Massaging your breasts is one of the most common recommendations you’ll hear if you’re struggling with your breast milk supply and letdown, and for good reason. According to one study, practicing breast massages while nursing and pumping can increase production by 48%.
Massaging works for several reasons. For one, the movement of the breast encourages it to fully empty its milk ducts. Not only does this lead to more letdown, but it can be crucial for months suffering from the discomfort of engorged breasts or who’ve developed mastitis.
Moreover, giving your breasts a massage can also encourage the body to produce more Oxytocin. This helps relax the breast muscles, which encourages letdown and more production.
How To Get The Proper Technique
Massaging your breasts to stimulate milk production may sound intimidating, but it’s actually an easy process once you get the hang of the technique. In fact, you may even find it relaxing. Follow these steps in order to get the technique right
Apply a warm compress
The first thing to do is to apply a warm compress to the breasts. This encourages blood circulation, which opens the milk ducts and encourages letdown. You can use a warm cloth or heating pad directly on the breast or warm your hands up with some hot water and massage your chest directly with your warmed-up hands.
Have a lubricant on hand
Your breasts may feel cracked and dry from breastfeeding, and you don’t want to worsen this with a massage. Make sure to use some sort of lubricant (like an oil or lotion) to moisturize your breasts and to make the experience more comfortable. You may even want to consider trying a breast massage in the bath or shower, where you can use soap or body wash as a lubricant.
Use gentle, circular motions
When it comes to the actual massage part, you want to knead the breast in a circular motion. You can make a fist or simply use your palms and fingertips. Just make sure to be gentle and slowly massage the entirety of the breasts. Don’t try to force the milk out. If you press too hard, you can damage the glandular tissue, which is responsible for milk production. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
Don’t forget the areola
It’s not enough to simply massage the breast tissue. You also need to pay attention to the nipple (also called the areola). Using circular motions, work down towards the nipple with both hands. Press lightly on the areola to stimulate milk production.
The Benefits Of Breast Massage
Massaging your breasts isn’t only helpful to encourage more milk production. It has a variety of other health benefits, too.
Healthier milk supply
It’s not just that your milk will come in more steadily when you incorporate a massage into your routine. It can also make the milk healthier. One study found that mothers who massage their breasts for at least 30 minutes twice a day had lowered sodium levels in their breast milk. They also had higher levels of lipids, casein, and gross energy, all of which support healthy prenatal development.
Can reduce discomfort
Women who massage their breasts during nursing and pumping are less likely to experience pain. Since the massage helps milk ducts, it can help any clogged or hardened ducts to release. With a smoother letdown, you will experience less pain and discomfort associated with clogged ducts.
Prevents sagging & stretch marks
It’s normal to be concerned with how your body has changed after giving birth and breastfeeding. But another reason to do regular breast massages is that it can help reduce the appearance of saggy breasts as well as stretch marks.
When you nurse, your breasts tend to get larger – they need more blood circulating in order to sustain the milk supply. But this can cause sagging and stretch marks when they return to normal size after breastfeeding ceases. But by moving your breasts regularly with a massage, it helps get the blood flowing and thereby reduces the physical stress on the breasts.
Other Ways To Boost Milk Supply
Sometimes, massaging your breasts may not be enough to encourage a significant increase in milk production. You may find it most helpful to continue to massage in conjunction with other remedies to encourage letdown and production.
For other ways to boost your breast milk supply, we recommend the following.
- Eat a balanced diet
- Nurse your baby regularly
- Practice skin-to-skin contact
- Pump regularly in between nursing
- Ensure the infant is latching properly
- Use relaxation techniques to de-stress yourself
Breastfeeding can be a challenging journey, so don’t be discouraged if you’re still struggling with letdown and your milk supply after incorporating breast massages into your routine. For more information, we encourage you to speak with your doctor or lactation consultant.
Sources: LaVie Mom, Parenting First Cry, Baby Center, University Hospitals,