The nurse asked if she could grab my boob to get some breast milk out. Of course she could, I had a 3-hour old baby, and I would do anything for her. Plus, my body was making food for her, how freaking amazing would it be to actually see the food!? It was my second baby, and I thought I knew everything to know about breast feeding. But the nurse grabbed a plastic spoon from lunch, squeezed some thick yellow colostrum out, then spoon-fed my 3-hour old! It was magical!

She told me that the more you express in the first days, the more you can produce later. I’d wanted to be able to save up enough to donate, but my body decided it will only make enough for my own baby, and that’s okay. I had that all-too-common love/hate relationship with my pump from baby #1. So when the nurse encouraged me to express by hand, I got all giddy. For 3 months, I let my pump stay in storage, and expressed an ounce here and there with my hands. By the time I went to work, I had enough for the hubs to give her a few meals without me, and I could pump or express by hand at the full-time job.

I currently express by both hand and pump, depending on if I’ve forgotten my pump (again) or if I want to browse pinterest for dinner ideas, and need to be hands-free. I use an older version of this pump, which now has WAY more features than mine. It tracks your sessions, how cool!

Anyhow, back to hand vs pump. Here are some pros and cons of each:


Expressing Breast Milk by Hand:


  • It’s gentle – no sting from suction.
  • No equipment to lug around (except bags).
  • No equipment to clean up.
  • You can listen to hilarious audio books, like Jack and Rump by Liesl Shurtliff, who is from my home state of Utah!


  • It takes a bit longer, since you can’t do both boobs at the same time. Well, maybe you can. You’re super woman, share your secret!
  • It can’t ever be hands-free, haha!
  • It takes practice to become efficient – your forearms might be sore the first few times.

Expressing Breast Milk with an Electric Pump:


  • Hands-free! Can facebook/play games/etc.
  • Quicker with a double pump.


  • The sting of suction.
  • Carting around equipment (& finding batteries!)
  • Cleaning equipment (and hoping there aren’t any prudes in the break room while you put the milk in the freezer and wash the pump parts).
  • Awkward – I still can pinpoint the reason, but I dislike being hooked up to that machine.

How, exactly, do you express breast milk by hand!? There is tons of info out there. I recommend a google search.

I would love to see a company that makes products to make hand-expression easier! Maybe bags or containers that attach to prevent drips? Or maybe it’s nice that the only product we need here are bags?

Have you hand-expressed? What has your experience been? What tips would you give to newbs? What’s the most you’ve expressed in a sitting?

And to follow all of that valuable content, here’s my plug. 😉 I create crafts that help NICU babies get human milk – Buy A Craft, Feed A Baby. Here is more about my cause.

Check out the BreastCardsEver! Originals painted with … you guessed it, breast milk!