While using cabbage leaves can help, please exercise caution and follow directions, as people do use cabbage leaves to help dry up their supply.
Some mothers on the breastfeeding journey, may experience a hard, sore spot on their breast. Upon researching, they might realize that they have developed mastitis, and rumor has it that cabbage can help! Is it really true that a vegetable can assist in easing the symptoms?
Anywhere from 10%-30% of lactating women have been known to develop mastitis, which is an infection of the mammary gland tissue. Typically, the infection is caused by a blocked milk duct, or by bacteria entering through a cracked nipple.
Symptoms of mastitis may be;
- The area around the lump becoming swollen and red
- Flu-like symptoms
- The breast feeling sore
- The lump feeling hot to the touch
Symptoms of mastitis can develop quickly, and so it is important to try to clear a blocked duct, or heal a cracked nipple before it causes full blown mastitis.
How to help heal the beginnings of mastitis;
- Continue nursing, pumping, or expressing
- Apply a warm, or cool compress to the breast, depending on your preference for relief
- Massaging the tissue, starting on the outside of the breast, and working your way in
- Have your baby nurse with their chin pointed in the direction of the blocked duct
- Apply a child-safe moisturizer to cracked nipples, such as coconut oil, or breastmilk
- If struggling with continuously cracked nipples, have a lactation consultant check baby’s latch
So does cabbage really help? Cabbage contains glucosinolates, and then enzymes convert that to isothiocyanates, which has been known to help reduce swelling. Not to mention, cabbage leaves have been used for generations to help fight engorgement, which is an oversupply of breastmilk. Because of this, cabbage leaves should be used in moderation, as they may affect milk supply. While chilled cabbage leaves have helped some women ease their discomfort, a majority of women have found more pain relief in hot or cold compresses. Speaking to your healthcare professional if you have mastitis is key, as they can give suggestions that will help ease your discomfort. Occasionally, if the mastitis gets out of control, some women have been prescribed medication. Keeping your trusted practitioner ‘in the loop’ when it comes to your health is important for achieving optimal postpartum recovery, with fewer complications. Remember that no question is a dumb question!
While you’re busy focusing on the health and well being of your new little bundle, it’s crucial to remember to take care of yourself. Keeping in tune with your body is important for understanding when a problem may be beginning, and the sooner you catch a potential issue, the easier it can be to fix.