Every new mother looks forward to breastfeeding her newborn. It is one milestone she plans for even before the baby is born. While some may be successful in their endeavors, a lot many of us are unable to breastfeed at all or do not get to do so for the number of days that we had initially planned for. There are many reasons why women generally give up on breastfeeding earlier than they’d planned. Poor latching techniques, breasts engorgement, swelling of the breasts, etc, are a few of them. While you may get to learn latching techniques on the job, you are at a loss when it comes to dealing with breasts engorgement and swelling. You may use breast softening creams and gels, but you’ll end up wiping them off even before they start working, to feed your baby (which happens frequently, though). And the use of painkiller medications and antibiotics is a strict no-no during breastfeeding unless prescribed by your doctor in extreme cases. So, what really is the solution to this universal problem? Well, it’s right there inside your kitchen – cabbage leaves. Yes, you’ve read that right. Many women across the globe use this natural and effective method to help reduce the swelling in their breasts. In fact, a recent study also confirms the positive effects of cold cabbage leaves in alleviating breast engorgement, pain, and breasts swelling (1). According to the study that was conducted on lactating mothers in the age group of 13 to 50 years, use of cabbage leaves on breasts not only helped in reducing the pain and hardness, it also increased the duration of breastfeeding due to fast pain relief, which is within 20 minutes!
The way to use this method is simple. First, put the cabbage in the fridge. The Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation recommends using a green cabbage (2). Once it is cold to touch, remove the first outer layer of the cabbage and discard it. You’ll find the fresh, light green leaves inside. Tear off two large leaves and wash them with cold water to clear off any dirt or residual pesticides inside. Cut off the hard stem at the bottom of the leaves and wrap the leaves in such a way that they perfectly fit your breasts. Avoid covering your nipples with the leaves. If the leaves are too crispy, you could also try crushing them with a rolling pin to loosen them a bit. Keep the leaves in place for around 20 minutes and lie down. You can also use a light cotton bra to hold the leaves in place. However, do not exceed 20 minutes because there have been concerns that cabbage leaves could reduce milk production.
You will notice a considerable amount of relief from your very first use. You can discard the leaves soon after, as they wilt. You can use this treatment for 2 or 3 times during the day and with a new set of leaves each time.
Eventually, you’ll find this method to be greatly effective in relieving pain, reducing swelling, and healing the breast engorgement to large extent. You can stop this treatment as your condition gets better with time. With this method, along with milk expressing and cold packs, many mothers have gone from completely giving up on breastfeeding to resuming it in a matter of few days. You’ll need to, however, remember that you don’t have to keep relying only on this method to better your condition. If you continue to experience breast engorgement, swelling, pain, or a lump in your breast for a longer duration, despite the treatment, it is prudent to consult your doctor immediately.