Breast massage is a controversial topic in the U.S. Some massage therapists advocate for healthy touch of adipose tissue to be made legal, yet breast massage is illegal in most areas. New research indicates breast massage for postpartum mothers helps relieve breast pain, decreases breast-milk sodium and improves newborn suckling.

For this study, 60 postpartum mothers who were admitted to a postpartum care center and had problems with breastfeeding were recruited, according to an abstract published on Mean age of postpartum mothers was 30 years old.

Of these mothers, 44 were assigned to the intervention group and received two 30-minute breast massages within 10 days of postpartum period. The others were assigned control group and received only routine care, the abstract noted.

Breast pain was measured using a numeric pain scale and number of times newborns suckled was observed throughout breastfeeding. Breast milk was self-collected to evaluate breast-milk sodium.

Compared to the control group, women in the intervention group reported significant decreases in breast pain, increases in number of times newborns suckled after the first and second massage, and a decrease in breast-milk sodium after the first massage, according to the abstract.

“Breast massage may have effects on relieving breast pain, decreasing breast-milk sodium, and improving newborn suckling. Breast massage can be used to solve breast problems,” the investigators noted.

This study was conducted by the investigators at the College of Nursing, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Korea and was published in the Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing (2011 Aug;41(4):451-9. doi: 10.4040/jkan.2011.41.4.451.)

Massage therapists should check their local and state regulations to determine if breast massage is within their scope of practice.