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 couple of days is usually more productive than breast pumping.
But even if you are not separated, hand milk expression between feeds on the first hours and days postpartum was also shown by research 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.
Hand milk expression is also an efficient way to reduce breast engorgement and prevent milk stasis, therefore helping prevent breast inflammation.
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 every drop, and with practice. You got this!
You don’t have to collect all milk drops, hand expression can be done to a cloth, or in the shower, it will not waste milk for your baby, on the contrary, it will help your body to produce enough milk for her needs.