Research shows that hand expression of colostrum in the first hour after delivery can have a bigger impact on future milk production than at any other time.  Expressing in the first hour decreases the time it takes for your milk volume to increase and increases production by 130% at 6 weeks.  

To maximize your milk supply in the early days, hand express often even if your baby is latching well.  Hand express a few drops before feeds, after feeds and anytime you have the opportunity.  Even small amounts of expressed milk can be given to your baby. See Supplementing.

Download the PDF from Best Start Resource Centre on Expressing and Storing Milk 

Hand Expression

You may only get drops of milk each time you express.  A few drops are perfect for your newborn baby’s small tummy.  

  • Hand expressing gives your baby a taste of milk to keep them interested in feeding. 
  • Softens the areola to help your baby to latch
  • Lessens the discomfort of overfull breasts
  • Provides a way to collect and store milk without the cost of a breastpump.  

You may wish to express a few drops before putting baby to breast. This will help your baby get breastmilk easier. If you wish to continue to express and save breastmilk, catch breastmilk in a plastic or glass container that has been washed in hot soapy water, rinsed with hot water and allowed to air dry.

The 7 steps of Hand Expression

1.  Wash your hands

2.  Use gentle massage over the breast to get the milk flowing

3.  Form a “C” : Place your fingers an inch away from the areola forming a “C” so that the nipple is in the middle of the thumb and forefinger

4.  Press back towards your chest. Compress your fingers together and towards the nipple. Relax and stop compressing. 

5.  Collect drops of milk ( a cup, spoon, syringe) to feed your baby or store for later use. 

6.  Repeat (press back, compress, relax) and move around your breast. 

7.  Switch breasts and repeat. 

Videos of hand expression:

Global Health Media Project: How to express breast milk

Breast massage and hand expression

Early Hand Expression Maximizes Later Milk Production

Breast massage, hand expression, cup and spoon feeding .

May 2020 - KS