Soothe Aches, Spasms and Mastitis with a Sock

A barley sock, that is…

A barley sock is simply a sock filled with barley and it is incredibly versatile. It’s cheap and easy too.

These are the steps to make a barley sock:

Get an old sock. Or a new sock, if you like. Make sure it doesn’t have any holes in it. Get some barley. There are different types of barley and I’ve always just used whatever was in my cupboard. Usually pearl barley but it doesn’t matter at all.

Fill the sock about 1/2 way with barley and tie the end of the sock – you can tie it in a knot or tie it with yarn or string or whatever you have around.

Throw the sock in the microwave and heat it on high for about a minute. Depending on how hot you want the sock and how big your sock is, the time in the microwave will differ. It’ll take a few tries to find the exact length of time to warm it to the perfect temperature.

Now you’ve got your barley sock and you can use it in whatever way you’d like. Here are some ideas:

Breast feeding. I loved my barley socks when my milk came in. The warmth dilates the milk ducts so more milk is expelled. Important to prevent engorgement and blocked ducts And the warmth softens the breast so baby can latch on a little easier.

Mastitis. The dilation of the milk ducts means more milk flow which should carry out any blockages and inflammatory bits and pieces. Be sure to use a cold cloth after baby nurses on the affected side. The cold constricts the ducts to prevent swelling and sluggishness.

Aches and soreness. From arthritis, repetitive strain, spasms, poor posture, you name it. The barely sock is especially lovely draped over the shoulders and wrapped around the neck.

Irritable bowel spasms. Place the sock on the belly to ease spasms. There are some lovely herbal teas to help ease spasms too, but that’s another post.

Menstrual cramps. Place the warmed up sock over the uterine area, the back, between the legs for perineal pain.

Pregnancy aches and pains. Place on the lower back, if that’s the area of discomfort. Place on the hips and pubic bone when the ligaments start stretching and relaxing.

Labour. Perhaps on the lower back. Perhaps over the lower uterus in early labour.

Post-partum. Any area that’s sore from labouring. My shoulders were achy after I had my first. Every part of your body is involved in labour!

These are just a few suggestions. Get creative and use it as you please.

Do note that it is a good idea to use a chilly or cold cloth on the area right after you use heat. The heat dilates blood vessels, milk ducts, etc and the cold tightens them up again the prevent swelling. Use the cold cloth for a minute or 2. Certainly not long enough to feel chilled.

Let me know how you use your barley sock!

Published by kimcallaghannd

naturopathic doctor, children's health advocate, foodie, mom

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