Breastfeeding and Pumping Issues? Physical Therapy Can Help!

Breastfeeding and Pumping Issues? Physical Therapy Can Help!

When we think about the available options for breastfeeding support, a few professionals immediately come to mind: lactation consultants, midwives and physicians. One specialty that you may have not considered is the physical therapist!

Valley’s Rehabilitation Department and Lactation Consultants recently partnered to provide evidence-based physical therapy treatment for issues with breastfeeding and/or pumping to provide our community with even more support.

It is estimated that up to two-thirds of people experience clogged ducts during their time breastfeeding or pumping (1). A study published in Japan noted that 71 percent of women reported neck and/or shoulder pain in the postpartum period with time spent breastfeeding as a prevalent factor (2). These are common difficulties that can affect the breastfeeding and pumping relationship. Luckily, Valley offers a multitude of services to address these issues.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

With a referral from a midwife, OB/GYN or primary care provider, Physical Therapists can assess and treat common postpartum issues associated with breastfeeding and pumping such as:

Pain (neck, shoulder, arm and/or back pain) associated with breastfeeding and pumping. Treatment includes:

  • Complete evaluation
  • Modalities as indicated
  • Manual therapy
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Breastfeeding and pumping position education

Clogged Ducts. Treatment includes:

  • ◦​​​​​​​​Evaluation of the breast as well as upper extremity range of motion
  • Therapeutic ultrasound
  • Manual therapy
  • Breastfeeding and pumping position education
  • Self-massage education

Our goal, as part of the multidisciplinary team, is to support a successful breastfeeding and pumping experience using evidence-based treatments and education as part of Valley’s dedication to being a Baby Friendly Hospital.

The Rehabilitation Department at Valley Medical Center is proud to offer services by specialized Physical Therapists for patients during and following their pregnancies. Please call 425.251.5165 for more information.

By Janelle Trippany, DPT, CLT-LANA, PRPC, Rehabilitation Services


(1) Lavigne V, Gleberzon BJ. Ultrasound as a treatment of mammary blocked duct among 25 postpartum lactating women: a retrospective case series. J Chiropr Med. 2012;11(3):170–178. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2012.05.011
(2) Koyasu K, Kinkawa M, Ueyama N, Tanikawa Y, Adachi K, Matsuo H. The prevalence of primary neck and shoulder pain, and its related factors in Japanese postpartum women. Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol. 2015;42(1):5-10. PubMed PMID: 25864273.

About The Author

Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office