Most breastfeeding moms often find themselves struggling with unexpected breastfeeding challenges. Although it’s a natural option to feed your baby, who knew there were so many problems that could arise? In the earlier weeks of breastfeeding, many women can find themselves struggling with common issues like low milk supply, clogged ducts, engorgement, or trouble with latching.
Although there's no one clear solution, there's one thing that can help: breast massage. With the variety of proven benefits, breast massage can improve your breast milk quality and promote a better breastfeeding experience overall.
What is breast massage?
Similar to hand expression, breast massage uses simple techniques during breastfeeding to keep breast milk flowing. In cases where a mother experiences clogged ducts frequently or episodes of mastitis, lactation massage can be beneficial. Unfortunately, many mothers weren't shown or taught how to do this effectively. A lactation massager like this one takes the guesswork out of doing it correctly.
Here are 8 reasons why breast massage is so beneficial for breastfeeding mothers:
- Improves the quality of your milk. Research showed that solids, lipids, casein levels, and gross energy increased significantly when the breasts were massaged. The only property that wasn't increased was lactose content, but the milk's overall quality was higher overall. To get the most benefits, start massaging within the first year after delivery.
- Improves breastfeeding letdown. That tingling feeling of a letdown signifies to many new moms that their baby is getting milk after latching on. When letdown takes a long time, your baby can grow frustrated. A lactation massage works to stimulate the milk ducts and speed up letdown, so your baby can get the milk they need. On the other hand, if your letdown is too fast, you can alleviate some of the pressure that's stimulating the breast. This will express some of the milk before your baby latches on, so they won't get too overwhelmed with its volume.
- Reduced pain. Babies can consume more milk if the breast is drained correctly, resulting in less pain for the breastfeeding mother. Massaging the breast also loosens the milk that clogs ducts or causes breast hardening by breaking up the milk in the impacted area. If you're feeling sore, a breast massage can also ease the tension and strain in your muscles, helping you recover faster.
- Increases milk production. A lactation massage helps empty the breast effectively by compressing the ducts and gently moving the milk forward. Not only does it ensure your baby's needs are met today, but it improves milk production in the long term. To do this, you have to nurse frequently and ensure that you're emptying it thoroughly each time. When massage is done alongside regular pumping, it can help improve the supply of milk. Changes in feeding schedules can disrupt milk production and supply. If you plan on breastfeeding or pumping on an extended basis, you'll benefit from breast massage.
- Better latching. If you have a baby with feeding issues or gets sleepy or sluggish at the breast, doing a massage promotes effective latching. Or, if the nipple is too hard, your baby may find it difficult to latch on to. By softening the breast tissue, whether that swelling is from engorgement, a clogged duct, or mastitis, the increase in milk supply will be more accessible for the baby.
- Releases oxytocin. Also known as the feel-good hormone, oxytocin causes the breast's glands to contract and fill the milk ducts, promoting a smoother milk flow. Additionally, it promotes a stronger bond between you and your baby. A lactation massager can help you stimulate the breast and can be done before, during, or after nursing for best results.
- Prevents clogged ducts and mastitis. Milk ducts can experiences blockages. When this happens, mothers often notice a small, tender lump in one breast. If left untreated, it can potentially lead to an infection, also known as mastitis. The good news is you can prevent and loosen these blockages by breastfeeding frequently and massaging the breast to empty it properly.
- Increases lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system helps absorb excess fluid in the cells. This fluid gets transported back to the heart and recirculates throughout the body. The circulation of lymph comes from movement in the muscles, and since the breast has very little of this movement, it's a popular area for this fluid to accumulate. Massage can help improve lymphatic drainage and prevent the liquid from building up again.
Breast massage is effective, simple to do, and can be done at any time of day. If any of the above sounds familiar, consider utilizing a lactation massager. It's a game-changer for breastfeeding moms, and soon, you'll start to notice positive changes in comfort levels during breastfeeding and feel reassured that your baby is getting the nutrients it needs.