Various experts debate the benefits of a lactation massage, including whether or not it’s worth it to get a lactation massage if you’re breastfeeding, as it can potentially assist in the prevention of issues like mastitis or increase your milk supply.
Before you had a child, if you did any research, read any books, or talked to other people who had children, you most likely learned that breastfeeding involves a learning curve. Although it is a more natural way to feed your baby, just remember that “natural” does not always mean “easy,” especially in this context. It’s normal to have some difficulties in the initial stages of breastfeeding, such as plugged ducts, problems with milk supply (too much or too little), engorgement, and issues with the latch or baby positioning.
A lactation massage is one thing that might help with some of the potential challenges that come with breastfeeding, but unfortunately, there is no one magic trick that can solve all of those potential challenges at once. Here is the information that you require.
What Exactly Is a Breastfeeding Massage?
Lactation massage, which is similar to the practice of hand expression, involves employing basic massage techniques during breastfeeding in order to maintain an unrestricted flow of breast milk.
According to Natasha Chinn, FACOG, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist who practices in New Jersey, “There is no definite indication for having a lactation massage for a mother who is breastfeeding without any difficulties.” On the other hand, in situations in which a mother suffers from frequent clogged ducts or frequent episodes of mastitis, then lactation massage might serve a purpose.
According to Dr. Chinn, massaging a clogged duct or another hardened part of the breast can relieve pain and help loosen the clog by helping to break up the milk that is stuck in the impacted area of the breast.
However, that is not the only benefit of getting a lactation massage: According to Amelia Henning, a certified nurse midwife and lactation specialist, it can improve milk production, assist in the overall “transfer” of milk (i.e., the process of getting milk from your breast to your baby), and provide a much-needed boost for mothers who pump their breast milk. All of these benefits can be found at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Is There a Benefit to Breastfeeding Parents Receiving a Lactation Massage?
“We’ve seen massage increase milk supply when it’s done along with pumping,” she says, adding that the skin-to-skin contact that is usually absent when a parent uses a breast pump may play a role in the link between massage and increased supply. “We’ve seen massage increase milk supply when it’s done along with pumping,” she says.
This is of utmost significance for mothers and fathers who continue breastfeeding their children after the newborn stage (for example, once they return to work). Alterations to the breastfeeding schedule, such as increasing the amount of time between feedings or eliminating certain feedings entirely, can potentially contribute to a reduction in the total amount of breast milk produced.
According to Henning, a lactation massage may be the key to success for these parents in successfully breastfeeding their children or pumping breast milk for an extended period of time. It also has the potential to be beneficial for infants who have difficulties with feeding, such as those who become drowsy or lethargic while nursing, as well as those who have trouble latching onto the breast or emptying it while nursing.
How to Give Yourself a Breastfeeding Massage
If you’re thinking about giving a lactation massage a shot, you should know that you can perform it at home even if you haven’t received any specific training; however, there are a few details that you need to keep in mind.
- To begin, place a warm compress on the breast you are going to massage. For example, you can use a washcloth dampened with hot water.
- When you are ready, start by using the tips of your fingers to give a light massage, starting at the top of the breast and working your way down to the nipple. When working over the nipple, you can use circular motions.
- It is important not to press too firmly; if anything causes you pain, you should stop.
According to Henning, “there are a few different massage techniques, and what you’re using it for could have an influence on which technique you choose.” “Moving across the ducts and toward the nipple is the best strategy for unclogging clogged ducts. To stimulate milk production while pumping, you should, if at all possible, use both hands and massage in a downward direction and toward the nipple.”
A lactation massage should never cause pain and should never leave red marks. Regardless of why you choose to use lactation massage, it is important to keep in mind that it should always be comfortable. If your massage is too vigorous, you risk causing minor damage to the tissue, so make an effort to be firm but gentle.
If you feel uneasy or uncertain about your technique, consider scheduling a home visit with a certified lactation consultant. This professional will be able to instruct you on how to use the appropriate technique to address the challenges that are unique to your breastfeeding experience. In any other case, feel free to ask questions when you next speak with your healthcare provider.
According to Dr. Chinn, you should discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing persistent clogged ducts or episodes of mastitis.
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