Cabbage leaves are used by some women to help reduce breast inflammation and relieve the pain and discomfort that breast engorgement, an overabundant supply of breast milk, or weaning a baby from breastfeeding can cause. Researchers do not know if there is a property within the cabbage leaf itself that helps to decrease the pain and swelling, or if the inflammation goes down because the cabbage acts as a cold compress.
How to Use Cabbage Leaves on the Breasts for Engorgement or Weaning
- Before you use cabbage leaves for engorged breasts, you want them to be cold. So, place a head of cabbage in the refrigerator. You can use green or red cabbage, but red cabbage is more likely to leave stains or discoloration behind on your nursing bra and breastfeeding clothing.
- Once the head of cabbage is chilled, remove it from the refrigerator. Peel off the outer layer of leaves, and throw them away. Then, pull off two of the inner leaves and place the head of cabbage back into the refrigerator, so it will be ready the next time you need it.
- In the sink, use cold water to rinse off the two leaves you just removed. You want to be sure that they are clean and free from dirt, pesticides, and residue.
- After you rinse the leaves, carefully cut out the stem from the center of each leaf without cutting it into two pieces. You want to keep it as one piece with a slit down the middle. Once you remove the stem and cut the slit, the leaves will be able to fit nicely over your breasts without covering your nipple.
- Next, place the clean, cold cabbage leaves on your breasts. Wrap each leaf around each breast, but leave your nipples exposed. By keeping the cabbage off of your nipples, the skin around your nipples will stay dry and intact.
- Hold the cabbage leaves in place on your breasts the same way you would hold a cold compress. Or, you can wear a bra to keep the leaves in place for you. If you’re worried about leaking, put a clean, dry breast pad over your nipple on top of the cabbage leaf to soak up the breast milk.
- You can leave the cabbage leaves on your breasts for approximately 20 minutes or until they become warm. Then, remove them from your breasts.
- Throw away the wilted leaves and use fresh ones the next time.
- Repeat this process until you begin to get some relief and feel better.
When to Stop Using the Cabbage Leaves If You’re Still Breastfeeding or Pumping
If you are still breastfeeding or pumping for your child, and just want to use cabbage leaves to help decrease breast swelling and relieve breast engorgement, be careful not to overdo it. Once you notice your breasts are feeling better, and the swelling has gone down, stop using the cabbage on your breast. While the use of cold compresses or cold cabbage leaves does help to lessen breast swelling and engorgement, it can also lower your milk supply.
Using Cabbage Leaves for Weaning and Drying Up
If you’re weaning your baby or you want to dry up your breast milk and suppress lactation altogether, you don’t have to worry about the cabbage leaves treatment causing a low breast milk supply. You can continue to use the cabbage leaves on your breasts for as long as they are helpful.