Introducing Breast Massage for Milk Expression by Hand

As a mom breastfeeding, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the breast massage with hand method. It is simple to implement and can provide you and your baby with various benefits. Our lactation consultants are available to assist you with this useful breastfeeding technique.

What is Breast Massage with Milk Expression by Hand?

Breast massage with hand expression is a method to remove breast milk from the breast. Even though breast pumps are widely used, using your own hands to empty the breast can be helpful for the following:

  • Hard and swollen breasts
  • A premature or fussy baby
  • A baby having trouble latching
  • To increase your milk supply
  • To maintain lactation when an infant cannot be fed.

How the Breast Massage Technique Works

Follow these steps:

  • Wash hands in warm water so hands are not cold.
  • Choose a quiet, comfortable setting (soft music helps), take a warm shower or apply a warm washcloth to the breasts.
  • While mother is seated or lying down on a bed, gently shake the breasts with both hands and then begin massage.
  • With one hand on top of a breast and the other hand below the breasts, gently massage back and forth in opposite ways. Next with one hand on each side of the breast, gently massage up and down in opposite ways. Also, gently twist each breast, using both hands, in a wringing motion.

Hand Expression Technique:

  • Using your index finger and thumb, position your hand at the outer edge of the areola (darkened area around the nipple).
  • Gently compress the outer edge of the areola (do not compress the nipple).
  • Repeat this method rotating index finger and thumb around the outer edge of the areola.

An alternate technique for hand expression can be found at: https://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/HandExpression.html.

When to Consult a Doctor or Lactation Consultant

Call Your Doctor or Lactation Consultant if:

  • You do not have relief with these measures.
  • You see any redness or streaking, or develop a fever or flu-like symptoms.
  • Baby is unable to latch to the breast.

Sources:

Hartl, D. & Cunningham, R. “Breast Massage”, Alive Magazine. Updated Apr. 24, 2015. Published January 1, 2005.

La Leche League Tearsheet “Hand Expression Technique”, La Leche League International, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. 2010

La Leche League, “Expressing and Storing Milk”, New Beginnings, July/August vol. 24/#4. 2007.

Lawrence, Ruth A. & Lawrence, Robert M. “Breastfeeding, A Guide for the Medical Professional”, Eighth edition, ELSEVIER, 2016.

Wambach, Karen and Riordan, Jan “Breastfeeding and Human Lactation”, Fifth edition, Jones & Bartlett, 2016.