What Is Hands On Pumping?
Hands on pumping is a breast massage technique that can increase the amount of breast milk you pump during each session. Because hands on pumping helps you to drain the breast more fully each time you pump, it helps increase your milk supply and helps you provide more of the fatty hind milk that will help your baby grow.
Hands on pumping is a technique designed for pumping mothers. Breast compression can increase breast milk production for moms who are nursing at the breast, but the technique is a little different.
How to Use Hands On Pumping
When using hands on pumping to increase milk supply, you'll massage both breasts before you pump and during your pumping sessions. Use the following pumping routine:
- Start with the right equipment. Use a fully electric, hospital grade pump with a double pumping kit. Wear a bra or nursing strap that holds the flanges in place while you pump so that your hands are free to massage the breasts.
- Massage your breasts before pumping:
- Massage both breasts using small circles in a spiral pattern, similar to a self breast exam. Pay extra attention to the outer margins of the breast.
- Stroke the breasts from the outer margins in toward the nipples. Use a light touch to help you relax and to help stimulate your let down.
- Lean forward and shake your breasts gently.
- Pump both breasts until the sprays of milk start to subside, usually about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Repeat the massage process.
- Pump one breast while massaging the same breast. Pay special attention to any areas where you feel lumps; these are full milk ducts. Stroke from the outer margin in toward the pump, using medium pressure to empty the ducts. Continue until the sprays of milk subside again, usually about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Pump the other breast while massaging as above.
- Hand express into the pump flanges. This last milk is the richest hindmilk you produce.
If you use hands on pumping each time you pump, you should see a marked increase in your milk supply. The average mom is able to increase the amount she pumps by about 50% by using this technique, though it varies for every mother.
Lactation Education Resources. "Hands on Pumping." Accessed January 10, 2011 from http://www.leron-line.com/updates/Hands_onPumping.pdf
Mohrbacher, N and Stock, J. The Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Revised Edition. January, 2003; La Leche League International, Schaumburg, IL.