Milk Expression: The Marmet Technique

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The Marmet Technique is the most widely used form of hand expression.  Developed by Chele Marmet of the Lactation Institute, the technique was designed for long term expressing.  This is the most cost effective way to express milk.  You only need your hands and a clean container.  It's also just as effective as a breast pump.

To begin, wash your hands and procure a clean bowl or jar with a wide mouth.  You will use the same techniques to stimulate the let-down reflex that you would ordinarily use for a breast pump.  That is looking at pictures of your child, applying warm towels, massaging the breasts, eccetera.

1) First, using only your first two fingers and thumb, place them around the areola about an one inch or so from the nipple.  Your fingers should be positioned about noon and 6 (if you want to use a clock face as a guide) and look like a C shape.

2) Next push straight into your chest.

3) Then roll the fingers forward to empty the milk ducts.  Avoid pulling or squeezing.  This should activate the let-down reflex and milk should squirt into your bowl.

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4) Repeat the process several times until the milk duct appears dry.  Then rotate your fingers to another position (say 3 and 9) and repeat steps 2 through 3 until you have emptied the breast.

You can use both hands on each breast but not two hands on one breast.

Take collected milk and put it in a freezer or refrigerator ready container if the one you used initially is not.

Even if you don't plan on using the Marmet technique as your main way to express milk, it's still important to know how to use it.  You may need to relieve engorgement or you may need to entice a sleepy/sick baby to eat by expressing a little milk.  It's also great for squirting breast milk into an infected eye or bottom or for nipple care.

If you prefer to watch the technique in action, there are several online videos that can show you how it's used.

About the Author:

Laura Weirich has been married for four years and has two sons. She's been breastfeeding for nearly two years and currently tandem nurses her toddler and infant. A big proponent of breastfeeding, she's been educating her friends and family about the benefits of breastfeeding and helping other women along the way. When she's not nursing, she chases a toddler all day, washes cloth diapers, tries to catch a few zs and reads up on the latest research about children.

4 thoughts on “Milk Expression: The Marmet Technique

    1. Yep, I’ve heard from a number of people (we haven’t had to deal with this yet) that pediatricians will ask nursing mothers to use breast milk instead of prescribing ointment for very young babies’ eyes.  And a nurse during a “how to take care of a newborn” class made the comment that if you child gets a diaper rash just express some breast milk and let the babies bottom air dry.  One of the gentlemen at the class made the comment that breast milk is akin to Windex in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  It’s so true.  They even give it to some cancer patients to help boost their immune system while taking chemo.

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