Pain with manual expression

Why does it hurt when I manually express?

Manual expression can cause pain in the nipple root and the hands. Pain in the nipple root can result from squeezing the root too firmly, pulling it out too far, or expressing for too long. If manual expression hurts, mothers should review their technique. If that doesn’t help, they may consider pumping. Manual expression can especially be hard on the hands if mothers already have problems such as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or arthritis. If mothers have a chronic health condition, manual expression may tire them out more; a better option may be a double electric pump with a hands-free system.

A) Nipple and breast pain

Mothers who frequently use manual expression may develop pain in the nipple root.

Pain may be caused by:

  • Squeezing the nipple root too firmly.
  • Pulling the nipple root too far out.
  • Expression times that are too long.

If you have pain, review your technique to see if you can improve it. Use other tools to increase the amount of expressed milk in order to shorten the amount of time needed to express.

 If the problems cannot be fixed, consider pumping.

B) Hand and body pain and fatigue

Manual expression is a fair bit of work for the hands and may make previous hand problems worse. These conditions include:

  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome or other nerve problems
  • Arthritis

Manual expression can also tire out some mothers. For those with certain chronic health conditions, this can use up precious energy and they may benefit from using a double electric pump with a hands-free system.