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Women's Health

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Hand (Manually) Expressing Breast Milk

Collecting breast milk by hand (manual expression) is one way that allows you to feed your baby breast milk in a bottle. You may need to do this if you are going back to work, you will be away from your baby during a feeding time, or your baby cannot breast-feed.



Illustrations copyright 2000 by Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Hand (manual) expression

Hand (manual) massage and expression of breast milk is the removal of milk from the breast using massage. Manual expression is simple and requires little equipment. But it does not empty the breasts as completely as breast-feeding or pumping.

To express milk manually:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Massage your breast with both hands, sliding your hands from the outer areas of your breast toward the nipple.
  • Grasp the dark circle (areola) with your thumb above and one or two fingers below. Push in toward your chest wall. Then gently compress while rolling your fingers toward your nipple (but not on your nipple).
  • Rotate your fingers slightly around the areola and repeat the massage to drain the entire breast. Collect your breast milk in a clean container. Refrigerate or freeze the milk if you are not going to use it immediately.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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