Colostrum collection. In the first hours and days after birth (in some cases even before birth) you may need to hand express and collect colostrum for feeding your baby, this may be needed in case of separation between mother and baby, if the baby is sleepy, in late pre-term babies, in cases of low glucose or Jaundice, and after a C section. Hand expressing colostrum and milk in the first days may actually be more productive than breast pumping.
Frequent hand milk expression between feeds on the first hours and days postpartum was shown by research to be A VERY EFFECTIVE METHOD TO improve milk volumes, enhance milk coming in and improve baby’s weight gain, and improve overall breastfeeding success. Don’t worry about inducing over-supply at this early stage. Take advantage of this great early hack for improved supply.
Accessibility – your hands are always there for you, in the delivery room, at the ward, at home after discharge, in the shower.
Hand milk expression can be an efficient way to reduce breast engorgement and prevent milk stasis, therefore helping prevent breast inflammation.
Hands on breastfeeding/pumping – Hand expression and breast compressions can be used during pumping/feeding to enhance milk flow, and to encourage a sleepy baby to feed more efficiently.
Hand expression right after a breastfeeding/pumping session is an efficient way to fully empty the breast after breastfeeding or pumping. When used frequently, this is also a recommended method for enhancing milk supply (no need to worry about inducing over-supply in the early days).
Hand expression done correctly should not be painful. It may take several trials to get comfortable. Don’t expect more than a few drops initially, it is OK! It improves with time and with practice.