Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world. So, who knew there were so many things about it that new moms should know? If you have done research or spoken to someone who has already had children, you will know that there are quite a number of problems that can arise due to breastfeeding. From milk production issues, such as producing too little or too much, to plugged milk ducts, all new mothers will need to know how to handle whatever comes their way.
While each may have its own remedy, one trick will help to keep most of these breastfeeding problems in check: a lactation massage. While it may seem like something you will need to call a professional for, it is not. A lactation massage is so simple that you can do it yourself. All you need is a slight bit of guidance and you will be able to take care of yourself. There is nothing better than finding a home remedy that does not require any medication.
What is a Lactation Massage?
Lactation massages are often done after a woman has delivered and experiences engorgement of the breasts. The massage technique is the same as a normal breast massage, but it has many benefits for a mother who is lactating. Breast massage for milk production is one of the main reasons why women are advised to indulge in these massages.
Benefits of a Lactation Massage
Breast massages are good for any woman for health reasons. From taking care of sore muscles to being able to easily identify any breast tumours, all women should add a breast massage to their daily routine. For lactating mothers, however, it is vital. Here are some benefits of Lactation Massage for breastfeeding mothers:
1. Healthier Milk
A study done on breastfeeding mothers showed that mothers who received a thirty-minute massage twice a day experienced that the sodium levels in their breast milk had reduced. There was also increased levels of lipids, solids, gross energy and casein. The only thing that showed no signs of change was the content of lactose in breast milk.
2. Reduced Pain
In the study, it also showed that the mothers who had been given the massages experienced less pain while breastfeeding. Their babies were also able to consume more milk as it was easier for them to drain the breast. During your daily lactation massage, the milk that clogs ducts or causes any breast hardening gets loosened. This will help things to flow smoothly again, and will also relieve any pain caused by clogged ducts.
3. Better Milk Flow
Studies have shown that a massage while breastfeeding works well to empty out the milk ducts and stimulate more milk production. A good lactation massage can help to produce Oxytocin, which helps in relaxing the milk duct muscles.
4. Better Latching
Babies find it difficult to latch on to the nipples when they are too hard. Nipple massage for lactation will help in softening the breast and ensuring that it is much easier for your baby to latch on.
5. Prevention of Saggy Breasts and Stretch Marks
Breastfeeding can take a toll on the appearance of the breast. As the breast gets bigger while nursing, you can develop stretch marks after it has to go back to its regular size when you are done with your breastfeeding period. A massage with cold-pressed oils such as olive, coconut or almond oil, can help to solve this problem. A gentle massage will help the blood start circulating. The breasts need a bit of help to get the blood flowing, even on a normal basis. This is because while the rest of the body may get movement daily, your breasts do not really move. Getting the blood flowing is said to help in retaining the youth of the body as well.
How to Perform a Breast Massage for Lactation
Breast massage for lactation can be done quite easily. While it may sound like there are complicated steps involved, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Here is a step by step instructions on how you can do it at home:
1. Warm Your Hands
You will need to first ensure your hands are warm. This can be done by using a heated towel. Once your hands are nicely warmed up, you will need to start with the lymph glands in the armpits. Pumping the lymph glands will get your blood flowing.
You will need a lubricant of some sort while you do the massage. Apply virgin coconut or olive oil. Almond oil is another great choice. If you want to apply lotions, you will need to use a natural and organic lotion while breastfeeding.
3. Be Gentle
While it might be tempting to use force, it is best to use gentle motions and not press very hard while you are performing your massage. If you press too hard, you will damage your glandular tissue. The glandular tissue is the part that makes the milk, so it is important you take care. If you don’t feel any pain, then you are doing it well.
4. Use Kneading Motions
Gently start to knead the breast in a circle. You can use flat hands, fists, and even your fingertips to massage the area properly.
5. Use Your Fingertips on the Areola
The fingertips work well around the pigmented area around your nipple. This is called the “areola”
6. Rhythmic Massage
A rhythmic massage using circular motions, along with hand expression, work well together. This can also be done with a pump instead of hand expression. Hand expression is simply using your hands to drain your breast of milk rather than having your baby do it or by using a pump. This was the only way mothers could pump milk themselves before the invention of breast pumps.
7. Light Strokes
If you have fluid retention in your breasts, using light strokes will help to relive that. They help with reducing any inflammation you have and promote better circulation.
8. Watch Out for This Sign
Once you start to feel a warmth start to spread in your breasts, you know that your massage is working. This means that the flow of blood has increased in the breasts. Good blood circulation in the breasts is very important as it will help to keep things moving well.
9. Try it During a Bath
These breast massages can be done during your bath as well. Soap can be used as a lubricant. Most women are more relaxed in the bath, so it is a great time to do it.
If you are suffering from any of the ailments mentioned above, you should consider giving yourself a lactation massage. A simple breast massage to induce lactation can be tried before taking any medication for the same. You can do it at any time of the day that you feel comfortable. You can massage your breast after breastfeeding or do it during a relaxing bath. As long as you are getting it done at least once a day, you will start to notice a positive change to your breastfeeding and comfort level during the same. Caring for a little one can be very stressful and it is one of the most important things a mother can do. However, if you want to give your baby your best, you will need to take care of yourself as well.