Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Oh no! I left my electric breast pump at home!

Every working day, I bring to my office two containers--a Coleman soft cooler where I put my storage bottles, breast pump flanges and ice packs, and a white plastic box where I put my electric pump. While I always check if the green and white containers are in the car, I failed to do it this one time. Then, Murphy's law struck!

I have no choice but to learn how to hand express breastmilk. And I had to learn it fast.

Fortunately, I came across this video on the Marmet Hand Expression technique.

After watching the video twice, I was more or less confident to give the Marmet technique a try. I am happy to say that after expressing twice (one at 12 noon and the other at 5 pm), I was able to express 8 ounces of breastmilk. Not bad for a first timer!

Of course, this was way below my usual yield when using my ever reliable electric pump. But at the very least, I didn't have to endure the discomfort (and even pain) of engorged breasts.

Here are the things I learned while doing the Marmet technique:

  • When done properly, it is NOT painful at all. The only discomfort I felt was in my right arm, the one I used  to express milk. I was able to lessen the ngawit by placing my right elbow on an arm rest. (I guess with more practice, I would be able to learn how to use my left hand effectively.)
  • Use a wide-mouth bottle to collect the milk. I could just imagine how difficult it would be to collect the squirting milk with the more common narrow-mouth bottles.
  • I was able to collect more by expressing alternately from right to left breast.
  • Have clean tissues near you to wipe off milk drops. It is extremely difficult to get a good positioning of your fingers when the skin around/under the areola is wet. Without good positioning of fingers, you will not be able to express milk effectively. 

Hand expression of breastmilk is one HANDY skill to learn.

  • This is especially important for moms who have just given birth and who, for one reason or another, cannot directly feed their babies yet. I found this video from Stanford School of Medicine's site showing how hand expression can be used in getting the much-needed colostrum. (If only I knew about this! In the hospital where I gave birth, I had to go to the nursery to breastfeed my baby during the first 24 hours. Now this was extremely difficult for someone who has just undergone a cesarian operation.)  
  • For moms who are suffering from sore nipples, hand expression will buy you some time to rest and at the same time, you will still be able to feed your babies with expressed breastmilk.
  • For stay-at-home moms who need to express milk occasionally only, why buy pump when hand expression can do the job?
  • For working moms who have limited budget, why waste your money on a bicycle horn pump? True, it is inexpensive. However, it is not efficient at all and is even painful to use. Some experts discourage use of the bicycle horn pumps because they may be difficult to clean and dry. (Source: US FDA
  • For working moms who have efficient pumps, in cases of emergency (e.g., you left your pump, some parts are missing, etc.), hand expression will save the day! 


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