If you have a blockage – it can be anywhere within the duct – the duct is small, superficial and fragile. It is very unlikely you will move hardened milk through that small duct and through the even smaller ducts in the nipple. By massaging you may damage your duct, and if you squeeze milk anywhere it will be out into the rest of your breast tissue – this can cause an acute, often severe inflammatory process, making things WORSE!
If you get a blocked duct or mastitis – you may be told, or read it is best to massage the blockage . It is NOT – here is WHY?
If your breast is already tender and/or red, it is already inflamed – Massage will stimulate more inflammation and make the process WORSE!
However, there are massage techniques that work. When we ( Physiotherapists ) use massage to treat your blocked ducts and/or mastitis we are using a few physiological mechanisms:
1. We use lymphatic drainage techniques – along side each duct in your breast are lymph vessels – we rely on our lymphatic system to move unwanted fluid out of our body via our lymph nodes.
2. We mobilise the fascia – there is connective tissue throughout your breast – connective tissue can get stiff and potentially compress your ducts.
3. Lastly a researcher Yokohama and colleagues back in the 90’s found that correct breast massage increases the levels of oxytocin in your blood – We rely on oxytocin to eject the milk out of our ducts and into babies mouth.
The message – HANDS OFF – Unless a Physiotherapists has taught you the correct technique! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us! (P) 93871011