Cabbage For Breastfeeding Moms: Using Cabbage Leaves While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding moms

Breastfeeding is a natural, cost-effective, and uniquely intimate method of nourishing your baby. However, it can also bring about some challenges, including mastitis, breast swelling, and cracked or bleeding nipples. Fortunately, there are potentially effective home remedies that can alleviate these symptoms. Cabbage leaves are a popular choice for treating breastfeeding issues. The natural compounds in cabbage have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe breast tissue when applied topically. With that being said, here is a helpful guide on using cabbage leaves for breastfeeding moms.  

Cabbage Leaves For Mastitis

Mastitis, an inflammation and infection of the breast tissue, is definitely one of the most painful breastfeeding complications. This condition causes flu-like symptoms, redness, and painful swelling of the breast. While antibiotic treatment is usually necessary for mastitis, cabbage leaves can help alleviate some of the pain and swelling at home, either before seeing a doctor or while waiting for the antibiotics to take effect.

To find relief from mastitis symptoms, start by cleaning and drying a few cabbage leaves for each breast you want to treat. For additional flexibility and comfort, you can soften or remove the hard vein from the leaves or cut them into larger pieces. Next, cover your entire breast area with the cabbage leaves. You can either hold the leaves in place or wear a loose-fitting bra to prevent them from shifting. After about 20 minutes or when the cabbage leaves feel warm, remove them. 

Cabbage Leaves For Breast Swelling 

Breast engorgement is another remarkably uncomfortable part of breastfeeding that can interfere with your everyday life. Although it usually goes away on its own after a day or two, it's understandable if you need some relief in the meantime. A study from 2012 found that using chilled cabbage leaves on swollen breasts can provide pain relief similar to a hot compress.

In order to experience engorgement relief with the help of cabbage leaves, follow the same steps as you would for treating mastitis. Once you start feeling better, you can stop using the cabbage leaves. If you're still uncomfortable, you can use the treatment two or three times a day until the engorgement goes away. However, you need to be cautious, as using cabbage leaves for too long can decrease your milk supply.

Cabbage Leaves For Weaning

You can speed up the weaning process or make yourself more comfortable by using cabbage leaves. The procedure for using cabbage leaves for weaning is the same as for mastitis and engorgement. However, you don't need to worry as much about timing and frequency. You can leave cabbage leaves on your breasts until they wilt and repeat the treatment as many times as you want. 

You don’t need to limit your usage of cabbage leaves if you want to curb your milk supply. It may take a few days for your breast milk to dry up with this method. Additionally, you can try using other at-home remedies, such as herbal preparations or medications, along with cabbage leaves to help with weaning.

Should I Add Cabbage To My Diet While Breastfeeding?

Cabbage is a type of vegetable that can cause gas. Because of this, some healthcare providers suggest that breastfeeding women should avoid eating cabbage to prevent their babies from getting gassy. However, there is no evidence to support the idea that eating gassy foods will make the baby gassy as well. It is important to note that every baby is different, and what may cause gas in one baby may not affect another. 

While there is no particular reason to eat cabbage while breastfeeding, implementing it in your diet is not harmful, either. In fact, cabbage is rich in nutrients such as vitamins K and C and folate, which are important for the health of breastfeeding moms.

Can I Leave Cabbage On Breast Overnight?

It is safe and helpful to place cabbage on your breast overnight to address breastfeeding problems. This method is commonly suggested to alleviate engorgement and discomfort. Using cabbage leaves to treat breast engorgement has been a traditional remedy for a long time, and some women find it effective in reducing swelling and pain.

Many women find that placing cabbage on their breasts overnight can help relieve the pain caused by engorgement. The cold cabbage leaves can reduce swelling and inflammation in the breast tissue. Additionally, the coolness of the cabbage leaves can provide a soothing feeling, easing any discomfort.

However, it is crucial to exercise caution when using cabbage leaves on your breasts for an extended period, particularly if you have sensitive skin or allergies. If you notice any negative reactions like heightened discomfort, itching, or redness, promptly remove the cabbage leaves and seek advice from a healthcare expert.

Does Cabbage Reduce Milk Supply?

Breast engorgement is a common issue that breastfeeding mothers face, and cabbage leaves have been used for centuries as a natural remedy to alleviate discomfort. The theory behind this practice is that cabbage leaves have a cooling effect on the breasts, which can reduce inflammation and swelling. Some women have reported a decrease in milk supply after using cabbage leaves, leading to the belief that consuming cabbage can have the same effect.

However, it is crucial to note that the use of cabbage leaves on the breasts is different from consuming cabbage as food. While cabbage leaves may have a localized effect on the breasts, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that eating cabbage can have the same impact on milk supply. In fact, cabbage is a nutritious vegetable that can provide various health benefits for breastfeeding mothers. It is rich in vitamins C and K, as well as fiber and antioxidants. These nutrients can support overall health and well-being, which is essential for lactating mothers.

It is also worth mentioning that milk supply is primarily regulated by the demand and supply mechanism. The more a baby nurses, the more milk the mother's body produces. Therefore, if a mother experiences a temporary decrease in milk supply, it is more likely due to factors such as inadequate breastfeeding or pumping, stress, fatigue, or hormonal changes rather than the consumption of cabbage.

What Happens If You Don't Breastfeed For 3 Days?

If a mother doesn't breastfeed her baby for three days or longer, her body might think that there is less need for milk, resulting in a decrease in milk production. This can make it harder to start breastfeeding again and may require extra help from healthcare professionals.

Additionally, the milk can become stagnant and create an environment where bacteria can grow. This can increase the risk of developing mastitis, which can cause pain, fever, and other symptoms. Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue, often caused by a buildup of milk.

Breast milk provides important nutrients, antibodies, and immune factors that help protect the baby from infections and support their growth and development. If a mother stops breastfeeding for three days or more, the baby may miss out on these crucial elements, which could weaken their immune system and slow down their growth.

Lastly, breastfeeding is not just about providing nutrition, but it also creates a special bond between the mother and the child. If a mother doesn't breastfeed her baby for three days or longer, she might miss out on this valuable bonding experience, which can have long-term psychological effects on both the mother and the child.

What Foods Stop Milk Production?

1. Caffeine

Caffeine can potentially disrupt the baby's sleep schedule, making them more restless and irritable. Newborns and younger infants are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine, as their bodies are still developing and processing substances. Furthermore, caffeine can interfere with the hormone responsible for milk production, leading to a decrease in milk supply. To mitigate these potential issues, it is generally advised for breastfeeding mothers to restrict their caffeine consumption or abstain from it completely.

2. Alcohol

When a lactating mother consumes alcohol, it can have various effects on milk production. Alcohol is known to inhibit the release of oxytocin, a hormone that plays a crucial role in milk letdown. This can result in a decreased milk supply, making it more challenging for the baby to receive an adequate amount of nourishment. Moreover, alcohol can also affect the composition and quality of breast milk. Research suggests that alcohol can alter the taste and smell of breast milk, potentially leading to a refusal of breastfeeding by the baby. The presence of alcohol in breast milk can also disrupt the baby's sleep patterns and overall development.

3. High-fat Dairy Products

Including high-fat dairy items like cheese and ice cream in one's diet can potentially increase milk production in lactating individuals. These dairy products contain essential nutrients such as calcium and protein, which are beneficial for both the mother and the baby. However, it is crucial to consume these items in moderation, as excessive intake can disrupt the fat balance in breast milk. When a lactating individual consumes excessive amounts of high-fat dairy products, the fat content in their breast milk may become imbalanced. This can lead to an imbalance in the ratio of different types of fats, such as saturated fats and unsaturated fats, which may not be ideal for the baby's development. It is important to maintain a proper fat balance in breast milk to ensure the baby receives the necessary nutrients for growth and development. 

4. Broccoli

Broccoli, along with other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, and kale, contains substances known as goitrogens. Goitrogens are compounds that can interfere with the thyroid gland's normal functioning. When a person is breastfeeding, the thyroid gland produces hormones that stimulate the production of breast milk. If the balance of these hormones is disrupted, it can potentially lead to a decrease in milk supply. However, it is important to note that the impact of goitrogens on milk production is not significant when these vegetables are consumed in moderation. The goitrogenic compounds in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are mostly deactivated during cooking.

5. Peppermint and Spearmint

Peppermint and spearmint are popular herbs known for their refreshing taste and aroma. However, it is important to be aware that these herbs contain a compound called menthol, which can have an impact on breast tissue and milk production in lactating individuals. While occasional consumption of peppermint and spearmint is generally considered safe and does not pose a significant risk to milk supply, excessive intake of these herbs can potentially lead to a reduction in milk production. This is because menthol has been found to have a drying effect on breast tissue, which can interfere with the normal functioning of mammary glands and hinder milk production.

How Can I Stop Lactation Naturally?

There may be instances when a mother needs to stop lactation naturally, either due to personal reasons or medical conditions. So, here are several ways to stop lactation naturally.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes are a natural way to stop lactation. As a woman’s hormone levels return to their pre-pregnancy state, breast milk production decreases. This process usually occurs within a few days to a couple of weeks after weaning.

Breastfeeding Reduction

Gradually reducing the frequency of breastfeeding can help to decrease milk production. It is essential to do this slowly and communicate with the baby to ensure they are still receiving adequate nutrition.

Cold Compresses

Applying cold compresses or ice packs to the breasts can help to reduce milk production by temporarily slowing down milk flow.

Herbal Remedies

Some herbal remedies, such as fenugreek, blessed thistle, and sage, have been traditionally used to increase milk supply during breastfeeding. However, they can also help to decrease milk production when stopped. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedies.


In some cases, medications such as hormonal contraceptives or domperidone may be prescribed to help stop lactation. However, these should be used only under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Nipple Stimulation

Gently massaging or stimulating the nipples can help to reduce milk production by signaling the body to decrease milk supply.

Dietary Changes

Some foods and beverages can affect milk production. Limiting or avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and certain herbal teas may help to reduce milk supply.

Breast Pump

Using a breast pump to express milk can help decrease milk production by signaling to the body that there is no longer a need for breastfeeding.

Final Thoughts

Cabbage leaves can be helpful in reducing pain and inflammation caused by mastitis and engorgement. Additionally, they may help you speed up the weaning process. However, if cabbage leaves fail to provide relief for your discomfort, it is advisable to consult your doctor. This is especially important if you experience persistent symptoms of mastitis, such as fever, pain, chills, or body aches. While cabbage leaves can assist with inflammation, it is essential to seek proper medical care if you have an infection.

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