Epsom salt and breastfeeding

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All in all I breastfed my children for 7 years. There’s little breastfeeding wise that I didn’t experience during that time. Today I’m going to share my breastfeeding knowledge around Epsom salt and breastfeeding – are they safe whilst breastfeeding, when they are beneficial and which are best.

For more of my posts on breastfeeding see my My guide to breastfeeding that contains all the posts I’ve written about my experiences across my 7 years of breastfeeding.

Please note that whilst references are given in this article, this should not be considered medical advice and if in doubt you should speak to your lactation consultant, midwife or doctor.

Epsom salt breastfeeding

What is Epsom salt?

Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulfate. It’s a chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.

When Epsom salt is dissolved in water, it releases magnesium and sulfate ions.

The theory is that these particles can be absorbed through your skin, providing you with magnesium and sulfates.

There is disagreement as to whether the skin can absorb minerals in any meaningful way though with Healthline asserting that there is no credible evidence to prove that it can.

Epsom salt bath and breastfeeding: Is it safe to take an epsom salt bath while breastfeeding?

There have been no specific studies into whether an epsom salt bath when you are breastfeeding is either safe or unsafe.

But there have been studies into a mother taking magnesium orally/through an IV that we can infer from.

There is nothing to suggest that taking an epsom salt bath when breastfeeding is unsafe though and it is one of the tips that is recommended to help relieve a clogged milk duct or to open up a milk bleb.

Read on for the cited studies in the research on epsom salts and breastfeeding.

I would recommend rinsing your nipples off with fresh water before getting out the bath as your baby may not like the taste of the Epsom salt.

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Epsom salts breastfeeding NHS

Unfortunately the NHS doesn’t provide any advice on using epsom salts as a breastfeeder.

My other go to site for advice about breastfeeding and drug safety The Breastfeeding Network also doesn’t cover epsom salts.

Drugs.com cites research into magnesium sulfate taken orally or intravenously but doesn’t cover the use of epsom salts absorbed by the skin. The IV magnesium may delay women’s milk coming in initially. These studies were done on women given magnesium for preeclampsia around birth.

According to the National Library of Medicine, no information is available on the clinical use of magnesium citrate during breastfeeding. However, other magnesium salts have been studied. Intravenous magnesium sulfate increases milk magnesium concentrations only slightly.

Oral absorption of magnesium by the infant is poor, so maternal magnesium citrate is not expected to affect the breastfed infant’s serum magnesium.

Given that’s the research we have into orally taken magnesium, I would say the magnesium absorbed through the mother’s skin in an epsom salt bath wouldn’t be passed on to the infant in any meaningful way.

How to prepare for breastfeeding success while still pregnant

Does Epsom salt dry up breast milk? Does salt affect breast milk supply?

Some argue that Epsom salt can reduce breast milk supply and that you can use Epsom salt to stop breast milk.

In fact, in one of my favourite TV shows Call the Midwife there has been a number of occasions where new mothers are given Epsom salts to stop breastfeeding by drying their breastmilk up.

If you have problems with your milk supply you should therefore take care if you seem to have less milk supply after taking Epsom salt baths.

Can I drink epsom salt while breastfeeding?

You can drink or take Epsom salt by mouth whilst breastfeeding but this may reduce your milk supply. If taking before breastfeeding is established it can delay your milk coming in.

Continuing breastfeeding when you return to work

Does Epsom salt help clogged milk ducts?

Renowned breastfeeding expert Dr Jack Newman recommends soaking your breasts in a hot water and Epsom salt solution for a few minutes to relieve engorgement.

Many mothers have reported success with using Epsom salt to help clear clogged ducts.

One way to do this is by added Epsom salt to bath water and taking a soak or another way is adding Epsom salt to a silicone breast pump and attaching. How to do both methods are described below.

How to soak breast in epsom salt

The Mayo Clinic advises 2 cups of Epsom salt dissolved in one gallon of warm water. Healthline suggests 2 cups should be plenty for most bath tubs.

If in doubt, follow the instructions on the Epsom salts.

You can fill your bathtub, add 2 cups of Epsom salt and then relax in the tub with your breasts submerged as much as possible.

Alternatively you could put the Epsom salt in a bowl of warm water and then dangle your breast in. Or you could soak a towel in the hot water and then apply it as a compress.

See below for a great hack in using a silicone breast pump like the Haakaa (affiliate link) to use Epsom salt steam on the nipple.

Epsom salt breastfeeding Haakaa hack / Epsom salt for mastitis Haakaa

Some of you might have read my Haakaa breast pump review previously. Well if you have the Haakaa pump or a similar silicon ‘pump’ then I’ve recently learned about a great hack that might help if you have blocked ducts, mastitis or a milk bleb.

Add 1/4 cup of warm/hot water and 1 TBSP of Epsom salt to the 100ml size silicone pump (increase amounts accordingly if you have a larger size pump).

Then attach the pump to the nipple as normal and let it do its thing.

It’s proposed that the steam and Epsom salt helps drawn out the clogged duct. This is also said to help with milk blebs and mastitis too and if I was still a nursing mam and had issues I’d definitely give this a go.

Epsom salt and breastfeeding - are they safe whilst breastfeeding, when they are beneficial and which are best.

What kind of epsom salt for clogged milk ducts? Can you use scented epsom salt for clogged duct?

There are lots of different types of Epsom salts that you can try for clogged milk ducts. You can use scented Epsom salt for clogged milk ducts. Do take care that whatever scents the Epsom salt is combined with is safe for breastfeeding though.

As long as they are Epsom salts and not just regular salts then its really personal preference which you chose.

It might make using Epsom salt for breastfeeding more pleasurable and relaxing for you if you buy scented Epsom salt.

I’ve added some of my favourite Epsom salts I’ve tried in the past for you below, like the bergamot, sweet orange and rosemary or lavender.

Is lavender Epsom salt safe for clogged ducts

Lavender Epsom salt is safe to use for clogged ducts if you are using the bath method or using a bowl.

However, I wouldn’t recommend using lavender Epsom salt for clogged ducts if you are using the Haakaa method as some breastfeeders have reporter that the lavender smell didn’t come back off the pump.

Here are some of my favourite lavender Epsom salts. Another thing you can do is use regular plain Epsom salt and add about 8 drops of lavender essential oil to your bathwater.

Is eucalyptus Epsom salt safe when breastfeeding

Eucalyptus oils are considered safe to use topically when breastfeeding according to Donna Walls, RN, BSN, IBCLC, ANLC, Certified Aromatherapist, Master Herbalist.

Therefore, using eucalyptus Epsom salt when breastfeeding should also be safe. I would however wash off the nipple prior to nursing to remove residue and taste.

Continuing breastfeeding when you return to work

Substitute for Epsom salt for clogged milk duct

Anecdotally some breastfeeders have found success in using saline solution or baking soda/powder or bicarbonate of soda as a substitute for Epsom salt.

Here are the top alternatives to Epsom salt for clogged milk ducts:

  • Baking soda/powder
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Essential oils like lavender
  • Saline
  • Dead sea salt

My must have products for clearing clogged ducts

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Epsom salt and breastfeeding - are they safe whilst breastfeeding, when they are beneficial and which are best.

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