape
• First with your thumb and fore fingers compress or squeeze them together and then release the pressure in a quick rhythmic movement no longer than one second
• Do not slide your fingers over the skin of the breast or squeeze the breast as it can cause damage and pain to the nipples and breast
• At the beginning small drops will appear. As the milk is let down into your breast milk will start squirting out like a fountain
• Remember to move your hands around the areola to stimulate milk release from your many ducts around the nipple.
• Once flow stops you can change breast as frequently as you want. Massaging the other breast before expressing it may yield more breastmilk
• Collect and store for refrigeration or to feed your baby straight away

How long to store breast milk
You can keep stored milk:
• outside of the fridge for up to 4 hours in temperatures less than 20 degrees
• in a fridge for up to 5 days – place it on a shelf and not inside the door
• in a fridge freezer for 3 months
• in a deep freezer for up to 6 months
(Above taken from mychild.ie)

GREAT You tube video on how to hand express your breastmilk

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