It's totally natural for women to go through periods of low milk supply during her breastfeeding journey. It can happen to anyone and, usually, it's not something that should alarm you. But that doesn't make it any less annoying to be short on liquid gold. Thankfully, there are many ways to get back on track and boost milk production — like using your hands. Although you can use a pump, knowing how to massage your breast to produce more milk is helpful if you ever find yourself sans pump.
Breast massages are often a neglected topic of conversation in society, thanks to the taboos around "touching yourself." But breast massages are important for a number of health reasons. According to a 2012 study out of Berkeley, breast massages and gentle squeezing was found to put breast cells back on track of normal growth, thereby preventing breast cancer. Additionally, if you've had any type of breast surgery massaging the breast can be helpful in managing pain. I had a breast biopsy and gently massaging the area was crucial to lessening the throbbing in such a sensitive area.
As for breastfeeding women, the advantages of self boob rubs are plenty. "Breast massage has many benefits including increased output, less risk of clogs, and less engorgement pain, to name a few," Tori Sproat, author and international board certified lactation consultant with Tiny Tummy Lactation Services, tells Romper. She believes the lymphatic drainage technique pioneered by world-renown international board certified lactation consultant, Maya Bolman, is one of the best approaches to help milk production. Sproat explains the method in a series of two simple steps. First, you lay on your back and knead your breasts. Then you use olive oil or coconut oil to massage in smooth strokes towards your armpits.
"This is a lymphatic drainage point and will help move the edema out of your breasts and filter it through your body," Sproat says. "The result? The swelling goes down, there's less pressure on the ducts, and milk moves more freely." There is also a video to help you get the hang of it, which Sproat recommends. The results are pretty amazing.
The other part of this breast massage that comes later in the video concentrates on the nipple. "You take the pads of your thumb and middle finger and place them just on the inner edge of your areola," Leigh Anne O'Connor, an international board certified lactation consultant, tells Romper. She explains that you should, "put pressure as though you are going to touch your rib cage." "Imagine there is ink on your thumb – you roll your thumb towards your nipple as though you would make a thumbprint –not a smudge," she says. You repeat this technique until you have enough milk for the moment.
Whether you massage your own breast or you enlist the help of a lactation consultant or partner, it's important that you at least learn how to do it on your own. That way if you're ever in a situation alone where you need to relieve pain or engorgement, or get things flowing at 3 a.m., you'll know exactly what to do.