Does Massage Really Help Breast Engorgement?

physiological 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!

elise fuller

Elise Fuller

Osteopath & Your Two Jugs Co-Founder

Elise is one of Your Two Jugs Co-Founders! She is an Australian registered osteopath, and has been using her hands on skills to teach breastfeeding women about their breast health for most of her working career. Working with breastfeeding women was a surprise adjunct to Elise’s career plans, but has definitely been the most rewarding!