If you’re 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 8+ showers/baths a day when you’ve got a tiny human to feed and a life to live?
Moist heat is the most widely prescribed remedy for almost every kind of breastfeeding issue, from mastitis, clogged ducts, engorgement, low milk supply, slow let-down, nipple blebs, nipple pain, and so much more.
What is Moist Heat?
Moist heat is just applying warm water to reduce inflammation and pain, and to stimulate circulation and speed up the healing process. Sounds easy enough, right? Until we brought our Breast Relief Packs to market, applying moist heat was anything but easy. Now, you can get all the benefits of moist heat while performing any task, and clothes stay dry.
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 supply, 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 more deeply than dry heat, which increases circulation and speeds up healing. 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 when she starts breastfeeding a new baby (she has 4). 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, and preventing the stasis of milk. Also, slow letdown and/or poor milk flow are frustrations faced by many breastfeeding moms. Moist heat 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 is not 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 most common advice 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 reusable 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. Show me a breastfeeding mom that 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 when 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.
We 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 Breast Relief Packs, for easy, on-the-go, hands-free relief.