Most mothers have experiences breast swelling, discomfort and pain while nursing, weaning or pumping, when the breasts get heavier, bigger and warmer.
The first few days after giving birth is normal to have full breasts, but a few missed feedings or changes in nursing, will cause excessive engorgement and pain.
If the baby is feeding normally and often, and the breasts are still swollen and painful, the mother needs to take some measures to relieve the engorgement. Some of the usual advices are:
Gentle breast massage and compression, while nursing
Gentle breast massage before nursing, in direction towards the nipple.
Application of moist warmth couple of minutes before nursing to induce milk flow
There is also another, natural remedy, which is simple and cheap, and very effective- cabbage leaves for cold compression. This will relieve pain and reduce swelling. It`s not clear if the composition of the cabbage makes the remedy work or it`s just the cold of the leaves, but the important thing is that it works. Although, cabbage contains polyphenols that are known for the anti-inflammatory properties, making the cold leaf a perfect compress for reducing the swelling and soothing the pain associated with engorgement.
Instruction on how to use the cabbage leaves as compress:
Put the whole cabbage in the fridge until it`s cold. Avoid using red cabbage because it can discolor or stain your clothes.
Peel off and throw away the leaves from the outer layer
Take two leaves from the next layer and put back the rest of the cabbage in the fridge.
Rinse them with cold water, until clean.
Remove the stem and cut the leave so that they can cover the breast, without the nipple
Place the leaves on both breasts, and hold them as any other cold or hot compress, or just put on the bra over them
Leave them for 20 minutes, and then remove them (they will get warm during this time)
Repeat the procedure when necessary.
This treatment will decrease the milk supply, which can be helpful during weaning. But do the weaning gradually because sudden weaning can cause engorgement and breast pain. So use cabbage leaves to decrease milk supply and relieve engorgement.
When to stop using cabbage leaves compress
Once the remedy has worked, when you notice the breasts are no longer swollen and the pain is gone, stop with the treatment. If you are weaning the baby, use the cabbage leaves to reduce milk supply, but if you are still feeding normally, the baby will still need the milk, so use the cabbage compress carefully.
Compress with cabbage leaves can also be useful for pain and swelling on other body parts. Watch the video to see how and where: