Expressing Milk in an Emergency

Many people who pump breastmilk do not own a hand pump and rely on electricity for milk expression. If you are an exclusive pumper or just pump when you are separated from your baby, you know how important your breast pump is for your well-being and that of your baby. If your pump has ever malfunctioned, you have forgotten important parts, or if you have lost power, you may have experienced the inability to express milk when you needed to. There are alternatives to using an electric pump that may be helpful in these circumstances.

Hand Expression:

Learning to hand express is a valuable skill. Your hands are always available, so you can express milk even if you have no other equipment. The following video is one of my favorites for demonstrating hand expression.

Warm Jar Method:

Have you heard of the new silicon manual hand pumps? These use consistent rather than intermittent vacuum to remove milk from the breast. They work well for many who are lactating but if you do not own one, the warm jar method can also work. This method has been used for generations to express milk. First pour very warm water to fill a wide mouth canning jar. Pour slowly to avoid cracking the jar. Pour out the water and cool the rim so that the breast will not be burned. Center the jar over the nipple and hold it there. As the jar cools, a vacuum will form and milk will be drawn from the breast. Once the milk is flowing, you may try combining this method with hand expression.

Using Pump Supplies to Make a Hand Pump:

If you gave birth in the hospital, you may have been sent home with various pumping supplies that you didn’t use. Some of these supplies are used for hospital rental pumps and are not needed for personal use pumps. These supplies can also be used to make a hand pump! The following video shows how.