Weaning: Cabbage leaves while weaning?

I have read that cabbage leaves can be helpful in reducing your milk supply as you wean your baby. How can cabbage help?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Cabbage leaves can help you to remain more comfortable as you are decreasing your baby's feeds by helping to relieve any engorgement you might be experiencing. They may also help to reduce your milk supply. The exact action of the cabbage in reducing engorgement is not known at this time, but in practice they have proven to be helpful for many mothers.

To prepare cabbage leaf compresses:

  • Ahead of time, wash cabbage leaves, allow to dry, and place in a zip-lock style bag, refrigerating until needed.
  • Apply after slightly crumpling in your hands (or with rolling pin) to crush veins.
  • Use one or more of the cabbage leaves, as needed, to cover all areas of your breast, including the upper and outer quadrants --under your armpit. Your bra will hold leaves in place.
  • Reapply in two hours or so, as the leaves begin to wilt.
  • Use as needed to help with engorgement, and possibly to help diminish your milk supply when weaning. (Be cautious if using while continuing to breastfeed, as this therapy may decrease your milk supply.)

Upon application you may find you begin to get relief in as little as two hours. Milk may begin dripping from your breasts if they are very engorged. Use cotton nursing pads between your bra and the cabbage leaves to help avoid any leakage. Best wishes!

References:

  • Cool Cabbage Compresses, Rosier W, Breastfeeding Review, 1988
  • Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, Lawrence, 1994
  • Do Cabbage Leaves Prevent Breast Engorgement? A Randomized, Controlled Study, Nikodem VC, Birth, 1993
  • A Comparison of Chilled Cabbage Leaves and Chilled Gelpacks in Reducing Breast Engorgement, Roberts KL, Journal of Human Lactation, 1995
  • A Comparison of Chilled and Room Temperature Cabbage Leaves in Treating Breast Engorgement, Roberts KL, Journal of Human Lactation, 1995
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