After the long wait, your little precious is finally in your arms. And much as you are excited and can’t stop grinning, one thing that you are surely learning with the excitement is the art of feeding your baby.
Feeding your baby exclusively on breast milk is recommended for the first six months of your baby’s life. While initially you may be feeding the natural way, it is a good idea to learn how to express breast milk too.
Expressing Breast Milk By Hand:
Learning to express breast milk by hand is one skill you should equip yourself with. It is as essential as learning to change a nappy in order to survive with a new born.
While you may feel you will only feed her from you, skin to skin, sometimes, you might be faced with a situation where you need to feed baby from a bottle, in the first six months.
Also, there could be a situation where you have to leave baby with someone else. In such cases, it is always a good idea to express milk and store it for baby.
Advantages Of Hand Expression:
There are many advantages of expressing milk by hand:
- It is inexpensive.
- It is less work.
- It spares you the effort of sterilizing pumping equipment.
- It is very convenient as opposed to hauling a heavy breast pump bag wherever you travel.
- It doesn’t require electricity.
- It saves the discomfort or sucking sensation caused by electric pumps.
- Skin to skin contact is more stimulating and accelerates the milk ejection reflex.
1. Step By Step Process Of Stimulating The Milk Ejection Reflex:
Before you get to the actual procedure of expressing breast milk by hand, it is essential to keep a few things in mind. This will help prepare the breast to effectively expel or eject the maximum amount of milk with minimal effort and save time while doing so.
Milk is produced in the milk making cells called Alveoli in the breasts. When these alveoli are stimulated, they expel the milk into the milk ducts by a reflex called Milk Ejection Reflex (MER).
The most effective procedure in stimulating this milk ejection reflex can be enumerated in a step by step manner as follows:
- Locate the milk producing cells in the breast and massage them.
- Starting at the top of the breast, move your fingers slowly in a circular motion, pressing firmly, on one spot on the breast.
- After massaging for a few seconds, pick up your fingers and move onto the next spot. Do not slide your fingers to the next spot.
- Continue massaging in a spiral pattern starting from the top of the breast and moving towards the areola. The motion and pressure applied should be similar to a breast examination.
- Stroke the breast in a tickle like manner from the chest wall to nipple.
- This will relax you and encourage the milk ejection reflex.
- Leaning forward, gently shake the breasts.
- The gravity will aid in expelling the milk.
2. How To Express Milk By The Marmet Technique?
The Marmet Technique is the most effective method for hand expression and vouched by thousands of mothers. Mothers who previously made less or no milk by expression got excellent results through this method:
- The Marmet Technique was developed by Chele Marmet who had to express milk for an extended period of time because of an illness.
- She found that her milk ejection reflex was inefficient when her baby breastfed.
- Thus she devised a massage and stimulation procedure to improve this reflex.
- The technique is most effective when the expression is combined with the massage.
The milk can be expressed by Marmet Technique in the following manner:
- Position your thumb and first two fingers about one 1”- 1.5” inches behind the base of your nipple.
- Place the thumb pad above the nipple at a 12 0’clock position and the finger pads below the nipple at a 6 0’clock position thus forming a C shaped position around the nipple.
- The thumb and finger pads should be in line with the nipple.
- Avoid cupping the breast, concentrating primarily around the nipple area.
- Push into the chest of the wall. For larger breasts, lift them first and then push into the chest.
- Avoid splaying your fingers apart while pushing.
- Roll your thumb and fingers forward as if making thumb prints and finger prints above and below the nipple simultaneously.
- Apply pressure firmly, changing from middle finger to index finger as the thumb rolls forward.
- The movement of the thumb and fingers mimics the baby’s suckling motion while the counter pressure simulates the baby’s palate.
Rehearse and repeat this pattern rhythmically to compress and drain the milk ducts. If you are squeezing the breast or nipple, pulling it out and sliding your fingers instead of rolling them, you are doing it all wrong. The technique might cause little discomfort but it should not hurt you.
4. Procedure And Timing:
As mentioned earlier, the key to mastering the Marmet Technique is by combining the method of expression with stimulation of the milk ejection reflex. The whole procedure should take approximately twenty to thirty minutes. As with any manual skill, practice is the watch word.
Stimulate = Massage, Stroke, Shake
Express = Position, Push, Roll
- Express each breast for five to seven minutes.
- Massage both breasts simultaneously for one minute.
- Express each breast for three to five minutes.
- Massage both breasts simultaneously for about a minute.
- Express each breast for two to three minutes.
Spend time trying to locate the milk ducts on your breasts and familiarize with the procedure.
- Use a warm washcloth or warm compress before you start. It relaxes the body and warms up the breasts.
- Sit and lean forward or bend over to express your milk. You will pump more in this position than standing or lying down.
- Collect the milk into a container or a baby bottle. The Medela Company manufactures a special bottle with a wide mouthed funnel for hand expression.
We hope this article gave you an idea about how to express breast milk by hand. Hope you have a great experience and enjoy motherhood to its fullest. Do share your views with us.