How To Perform Breastfeeding Massage Therapy

    How To Perform Breastfeeding Massage Therapy

    Mommies often want to breastfeed their baby for as long as they can; however, there are times when the lack of milk supply and discomfort, such as swelling and pain, force them to stop. Here’s the good news: if you want to improve your overall breastfeeding experience, massage therapy might help.

    Breast massage has many purposes

    Breast massage can be a tool to detect breast cancer. Reports said approximately 25% of women in the United States detected their breast cancer through self-examination.

    Another potential purpose of breast massage is lymphedema prevention in the arms or chest. Lymphedema, which manifests as swelling, generally happens due to the buildup of lymph fluids in the fatty tissues beneath the skin.

    And, of course, massage therapy seems to improve the overall breastfeeding experience. Here’s how:

    The Benefits of Breastfeeding Massage Yherapy

    According to studies, breastfeeding massage therapy, also called therapeutic breast massage in lactation (TBML), can help with:

    • Breast pain: One scientific investigation concluded that TBML is helpful in soothing acute breast pain associated with milk stasis or unexpected collection of milk in the mammary glands.
    • Inflammation: Another study pointed out physical therapy techniques involving breast massage can reduce inflammation.
    • Lactation: Breast massage doesn’t necessarily increase your milk supply, but experts say it can maximize the amount of milk you can pump or hand express.

    Performing Therapeutic Breast Massage in Lactation

    Below are the instructions in performing breastfeeding massage therapy:

    • Find a comfortable position, preferably one where you’re reclining.
    • Apply some oil, like extra virgin coconut oil, to your fingertips.
    • Start with one breast; use your fingertips to gently massage the area within the areola (the darker area surrounding the nipple).
    • Afterward, gently massage all around the breast using small circular movements. Alternately tap with your fingertips and knead the breast using the back of your fist.
    • Another way to do it is to use both of your hands. Place four fingers on top and below of the breast and then gently apply pressure with circular motions. Then, do the same thing on both sides of the breast.
    • If you wish to hand-express milk, apply pressure on the breast with the intent of “pushing” the milk down to the nipple. Note: hand-expressing milk before and after breastfeeding helps empty the breast.
    • Continue the breastfeeding massage therapy for 30 to 45 minutes and then start with the other breast.

    breastfeeding massage therapy

    Breastfeeding Massage Therapy: Engorgement & Mastitis

    TBML helps promote breast emptying, which reduces the risk of engorgement, but should you still experience it, this technique might soothe the swelling. Additionally, the method below can also alleviate the symptoms of mastitis.

    • Start with one breast and raise your arm on that side.
    • Using long, upward strokes, gently apply pressure on the outer side of the breast to the armpit, where your lymph nodes are.
    • Do the same thing with the other breast.
    • Now, massage the inner sides of the breasts toward the location of the lymph nodes at the middle of the chest.

    This technique helps remove fluid which you cannot hand-express.

    Additional Reminders

    There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to breastfeeding massage therapy. If you’re having difficulty or discomforts, consult your doctor.

    Furthermore, remember that TBML is just one way to improve the overall breastfeeding experience. Below are some of the other tips you can consider:

    Key Takeaways

    Breast massage is a tool with several purposes. It can help detect breast cancer early, reduce lymphedema, and improve the overall breastfeeding experience by reducing pain and swelling and promoting lactation.

    There’s no one way to massage the breast, so if you’re having difficulties or persistent symptoms, consult your doctor right away.

    Learn more about Breastfeeding here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

    Obstetrics and Gynecology

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 20, 2022