The Haakaa hack involves a manual pump and 15 minutes of your time.
I've been either pregnant or exclusively pumping for the last three years (yes, you read that correctly) and nothing has kept me up more at night than the fear of getting mastitis while also having to care for three kids under 3.
Mastitis is one of the many unsexy things they don't tell you about when you first become a mom. It's basically an infection in your breast with symptoms much like the flu (fever, body chills, generally feeling unwell). It requires antibiotics to treat. The step prior to getting mastitis is often having a clog in your breast, which is a sign of milk not moving properly through the ducts. It can make the affected breast sore, red, lumpy and warm, or like you have a marble stuck in your breast.
When I was pumping for my first baby, I never experienced anything beyond morning engorgement and leaking, so I was totally clueless when I started to get clogs while pumping for my twins. I think one of the main factors for me was that I'm making way more milk than I was with my son, and so if I skip a pumping session or space them out more than usual, my boobs are not happy. To be fair, it's really hard to predict how the day is going to go with three little ones so sometimes pumping is left for whenever it's humanly possible.
When I felt my first clog, I panicked. I turned to Google, which gave me not-so-helpful ways to treat it: place the baby on the breast more often and aim their chin towards the clog—great, except neither of my babies latch, so that was out the window. Take a warm shower and pump right after—that didn't even nudge my clog. If everything else fails, have your partner try to suck it out—this was received with giggles and a hard nope from my husband.
In desperation, I asked a bunch of strangers in a huge pumping moms of twins Facebook group for advice and almost in unison they said, "Have you tried the Haakaa hack?"
I hadn't because I didn't know about it, but I'm so glad I know now because it was the only thing that worked with my clog (and subsequent others). Now I need to spread the word about this hack so that every breastfeeding or pumping mama has it in their repertoire of options when treating a clog.
Here's how to do it:
- Add one to two tablespoons of Epsom salts to your Haakaa pump.
- Fill it up with warm water all the way up so your nipple touches it.
- Attach the Haakaa to your affected breast and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. You may need to repeat this multiple times throughout the day for more stubborn clogs.
- Watch in awe as the clog comes out.
It took me three tries and suddenly my boob was back to being normal. I was able to stop obsessing about it and looking at my husband with that oh no it's still there look. It was also so cool to watch the milk come out into the water and see the stringier and thicker milk from the clog float around in the salty water.
Remember that if you have any concerns, never hesitate to reach out to your medical provider or a lactation consultant for help!
Here's what you need to buy to remove clogs:
Regardless of whether you suffer from clogs or not, you should have one of these bad boys at home to relieve your boobs when you can't breastfeed or pump. You can also collect milk from the boob you are not feeding on and use it to build your freezer stash.
I used these for soaking in a tub when I was heavily pregnant with my twins and so glad I had some leftover. I highly recommend having these at home for baths, relaxing your feet or soaking boobs back to health.
These pills claim to improve milk flow and help loosen fatty clogs. I up my dosage when I feel a clog coming and they always always always work. Remember to consult with your provider before starting any new supplements.
For more stubborn clogs that need some extra help dislodging, this lactation massager basically vibrates clogs out. You can also use it while pumping to help more milk be extracted.
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