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Hand expression

In the first two-three days colostrum is produced in small amounts and therefore it is better to hand express. Hand expression can be useful to tempt your baby to feed; when your breasts are full and you are struggling to get baby latched; if you notice you have a blocked duct; or if you are separated from your baby and they need to be on neonatal unit.

When in hospital your midwife should discuss with you how to hand express, but here is the information you need to succeed.


  • The most important thing to do is to relax and hold your baby close
  • The next step is to gently massage your breast to stimulate the milk to flow
  • Cup the breast with thumb and fingers in a ‘C’ shape 2-3cm back from the base of the nipples
  • Gently squeeze bringing the fingers and thumb together in a rhythmic action
  • Milk can be collected into a sterile cup/bottle/syringe
  • Continue this action until no more milk comes out and then move fingers around the breast and begin the process again. 

Explaining how to hand express is tricky here is a useful video of how to hand express.

Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative | Hand expression - YouTube