If you’re currently facing a breastfeeding challenge, chances are someone has recommended the benefits of moist heat to help solve your problem. And if you’re currently breastfeeding, chances are you ignored that advice because who has the time or ability to go shirtless for hours every day holding a dripping wet washcloth in place? Or who has the time to take 5+ showers/baths a day when you’ve got a human to feed and a life to live?
I invented Rachel’s Remedy to make moist heat/cooling relief hands free and easy for breastfeeding moms (more on my personal story here), but before I could leave my job as a lawyer and dedicate my life to this company, I had to do my research. I had to be certain moist heat is the absolute best therapy for nursing moms. Below is some information I’ve gathered while researching moist heat that might help you understand why it’s the most widely prescribed therapy for common breastfeeding problems.
What is Moist Heat?
Moist heat is the application of warm water to reduce inflammation and pain, and to stimulate circulation. Warm water can be applied directly (bath or shower), through steam (steam room, steamy bathroom), or moist towels/pads (Buy Rachel’s Remedy Relief Packs here).
Moist heat is recommended for a huge range of problems, and it’s the gold-standard for relieving the most common issues that can come up at any point during breastfeeding. These problems include engorgement, mastitis, clogged ducts, milk blebs, low milk flow, slow let-down, as well as general discomfort and soreness.
Why does it Work?
The science behind it is actually pretty simple. Heat in general, moist or dry, helps a lot of different types of aches and pains, but moist heat works best because of its ability to penetrate the skin and warm up the affected area faster. A rapid rise in skin temperature increases blood circulation to the targeted area, and increased circulation is what encourages healing as well as stimulation for faster let-down and increased milk flow. In other words, moist heat takes advantage of the body’s self-healing capabilities and simply speeds up the process.
Does Every Breastfeeding Mom Need Moist Heat Therapy?
Probably. Some moms have more problems breastfeeding than others. For example, I have a friend who gets mastitis at least once every time she starts breastfeeding a new baby. Most women deal with painful engorgement when their milk starts coming in after childbirth, and many times after - for various reasons including irregular feeding or pumping schedules. This can cause milk to sit in a duct for too long, and can result in clogged milk ducts or mastitis. Moist heat can actually prevent mastitis by relieving clogged ducts, milk blebs and engorgement, preventing the stasis of milk. Also, slow letdown and/or poor milk flow are frustrations faced by many breastfeeding moms. Moist heat therapy is what helps problems like these and chances are, most breastfeeding moms are going to face at least one of those problems while breastfeeding.
Are there Alternatives to Moist Heat?
No. Nothing is as effective as moist heat. Dry heat can help, but as explained above, it isn’t nearly as fast or effective as moist heat.
Frequent nursing is the best way to avoid a lot of these common problems. Self-massage can often help, but is recommended in conjunction with moist heat therapy for the most effective treatment. For example, massage and moist heat together brings fast relief for clogged ducts. The same goes for faster letdown and increased milk flow.
What Are my Moist Heat Options?
Until now, the commonly prescribed therapy has been to hold a warm wet towel against your breast(s) or take warm baths throughout the day until the problem you’re dealing with clears up. I’ve been there, done that - and that’s why our FDA-cleared Rachel’s Remedy Breastfeeding Relief Packs exist. A dripping wet towel prevents you from doing...anything. You literally have to sit there with no clothes or bra on, holding a dripping wet cloth in place. It gets cold every 15 seconds and constantly needs reheating. Or take warm baths. Lots of them. What breastfeeding mom has time for that?!
I recommend that every breastfeeding mom or mom-to-be keep our Relief Packs on hand from the moment you start breastfeeding so that you’ll have them accessible if any of these issues crop up.
Some precautions to note.
Always consult with your doctor if you are experiencing a fever and any flu-like symptoms. This could be a sign of mastitis that requires antibiotics and can be very serious. Never apply moist heat to open wounds or irritated skin - check with your doctor first.
Sure, I wish breastfeeding were as simple and easy as “it’s the most natural thing in the world” makes it sound - but problems arise - so for those times when you need comfort, relief and convenience check out our Breastfeeding Relief Packs for easy, on-the-go, hands-free relief.
Buy Rachel's Remedy Breastfeeding Relief Packs here.