How Massage Impacts Engorgement

There’s many self-remedies mamas can try for breast engorgement during breastfeeding, including massage. But does massage really help breast engorgement? Let’s explore.
Engorgement can be split up into two types; Physiological & Pathological.

Physiological Engorgement

When milk starts to come in after giving birth, this can cause the breasts to swell and overfill. The breasts become heavy with milk, and also lots of blood flow and general fluid retention in the area. This is a new and fast moving time for your breast tissue, so your body can take a few days to cope with these new changes. Physiological engorgement often occurs between days 2-5 post-partum, and can last for a couple of weeks.

Pathological Engorgement

This type of engorgement occurs at any time during your breastfeeding journey and is often as a result of lack of milk drainage causing some local swelling. This could be for a number of reasons, including a tight bra, or a missed or delayed feed and so on.

Whilst both types of engorgement occur at different stages and may differ in the cause behind them, the management is exactly the same. Why? Because our ONLY goal here is to move fluid along. Whether that is to deal with ALL the different fluids building up in the breast, or just the milk flow in general.

This is where massage can be helpful for breast engorgement. If we look into the history of massage, it’s a hands on tool to promote blood flow to an area & to relieve tension and pain. In this case, the tension is caused by a buildup of fluid. So by massaging, we are assisting the body in removing fluid away from the site of tension.

Blood flow is also promoted to the area. Blood plays an important role in bringing new oxygen and nutrients around the body, and to bring healing cells to the area if needed.

Massage helps to break up the congestion in the area, allowing more space for milk to flow smoothly. So don’t under estimate the power that specific massage techniques can give you when you are dealing with engorgement!

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Author: Elise Fuller

Osteopath & Your Two Jugs Co-Founder

your two jugs co-founders

Elise Fuller & Katie Willy

Osteopaths & Your Two Jugs Co-Founders

Elise & Katie are Melbourne based osteopaths who have been actively treating breastfeeding women in clinic since 2015. During 2020 lockdown they launched their company Your Two Jugs to educate more women about how to treat their own breastfeeding conditions. Their online video based course, Boobology, is available now with heaps of education and hands on techniques to teach women the do’s & don’ts for mastitis, blocked ducts & engorgement. More recently, Your Two Jugs launched a full health care practitioner course, called The Boob Hero, to educate manual therapists on their contribution to supporting breastfeeding women with hands on care. Empowerment all starts with education, and the more support available for women, the better.