Hand expression

You can express your breastmilk by hand. Find out how here.

Note: The information featured on this page is currently under review, and will be updated in due course. Please ensure that you speak with your health care professional about any queries you may have about the issues covered here.

It is a useful ‘first aid’ technique to drain blocked milk ducts. When milk ducts (the tubes through which the milk is carried) are not emptied properly, they can become blocked and feel uncomfortable. Restoring the milk flow as soon as possible can help to prevent infection. Hand expression will also help you to encourage your baby to feed. You can do this by expressing a few drops of milk onto the end of the nipple for them to taste.

Getting ready

Have a clean towel ready to catch any spills. A wide-mouthed container is also essential, as milk may spurt in several directions at one time.


  1. Cup your breast and feel back from the end of the nipple to where the texture of your breast feels different. Using your thumb and index finger, squeeze this area. This shouldn’t hurt.
  2. Release the pressure and then repeat again and again, building up a rhythm. Avoid sliding your fingers over the skin. Milk should start to flow.
  3. When the flow slows down, express the other breast. Keep changing the breasts until the milk stops or drips very slowly.
  4. If the milk doesn’t flow, try moving your fingers slightly towards the nipple or further away. Alternatively, you may wish to try gentle breast massage.

The information on this page is more than two years old