Every new parent should learn the art of hand expression before leaving the hospital. It is your secret weapon at the darkest of times: at 2am, sitting and crying when baby won’t latch; when you forgot that one pump piece at home and can’t leave work for four more hours; when you have the crazy day which leaves you engorged and dripping with nary a baby or pump for miles; when your partner wants to help after an emergency C-section or other health issue. For these and a myriad of other scenarios, hand expression can save your lactation bacon. Here’s one of our favorite videos showing the technique:
Team Tuff Tip: Wash your hands. Relax. It takes some time to learn, that’s normal. Hot showers, warm compresses, smelling something that your baby wears and having your baby nearby can all help elicit your milk ejection reflex (MER), or get the milk flowing. If you want, have your partner or trusted friend help while you hold the baby and relax.
Your baby’s special magic, especially in the very early days, can be helpful in giving Mother Nature a boost. Remember that anthropologically and historically, our babies’ food source was very focused on mom, and everything babies do, to better access that food source, is evolved from what works best for most babies. Your baby’s special magic does things your pump will never even imagine. If you’re struggling with latch and milk transfer, please reach out to our lactation consultant, Renee Davis, IBCLC, with any breastfeeding questions or concerns. If you would like to schedule a visit with her, please click HERE.
While your support people are getting that appointment set up, here’s one of our favorite videos and a couple of other resources:
Latching and Positioning Resources:
Team Tuff Tip: Both you and your baby/babies are learning. And we all learn differently and in different ways. Be patient. Get your support people involved to remind you that you are a warrior and always and forever you are your baby’s best mom.
This is hands-on, the most scientifically proven way to increase supply. In one study, the average (yes, average) increase in output was 48% more milk than pumping alone. Another study found about twice as much fat in the milk pumped with hands-on-pumping. Mic drop. Without further ado, here’s the video:
Team Tuff Tip: There are a lot of theories about why hands-on-pumping is so effective. We believe that one reason is that it focuses your attention on breast emptiness, not time pumping or output. Just like you don’t pee the same amount all the time, it’s common for breast milk output to vary. By focusing on making sure your breast is empty (instead of the clock or bottle) you are helping your overall breast health and encouraging the supply and demand system to make more milk. Many moms report emptying their breasts faster with hands-on-pumping, which is also a nice bonus!