For everyone who says that breastfeeding is a convenient, cheap and beautiful way to feed your baby, it must be said that breastfeeding is difficult: the nipples crack and bleed, mastitis hurts, and the nipples become swollen and hard. Like you strapped two rocks to your bra cup. Oh!
Fortunately, many of these breastfeeding problems can be addressed at home, at least as a first line of defense. (You may need to visit your doctor’s office at some point, but we’ll do that.)
One of the most popular home remedies for breastfeeding problems is cabbage leaves. Midwives and lactation consultants have been recommending this drug for decades.
It sounds strange, but it seems to have a scientific basis: Due to certain plant compounds in cabbage, when the leaves are applied directly to the skin, they have an anti-inflammatory effect on breast tissue.
Here’s a guide to all the ways you can use cabbage leaves to help with breastfeeding, breastfeeding, weaning, weaning, and more.
Use cabbage leaves for mastitis
One of the most painful complications of breastfeeding is mastitis, inflammation and infection of the breast tissue. Mastitis is usually caused by bacteria from a cracked nipple, but it can also be caused by going too long between feeds or not emptying the teat completely.
Mastitis can cause many unpleasant flu-like symptoms, including redness and swelling of the breasts. Mastitis is a bacterial infection that usually requires antibiotic treatment, but cabbage leaves can be used to relieve pain and swelling at home while you wait to see your doctor or for antibiotics to start.
A 2015 study found that applying fresh cabbage leaves to swollen breasts can relieve pain as well as hot compresses.
Here’s how to use cabbage leaves to relieve mastitis symptoms.
Clean, dry and cool a few cabbage leaves for each breast you want to treat. (It is not necessary to treat both breasts at the same time if one is more or less affected than the other.)
For comfort and flexibility, you can remove or soften the tough veins of each leaf, or divide the leaves into larger pieces.
Place the cabbage leaves on the breast and cover the entire surface of the breast. You should keep your breasts bare, especially if they are sore, cracked, or bleeding. (If your nipples need some extra TLC, use lanolin cream.)
Hold a cabbage leaf to your breasts or slip a loose bra on and don’t move.
Remove the cabbage leaves when they start to warm or after 20 minutes.
Discard the cabbage leaves. If you want, gently wash your breasts. If you repeat the treatment later, do not use the same leaves again.