How To Hand-Express Breast Milk

The Marmet Technique of manually, or hand, expressing breast milk is a fabulous alternative to using a breast pump. In fact, nothing can mimic the action of a breastfeeding baby better than you own fingers. Here is how to do it.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Until comfortable

Here's How:

  1. Position the thumb above the nipple and your first two fingers below the nipple, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches from the nipple, though not necessarily at the outer edges of the areola. Use this measurement as a guide, since breasts and areolas vary in size from one woman to another. Be sure the hand forms the letter “C” and the finger pads are at 6 and 12 o’clock in line with the nipple. Note: The fingers are positioned so that the milk reservoirs lie beneath them. Avoid cupping the breast.

  1. Push straight in to the chest wall. Avoid spreading the fingers apart. For large breasts, first lift, and then push in to the chest wall.

  2. Roll thumb and fingers forward at the same time. This rolling motion compresses and empties milk reservoirs without injuring sensitive breast tissue.

  3. Repeat rhythmically to completely drain reservoirs. Position, push, roll ... Position, push, roll ....

  4. Rotate the thumb and fingers to milk other reservoirs, using both hands on each breast.

  5. Source:

    Marmet Technique copyright 1978, revised 1979, 1981 and 1988. Chele Marmet and the Lactation Institute, 1616 Ventura Blvd., Suite 223, Encino, California 91436


  1. Do not squeeze the breast, as this can cause bruising.
  2. Sliding hands over the breast may cause painful skin burns.
  3. Avoid pulling the nipple which may result in tissue damage.

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