Believe it or not, hand expressing is actually an effective method of retrieving the breastmilk your body produces. This can be done in place of pumping or afterwards, often with several extra ounces collected. Begin at the upper portion of your breast and gradually massage downwards until your fingers are squeezing around your areola and nipple. some mothers find it is most productive to do this as they lean over.  You can also watch this technique visually on either of two videos.

  • Hand Expression of Breastmilk,” 2012,
  •  Ameda, “Your Baby Knows How to Latch On,” 2010,                                        

Most mothers find it easier and more efficient to rely on electric pumps that are far more effective than hand suction pumps. These can be easily cleaned (and should be) following each feeding according to the manufacturer's instructions.

For many mothers, the concern isn't which technique to use or how to combine them, but rather, how to start the flow (and sometimes how to find the time). The issue of finding the time and place to feed shouldn't be an issue at least in the US, with federal law now requiring employers to provide a comfortable, private space (other than a bathroom) as well as the time for a mother to pump and store her breastmilk.

That reassurance often helps since anxiety and stress can interfere with production. But beginning the process can be difficult for some moms since the baby isn't there to stimulate the flow. If possible, time your pumping or expressing to when you are feeling full.  A picture or even pleasant thoughts of the baby often helps a letdown response develop. A warm compress, gentle massage, or a few minutes of quiet and relaxation will usually help you begin. and then follow w the guidelines in our What to Feed Your Baby or our blogpost on collecting and storing that precious breastmilk.