The Benefits of Massage for Breastfeeding and Pumping
Learn the Four Major Benefits Breastfeeding Moms Reap from Breast Massage
Breast massage serves many purposes, is something you can do in the comfort of your own home and with very few risks involved. According to Healthline, even just 15 minutes of massage may be enough to reap all the benefits. Of course, if you want to massage longer and more often; that’s okay, too!
There are many reasons why women might want to do breast massage. Not only is it a way to identify breast cancer early, breast massage helps stimulate the lymphatic system, aids sore muscles and improves breast appearance.
Benefits Breastfeeding Moms Want to Know:
Releases Oxytocin and Prolactin
Oxytocin is called the ‘love drug’ for a reason. When oxytocin is produced, it increases feelings of trust, empathy and overall connection to others. Every time you breastfeed, the stimulation triggers a release of oxytocin that tells your body to “let down” milk so your baby can drink.
Oxytocin is also a wonderful promoter of overall mother-child bonding, which in turn fosters love, nurturing and a deep emotional bond between you and your little one. It’s also been shown to help babies foster healthy social skills that continue to develop as they grow.
With breast massage, it’s all in the touch. While pain can block the production of oxytocin, a gentle touch works to stimulate the release of oxytocin. It relaxes the muscles in the milk ducts and also increases the release of prolactin. This is the hormone that signals to the body to increase milk production.
Increases Lymphatic Drainage and Decreases Breast Engorgement
Among the biggest benefits of breast massage is an increase in lymphatic drainage. The job of the lymphatic system is to help the body absorb excess fluid in the cells.
Since the circulation of lymph comes from movement in the body, and the breast has little to no movement from muscles, lots of fluid can accumulate there. This is why you may have swelling, engorgement or edema. As you might imagine, breast massage creates movement of that area, allowing the fluid to move without accumulating.
On the other hand (no pun intended), breast massage works to decrease breast engorgement. Swelling is fairly common in the early days and weeks of breastfeeding and breast massage decreases that swelling. As the swelling goes down, breast tissue becomes softer. Having softer breast tissue usually means breastfeeding is easier and more effective.
Aids with Mastitis and Clogged Ducts
Any mom who has experienced a clogged duct knows just how painful they can be. Although these are fairly common for breastfeeding moms, it doesn’t make them any easier to handle. The best thing to do when you’re experiencing a clogged duct—or better yet, to avoid one—is to continue pumping more frequently while also using breast massage to keep the duct clog-free.
This, as well as all the other benefits of breast massage we’ve covered, makes it easier for your baby to latch. Whether you’re experiencing swelling from a clogged duct, mastitis or engorgement, breast massage reduces swelling so that your breast tissue is softer. With less pressure there, your baby can better reach your nipple.
Combining Breast Massage with Suction Pumping
Stanford researchers and other universities demonstrated the benefits of combining breast compression with suction pumping. They found that the combination of hand compression/breast massage and suction pump was found to yield higher milk output per session, increase milk supply over time and produce more nutrient rich breast milk.
With the Lilu Massage Bra, we found a way to incorporate breast compression massages into moms’ pumping sessions without them needing to do any additional work. Working closely with lactation experts, we programmed our bra to perform the best massage movements recommended for breastfeeding moms.
BeauGen's Breast Pump Cushions enhance fit and add comfort to any breast pump. They’re great because they are soft and stretchy and reduce the friction between your breast and the hard plastic of your pump. Their cushions ship flat, but easily pop open and take the shape needed to fit your breast pump flange.
-author, Megan Eileen McDonough
A Special Perk, just for you!
Lilu is a Women’s Health company building tech-enabled devices to empower new moms. Their first product, the Lilu Massage Bra, mimics breast compression and "hands-on-pumping" techniques. The bra is an FDA Class I device that works with most standard breast pumps and uses Lilu’s patented pneumatic massage technology to gently and efficiently massage your breasts while pumping. For many moms, this massage can help increase milk output and reduce associated pain. Think of it as your pump’s sidekick