Breast massage during pregnancy
Claire Nutt – Mother and massage therapist
Breast massage is perhaps the least discussed aspect of massage generally. Here in the UK discretion is always maintained in spas and therapy rooms, our breasts are covered, our decency protected from exposure. Regarding self-massage, our more common go-to areas tend to be our hands, feet, shoulders, and pregnant belly.
There are great benefits and multi-benefits of breast massage; it can become ting, it can be sexy, it can be a calming, facilitate the application of skin nourishing oils. Breast massage is a lovely way to connect with your changing body in pregnancy, to stimulate the hormones you need for birth and can be a key element in preparing for breastfeeding, encouraging let down and expressing breast milk and as part of pregnancy and birth recovery.
As a massage therapist and midwife, I am possibly more touchy-feely than some. However, I can assure you that my first pregnancy 15 years ago was full of nervousness and unsurity. My growing body felt initially unfamiliar. My breasts were rapidly changing from a flat chest to ample motherly bosom, which was not missed on me. In honesty, it was something I had wanted for a long time, I was excited, but it was interesting how unprepared I was for these obvious changes.
I began to use a lot of self-massage techniques in pregnancy. After attending hypnobirthing and NHS antenatal classes I enthusiastically engaged in hand massage, bump massage, perineal massage, growing in familiarity with the feeling of kneading, stroking, stretching, getting to know my shapes in an engaged and different way than I ever had before. It seemed to be the right thing to do. I had read the books; I had a website emailing me guides and recommendations. Massage felt good. I found myself massaging my pregnant bump almost religiously, every day. I loved how touch connected me to my baby, pressing in and feeling those tiny yet bold movements back. I felt like I was taking care.
The breast massage aspect of pregnancy massage evolved from here really. My bump massage began to move into bump and breast massage. I had noticed that growing a baby had gifted boobs. Big, tender, ample, and pillowy boobs. I was leaning into newfound womanliness and a sense of maternity, growing into my new body mentally and physically, even though at times tinted with nervousness around the upcoming unknown. My breasts were new to me, they looked amazing yet felt uncomfortable, strange, and attracting a different kind of gaze. They changed colour, sometimes leaked and veins became much more clear as birth became closer. My confidence in touching myself, I now see looking back, facilitated a greater sense of calm, confidence, and connection.
Breast massage was not just a useful tool perinatally, however. As my life has unfolded, it has been a key part of my life toolbox; Firstly, I have a strong history of breast cancer in my family, therefore checking my breasts has been a necessity for many years. Confidence with massage has honed my skills in noticing lumps and changes, and on occasion prompted further checks with my GP and local breast care clinic.
Secondly, as I head towards perimenopause and the delights these changes bring, breast massage strengthens a holistic sense and sensitivity to my body, mind and hormonal changes, an adept way of facilitating control and acceptance in being my own skin.
Massage has enabled me to bond with my body through the most significant phases of my life and will continue to be a part of my rhythm and routine. Exploring my physicality through breast massage as a focused touch has helped me to feel more connected and ready for birth and breast
feeding and this developing sense of familiarity has led to a better understanding since of my body and its cyclical changes as time has moved strongly on.