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Lactation Massage: An Ancient Tradition

Updated: Feb 4, 2023

  • What is Lactation Massage?

Lactation Massage is referred to as “Breastmilk Promoting techniques ” in China. These techniques have been developed and used for more than two thousand years. These techniques combine the knowledge of acupoints, meridians, Chinese traditional Tuina Massage, and other TCM technical methods. These techniques in practice are some of the most important postpartum care procedures during the first 3-6 months after birth. Lactation Massage can solve most problems during breastfeeding such as low milk supply, milk stasis, breast tenderness, breast pain, milk duct obstruction, and acute mastitis. Lactation massage for new mothers ensures a happy and healthy breastfeeding experience for both the new mother and baby.

  • Why Lactation Massage?

Lactation massage is primarily used to aid the production of milk within mammary glands, so that the newborn child has a constant supply of milk available. Lactation massages also help mothers to be relieved of painful and uncomfortable breast engorgement, blocked milk ducts. Regular sessions of a lactation massage help to reduce the frequency of a woman experiencing pain and soreness, prevent mastitis.

  • When should you receive Lactation Massage?

Lactation Massage is highly recommended starting from 37 weeks of pregnancy.

The entire technique system is including 5 categories in different stages:

1. Preparation (37 weeks – Birth)

Treatment Goals:

To open up channels and milk ducts, reduce soreness and tenderness on breasts.

Cupping Therapy for Inverted / Flat Nipple

2. Opening (Birth- 5 days after birth)

Treatment Goals:

To trigger the mother's hormones release and hand express colostrum, help with baby's good latch.

The first hour after birth is the most critical time for breastfeeding, which can affect your overall breastfeeding experience. The first lactation massage after birth should happen as soon as possible, but no later than the 5th day after birth. When a new mother’s breasts are engorged, lactation massage can help with lymphatic drainage, to remove extra fluid on your chest, and help with let-downs.

3. Promotion and Dredge (5 days after birth – 4-6 weeks postpartum)

Treatment Goals:

To increase milk supply and flow, nipple stimulation, help to release oxytocin and prolactin.

4. Clogged milk ducts treatment (During breastfeeding period)

Treatment Goals:

To clear lumps and clogged milk ducts, prevent mastitis; maintain good breastmilk flow for nursing or pumping.

5. Weaning

Treatment Goals:

To reduce fullness and firm sensation, reduce breastmilk production gradually and dry out milk supply.

Q: If a breastfeeding woman is planning to receive lactation massage only once, when is the best timing?

A: Please receive lactation massage within 5 days after birth and when she has started to experience engorgement.

  • How can Lactation Massage help with a baby’s latching?

When a newborn come to the new world, the first challenge is to learn how to latch and suck. Breastfeeding is a team effort between the mother and the newborn baby. In Chinese Traditional Medicine, breastmilk flow is believed to play the most important role in breastfeeding. In ancient China, there were no procedures or surgeries available to treat a baby’s tongue lie or lip tie issues. Ancient Chinese practitioners took advantage of the breastmilk promoting techniques, which make breasts are the easiest condition to latch on and suck. These techniques prove to be invaluable even in today’s modern world.

Lactation Massage with Acupuncture Points

These special techniques can increase the flow and let milk sprays reach to baby’s throat easily. When a mother practice and get the skills to hand express breastmilk by herself, she can see milk come out like a fountain, instead of drops. If a mother’s breasts can be in the best condition to nurse, it will be much easier for a newborn. When milk flow is slow or blocked, baby may bite or pull on the nipple. When milk flow is not continuous or changing speed regularly, the baby may also get tired and sleepy.

Let’s think about drinking a cup of tea or coffee by a straw. If there are ice pieces or tea leaves stuck inside the straw, you need to suck harder to draw out the liquid. This is a similar situation in breastfeeding. A baby can be very sensitive, a minor blockage within the milk ducts could become a big struggle for the little one. If the breastmilk flow is good, baby can get milk easily and consistently without too much effort. In this situation the mother will have a satisfied breastfeeding experience.

  • Pro Tip:

When Lactation Massage is done in combination with full body postpartum massage, the combined massages can help activate the production of hormones such as oxytocin and prolactin throughout the body. The process of breastfeeding your child triggers the release of oxytocin and prolactin hormones, which is responsible for making a mother feel a stronger sense of nurturing towards the baby, while higher levels of oxytocin in the body helps the healing process of making the uterus contract and return to its normal size.

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