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Hand expressing- help I can't do it.

(10 Posts)
sleepysox Tue 22-Sep-09 14:04:36

This relates to my previous post re hand expressing. I'm 38 weeks pg and have been told to kick off my collostrum supplies by hand expressing ready for C section which will be at some point next week.

I've read all the stuff from the NHS booklet thingy and have researched on the net and I've now tried a few times, and have ended up with no collostrum and sore tits.

Has anyone got any tips?

I really need to get this right.

Hope someone can help

Mazza09 Tue 22-Sep-09 15:20:27

The best thing I was given was a Medala (I think this is right spelling) electronic breast pump, it's a bit tingly at first but once used to it really quick and efficient... honestly I didn't even attempt hand expressing. I'm sure there are mothers out there who have done it successfully, I found that I could more than get by with the electronic pump. They're not cheap (minimun £50), so maybe see if you can get it as a gift?? I had the electronic hand pump, which was really good and had batteries so mobile, which helped when we were visiting.
All the best wishes for the C section.

Orangutan Tue 22-Sep-09 15:21:25

Hand expressing never worked for me unless the milk has already come in. Try getting a manual breast pump (which I find was better than the electric ones), massage breasts first then use. Hope it works.

BeckBeck Tue 22-Sep-09 21:38:13

Hi sleepysox, I think it takes a few days to get going. I was hand expressing when my son was overdue as I had been advised that it speeds the onset of labour, but it was over a week before I had any milk. If it's sore take a break. It shouldn't hurt, it should feel more like you're pumping it gently than squeezing it out. It might help to call one of the breastfeeding helplines for some expert advice.

BertieBotts Wed 23-Sep-09 09:54:58

A lady from the breastfeedig helpline (really helpful, I second the advice to ring one of them) gave me these tips to help induce letdown:

First massage the breast tissue gently with 1-2 fingers in circles in a clockwise spiral from the base to the nipple. Then run a finger from the outside of the breast down towards the nipple, repeat this slightly further clockwise, go all the way around the breast. Then try expressing and you should get better results.

However I don't know if it works the same with colostrum as I have only ever done it with mature milk, which is a lot more in volume - so I'm not sure if the letdown reflex works quite the same.

purplepansy Wed 23-Sep-09 13:20:43

I express by hand, as pumps give me mastitis. What I do is this:
Hold your breast in one hand, with your thumb and index finger on either side of your areola (as though you were cupping your breasts, right hand for right side, left for left side). Then compress the upper and lower outer parts of your breast with the rest of your hand, using your fingers in a kind of squeezing, rolling action, whilst pulling the breast out slightly by squeezing finger and thumb together, compressing the area behind the nipple with your thumb and index finger tips. The pulling out action always makes me think of dairy cows, but it does work... Don't squeeze the nipple itself or it will be sore!
You can then do the same action with the other hand to drain the inner quarters of your breast. Imagine you are trying to massage milk along the ducts from the outside of the breast to the nipple.
If you are expressing milk rather than colostrum then squeezing the nipples gently can help get a letdown reflex (used to give me braxton hicks)
Hope this helps, and sorry for rather graphic description! blush

purplepansy Wed 23-Sep-09 13:25:45

Just read your other thread - sorry to hear about the problems ahead for your LO.
Re pots - you can buy presterilised avent milk storage pots in Boots/mothercare etc. They're for use with the avent breastpump, but are widenecked so easy to express into, and come with screw on tops for freezing.

cheesebaby Wed 23-Sep-09 13:44:30

SLEEPYSOX, I think you probably need trained support on this; not so much on how to do hand expression, but more how to do it before the baby's born, and what you can expect from it. It's going to be quite different from hand expressing when you're milk's come in.

Is there a lactation consultant at your hospital you could speak to?

Alternatively there's La Leche League; the contact details are here

I really would try and speak to someone trained in supporting bf if possible.

Best of luck with everything.

Montifer Wed 23-Sep-09 13:48:04

I think there was a good description on this thread

sleepysox Wed 23-Sep-09 22:00:49

These descriptions are really helpful, thank you Bertie, Pansy, Montifer and Cheesebaby.

The lactation consultant at the hosp where i'm due to have the CS said I should do the hand expressing thing as DS will have so many problems when he's born, and she really appreciates my need to get this right. Everything else has gone so pear shaped, i'm pinning all my hopes on breastfeeding going right. She is going to meet with me after my meeting with my consultant tomorrow, which is really kind of her as she has a full day of training she's doing. She's going to come out in her tea break to see me.

I will ask her for more help. I'm hoping she might have a DVD I could see as I find it easier to see something rather than try and follow instructions.

She did say she'd buddy me up with a MW whose good at giving Bf help, so that when I'm in hosp I'll have some guaranteed help/ support.

I'll print this thread off plus the one Montifer linked to and will try and have a go when i get back tomorrow.

Thanks for all your help. I'd be totally lost without MN atm.

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