Hand-Expressing Breastmilk

Gloria Lemay has compiled a list of various videos, files, etc., on hand-expressing breastmilk. This is something useful for every nursing mother to know. One of the “must-haves” that I was told that all nursing mothers needed was a breast-pump, so I dutifully bought one. I used it a few times when my first-born was a baby — my sister-in-law died of colon cancer (at the age of 35!) when he was a month old, and we had to travel 9 hours by car to the funeral. Since I wasn’t comfortable nursing while riding in a car (my father was killed in a fluke, one-car, roll-over accident when he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, so buckling up is not optional), I did actually use the pump on that trip. Then I figured out that since I was forward-facing beside the baby, and he was rear-facing, I could nurse him with us both still safely buckled (it worked better if his car seat wasn’t in the base, because that was too high; it also helps that I’ve got big boobs {shrug}). Aside from that, I don’t think he ever had a bottle — the times that I left him (like to buy groceries while my mom watched him, or went out for dinner with my husband or something) were usually brief enough that we didn’t miss a feeding. And he refused a bottle. Usually, I’d just take him with me, and if he got hungry while we were out, I’d nurse him.

When I had my second baby, a friend had just adopted a newborn, and I pumped milk for him. At first, I used the pump I had already bought (the cheapest one at Walmart), but I wore it out from all the pumping. Then my friend was able to borrow from another friend a wonderful, super-deluxe, double-pump electronic pump. It was incredibly much more comfortable, and got so much more milk, and was more than twice as fast. It was amazing.

Still, there were times with both babies that I needed to hand-express. The first time, it took me a while to realize that I was making too much foremilk, so my baby wasn’t getting enough hindmilk. Being able to express and discard some of the foremilk helped. Other times, it helped with being able to relieve engorgement — particularly when I no longer was pumping for the adopted baby, and needed to reduce my supply. I didn’t want to pump milk and just make more, so I was able to wean myself from the breast-pump through hand-expressing. But at the height of my milk pumping, I was able to hand-express quite a bit, even without using the pump (the day my old pump broke, and before I could get the other one was not fun!).

4 Responses

  1. My mom borrowed (thankfully, rather than bought) a really nice pump for me which never came out of its package. The thought of pumping, sterilization, storage and bottle feeding was just too much when nursing was so easy. It went back to its owner completely unused! This next time I’m not going to bother to borrow it back. Besides, it’s fun to shock the heck out of people by telling them that baby has never had a bottle!! Mwa ha ha ha.

    Have a great day, Kathy! I keep up with your blog even when I haven’t time to leave comments.🙂

  2. Yeah, I don’t think my younger son ever had a bottle at all. Of course, too often when we say stuff like that people act as if we’re bragging about ourselves and denigrating others who were “less than us” and gave their child a bottle at some point. We’re not — we’re just stating a fact and trying to encourage others that it actually *is* possible… but some people just can’t take it that way. Mommy wars! Sigh…

  3. I unfortunately have to exclussively pump for my little one. He never latched well or transferred enough. I have been going for 7 months now. Only 5 more to go. I wish that he had been into breastfeeding, life would be so much easier. Hopefully with the next one.

  4. Glad you could use this, Kathy. It always seems like when you need this kind of info, you can’t find it immediately. I love having a blog because it gives me another filing cabinet to stash bits and pieces for future reference. I use your blog for the same thing–great that you have it so well referenced. Gloria

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