For the first few days of baby’s life, before your milk comes in (around 72 hours after delivery), I recommend that you hand express after most breastfeeding sessions.
This will help make sure you are draining your breast fully as you are learning how to breastfeed. Topping the baby off with this expressed colostrum prevents baby from losing too much weight in the first few days.
Let’s face it. You don’t know what you are doing; your baby doesn’t know what he is doing. Hand expression is like a safety net for breastfeeding ignorance.
Here is a cartoon lady to show you exactly how to master the fine art of boob squeezing:
The following suggestions may help:
- Before you start, wash your hands. Gently massage your boobs to warm them up (everybody loves a little massage to get them in the mood).
- Grab a hold your breast just behind your areola (the darker part of your breast).
- Squeeze gently, using your thumb and the rest of your fingers in a C-shape. This shouldn’t hurt. Don’t squeeze the nipple directly, because that would probably hurt.
- Release the pressure, then repeat, building up a rhythm. Try not to slide your fingers over the skin or you will end up with lovely rub burn looking bruises on your boobs. At first, only drops will appear. That’s okay. Keep going for three to five minutes on each breast. Consider listening to a song with a good beat to the rhythm. I recommend “Rhythm of Love” by Plain White T’s. Totally optional of course.
- When no more drops come out, move your fingers round and try a different section of your breast, and repeat.
- When the flow slows down, swap to the other breast. Keep changing breasts until the milk drips very slowly or stops altogether.
- If the milk doesn’t flow, try moving your fingers slightly towards the nipple or further away. You are free to do this however it works, as long as it doesn’t hurt!
- Sit baby up and very slowly tip just a drop or two into his open mouth. He will reflexively swallow this milk. This is also a great way to wake a sleepy baby up!
- Once your milk comes in, feel free to stop hand expressing regularly.
If you are more of a visual learner and you prefer to not learn from a cartoon boob with large bright yellow raindrops falling from the nipple, watch this: