One of the great things about starting a family in Germany is the abundance of midwives. Midwives are a normal part of every pregnancy and birth in Germany. It’s actually a law here that a midwife must be present at every birth whether it be at a hospital, birthing house or a home birth. Midwives are available for all pregnant women and women who have just had babies (They are even available to women who have just adopted babies!)
Recently I’ve talked to a few mom friends in the states and been surprised to find out that they weren’t aware of some of the very simple tips that the midwife has given me. I even googled remedies to see what was out there and didn’t find anything near as useful.
So here it is: For the last nine months, I have experienced what I call “a hard boob,” about a million times. Well maybe not a million, more like once a week in the beginning and once every couple of weeks these days. It simply means that one of the milk ducts in the breast has become blocked and painful. Here is the remedy from the midwife that has worked again and again for me.
clean thin kitchen towel or piece of cotton fabric
a few small potatoes
quark or cottage cheese
Boil a few small potatoes and mash them.
Spread your clean kitchen towel or thin piece of cloth out on the counter. Put a large spoon full of the potatoes on the towel. You can spread them into a horizontal line if your entire breast is hard. Then roll the towel around the potatoes a few times- it should look like a snake. Lay the potato snake around your entire breast (with the nipple in the middle). If you only have one area of soreness you can simply put a spoon full in the middle of the towel and mash it flat. Fold the towel in such a way that the potatoes don’t fall out.You don’t want to have too many layers between your skin and the potatoes. You want to feel the warmth but you don’t want to burn yourself. I have tried using plastic wrap but it wasn’t as effective as having warm potatoes directly in the towel and then on the skin. Use your nursing bra to hold your towel/potato packet in place and be careful that it isn’t too hot. Leave it on your breast until its not warm anymore. After that, remove the potato towel and massage the hard part of your breast a little bit. Next, nurse your baby or use the breast pump to get the milk out.
After you nurse or pump you can use something cooling to relieve the pain and inflammation a little bit. This will also help to get things back to normal a bit quicker. We use Quark here as a pain reliever and inflammation reducer. Quark is a soft cheese but I have heard that cottage cheese will work similarly if you are in the US and have no access to Quark.
Apply the quark the same way you applied the potatoes. Some of the wetness of the quark or the cottage cheese will come through the towel and that is good and helpful.
When a block duct occurs, I go through this routine a few times throughout the day. It gets progressively better and is usually gone the next day. I would recommend starting as soon as your boob feels hard. I have been lucky using this technique and it has never progressed to mastitis.
Please let me know if this works for you and feel free to share any of your nursing or baby remedies.