Breast health is one of those things we're not taught to pay much mind to until there’s a reason, whether a cyst needs to be watched or regular mammograms become a reality. Perhaps as women, we aren’t making regular contact with our own breasts because self-examination as a concept has become so institutionalized—a proactive medical measure modern women must take to avoid illness. The pleasure and self-connection of breast massage have been extracted by a culture that rewards speed, productivity, and often frowns upon pleasure for its own sake.
Maybe we can have both: pleasure and prevention. While there isn’t much in the way of research or studies that link precautionary breast massage with medical benefits, it certainly can help you stay ahead of changes in your breasts. “Breast massage is a wonderful way not only to practice self love for a part of our body that comes with a lot of cultural baggage (not big enough, too big, not perky enough, too saggy, etc.), but as an important way to stay aware of any changes in your breast tissue,” Yale-trained women’s health and hormone expert, Aviva Romm, M.D, says on the subject. She also mentioned a shocking fact: Doctors don’t advocate for self-exams as much as they used to because they don’t want to "alarm" women. “I’ve worked with many patients over the past three decades who caught a concerning lump early, that was ultimately missed by a doctor,” Romm explains.
Meet the Expert
Aviva Romm, M.D, is a Yale-trained women's health and hormone expert. She has worked as a midwife, herbalist, and created the first Integrative Medicine program at Yale. She's appeared several times on the Dr. Oz show.
Taking matters into your own hands can literally and figuratively make a difference in your well-being. “Whether preventative or for a more acute need, breast massage is nurturing and healing, and a great way to connect with your body,” natural beauty expert and herbalist Jessa Blades shares. If we had to guess, based on new product offerings, we’d say breast massage is on the rise. And we're here for it.
What You Need
Breast massage can help with lymphatic drainage and physical myofascial release, but adding an oil formulated specifically for breasts can make a difference according to our experts. The three oils below all contain calendula and yarrow, two herbs known to help with lymphatic drainage. “Calendula is a very powerful lymphatic draining herb and good for immune support, plus it is great for sensitive or inflamed skin, making it ideal for breast oils” Migs Domasiute, founder of Blind Tiger, the Philly-based bodywork studio that’s grown a cult following, says. So is yarrow. It can help relieve swollen, tender breasts. “Yarrow flowers and leaves infused in oil promotes fluid flow in the breasts,” she explains.
This small-batch handcrafted oil was created by Domasiute herself. A mission-based endeavor, the breast oil was created to empower women and people with breasts to take better care of themselves. She developed the formula using Ayurvedic principles and her hard-won experience as a bodyworker.
How to Do It
Domasiute recommends doing breast massage after a warm bath or shower, when your skin is still warm and slightly damp. Using a few drops of oil, start to massage your breasts, neck, and chest intuitively. “Make circular motion strokes around them, notice their structure and the way they feel. Remember it,” she says. She also recommends bringing the massage up to your face, eyebrows, temples, and jaw while breathing into it. "After only five minutes of self-massage, you’ll feel more ease and renewed,” she shares. The takeaway? Don’t cleanse or apply body oil without giving your breasts some love. "You’ll feel more connected and whole," Domasiute suggests.
Nadine Artemis, the founder of the 15-year-old brand Living Libations, is one of the most experienced green beauty product formulators in the industry. In her book, Renegade Beauty, Artemis wrote, “Our breast health is a barometer. Breasts are pranic channels; they give and receive life force. Take [massage and natural oils] into consideration for your breasts, and your whole being will benefit.”
Artemis’ favorite breast massage ritual starts with dry brushing and a bath. “I like to first have a dry brush session followed by a hot bath fortified with frankincense,” she said. Similar to Domasiute, she uses breast oil to massage inwards and upwards to stimulate lymphatic drainage and apply the healing powers of plants where they are needed most.
Kari Jansen, the founder of Poppy & Someday, follows Ayurvedic principles to find balance by way of weekly breast massage. “I have an excess of Vata and Pitta doshas, so I love using Poppy and Someday’s Breast oil.”
She starts by warming up the oil and, like the others, massaging the breasts using circular motions. “Then I look for any blocked lymph nodes and pulse on the node until it releases,” she said. It takes a trained hand, but Jansen says she can tell when lymph nodes are blocked when they feel sore or dried and rock-like in texture. When they release they will feel soft and supple, she said.
So, notice your body and include your breasts instead of skipping them over. Self-breast massage doesn’t take long—five minutes is all you need to feel good, tune in, and get to know your body.