Breast massage is a tool you can use for many purposes, from identifying breast cancer and relieving muscle aches to improving your breastfeeding experience. Even just 15 minutes of massage can be enough to reap the benefits.
You can perform a breast massage on yourself. There are very few risks involved, so you can do it as often as you like. Here is more information about why you might want to massage your breasts, how to do it, and when you can see your doctor.
Why do women massage their breasts?
There is increasing research suggesting that breast massage can have many benefits for lactating women. For example, in one study, a group of new nursing mothers received two 30-minute breast massages within 10 days of delivery. Compared to the control group that did not receive the message, these mothers experienced less breast pain while feeding.
Not only that, but her babies also suckled more from the breast and the milk itself contained less sodium.
In a 2004 study, researchers found that breast massage significantly increased the quality of breast milk when it was performed in the first year after delivery. The parts of the liquid that got better with the massage included:
- casein concentration
- gross energy
The most excellent benefits were observed between the first day and 11 months after delivery. The only property of milk that did not change in the early or late lactation period was lactose content.
Breast massage can also help improve milk flow. An earlier study from 1994 suggests that the combination of sucking and massaging works both to empty the milk ducts and to encourage the production of more milk.
Massage can also help prevent and treat problems such as congestion, clogged milk ducts, or mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue.
Early identification of breast cancer
Breast self-exams and massages are ways to identify breast cancer in its early stages. According to a Trustource Source study, about 25 percent of women end up detecting their breast cancer through a self-exam. Another 18 percent discover cancer by accident.
Detecting cancer in the early stages can improve your outcome, so it’s a good idea to include it in your routine.
Improvement of the appearance of the breasts
Some people try breast massage as a way to improve the appearance of sagging breasts. The belief is that it can increase blood flow to breast tissue through massage. Others use specific oils, such as olive oil, in an attempt to help improve skin firmness and elasticity.
The most significant evidence for this is anecdotal. But in one study, researchers found that gravity streaks, more commonly known as stretch marks, can be prevented by massaging the skin with oil.
As part of the study, pregnant women were asked to apply bitter almond oil to their bodies without massage or to rub their bodies for 15 minutes a day using almond oil.
At the end of the study, women who used the oil and massage together had fewer stretch marks. Almond oil alone did not provide many benefits.
Your breast tissue extends to the area under the armpit. There are many lymph nodes in this part of the body, and massaging them can help stimulate your lymphatic system.
Your lymphatic system is responsible for maintaining your body flush out toxins. If you had surgery on your lymph nodes, you might experience a buildup of waste fluids called lymphedema. You may also hear this type of breast massage called manual lymphatic drainage.
According to ResearchTrusted Source, more than 1 in 5 people with breast cancer develop lymphedema. Symptoms include swelling in the arm, breast, or chest. It usually results from surgery or radiation.
Standard treatment often involves the use of compression to relieve swelling.
A 2004 study examined the combination of bandaging and massage to treat breast-related lymphedema. The researchers found that adding massages showed more significant improvement than just the bandage.
Even if you don’t have lymphedema, breast massage can help remove toxins trapped in the lymphatic system.
If you feel sore, breast massage can also help ease tension in your chest muscles. These muscles are called the pecs. You may participate in activities, exercises, or sports that tighten these muscles.
The pecs are shaped like triangles and rest under the breasts. If you develop back strain, you can also compensate for this by stretching your chest muscles.
Chest massage can provide longer-lasting relaxation than massaging the back alone. If you just rub your back, your brain will still feel the tension in your chest when your session ends.
As a result, the brain can send tension to the back to rebalance the forces in the two areas of your body.
How to perform breast massages
The massage method you use may vary depending on the benefits you want to receive.
There is not necessarily a right or wrong way to massage your breasts for breastfeeding. Massage can be used with or without hand expression. Hand expression is the use of your hand to express breast milk, rather than through a pump or breastfeeding.
Follow these steps:
- Concentrate on one breast at a time. Place four fingers of one hand on the top of the chest and four digits of the other hand on the bottom. Massage in a circular pattern. This can feel better if you have warm hands.
- Move your attention to the sides of your breasts, continuing in a circular pattern. You may even want to make fists with your hands and gently roll or knead the breast.
- Try using your fingertips to touch and massage your breasts as well.
- If you want to express by hand, place your index finger behind the base of the nipple. Pinch your fingers together as you gently apply pressure to the breast, push the milk into the nipple, and express (express) the breast milk. Adjust your position as necessary. Squeezes rhythmically, to the rhythm of a heartbeat.
- Expression of the hand before and after pumping can also help you empty your breasts.
For cancer detection
- If you are checking your breasts for signs of cancer, it is essential to remember that your chest actually extends below your armpit. Be sure to check the entire breast, including the nipple, areola, and this extended area.
As you do this, tell your partner about any lumps or bumps that they feel as well.
Follow these steps:
- Stand in front of a mirror and do a visual check of your breasts. Look for size differences, color changes, or shape differences. Place your hands at your sides, then over your hips, and then over your head to see from different angles.
- While still looking in the mirror, place one hand behind your head and place three fingers on your breast. Move your fingers in small circles over the breast tissue. Apply a light, medium, and intense pressure as you walk with your fingers to cover all areas.
- Move your fingers to the area under the armpit and continue with small circles while walking with your fingers.
- Repeat the massage on the other breast.
- Finish your massage by squeezing each nipple to look for any discharge or pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.
For the appearance of the breasts
- Again, there are few formal studies to suggest that breast massage changes the appearance of the breasts. Still, there is evidence that massaging the breasts with oil can help prevent stretch marks, at least in pregnant women. It can also be beneficial in other ways.
The researchers suggest starting massage with almond oil in early pregnancy for 15 minutes each day. Only 20 percent of the women who followed this regimen developed stretch marks.
In the control group, 41 percent of the women had stretch marks, so this method cut the incidence in half.
For lymphatic drainage
Lymphatic drainage massage begins with the axillary area under the arms. This is where you can feel the lymph nodes under your skin.
Continue the massage by moving upward clockwise in the right breast and counterclockwise in the left chest. This mimics the direction of the lymphatic system.
A practitioner can use both hands to gently apply pressure with light strokes around the breast and armpits. After completing the circle, your doctor may remove the breast multiple times with both sides.
You can also try this type of massage on your own. You can even feel the nodes drain under your touch. If you have had recent surgeries or other problems, it may be best to leave this type of massage to professionals.
For muscle tension
Massaging the breasts and chest muscles is similar, but slightly different. With breast massage, the nipple is often involved. This is not the case with the intimate massage.
When dealing with chest muscles, a massage therapist can focus more on the three areas where these muscles join the body. While you may be able to relieve tension yourself, a licensed massage therapist may be able to manipulate your flesh for the most relief better.
If you feel uncomfortable having a stranger massage this area, that’s understandable. A professional should first inform you if you plan to massage your chest and then request your consent. Breast massage is not a normal part of professional massage.
For people with medical conditions who need help with lymphatic damage, tell your doctor about your plans to receive a breast massage.
Are there any risks?
There are not many risks associated with breast massage.
If you have had breast cancer or surgery on your breasts, you may want to be careful of lumps, scars, or areas that have recently received radiation. In these cases, it may be best to seek breast massage from a licensed massage therapist.
If you suspect you may have mastitis, make an appointment with your doctor. Massage can help, but you may also need medicine to cure the infection.
Mastitis often develops in the first months after delivery. Other symptoms may include fever, pain, swelling, an
Conclusion of breast message
Breast massage can alleviate a variety of conditions, from clogged milk ducts to sore muscles. It can even save your life. In general, it is safe to try breast massage on your own.
However, if it concerns specific medical problems, it may be a better idea to consult a professional for regular care. And if you notice any new lumps or other changes in your breasts, tell your doctor as soon as possible to rule out cancer.